The world’s coolest driver, six times Le Mans winner and greatest wet weather pedaller of his era, one Jacky Ickx, has bought himself a new car.
It’s a Volkswagen California, otherwise known as a camping version of the Caravelle MPV. Has the great man finally lost it, or has he, in fact, played a masterstroke?
Having spent a bit of time snoozing in Californias, I incline entirely to the latter view. To look at and to drive it is a Caravelle, which means enough performance to drive it from Norway to Egypt without it annoying you which, incidentally, is exactly what he plans to do with it this summer.
Then, at the press of a button, the roof rises up to reveal a sprung bed base that’s big and comfortable enough for a more than decent night’s sleep.
The idea of something with the exterior dimensions of a conventional car, which doesn’t require anything to be towed yet will sleep four in comfort (the cabin also converts into a double bed), and has a kitchen complete with cooker and running water, a wardrobe and even an awning with table and chairs, is immensely appealing.
You get all the functionality of a caravan but at twice the speed, ten times the enjoyment and you won’t even be hated by every other person on the road.
But what the California provides more than anything else and what I suspect Ickx sees in it most (apart from what I suspect are rather easy terms), is freedom. In his case, freedom not to stay in the big corporate hotel and go to the big corporate dinner with the big corporate cheeses.
In our case it is the freedom not to drive that proves most compelling. If you’re tired, you can park up anywhere you damn well like, get a decent night’s kip and get straight back on the road.
If you’re plastered, you don’t have to risk life and licence getting home – you just sleep it off in the California. I know, I’ve done it.