That’s the point: not just the physical things you need to do to make it go, but how to enjoy the process on today’s roads and not feel you’re in the wrong place in the wrong car.
How to… Drive an old car …in the modern world
A lot of classic cars are driven quite slowly. You see them ambling along a motorway, often inhabiting the domain of threatening-looking HGVs. Traffic picks its way around them, drivers of moderns get impatient, drivers of classics get stressed. Far better if the classics can move with the flow, which most are capable of doing. Some owners might disagree, citing inadequate brakes, a desire not to strain an elderly engine or fear of what might happen in a crash, but this is largely an attitude of mind. If a car could manage a decent cruising speed when new, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t do that now provided it’s properly maintained.
That’s the big proviso, of course, made bigger by ending compulsory MoTs for cars over 40 years old in broadly original specification. But if a classic car is performing as well as its creators intended, then its brakes, for example, should be capable of stopping the car as required, even if you do have to press the pedal harder than you would in a typical modern.
Some classics get driven slowly because they are awful to drive. Their owners think that this is how the cars are meant to be – they’re ‘old cars’, after all – but these owners might be amazed at how much better their cars were when new. Conversely, with a rigorous approach to maintenance of a car’s health and innate characteristics comes a natural desire to drive it as it was meant originally to be driven, with all the rewards that brings.
So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t move with overtaking-lane traffic when you want to, or enjoy some g-force on a good roundabout or slip-road. A classic car’s narrowness is a great ally in city streets, too, where a bloated SUV is scuppered.
New cars are to be fitted with GPS-controlled (albeit overrideable) speedlimiters from 2022. As the speed net tightens, classic cars have never been more relevant for driving fun. Just make sure the driver of the high-waisted SUV with the letterbox rear window knows you’re there.