Sunday was the day of my pal John Antonaki’s long-awaited ‘Car quiz’ so I whizzed down to Edmonton and showed my face.
There were eight of us all told sitting in John’s front room with scraps of paper and biros. Mr A was quizmaster and he dreamed up some fiendish questions. Things such as: ‘which companies make up the four inter-linked rings of Auto Union?’ (I could only think of three) and ‘can you name the briefly offered six-cylinder version of the Vauxhall Carlton (of course I can the Vauxhall Viceroy).
There was a great film and TV section where we were asked things of the order of ‘what car did Steve McGarrett drive in Hawaii Five-O?’ (Mercury Marquis) and ‘what Ford engine did the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film car use?’ (Essex V6).
In all it comprised 180 or so questions and took forever, but it was fun and I occasionally paused to ask myself: ‘How do you know that you sad bugger?’It’s amazing what goes in and stays in.
I came second to fellow hack and ex-C&SC editor Giles Chapman – a guru of obscure British automotive facts – so I reckon I did quite well, scoring over 150 points. I’m a bit weak on anything to do with motor sport, which explained some dropped points. And I couldn’t think of as many makes of car beginning with ‘Z’ as Mr Chapman.
The prizes were books John wanted rid of – some old Observer’s guides, the Hippo Chunky book of Motors, an arty book about car culture – plus some of his famous bootleg CD’s of film music sound tracks which I grabbed: Bullit, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, A Man and a Woman, Diamonds are Forever and The Sweeney.
At least they made the drive back to Cirencester a bit more interesting. Giles kindly brought me some record sleeves to add to my collection of car-related album covers. The best was a generic German ‘pop’ album, circa late ’60s, featuring a beach buggy.
John is an avid buyer of oddball DVD box sets about anything to do with transport, old news reel and information films by British Rail, Pathe and that kind of thing. After the quiz he showed two brilliant ones from around 1959 and 1965 celebrating ‘British Design’. Cars, furniture, architecture, the Moulton bike… inspiring stuff.
We then had one of those Daily Mail-style discussions about how rubbish everything is now in comparison, I usually try to avoid these because, people might think I read the Daily Mail and it’s depressing.
Edmonton is close to where the riots kicked off last summer and it’s no holiday camp, but I was keen to point out that I’ve had more vandalism unleashed on my car in genteel Cirencester by the disaffected ‘yoof’ of the agricultural college (populated by the toff offspring of the land-owning classes who are too thick for city jobs) than I ever had when I lived in Brixton...