Can you tell classic owners' cars from their facial hair alone?

| 11 Nov 2013

In a change to our regular lunchtime activity of attempting to fix whatever we drove to work so that it can make it home again, four of us piled into James Page’s comfortable modern the other day and drove to Moss Europe to pick up some much needed parts for Clements’ MGB instead.

While he collected a bag of brake bits and Elliott took a couple of double-filament bulbs he needed for the Triumph, Page and I perused the store and inadvertently came up with a natty little game to pass the time.

You see, we noticed that the next three customers that came into the shop after us were all sporting facial growth. Beards to be precise. And while that may not be unusual in these times when a bit of hair is de rigueur for the fashion conscious, we decided to draw upon our extensive experience of classic car owners and try and match the beard to the car.

We decided unanimously that the first chap was without doubt an MGB owner. Of course, with Moss being a prime venue for parts for classic British cars we had a head start because the chances of him rocking up in a Porsche 356 or Alfa Romeo were fairly limited, yet there was something about his white whiskers that shouted MG.

It wasn’t particularly long but it was more than stubble; it had obviously been trimmed, but not with sharp, sartorial elegance – more trimmed in the way that you would your hedge: remove the obvious straggly growth and just keep the rest in check.

The next man through the shop door was, we decided after a short moment of deliberation, a Triumph owner. There was more than a hint of ginger about his beard (not crucial to TR ownership though), but it was an altogether more frivolous affair. Unlike customer number one with his neatly trimmed hedge, this was a definite bush – one that could be used to disguise something rather more harsh, like a brick column, or a jagged fence post.

The mass of facial hair could probably have held a tool or two mid-maintenance and would without doubt have provided a nice cushion to the chin when his head was deep in the engine bay. While the MGB-owner’s beard said ‘dependable’, this shouted ‘home brew, leaky diffs and ‘what’s a little bit of rust between friends’. This man clearly was prepared to jump into his Triumph and drive from South West London to Fort William with nothing other than a Swiss Army knife and a roll of gaffer tape for company.

Page and I then started discussing other beardy arrangements and what sort of presumptions we may jump to. There are those beards that are weighted towards the moustache – a hint of squadron leader about their tweaked ends that could suggest a certain vintage. Think VSCC perhaps or a flat-rad Morgan. A sharp-cut goatee? Maybe a BMW CSL, while the full ‘ZZ Top’ will almost certainly mean something imported with a flathead under the ‘hood’.

Of course, all of this is just a game and based on nothing more than stereotypes so please don’t take offence. After all, you only have to look the beards in the C&SC office to know that a) we’re not very good at growing beards and b) it’s more about laziness than any sort of fashion statement.

Take mine for instance: as a Land-Rover owner it should probably be rather more comprehensive than it is, but the level of gingerness when it gets too long is reason enough to give it a trim. Elliott’s multi-coloured affair suits his GT-man status as a Jensen owner rather well I think – particularly as the greying matter is flecked with the odd ‘rust stain’, while C&SC’s Advertising Director, Ben Guynan’s neatly-clipped George Michael suggests something more sophisticated than his ‘Fiesta-Rossa’.

Chief Sub Editor Evans’ facial fungus is possibly the best though. Nowadays he might struggle to grow a nose hair, but back in the day (1987 apparently), his impressive beard fitted perfectly with his choice of vehicle: a Castille Red 1981 Citroën 2CV Spécial. It also makes him look a little like a geography teacher-cum mass-murderer, but perhaps that is best glossed over…