Hankering after a Harley-davidson
Bitter-sweet experience at Brooklands: took my X-class pick-up for its very last outing under my hand to Mercedes-benz World, just inside London’s orbital M25 motorway, at 8am on the first day of 68-plate registrations, to become (very likely) the first person in the UK to take delivery of a new-reg S500 limousine. Now it can be revealed: running this big saloon has been in editor Mr Tisshaw’s grand car plan for many months, but demand from proper customers has been so great – these cars are huge in China and other Asian countries – that I drove (and thoroughly enjoyed) my past 9000 miles in the Benz pick-up while my saloon order progressed in the queue. No denying the limo is a big step up in class, though, and I’ll be telling you much more about that very soon.
Beautiful day basking under the blue at Blenheim Palace as one of a dozen judges at this year’s Classic and Supercar concours, a Pirellisponsored ‘do’ held after the far swankier threeday Salon Privé has ended. The task at hand was to judge a coterie of Porsches – a class for 911 convertibles and another for 911 GTS – in the company of Paul Keeling, a proper Porsche Club expert who has become a bit of a mate now that we’ve done this for the past three years on the hop. Paul has taught me plenty but I haven’t yet tapped a tenth of his knowledge.
Having grown up doubting the need for the all-hands-to-the-cotton-buds kind of concours, I’ve warmed to this much more practical variety, where cars arrive under their own power and are often well-owned daily drivers. Several of the entered cars had done more than 100,000 miles. I departed (in the Steering Committee’s twin-pot Fiat 500) thinking what I always do about closely examined Porsches: how carefully and consciensciously every single car is built to live a long life. No other fast car marque better understands how well this plays with owners.
Last week’s eulogy to the 50-year-old Jaguar XJ takes me back to some past exploits of my own, such as: buying a cheapo Series II with ‘new’ sills so badly fitted that they let water into the footwells every time it rained; lording it around Coventry in Sir William Lyons’ own early XJ6 (now part of Jaguar’s Heritage collection); feeling elated at the end of a two-day, three-car comparison in North Wales because I’d ‘won’ the smooth and silent Jaguar in which to drive home; and storming halfway across Australia at 9mpg in an early, carburettor-fed XJ12 (complete with cooling fan on its battery box), enjoying the soft ride while keeping an eagle eye out for occasional megabumps that tended to use up all the available suspension travel and a helluva lot more.
I stormed halfway across Australia at 9mpg in an XJ12
Whisper this, but I’ve got a soft spot for Harleydavidson motorcycles. Its latest range has acquired a new sophistication, so I rode my scruffy, low-miles Sportster to a local dealer for a test. Soon discovered the bike for me is the new Sport Glide, and returned from my ride ready to deal, but the salesman was so ham-fisted about it, and so clearly prevented by his superiors from engaging in any kind of sensible price negotiation, that I left in annoyance, muttering dark hopes that online purchase will sweep dealerships away for good. Suspect I’ll buy a Sport Glide at some stage, but only if I can find a Harley dealer prepared to treat me like an adult.
Blenheim Palace Classic and Supercar event had an eye-catching line-up
Farewell enjoyable X-class, hello luxurious S-class