Currently reading: An alternative day out for the motoring enthusiast
A day out for the car lover doesn’t have to mean race tracks and motor shows. Read on...

Please join me for an enthusiasts’ day out in which we make a small tour of some of my favourite establishments.

Editor Mark Tisshaw has given me a free hand to go where I want in what I want. This is going to be a day escaping from all talk of connectivity, fast charging and autonomy and from testing bland and dull-to-drive Korean and Volkswagen Group SUVs and crossovers, all of which have snuck into my professional life uninvited.

I’ve chosen something very much the opposite of a Volkswagen T-Cross: a brand new Chevrolet Camaro, supplied by Ian Allan Motors down the road in Virginia Water. Ian Allan is the only official GM dealer in the UK and is the establishment that lent us a Corvette in which I had a very pleasant day driving from Brooklands to Brighton earlier this year. The Camaro has the same engine as the ’Vette. So let’s fire up the 6.2-litre V8 and select D for our first port of call.

In the past two years both of my local garages have shut. They weren’t dealerships – that wouldn’t have been a great loss – but traditional garages staffed by mechanics who really knew what they were doing. The sort of place that would remove a broken-off stud in a cylinder head in exchange for a pint.

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But it’s not all disaster, because just a bit farther away from home, still in Hampton and still within walking distance, is Broad Lane Garage. It is one of the coolest garages I’ve ever seen. Its small yard always contains something interesting, like a ’50s Buick, a beach buggy or, as it does today, a family tree of VW vans. There are two split windows, a bay window and several T4s. I’m having a cup of tea with Mike Scotney who, along with his sister Jane, runs the garage that their father founded with a partner in 1960.

Scotney doesn’t just cater for the enthusiast, he is one himself. In reception there’s a flathead Ford V8 bare block, a more complete version of which is in Scotney’s own toy. “I’ve got a Model T roadster with a ’37 flathead V8 in it,” he explains. “I take it down to Pendine Sands for the hot-rod races. I tow it behind my 1949 Chevrolet Station Wagon. It’s known as a Tinnie and is the cheaper version of the famous ‘woodie’ wagon, which is what I’d really like to own.”


Read our review

Car review

The Chevrolet Camaro comes to the UK with a proper muscle-car naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 engine, can it prove more compelling than the Ford Mustang?

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I’d love to spend longer with Mike and Jane but we’ve got more people to see. Next stop is only about 10 minutes away, an outfit called Moto Technique, hidden away on a light industrial estate in East Molesley.

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I’ve been a regular visitor at this place for more than 30 years and have been mates with founder Kevin O’Rourke for the same length of time. He and his team have restored some incredible machines over the years. I’ve seen at least two 250 GTOs having ground-up restorations, along with dozens of other Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis and pretty much any exotic you care to mention being brought back from the dead to be concours winners. O’Rourke has shifted with the times. Restoration has always been the core business but a few years ago Moto Technique did a lot of insurance work. I remember a crumpled F40, and a 288 GTO before that.

O’Rourke’s current passion is resto mods. Lined up in the squeaky-clean workshop are three Ferrari 308 GTBs, each undergoing tasteful upgrading. The green one has strengthened wishbones, 360 Modena brakes and a Moto Technique-manufactured carbonfibre engine lid that saves an enormous amount of weight.

Off in the even cleaner engine shop a thorough reworking of the cars’ 3.0-litre V8s is taking place. They’re bored and stroked and fitted with throttle body injection and a full engine management system. I’ve driven a 246 GT that O’Rourke had given the engine management treatment to and it was transformed. His own Dino is fitted with an F355 engine and is a work of art. These 308s are going to give their owners a lot of pleasure.

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If I have an interesting car to test (and it’s sadly rare these days – see dull crossovers and SUVs) then I head down into Sussex to Goodwood for a sarnie and the hope of seeing something interesting circulating the track – which is what Luc Lacey and I decide to do today.

The Camaro most definitely fits into the ‘interesting’ category. It’s a wonderful car to drive slowly. I much prefer Chevrolet’s pushrod V8 to Ford’s 5.0-litre overhead-cammer in the Ford Mustang. Kevin Hurl at Ian Allan will sell you one of these gems for only a few quid over £40,000. When he’s run out of his stock of coupés and convertibles it’s unlikely that any new Camaros will come to our shores. It’s not even certain that Chevrolet will continue to build its iconic pony car for much longer.

