Who said "Plans for human betterment do normally come unstuck, and the pessimist has many more opportunities of saying 'I told you so' than the optimist."? How about “Och, we’re doomed.”? I used to read on the bus going backward and forward to college in preparation for Oxbridge entrance exams, modern history and stuff (no I didn’t get in). For me both phrases are assosciated with a Labour Prime minister in the middle of a financial crisis and the Russians invading a neighbouring region, sound familiar? No this was the year of the summer of love. The prime minister was Harold Wilson and strictly it was the Soviet Union sending in tanks to Czechoslovakia. The pound was devalued, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated and Paris was in chaos. That was the year of the famous “pound in your pocket” and “rivers of blood” speaches, not really a good time to be spending money on expensive toys. The best thing to do would have been batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to pass.
It was also the year my father bought his first Porsche, it was a red, right hand drive 2 litre 1966 car supplied by AFN. He bought it because DSJ rated them so highly and in 1968 you needed some fun as an antidote to the news. Over the last 40 years we’ve had quite a few more, Turbo’s, RS Lightweights an RSR, 959 and lately a 996. I’m trying to get a deal done to run a 997 next year. Through all those Porsches my dad has always insisted that the first car that red SWB 911 was the best to drive. In some ways it wasn’t a surprise when after 6 years of “retirement” from the Bugatti business he walked into my office and told me he was going to set up a Porsche business to specialise in early 911s, “do it properly like the Bugatti’s, bit of racing, engineering solutions, the full srvice for discerning customers”. Now we have over a dozen of them! Including a red, right hand drive 2 litre 1966 car supplied by AFN.
I had never driven an early 2 litre car, the nearest I got was a 1973 RS Lightweight that nearly wound up sliding through Allards gap at one of the Bugatti Owners Club garden parties about 1983. Having driven one now, the white low mileage LHD car, I can see what the old man means. They are like the early Lotus sevens or the unsupercharged 35, lighter, precise: more flow and less point and squirt. I can’t wait to try his ’65 racing Porsche that came from the states, it won’t be as good as the “Grey Lady” Porsche he’s in the middle of building for the Masters series but it will give us a flavour of whats to come.
In 1983 I was 19 and that RS Lightweight was the fastest road car I had driven, the fastest sports car I had driven and the best track day car I had driven. I liked the 3 litre Capri better because it used to wind up the track day heroes in their Ferraris when you caught and passed them, there was also a certain amount of Bodie and Doyle cool, I was 19. I’ve had Capris ever since including currently a 1981 European Touring Car. Luckily that RS didn’t go like the one we have now, at 19 it definitely would have been through Allards gap! When I got in it felt like the old car but dynamically what a difference, it’s a proper racing car, rocketship fast and well sorted no wonder it did so well in historic tours. If I had the time it would have been fun to do the Tour Britannia in it, people I know who’ve done it say it’s a blast, I know the Tour Auto is. There’s something about stages separated by road miles, good food and a hotel full of like minded enthusiasts that even seems to rub off on the wives.
So 2008 another Labour government in trouble, Alastair Darling doing a Ratner on UK PLC, a new cold war looming and the prospect of CERN creating a black hole trying to recreate the conditions that existed a trillionth of a second after the big bang and swallowing the world in the process, er why? Those quotes could so easily fit now, the second quote you’ll know from Fraser in Dad’s army, maybe representing Edinburgh is rubbing off on the chancellor he says he feels Scottish! The first George Orwell. When I read 1984 we were in the second Thacher year winter of discontent etc etc I remember talking to my dad about selling my motorbike but waiting for better times before I bought my first car. He told me the story of his first Porsche 12 years before and all the good reasons at the time not to buy it and have some fun. Then Suez and his Austin 7 and the Cuban misile crisis and his Mike Hawthorne replica Jaguar Mk1. Becoming British saloon car champion in the seventies and the oil crisis he said “there is always a good reason not to do it now, but if you wait too long there isn’t any now left” since then there’s been, in no particular order the ERM, the property crash, black Monday AIDS, the reason for Live Aid, speed cameras, the DVLA, Microsoft, need I go on? You know I would still be taking the Bus!