Monday, 13 June 2016

Meryl outside the Two Bridges Hotel Dartmoor


Filming at the Two Bridges Hotel Dartmoor

 

 

Filming at the Two Bridges Hotel.

Mike Coombes from the Two Bridges Hotel contacted me several weeks ago to see if they could use Meryl for a promotional video in return for working together offering classic car hire to visitors to Dartmoor. I thought this was a great idea, the Two Bridges is a beautiful Hotel right in the heart of Dartmoor and what better way to enjoy the Moors and South Devon than in a classic or modern open top car. We had to wait a few weeks for the weather to be kind but last week promised some real Devon sunshine so the filming was set up for Thursday afternoon. The filming was being done by Wildhorse Films and covered a number of scenarios with the guests arriving, having lunch, dinner etc. We did a number of sequences filming Meryl driving across the Moor and the arriving at the Hotel over the famous two bridges. The sun shone and Meryl really looked the part. On the second day the film crew used a drone to film Meryl from the air, This was fascinating, but it also attracted a crowd which we tried to disperse or shoot around. I hope the results are as good as it all looked from where I was standing. I am really looking forward to working with Mike at Two Bridges offering Self Drive Classic Cars to the Hotel guests as part of the excellent facilities available at the hotel - including the best cream tea in Devon!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


Fathers Day June 19th 2016

Why not make this fathers day one to remember!

Self Drive Classics offers a selection of both classic and modern saloons and convertibles for you to enjoy. Hire a classic Triumph MG or Morris Minor for a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Perhaps you fancy something a bit more exciting like our Porsche Boxster or the Alfa Romeo GTV. Maybe you just fancy a bit of fun in the sun with the family or a few friends in a Jeep Wrangler. Whatever you fancy we can make fathers day special so give us a call 07918715039 or visit the website at www.selfdriveclassics.co.uk

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Finally - The Big Move

I rented my first unit in Devon in October last year on a short lease. It was a bit of an education as the unit needed a lot of work - all of which was to be done / paid for by me! It seems commercial property letting is not governed by the same rules as residential i.e. its fine to let property with the electric cut off and the wiring condemned and the Loo's broken and the roof leaking etc .. This unit was 1200 sq feet taking 6 cars at a push so it gave me somewhere to move my cars too and to store the new cars I had bought in Devon. In April I found a new unit at Wrangerton business park. Its an old building that stands alone and looks like a 1950's fire station, its ideal for a classic car business. It needs work but in this case the Landlord is also helping out having had the place painted inside and rewired. The new unit is over 2000 sq feet so I now have enough room for storage and workshop so this meant moving my workshop from Lichfield to Wrangerton. 12 years of accumulated tools, spares and classic car bits and bobs can take some shifting! Not to mention the remaining classic cars and project classic cars that need to be transported at £400 a time. I hired a Luton backed van from Ivybridge and it took two back breaking trips to get everything sorted, loaded and unloaded. I had to be ruthless in chucking out bits I had been keeping 'just in case' or 'for the next classic car project' selling off some of the stuff to people on site or even leaving it for others to sell and take the money - better than transporting it all south. I unloaded the last of the workshop stuff last night (still aching all over!) so now I'll be spending a few days getting it all sorted and finding a place for everything but now www.selfdriveclassics.co.uk is officially located at Wrangerton Business Park. I have lived in Lichfield for 30 years and run a business from Blythe Farm for over 12 years so its the end of a era for me - time to close the book and concentrate of "Steve's adventures in Devon". Self Drive Classics is going to be a very different business here in Devon. Instead of a collection of 60's favourites I have set up a mixture of everyday classics, modern roadsters and fun cars so we can see what people go for. I will be working hardest on the tourist market getting the idea out there that you can enjoy driving in Devon in something a bit special. It will be tough starting again both personally and for the business but sometimes you just have to take the plunge - planned or not!
New Unit at Wrangerton (boat has now been moved!)

