I want to be a classic car owner. But I think I will have to be a lone ranger classic car owner; not join any clubs, not go to any known haunts, not acknowledge any fellow owners on the road. It's not that I don't like talking to classic car owners. It's just that I know this is how bad habits are picked up.
Habits of calling your car "the old girl". Habits of making jokes about "the wife vs the old girl." Habits of spending all day naked but for overalls. Habits of becoming so tunnel-visioned about certain restoration jobs that you will go online afterwards and buy something like... a car bra.
I’ve said it before: car bras are like Brut deodorant – an example of the solution being less desirable than the problem. What happens is classic car owners repaint their pride and joy, then become obsessive, yet if you were to sit them down, buy them a beer to clear their head, and ask them whether stone chips look worse than the hideous leather thing they've just put on the car, they'd have to swallow and admit, no. No, they do not.
So take it off.
Admittedly, for some, classic cars are primarily investments. And unlike other vintage investments such as wine, the classic car investor must partake from time to time, which means wheeling them out the garage and sending them at speed into a world of bugs and loose asphalt. If that's you, then fine, buy a silly car bra. On one condition.
It comes off when you're at a car show.
An Aston Martin DBS, notable for the fact its front can be enjoyed. The DBS was the last car of the David Brown era, FYI.
I was enjoying myself at a British car fest yesterday, saving Britain's Leyland P76, the Rover SD1 for last, so I could argue with the owner. Until I saw the Armstrong-Siddeley shown in the header. The car bra it was wearing was more tasteful than many, but that's not actually the point. The point isn't even that in a grassy park on a lazy afternoon, there are no stones to be flicked up.
No, I just wanted to find the owner (generally done by touching the car) and ask, "Is that covering rust?" Because if you can't show the gleaming wings at a car show, then when can you show them? Car bras are like leaving the plastic on a new loungesuite. Car bras at a car show is like not taking it off when Vogue magazine pops in to do a feature on your home interior.
And that’s a good segue into my final injunction to classic car owners. If Vogue came to do a feature on your home interior, you wouldn’t leave water bottles and underwear lying about. So when you take your Triumph Spitfire to a car show, to be gazed at and mused over by a hundred or so people, park your car on the grass. Put on your Panama hat. Then pick up your polishing rags and the day's muesli bar supplies and put them in the boot.
We want to admire your cars. Don't make it hard.