The day C&SC's earth stood still


Author: Martin PortPublished:

Yesterday was a dark day in C&SC history. Why? Curiously, it’s not because of the machinery that was in the car park. Instead it’s because of what wasn’t there.

Yes folks, on Tuesday 15 May, uniquely, there was a complete and utter absence of classics (apart from a couple that are in long term ‘static residence’ of course).

So why is this big news? Because it is for perhaps the first time in living memory (although our memories are a bit rubbish) that the Classic & Sports Car parking spaces don’t have at least two classic cars in them. Cue the sound of jaws hitting the floor the world over.

You see, here at the offices in South West London, the C&SC bays almost always boast a respectable complement.

There are the usual suspects that appear day after day (usually made up of something from Elliott’s stable and from my Scimitar/Beetle/whatever I currently own combo).

Then there are those that often sneak in: Evans’ BMW or GSA (although those can often be seen lurking, unannounced on a nearby side road without the office knowing), and then there is Clements’ MG Magnette, which he heroically tries to battle through the commuter-hell that is Surrey at least once a week.

Yesterday, however, the bays boasted the following selection of ‘has-been’ modern machinery (or Youngtimers as we like to call them!): Elliott’s £1k Mercedes (good for trips to the dump), James Page’s  Citroën Xantia Diesel (good for the slog from Bristol), Clements’ Ford Focus (good for sitting stationary in traffic for an hour), and my nine-year-old Peugeot 307 SW (good for carrying engines and surfboards, although the carpet doesn’t appear to resist battery acid – clearly proof that ‘new’ cars are indeed rubbish).

In fact, the most interesting things in the car park yesterday appeared to be a motley modern trio consisting of an evil-grinning Ferrari FF, a pimped-up Bentley with cherry red wheels and a Fanta-orange new Ginetta.

Of course, in our defence, the appearance of so many moderns, sorry Youngtimers, all on the same day was purely coincidental and the fact that it constituted such a noteworthy event was an encouraging reflection of our usual classic usage.

Page is trying to limit the mileage on his MkI MX-5, Elliott’s garage door has seized in the closed position, thus trapping the Elan in darkness, and I needed to try and plug a hole in the Pug’s blowing exhaust at lunchtime – a job left over after spending the weekend indulging myself with old cars instead.

Oddly though, despite this line-up being such a rare sight, there was still a wave of guilt washing across the office and, as soon as we arrived, everyone was keen to reel off the excuses for arriving in modern ‘luxury’ and promising that it was a one-off.

Even one of the on-site maintenance engineers asked what was going on, nodding towards our spaces with a concerned look on his face – probably expecting to hear that London has now banned anything that can’t be charged from an extension lead hung from a downstairs window.

Oh well, at least the car park had 24 hours without suffering the constant drip of EP80 and 20w/50 – the tarmac might even have hardened again by this morning when, I am relieved to say, normal service was resumed.



Are you saying that you weren't even slightly curious/envoius of what a day in the Ferrari, Bentley or Ginetta would be like Martin? If you are I'd check your pants in a hurry as they may be on fire!

Coventry Climax

"...probably expecting to hear that London has now banned anything that can’t be charged from an extension lead hung from a downstairs window."

That's what it's like here in Frankfurt! Nothing gets into the Umweltzone (most of the city) unless it's German-registered and wearing "H" (historic vehicle) number plates. To get those number plates it must be over 30 years old, unmodified (I have no problem with either of those) and in getting on for as-new condition (I do have a problem with that - it's called money, or rather a lack of it...). And if you can meet those requirements, you'll need to own and insure a modern car before you can get classic insurance...

Martin Port

Best run for the fire extinguisher then! Seriously though - Ginetta: would be very interested in some time behind the wheel; Ferrari: wouldn't turn a quick spin down, but my idea of a nice Ferrari is a 246GT; Bentley: would almost prefer to drive anything home. In fact, I would prefer to walk (and it's a very long way). Madness? Probably, but then the picture cunningly hides the colour-coded red wheels, red bonnet vents and hideous side-script.

Art Editor, C&SC


I see what you mean about the Bentley Barbie limited edition now Martin. How embarrassing for someone to have to admit they pumped large amounts of extra cash in to turn an overblown tart's handbag into a magnet for laughter and derision.

However, that said I'm reminded of that old quote along the lines of ''I don't agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it''. I suppose the same applies to paint schemes.

Chris Martin

I am not sure Voltaire had pimp's Bentleys in mind but I suppose the meaning still applies in a modern civilisation. As for the contants of the car park, I can only surmise that Haymarket Publishing has branched out into the lucrative world of glossy football mags, but that does not excuse the C&SC staff for being a bunch of softies.
Chris M.


Martin Port

Chris - Haymarket has actually been producing glossy football mags for quite a number of years, but I'm afraid the pimped moderns aren't anything to do with them. Quite often the cars loaned to our sister mags such as Autocar and What Car? have pretty much everything thrown at them in terms of extras and stick-on bits and I fear the Bentley is one such example. Shame, because it's probably 'not bad' under all that...

Art Editor, C&SC

Chris Martin

Martin, 'twas nowt but a joke, but not being much of a footie fan anyway, I have no idea who publishes what. Chris M.



If I’m in your place, I would really be stunned with all those rare models that you saw. Oh man, those Ferarri is so hot. I can’t imagine how lucky I am to be sitting in one of those cars because I drive an old model corolla and always under the bonnet checking power steering fluid. I also love the exhaust sounds of those cars. Music to my ear. :-)

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