My 1970 Dodge Challenger project

My Lotus Europa Project

Tuesday, 8 March 2016



Why the Alfa

Moving the classic car hire business from the Midlands to Devon means that we now have to consider the UK and international tourist market and what sort of cars people may want to hire to enjoy driving in Devon. As well as some standard British classics there will be those who want an open top roadster with a little more to offer in performance and handling as well as a few creature comforts such as a roof that actually fits and a heater that blows out warm air. With these drivers in mind I went looking for suitable more modern ‘classics’ and I settled on the Boxster as a mid engined Porsche and the Alfa Romeo GTV. I looked at the Merc SLK and the BMW Z3; both great cars with rear wheel drive and great performance especially with the bigger engines. However, I felt they lacked something classic cars always seem to offer – Soul. The Top Gear crew always maintained that you cannot call yourself a petrol head until you have experienced the pleasure (and pain) of owning an Alfa Romeo so here is the pleasure and I’ll take the pain! I love the styling of the GTV the deliberate wedge profile and cut lines I also love the interior – filled with Latin charm rather than Teutonic efficiency. The Self Drive Classics Alfa has done just over 100,000 miles but it is in great shape and there is plenty of rorty urge from the 2 litre twin spark engine, an Alfa masterpiece.

So if you have travelled to Devon in your practical family car or if you are visiting from overseas you can now take the opportunity to let a little Alfa into your holiday and enjoy Devon’s great drives in a Italian modern classic.

Classic and sports car hire from Self Drive Classics Ltd

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Finally I get to drive my Boxster!

I bought the Boxster last year as part of my revamped hire fleet and since driving it to Ivybridge it has been languishing in my storage unit as Devon gradually resembles Venice. Last week, however, the weather people promised sunny but cold and as I planned a trip up to Staffordshire this seemed like a great opportunity to give the Porsche a run. I have driven a number of classics in my classic car hire business including a TVR Griffith 500 and a 911sc but I have never driven a mid-engined car so I was looking forward to experiencing the Boxster. There was a Land Rover I wanted to take a look at in Winkleigh so this gave me an excuse to take the long way across Dartmoor. I set off early afternoon and made my way to the A38. As I joined the traffic I took a moment to look around me at the Boxster environment. Like the 911, the Boxster has the rev counter right in the middle of the dash, I love that sense of focus, with the speedo to the left and the fuel and temperature to the right. There is a digital read out for the speedo which is good as the speedo is in increments of 25 mph and is not really much use. I like sports cars to have lots of instruments so I was a little disappointed by the Boxster’s lack of dials to look at but it’s a minor gripe as the rev counter and digital speed readout are all you need. The leather seats are great and the driving position is excellent, it is better than the TVR’s crampt interior which cocoons you between the door and the huge transmission tunnel and deep dash. It is more like my old 911 except they have given the pedals back to the driver. As a convertible the Boxster does not have the light airy feel of the 911sc coupe but it is a comfortable place to be.

I left the A38 for the A382, not the fastest route but it runs up over Dartmoor. Sadly I found myself shackled to a coach followed by white van man so I’m not in for a spirited drive. Even so I used the opportunity to get used to the Boxster’s excellent steering and general handling. The road narrows and widens as if it’s breathing and progress is slow. After a while the coach turned off and white van man puts his foot down. I guess he was spurred on by the sight of me in his rear view and there is no way he was letting some flash git in a Porsche get the better of him! It was quite comical watching the van lurch into the bends so I kept a safe distance in case he binned it. We come to a rare straight bit of road so I change for 5th to 3rd, the bark from the engine actually made me jump and the Boxster growled into life and catapulted me past white van man. By the time I had gathered my wits I was on top of a right hander and was relieved that the Boxster has superb brakes, a firm positive pedal that hauls the little car down without fuss. Then the driving gods smiled. The sky was blue the air was cool and the tarmac was dry, there was no one behind to hassle me and no one in front to inhibit progress and the A3124 was laid out before me like a carelessly dropped ribbon on the gently undulating Devon countryside – now we can have some fun. I’m no racing driver and a couple of out of control spins on the public highway have made me more like Captain Slows cabin boy than James Hunt but this was irresistible. I know I would have enjoyed this road in my TVR or 911 but the enjoyment would have been slightly tempered by the fear that the grim reaper was waiting for me just around the bend. One slip, brake late, lift off and your mine! I know the Boxster is not as powerful but progress was quicker than anything I can remember and the reaper never came to mind. The Boxster is well screwed together, the steering is perfect and the handling is a bit of a revelation to me. It is as if it was talking to me “push on Steve, don’t worry I won’t let you down” and it didn’t disappoint, the last time I had this much fun ….. Well, better leave that one.  Sadly my driving pleasure was interrupted by the lady in my sat nav. Who decided that the quickest way to Tiverton was down a narrow muddy pot hole ridden country lane, not the Boxster natural playground.

