Am I becoming a petrol head, I wonder? If I’m not astride a throbbing Fat Boy… Hang on that’s a bad start; it sounds a bit gay. The point is, having had a driving licence for twenty years, it’s only recently that I’ve taken any interest whatsoever in cars.
Take Belgrade Automobile Museum last month, for example. As the aged caretaker struggled to his feet and flicked an industrial-grade light switch, illuminating an eclectic fleet of gleaming antique cars, my heart soared. The automotive designs spanning several decades had me feeling like Dirk Pitt must have in the Clive Cussler novels when returning home to his lone aircraft hangar.
However, whereas Dirk tended to disassemble updraft carburetors whilst hatching rugged schemes to thwart megalomaniacs lusting for power and bloodshed, I took a few photos and wished I owned a garage.
A two cylinder Czechoslovakian Aero from 1929 jockeyed with an English Alvis 50hp beauty from 1931. Here, a French 1908 Charron; there, a sleek, navy-blue 1958 Opel, its chrome radiator grille polished to perfection. What’s gone wrong in the last few decades? I mean, can we really compare a modern day Renault Clio to the chic finesse of a 1926 Lancia Lambda?
Well, there are cars and then there are cars. I mean James Bond wouldn’t have put up with a Seat Ibiza, would he? Armed to the sunroof with mine launchers, rear-mounted ink jets and front-firing torpedoes, in 1977 he chased Stromberg’s henchmen in an amphibious two-litre Lotus Esprit. Nice. Which reminds me, a bulletproof assembly periscope might just increase the value of my Ford Fiesta. They don’t call me 001-and-a-half for nothing..
National Motor Museum
Talking of Bond, that new bloke Daniel Craig looks a bit like me, doesn’t he? Bit narrower in the shoulders perhaps, and less vim and grit but… Seriously, if you’re into cars – and you didn’t already know this – the Bond in Motion exhibition at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu has been extended until January 5th, 2014.
Most of the cars from BBC’s Top Gear are on show permanently, too. And I’ll just let you know that Truckmania is being staged there on May 26th and 27th over this May Bank Holiday, showcasing vehicles spanning over a hundred years of trucking.