Driving a Streamliner and indulging in the best car-chase flicks

| 14 Oct 2011

On my return from the Eco Targa Florio, I was straight into a nine-car photo-shoot with a gaggle of ’60s and ’70s Lancias at Enstone airfield. Driving them, I started to wonder why I ever sold my gold Flavia 2000 Pininfarina Coupé, which was reliable, economical and refined.

The following day, I drove across country in my rather sober and steady Mercedes-Benz 200E for an appointment to test a much wilder Mercedes in the form of W196 Streamliner. Not a real one, of course, but surely the next best thing, a replica based on the running gear of Mercedes from the recent past.It’s glorious to look at and just as good to drive: fast but not intimidating, and with a fabulous exhaust note. It is tastefully done, with the authentic right-handed gearchange, push-button start and ’50s instruments. Mercedes itself doesn’t have a problem with it, because most of the time the car lives at Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands, but the outing at Bruntingthorpe was its first shakedown run. This week I’ve also been shooting ‘Bargefest II – the ’70s’ and assembled nine appropriate saloons at a wonderful period power station on the Solent, with an office building that apparently featured in Rollerball (as did the BMW ‘Four Cylinder’ building in Munich). Great fun – look out for it in the January 2012 issue of C&SC.Afterwards, I popped in to see C&SC contributor Andrew Roberts, watched an episode of Scotland Yard and tried to get Andrew’s dead Austin Ambassador Vanden Plas back on to his drive, but it seemed that the engine had expired. Andrew loaned me the boxed set of The New Avengers, a series of which the memories are better than the stark reality 35 years on, although I did manage, on returning home, to dig out the episode where Gambit puts the red XJ-S through its paces in pursuit of a primrose yellow Aston Martin DBS.I can only assume that the Aston expired before filming finished, because by the end of the sequence it becomes a primrose Audi 100 Coupé S!