We’re in luck. There seems to be some sort of manufacturer-customer day in progress at Goodwood. McLaren is here with a few McLaren 720Ss, Aston Martin has a Aston Martin Vantage wearing the company’s famous AML 1 number plate, Ferrari has a 812 Superfast and there’s a Singer here too. Aside from the Singer 911 I’d rather have the Camaro than any of these exotics.

More luck, Derek Bell is here. Bell is a constant presence in our world, popping up like Zelig at car launches and various events. If you’ve had the pleasure you’ll know what a warm-hearted bloke he is. “You’ll never believe it,” he exclaims, “I’ve just spun that BMW M4 at Madgwick.” If I’d come out with this sentence the world would have replied, ‘and so?’, but D. Bell losing it is unusual. “It’s modern steering: no feel for what the car is doing.” Quite.

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We must crack on as we want to be at our next stop for afternoon tea. We’ve got to negotiate the A27 east of Brighton and then head north to the village of Buxted in East Sussex, home of Crosthwaite & Gardiner. Put simply, this outfit is one of the finest automotive engineering companies in the world. A bold statement, but given that Mercedes-Benz and Audi trusted the company to build replicas of their Silver Arrows racing cars, the claim is somewhat justified.

Dick Crosthwaite, who set the company up in 1969 with the late John Gardiner, is now semi-retired and his son Ollie runs the business day to day. There is much going on at C&W that we’re unable to photograph or talk about, but that doesn’t overly restrict us as there’s plenty to gawp at and ogle. The machine shop is fascinating, with cutting-edge computer-controlled tools producing parts to ridiculously tight tolerances.

A trip around the stores is worth another couple of hours of our time. Beautifully turned nuts (with integral washers) for Bugattis, brand-new D-Type cylinder heads. Talking of which, C&W will supply a brand-new E or D-Type racing engine ready to go. Or a 2.5-litre Coventry Climax engine for a Cooper or Lotus F1 car. Then there’s the room where hundreds of patterns are kept. The last time I felt this in awe of history I was standing in the Museum of Cairo.

Dick Crosthwaite might be retired but he can’t keep away. He was pottering about the place when I last visited and he’s here today. He’s full of stories, as is Ollie. I could stay for hours but Lacey and I have to hit the road again.

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We’re winding up our day out with supper at the Ace Café on London’s North Circular Road. The café holds a meeting virtually every evening and tonight it’s British sports cars and performance cars. Our Camaro fits the latter category, then. The traffic is horrendous on the A40 into town (we went north on the A22 from Buxted and then followed the M25 around to the M40), and I’m beginning to wish we’d not bothered and instead stayed longer chatting cars with Dick and Ollie. I’ve been to the Ace Café when its car park was rammed, but that was on a balmy summer’s evening. Tonight there’s just us, a TVR Griffith and an Aston Martin Vantage. London is so busy these days that unless you’re local to the Ace or come by motorcycle it’s a nightmare to get to. It’s a pity that Caffeine and Machine is a bit too far away.

But never mind, it’s been a great day out. A simple one with friends met, lots of coffee drunk and good company in a great car that’s full of character. There will be lots of grand days out in the future.

Other options

A lifetime of being around cars has blessed me with a fat address book, and there are lots of options for future tours like today’s. Next time I might head west, drop in on Nick Mason (like Derek Bell, arch enthusiast Mason pops up everywhere) and kick the tyres of his amazing collection that’s based in Gloucestershire, and visit a company nearby called Retro Track and Air, which is a bit like Crosthwaite & Gardiner but specialises in rebuilding Rolls-Royce Merlin engines. Then finish the day with a blast up the Fosse Way to Caffeine and Machine.


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sabre 29 December 2019


The article is full of nostalgia to old classic cars and engines. But still, there is a lot to read about the new generation of cars which are diversified enough. The electric motor is less attractive than the more glorious ICE, but its potential is immense. I prefer contemporary motor racing, since past motor racing was much more bloody and mortal.

allwheelsdriven 28 December 2019

What a wonderful little story

What a wonderful little story..

Maybe I'm getting a bit old and sentimental, but it ticked all the right boxes as an accompanying read with my coffee on a cold winter's day..


Speedraser 27 December 2019

Completely agree

289 and Jason,

I completely agree.