This column has survived for a very long time and has in recent times been fed with tip-offs from keen readers, both at home, and recently from as far afield as Norway. For example, I have a recommendation that “Beating Time” by Antony Hopkins, the musician and broadcaster, (Future Publications, 1983), should be of interest. The author’s father had a liking for Trojans and a holiday in Sussex in 1927 in a solid-tyred tourer is referred to, as is the schoolboy excitement of rides in a teacher’s Riley.
When Hopkins was a member of the Little Gaddesden Company of the Home Guard he was associated with their Le Mans-type Bentley, so that it was felt that if they could not halt the German armour, they could at least outrun it… It was at this time that Hopkins learned to drive, on a little Commer van used to collect waste-bins from an emergency hospital. He had his first car in 1950, a black 2.6-litre MG drophead-coupe, on which he practised racing gear changes in the grounds of Bryanston school. Within a year he had replaced the MG with a drophead Jaguar, “the seductive handsome pre-war Mk V model”. Hopkins must have liked this, because it was his first of 14 cars of this make, culminating in a lightweight E-type. It had been love-at-first-sight with the XK120, of which Hopkins acquired a white one around 1952, when they began filtering onto the Home market. The book contains some interesting Jaguar memories, and among these cars owned by the author was an XK 150, intended for an American film-star who died so soon after it was delivered that he never drove.
The book has references to days spent at Goodwood and Le Mans, even to winning a sports-car race at Snetterton. A picture shows the author in an E-type Jaguar at the Sussex circuit, another is of Hopkins at Goodwood in a D-type Jaguar. In 1964 he used an Austin-Healey over the dirt roads of Australia, averaging 74 mph on the last leg of the Canberra-Adelaide route. Antony Hopkins lists his cars as those 14 Jaguars, three MGs, five Datsuns (types 240 and 260), two Mazda RX7s, two Lotuses, two Matra Bagheeras, a Ferrari, a Gordon-Keeble, a special Triumph Herald, the Austin-Healey, a Heinkel bubble-car, a Gilbern, a GTV Alfa Romeo and a VW Scirocco. — W.B.