Prescott beats Pebble and trading Berlin taxis

| 16 Aug 2011

I went to look at a gold Corniche coupe last week. God I wanted it but I suspect I’m only going to be able to afford the Rolls-Royce kiddy pedal car I was offered by the same vendor that I spotted under a sheet in his garage.I was also tempted by a cheap Mercedes 230S fin tail on Piston Heads, which seemed almost to good to be true at £3995. I chopped the troublesome Mercedes 230TE in for a W124 200E in much better condition (which will become my smoker once I get myself together to get a V5 sorted for it) but, embarrassingly, I had to send the new owner of the W123 back on the train in the face of descending oil pressure and rising water temperature – but he still seemed happy. The 200E, surely one of the most boring W124 variants on paper, is actually lovely to drive although I seem to have destroyed the aftermarket radio/CD player. At last the bright work for my dads Mercedes 300b is coming together and the final piece of the jigsaw arrived last week in the form of an illusive hubcap. Meanwhile my early XJS is still dead for want of an ignition system that works and we are struggling with the timing on the Fulvia Zagato, although - thanks to a reader called Phil, we have a spare complete engine which, if nothing else, can serve as a guide once we can get it to Top Dead Centre and satisfy ourselves about the timing marks. On ebay I put a bid in on a 1979 Winnebago. I’ve always had a thing for these huge American motor homes. Like the country's stationwagons, they seem so much more exciting than anything we ever did.  Its got a 5.7-litre Dodge engine and looks appropriately chintzy inside, too.At the weekend I took the Jaguar 340 to Prescott and managed to blag my way in as I'd forgotten to ask for press tickets. A fantastic day; just looking around the paddock is a treat (below) and the hill climb is as much about sound and smell (burning rubber and Castrol R) as it is about the drama of getting to the top of the hill in the shortest time.

In the car park, a couple of ten year olds were drooling over the Jaguar, which surprised me, as children for the most part seem unmoved by old cars these days.As we approached the ticket office I found a wonderfully slightly-down-a-heel Aurelia Spider, no bumpers or mats and roof down (perhaps missing altogether) despite the fact that it rained on and off most of the day on the Sunday. To me seeing that car was worth a field full of Pebble Beach ‘boiled sweets’.