I am reading, with increasing frequency, the impassioned bleatings of those who fear that motoring in old cars will be outlawed by European legislation. And while I share their horror at the thought, I do not believe it will happen. There are many reasons for this. First, any such laws will be aimed, rightly, at getting rheumatic Cortinas off the road, not preventing you and I from enjoying properly maintained road and racing cars; and while some have observed that legally defining the difference may not be easy, I do not think it will prove impossible.
Given that the way exists, it is finding the will that is crucial and this depends on the strength of lobbying taking place within the European parliament. I think it unlikely, for instance, that Mercedes-Benz will take lying down the removal of its right to use its heritage to sell cars. Mercedes, you’ll not need reminding, is owned by Germany’s largest company. Unite the might of all those European manufacturers in similar situations into a single fighting force and I’ll bet it will take a braver Eurocrats those with which we are currently blessed to make this insanity law.
My real comfort, however, comes from the US, birthplace of hateful political correctness. You haven’t been able to buy leaded petrol there for years. Many classics run unleaded without valve seat recession anyway, others use stainless steel valves and alloy seats, some bypass the problem simply by topping up the tank with commercial AvGas or, failing the above, all you need do is fill up with unleaded as usual and, as you pay, pick up a bottle of lead additive and pour it in on your way out. If they can make it work out there, we really have remarkably little to worry about.
Magic moment of the month came at Le Mans where I found myself sitting on the start-line in just one of 120 vintage Bentleys gathered to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Davis/Benjafield win. To drive down the Mulsanne Straight at 100mph, on race-day, in the type of car that put this greatest of all motor races on the map, was quite unforgettable. I will never be able to tell the car’s owner quite how much it meant.
I will not even attempt to describe the sight of the Ferrari Super Squalo and Mascrati 250F hammering around Silverstone; you have to go to Coys to see it for yourself. What you will not yet know about is the extraordinary array of other Coys competitors we also drove that day. Rather than blow the lot in one issue, I have decided to drip-feed them to you over the coming months. We will be deep indeed into next year before the supply is exhausted.
I hope you will be as amused as me to compare the story of the doomed Beatrice F1 team with that of the Hesketh team (MOTOR SPORT, June). One was a team of super-talented professionals with dazzling amounts of money, the other seemingly a bunch of public school twits. One squandered the talents of a world champion, the other effectively created one. I doubt you’ll need me to tell you which was which.