Computerised car hire

When a staff car suddenly let us down last Summer and we urgently wanted a hire car to get a staff member to a Thruxton race meeting, we found the task rather more difficult than expected. Successive well-known films were completely out of cars until Autohall International came to our rescue. By then we had wasted almost an hour and a lot of 'phone calls. Now a firm called International Reservations Ltd., which is 50%-owned by the National Coal Board whose computers the service uses, will solve the problem for you in 15 seconds.

The new service draws on the cars of several of the leading hire firms, including Avis and Autohall but not Hertz, and covers 70 locations and 8,000 cars ranging from Minis to Rolls-Royces. The service also provides hotel bookings as well and can be contacted at London 01-235 1200, Birmingham 021-236 6581, Glasgow 041-332 9633, and Manchester 061-766 1122. We haven't tried the service yet but it certainly sounds a good idea.