6 Things every car enthusiast must do in London
I’ve lived in London for going on five years now and as a major car enthusiast I’ve not been disappointed at the variety of car culture available at my fingertips. Being a heavily built-up city, London doesn’t provide you with race track roads or any road that isn’t being blocked by an endless stream of vans or buses, but if you know where to look, you’ll find that London has as much to offer as the best motoring cities of the world.
For anyone visiting the city, or if you are a resident struggling for inspiration, this quick guide to a few gems and experiences in the nation’s capital should get those motoring juices flowing.
1) Visit a classic car showroom
There can’t be many places better in the world than London for a classic car showroom. Even in the city centre you're spoilt for choice. If you are in the famous bustling shopping area of Oxford Circus and Bond Street and it is getting a bit much for you (it will), you can take a short walk to Grosvenor Square where you’ll find the prestigious JD Classics showroom. The cars change in there on a regular basis, but they will never ever disappoint. On my last visit, I was greeted by a Jaguar D-Type and £7 million Mercedes 300SL Gullwing which will take any car lover’s breath away.
If you take a quick trip up to East Finchley in North London, you can pop into Hexagon Classics where you’ll find some incredible classics. From the Le Mans racing ‘Leyton House’ Porsche 962 to Ross Brawn’s white Ferrari Dino it will no doubt satisfy your motoring cravings.
You’ll have barely scratched the surface on London’s classic car scene even if you spent a week going through them all.
2) Visit the Bond in Motion exhibit
There are a fair few museums in London with a motoring theme, but I’ll throw a curveball at you with the Bond in Motion exhibit.
Located in Covent Garden, another tourist hotspot, you can break away from the crowds and sneak into the James Bond exhibition where you can find all of the best cars the Bond series has to offer. I’m a big Bond fan, but there is enough motoring prowess to please anyone.
I must warn you though, you’re guaranteed to witness a number of middle-aged men doing their best Bond impressions, sneaking around corners as their wives look on with utter despair wondering whether the marriage is strong enough to withstand another 30 mins of their husband commando rolling into every room.
3) The Ace Cafe
The Ace Cafe is a little gem in North West London. A down to earth cafe where you can enjoy some of England’s finest dishes like bangers ‘n’ mash, fish ‘n’ chips and if you get there early, a full English breakfast.
You can talk to like-minded motoring enthusiasts on a regular day or head down there on one of their themed days for a full car nerd session. There’s always a regular Hot Rod night if that’s your thing.
4) St Martin's Models
This one is a little bit different and a little bit special. A haven for car fans, St Martin's Models in Leicester Square is a shop devoted to those car enthusiasts obsessed with top notch models of their favourite cars. With everything from intricate models of the most mundane road cars to 1:18 racing legend masterpieces, you will be spoilt for choice.
You may need to have a chunk of spare pocket money, but if you're happy to pay for quality, this hidden gem in London's city centre is absolutely worth a visit.
If it is your first time in London and you want to see the sights, but you don’t want to be shepherded around like cattle on an open top bus, I have the perfect solution for you. You can take your sightseeing trip around some of the most iconic sights in the world into your own hands.
Yonda allows you to rent a Smart car (bear with me) with a sightseeing Sat Nav built in! So, instead of having the most enthusiastic tour guide with a permanent smile forcing everyone to clap their hands in unison to ‘Hey Jude,’ you can steer your own little fun bus around the capital at your own pace. All for £30!
Just remember that if the Sat Nav is pointing out Big Ben and all you can see is a crack-den, then you’ve taken a few wrong turns and you should turn around immediately.
6) Supercar street spotting
There a few places I could recommend around London if you want to see supercars on the street, but there is one location in particular that our very own supercar spotter, Mahmood Ansari, visits more than any other and that’s Sloane Street.
If you need to see the latest gold wrapped Pagani Huayra, then this is the place for you. If you want to view what life is like if you literally can’t spend the money you have in your bank account, then head on over to West London and soak it in.
Alternatively, you can visit where I live in East London and witness the polar opposite where I keep checking whether anyone has stolen my Fiat Panda 100HP every 20 minutes… they never do.
So, there you have your six fun ideas to keep you occupied on your London trip. Let me know which one takes your fancy.
If none of the above tickle your pickle, then you can pop into the DriveTribe offices and I'll show you around myself.
If you are a London resident, let me know if you have done anything on my list and what you thought of it.
Is there anything I've missed from the list? Let me know your top tips for the car enthusiast visiting London in the comments below.