Thursday, 27 November 2014

Cars to make you smile

Get behind the wheel of a vintage Mercedes and I challenge you not to smile.  One of my first grown-up cars was a 1967 Mercedes 200.  I loved that car so much I did not notice the rusting bits around the rear wheel covers, the expensive petrol or the bouncy springs in the seats.  The minute I got behind the wheel, which was probably more akin to the experience of navigating a slow moving barge, I couldn't stop grinning and I still smile whenever I think of that lovely car with its faded blue naugahyde bench seats, its cream leather steering wheel, the side mirrors so wide they might have been made to pull a boat.

I spend most of my working day thinking about and planning interiors.  Looking back on my favourite cars I realise that the reason I loved them - or not - was ultimately because of their interiors and how I experienced them.

We had a Jaguar XJ6 when our eldest son was a baby.  My husband used to call this our gentlemen's club on wheels.  When we replaced it for a practical Golf, after one too many noughts at the petrol pump, our son actually cried, "I miss the Jag".  I distinctly remember the polished walnut panelling on the dashboard, the tightly woven woollen carpet and floor mats and the feel of the door; solid, heavy, safe, the quiet hum of the engine.  In comparison, any other motoring experience was bound to be a bit of a let down.

Another favourite was the 1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer we drove when we moved to the States.  My husband bought it online from an antique car dealer in Atlanta before we left. I'll never forget it.  "Big Jeep" as it was known to our family, was special because of its rarity, the caramel leather interior, the early eighties fashionable shag carpet and even the partly unreliable electric windows, which made a wheezing sound as they meandered up and down.  We covered many thousands of miles in the Wagoneer across that vast country.  When we left and the Wagoneer went to a chic young couple who planned to give it a new engine and use it for the beach, my then six year old daughter chased "Big Jeep" down the street in tears as it drove away to a new life.

Slightly further afield, a bit more gratuitous motor eye candy courtesy of our mechanic and owner of Silchester Garage, Paolo. 

Another steering wheel ready for action.  Handsomely made in black and chrome with its gearstick on the column.

Racy bucket seats in my favourite faded caramel leather, the perfect contrast to the glossy cherry red exterior paint finish.

This 190 SL evokes images of Audrey Hepburn swishing around the curves in the Coté d Azur.

The combination of glossy red paint, fins and chrome is unbeatable.

The legendary Pagoda...  A removable hard top to die for... a little glimpse of red leather seats.

Surely the perfect Christmas gift for beloved?

Although Silchester Garage restore cars from all over the world they still keep our decidedly more modest estate car roadworthy... Thanks to Paolo, Matthew, Simon, James and Lynn for your mechanical magic... 

A 1954 Buick Skylark Convertible, sold at the Palm Beach auction in 2012 for $118,000 before buyer's premium...  I think of Eartha Kitt's iconic 1953 song Santa Baby

With that I'll say goodbye, slightly shame-faced for having mentioned Christmas before December (and on Thanksgiving to our American relations).  I simply could not resist that song....  Before that, I'd like to invite you to post comments and/or photos of your favourite twentieth century motor cars/interiors.  I'd love to share them.

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