Soon we came to the A361 and passed Tiverton to the M5. I thought that this was the end of the fun and I now faced 3 hours on the M5 in a soft top car. But Lady Boxster had another surprise in store. I guess rag tops have come a long way since I rattled up the M1 in my MGB my neck aching from the icy draughts and my right side soaking wet as the rain sprayed in between the window and the roof. The Boxster’s more luxurious lid is a snug fit and at motorway speeds there seemed little wind noise and no draughts, I could still hear my ipod picking its way through a selection of rock classics. 5th gear is ideal, 70 requires less than 3000 rpm and it only takes a gentle press of the throttle to jump into the outside lane if I need to overtake. I realised I had been driving the Boxster for over 3 hours with hardly a break so I stopped at the next service station. I picked up my medium cappu and headed for a window seat so I could keep an eye on my Porsche. What’s happening? Does this mean I care? Well yes it does. I am usually pretty strict with the hire fleet, if a car does not do enough hires in its first year I sell it on – but not this one. I don’t care if no one takes Lady Boxster out, I’m keeping her.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Moving to Devon


Self Drive Classics Ltd is moving its car hire operation from its original base at Hamstall Ridware near Lichfield to Ivybridge in south Devon. Self Drive classics was established in 2004 and has been successfully hiring classic cars to customers from all over the UK for the past 11 years. The move to Devon is largely for personal reasons but it does give us the opportunity to refresh the business and a great excuse to go out and buy some more cars. 

The theme has been expanded to now include more modern sports car and a few 'fun' cars to make the holiday even more special. We have added a Porsche Boxster and an Alfa Romeo GTV spider for those who want style and performance and a little more comfort than you get in a 60's MG. For the surfer dudes and fun lovers we have a great Jeep Wrangler with a fully removable roof and sides so you can make the most of the Devon sunshine with the security of a full roll cage (also useful for attaching the surfboards). 

The classic fleet is getting refreshed too we expect to add a few more popular classics so watch this space.

As well as classic and sports car hire we have set up www.devonclassicweddingcars.co.uk offering a 1965 Zodiac, a 1968 Mercedes 250se and a Morris Minor convertible as chauffeur driven wedding cars in the south Devon area. Perfect for those who want to do things a little different to the usual wedding. 

The wedding cars and web site are all up and running and we expect to have the hire business established by next spring. 

We want to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported us over the years, spares suppliers, mechanics, specialists and, of course, the hundreds of happy customers who have experienced our classic cars over the past 11 years. So if any of you find your self in Devon then please pop in and say hello!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Classic Car MOT exemption

Last year the government - as instructed by the European Union - made cars build prior to 1960 exempt from the annual MOT. This was met with considerable opposition from the classic car community who could see where this action would ultimately lead. Now it seems the same European law makers are insisting that we extend the MOT exemption to vehicles over 30 years old. This means thousands of old cars would no longer be required by law to be subjected to an annual road worthiness test checking lights, brakes indicators and tyres. For the classic car hire hire industry this is a non starter. At the very minimum we would continue to have hire cars MOT'd annually as well as the usual maintenance older cars require. If you are hiring a classic car you should insist on checking that the car carries a current MOT as well as being satisfied that the car is being regularly maintained. There can be no guarantee of safety especially with older cars when mechanical components may fail despite the strictest maintenance regime. However, to remove one of the most basic safety checks seems insane and, frankly, dangerous. It is my belief that the ultimate goal is to see older cars removed from our roads and this will be facilitated by older cars causing more accidents and being labelled as dangerous and lacking in modern safety features. lets face it, the very powerful motoring lobby would rather we all bought brand new Euroboxes than kept out old classics on the road. I sincerely hope this is one of those daft European directives we will have the guts to ignore but I expect we will end up with this potentially fatal (in many ways) legislation on the books.