C&SC's fiddler on the roof finds a nice rack at last

| 20 Sep 2012

Roof racks are cool aren’t they? Well, I think so. Not on a modern car you understand, but a decent classic rack on the right classic car is a winning combination and instantly conjures up images of hardy owners battling across the alps with skis roped onto a wood-slatted rack, or a Miki Dora wannabe making his way to Malibu State Beach with an 8’ pin tail board up on top.

In search of being ‘cool’, my fascination with a nice roof rack has led me to buy several over the years and occasionally fit them to whatever car I’ve owned at the time.

An ebay listing that failed to sell a number of years ago was picked up for the princely sum of £5 and briefly appeared on top of a Mini before making its way on to the Porsche. In truth, it didn’t really fit: the rubber feet didn’t match the contours of the shapely bodywork and the most I ever strapped to it was a small spade when it snowed rather heavily one year.

The previous owner of my Scimitar offered to sell me a Desmo rack that he had used for European jaunts. Although practical, it just didn’t look the part – it attached to the gutter trims and sat about 10 inches above the car.

Since then, the hunt has been on for something more suitable and eventually a web search showed me what I needed on top of a Scimitar in sunny California. “Anyone know where I can get one of these?” was posted on the club forum and one immediately turned up in Basingstoke. More North Hants than SoCal, but the wooden-slatted chromed rack sits nice and low on the GTE and looks about as good as a rack can get on a Scimitar.

But back to my initial question, and just how cool can a rack be? Well, I think the answer is generally, the bigger, the better. I’d consider buying a ratty Volvo Amazon estate purely at the thought of having a lovely full-length roof rack on the top – despite not needing to carry a three-piece suite back from MFI.

It is clearly THE LAW that anything wearing a VW badge needs to wear a rack, although personally I’m not sure that lugging an old petrol can, a Coca-Cola cool box and a little red Radio Flyer wagon everywhere you go is quite necessary.

If you’re in anything that has a vague connection to rallying, then your rack must carry a couple of spare wheels just in case you get a puncture in East Africa (or Croydon), but the ultimate roof racks are always those fitted to massive American station wagons or woodies.

By default, these are the best as because the cars themselves are so cool. You don’t even need to strap anything to the wooden slats in order to justify the rack on top.

Seeing as your car will more than likely be achieving single figure consumption anyway, that’s probably a good thing.

So there you have it: the cool guide to roof racks. In short, the bigger then better and it has to have wooden bits on it.

Wind noise and petrol consumption be damned – image and load-lugging ability are everything.