Poor Rowan Atkinson's recent mishap with his McLaren F1 got me thinking. Sure, it was a genuine news story (for me it would have been regardless of who was driving the car, I need to know about any damaged F1s), but most reports seemed to be having a snide little giggle at his expense.
What very few of them took into account was his utterly heroic use of that car. With so many F1s rarely seen, locked away in private collections, it is great to hear of a man who so enjoys his driving that he is prepared to overlook the price tag and how he is affecting its value by actually driving it, to just pile on the miles, revelling in what I still believe to be the greatest, most uncompromised driving machine, not just to date but that the world will ever see.
So well done Mr Atkinson, ignore the jealous people and, as soon as your car is mended, get back out there undaunted.
The Atkinson issue – I refuse to call him by one of his more familiar screen-names which seems to be the fashion, but to me also sounds as if it is made with derogatory connotations – brought to mind some other people who should be applauded for using supercars properly.
Near the top of the list is Simon Kidston – also with an F1, when its not his Miura or Gullwing – but there are others. Another F1 owner, Thomas Bscher, used to commute in his in Germany. Rumour has it that when McLaren checked the telemetry it revealed what speeds he had been doing on the Autobahn. Let's just say that his commute probably didn't take very long!
One of the nicest people I have met in the course of this job was a delightful chap called Trevor Baker who owned a Porsche 959 that he loaned to us for an article a decade ago. OK, with only 200 built you wouldn't expect to see them on every street corner, but you still sense that most of these 197mph hypercars are locked away and rarely used. Not Trevor's. I am not sure whether it was his only car at the time, but he treated it as if it was, driving the length and breadth of Britain in it.
When I was up at Don Law's once, he had an XJ220 in for service, a 12,000 mile interval service. The next time I went, six months later, it was back in the workshop. "Oh dear, broken," I assumed. Not at all, it had simply covered another 12,000 miles and was in for another service. Turns out it was the owner's daily driver, and that included a weekly commute to Germany.
So, while it may not be my place to criticise those who seldom use the jewels they are custodians of, it is my place to elevate to a higher plane those that do. Those that use the cars in the manner in which I would like to think that I would were I in the same position.
So well done these fellas and all those like them who use their cars in a way that only genuine, hardcore enthusiasts could.
These role models have given me a thirst for more stories of such derring-do: if anyone is aware of any, please let me know.