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The Classic Car Club

Classic cars are usually owned by passionate collectors whose unrequited love (and large bank balances) make them immune to the expense of endless trips to the garage. By mere mortals, they are simply admired from afar. Not any more.

The Classic Car Club has opened the world of vintage vehicles to the average punter. Membership gives you access to the fleet of 60 beautifully maintained, top of the line classic cars. Based on a point system, you can impress with a weekend away in a Jaguar E-type, swap your average hire car for something a little more special, or (like one member I met) collect your wife from the airport in a 60s Mercedes SL to earn extra brownie points. If like me you don’t have a spare £4K, but are curious to know what all the fuss is about, the classic car night drive (or day drive) is just for you. Founder Nigel Case and his team have plotted the perfect route, which he puts down to his dad being a black cabbie: “it’s in my blood”. They have just opened their newest branch in New York City, so now you can have a go on either side of the pond.

We met at 6:30 pm at Classic Car Club’s Old Street base, where we were given the low down on each of the cars we would be experiencing. The 1960 Volvo Amazon 122S (what?!), the 1973 Rolls Royce Corniche, the 1959 Jaguar XK150 S (smiles across the night drivers’ faces began to widen), the 1970 Mercedes SL, and the final pièce de résistance, a 1971 Jaguar E-type series 2 FHC, were met with whoops of joy.

Drivers head out in pairs and have half an hour driving each car with a break mid way through the night. The Mercedes SL was the first car I got my hands on, and considering I have only ever owned a Peugeot 106, I felt nervous maneuvering this stunning piece of machinery around the busy and often narrow streets of London. But as the traffic began to die down and the commuters headed home, my nerves rapidly subsided and I started to get a taste for speed, the smell of leather, and the sound of a purring Jaguar E-type 4-litre engine. The halfway point for the evening was at the National Theatre car park, a hidden gem with views across the Thames to Somerset House. The coffee (and biscuits) break gave us drivers a chance to analyze and wax lyrical about the cars, and the experts an opportunity to impress with their facts and insider tips.

The second part of the drive took us soaring past Buckingham Palace, sailing towards St Paul’s and onto Camden. During the four hours of driving, I received a record amount of attention and definitely the largest number of compliments I ever have; a classic car, without a doubt, improves your level of attractiveness. As we pulled into Old Street once more, I felt a pang of sadness; it was all over. Ah well, there’s always yearly membership…

When she’s not racing around the streets of London in her vintage Mercedes, Anna Templeton is usually found in Argentina, tucking into an ojo de bife and sipping on a glass of Malbec; all in the name of exploring the culture, of course.

My nerves rapidly subsided and I started to get a taste for speed, the smell of leather, and the sound of a purring Jaguar E-type 4-litre engine.