Is it time to seek counselling for my classic obsession?

| 5 Nov 2013

We all know that classic car enthusiasm is a bit of a disease, but sometimes you find yourself in a situation where how gravely debilitated you are by it is pulled sharply into focus.

This happened to me on Thursday in the most mundane and unexpected circumstances.

Due to fly to Zurich on Friday for a work trip, I was busy booking some parking at Heathrow Terminal 5 on-line and all was going well until it asked me to fill in the registration number of the car I would be arriving in for the benefit of its booking and numberplate recognition systems.

Let's get this trip into perspective: it involved driving from Putney to Heathrow (all of 15 miles that can take hours at the wrong time of day) at 4am on a gruesome winter's still-dark morning, leaving a car in a concrete monstrosity for the day and then driving back into town at the worst possible time, Friday rush hour.

There was no sane reason not to just plug in the details for the Merc family wagon and be done with it.

Yet, the cursor was hovering over the box because I knew in the back of my mind that when the time came I would want to go in my Jensen.

Yes, the Jensen, the one that I lose money on for every mileage claim, the one that sometimes doesn't like starting, the one that would be rather more likely of the two to leave me at the side of the M4 awaiting recovery while a flight to a very important meeting took off sans Elliott.

So, naturally, I filled in the details for the Jensen, had a great run on deserted roads and even survived the hell of London rush hour on the way back.

I wasn't trying to be some sort of classic-driving hero, there just wouldn't be any point: I wasn't going to see or be seen by anybody at that time of day, it was as uninteresting a journey as is imaginable, and it wasn't like I was going to come away with an epic anecdote to regale people with.

Add to that the fact that although I am not a natural risk-taker – if I keep playing this sort of Russian Roulette with important business meetings  eventually I am going to shoot myself – and my decision seems utterly bizarre. Inexplicable.

But really it is very simple: I leave the house, I see a Mercedes wagon and a Jensen and, despite all the inconveniences, costs and potential pitfalls, I am happy to suffer them all to enjoy the experience of the latter – or not experience the non-experience of the former – whatever the weather, whatever the journey, whatever the risk.

Of course, the irony was that the whole trigger of this soul-searching was rendered a little pointless by the fact that it turns out T5s state-of-the-art cameras can't read non-reflective plates!