Port and the peanut butter conspiracy

| 8 Sep 2011

When I was a kid, I was determined that I would like peanut butter. I repeatedly tried it and detested it, but I persevered because I liked the idea of eating it. Oddly, it wasn’t that long before abhorrence turned to adoration and, as I was making myself a peanut butter sandwich this morning, I wondered if you could psychologically train yourself to adore a particular classic?

For me, this is an easy one: yes. Before I bought my first classic (a Morris Traveller), I tortured myself by spending hours looking at the promotional postcard I stuck next to my bed. It showed an illustration of two ‘Moggies’ – one a convertible with a lady stuck out of the top ‘having fun’, while a family drove past in a saloon. By the time I actually got the keys to my own Morris, was there really any possibility that I was going to hate it? I don’t think so. I instantly accepted and forgave anything that I didn’t like about it and enjoyed the rest.

The same happened with my first MGB. I owned a copy of Clausager’s The Original MGB long before I had the keys to one and took every opportunity to drive past the local classic MG dealer. By the time I actually had one I felt like I knew the car inside and out – foibles and all.

My first ever ride in a Land-Rover was slightly different and more akin to the peanut butter scenario. I test-drove a Series II with the idea of buying it... and I hated it. The thing lurched from one side of the road to another, bounced more than a space hopper, and the owner had had the side windows welded shut for security – not the best thing for a mid-summer test run.

But I persevered. Every time I saw one on the road I thought back to my experience and convinced myself that one day I would be ready to go through it again and like it. Fortunately, I now know that that particular example was a poorly prepared, badly set-up coil-spring conversion that probably shouldn’t have called itself a Series Landie at all, so when I finally drove another Series II, I instantly fell in love, parted with cash and didn’t look back.

And that brings us nicely on to my latest ‘peanut butter moment’: the Scimitar. For as long as I’ve been into classics, I have admired these plastic wonders. Purely from an aesthetic point of view I should add. Until I parted with a lump of cash, I hadn’t even heard one run in the metal. Over the past decade, however, I think I have been mentally preparing myself for ownership, so when I finally got into the driver's seat and fired up the engine, there really was very little chance that I was going to hate it, no matter how it drove. Perhaps the similarities don’t end there either. Some parts of it are the same colour as peanut butter.

All of which makes me wonder if, for the first time, I have an opportunity to choose which classic I next condition myself to love. Perhaps it’s time to aim higher? 246GT maybe? In smooth. Not crunchy.