A classic dream realised

It was a warm June weekend - the kind of weather that brings out prized, well-protected classic cars, driven by enthusiastic owners in trailing neck-scarves. This weekend it was my turn. The E-type Jaguar that was delivered to me was an icon of the Sixties.

Thanks to Wiltshire Classics, a classic car-hire company owned by a musician, a dentist and a GP, I drove a 35-year-old V12, 4.2litre primrose yellow E-type convertible around the roads of west Wiltshire and east Somerset in the early summer heat. There is a choice of five other cars: a 1961 Jaguar Mk2; a 1967 MGB Roadster; a 1969 E-Type FHC; and a 1971 Rover PSB Coupe. Hire one to add to the glamour of a wedding, or just for fun.

The Jag arrived on Friday evening, at the specified time, complete with succinct operating instructions and emergency contact numbers. The delivery driver carefully pointed out some of the idiosyncrasies attached to driving a car of that age (forget ABS, power steering or satnav), but these all became part of the fun.

Saturday morning began with a nervy foray into the surrounding countryside, but I became more adventurous after realising the car was in fine condition.

The 4-speed gearbox was robust (though for me reverse was an enigma); the footbrake felt like kneading dough; and the indicator had a mind of its own.

Leaving all thoughts of Patricia Hewitt behind, I concentrated on the sheer pleasure of driving this beautiful machine. Seated in the most comfortable original leather seats, the response in second gear was impressive. Although my own two-litre TDi Golf might leave it behind, this was so much more enjoyable.

Perhaps the best memory of the weekend was my 15-year-old daughter in big sunglasses lording it from the passenger seat - happy to watch people stop and stare. This is a car to be seen in.

Sadly it was collected on Sunday evening, and I was left to dream.

- Dr Mike Gumbley is a GP in Frome, Somerset


Car hire: £350-£700 per weekend, including unlimited mileage and fully comprehensive insurance. Delivery within 30 miles of Salisbury, or can collect from local rail stations.


GP OFFER: Claim 10% discount, plus a free Circular road trip package worth £20. Just book before December, quoting GPoffer. Visit the website for contact details.

We set up: Wiltshire Classics Both my husband and I are car mad. Our dining room is a shrine to historic motor racing.

We have owned plenty of cars over the years from a three-wheeler sports car to the Rover P5B coupe. The cars became bigger as more children came along, but we have now downsized to an Austin Healey 3000, which is not yet in the business.

As a busy GP (me) and dentist (husband) it was not until we came into money that our enthusiasm could take over. Now, with my brother running the business day-to-day, it all works beautifully.

Our car diary for this year includes: Le Mans Classic, Goodwood, London to Brighton Classic Run, Silverstone Historic, Vintage Prescott and maybe a Scottish Isles Tour too. I have no plans to give up general practice, but who knows long term - it could all become quite hectic.

- Dr Hilary Ramsay is a GP in Essex.

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