It’s fair to say that each make and model of classic car carries its own unique set of cliches. Such connotations are often rooted in pop culture - owning an Aston Martin, for example, may attract the occasional 007-related remark… and let’s not forget how easily a tongue-in-cheek Top Gear review can define a car for years to come.
What better way to dig a little deeper into the subject than by asking the owners themselves? We recently surveyed a selection of Footman James clients to find out what people think their classic says about them...
We begin with the Jaguar contingent – a group who told us the leaping cat symbolises pace, style, prestige and comfort.
One owner of a Jaguar XJS thought that his choice of classic reflects that he values nostalgia and comfort, while another with an XJ12 saloon said, “My car says about me that I like luxury, even if I couldn’t afford it when it was new. I also appreciate good engineering and I keep my cars a long time – as I bought this one in 1999.”
Credit - Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A.
An Alfa Romeo Brera owner said: “I believe it expresses a wish to drive a unique vehicle that shows me to be very conscious of style and performance. Certain marques tend to be associated with status, some with speed and performance and others with investment value - which tells me a bit about the character of the person who owns them.”
For those that love iconic British roadsters, it’s hard to resist the charm of an old school MG. One owner of a 1966 MGB Roadster told us their classic reflects that they’re an enthusiast who enjoys a challenge.
“I’ve owned my MGB for 40 years, having spent lots of time getting it and keeping it roadworthy. It says that I’m also a bit crazy really, as I spend most weekends tinkering, but it also tells me that I’m a happy owner who enjoys the thrill of a classic MG on the open road.”
Credit - Car & Classic
There are of course other ways to enjoy open-top motoring… One client, who runs both a Vauxhall Cavalier Convertible and Mercedes SL, told us they’d noticed a difference between how people view the cars.
“I bought my first Cavalier Convertible for my wife in 1988, and I own the current one with my son. Given they have no value to speak of, I think that says I am a true classic car fan… I am also lucky enough to own a 1986 Mercedes-Benz SL (R107), both are my daily drivers. The attitude and reception to both is completely different. People seem to be surprised to see the Vauxhall – probably because my Cavalier convertible is still on the road!”
Citroën is a manufacturer associated with doing things differently, but owning a French classic has the potential to bleed into other aspects of your life…
One enthusiast, who is a self-confessed Francophile and the owner of a Renault 4 and Citroen C6, said: “I love French culture, the food and of course the cars from the 1960s-80s. I’ve owned Citroen 2CVs, a CX and a BX – my all-time dream car is that wonderfully styled and Maserati-powered, Citroen SM! I’ve also had a couple of Alfa Romeos, which must qualify me as a petrolhead!”
The keeper of a 1964 Renault Caravelle and 1970 VW Karmann Cabriolet, who’s owned them for a combined 60 years, said: “Both are wonderful examples of 'automotive art' in simple colours, hand-built in Paris and Osnabruck, and are design classics to my eyes. They each look a picture with their period coachwork, whitewalls and abundant chrome on display, which allows me to easily forgive their lack of power and speed.
Credit - Simply VW
“Built for hood-down cruising along B-roads, they each make me smile when I'm driving them and certainly exude more style and panache than I ever could. I just think I'd love to be as cool as the classic cars I drive, maybe that makes me a 'wannabe', but that's alright too.”
The owners of classics separated by several decades both commented on how enthusiasts often deliberately (or accidently) reflect the character of their cars.
The owner of a Morris 8 2+2 Tourer, said: “Some owners try to dress and style their personal hair, make-up and personal attire to reflect the car’s era or class,” while another with a ‘70s Vauxhall Firenza Droop Snoot commented, “You can tell what certain people drive due to their attire and mannerisms.”
The owner of a 1960 Vauxhall Cresta PA told us that 1950s American design influence was the driving factor behind his choice of classic: “I’ve always loved fifties styling, including the fashions and hairstyles, so the car acts as an extension of that!”
This point was summed up perfectly by the enthusiastic owner of a Peugeot 205 GTI – one of the most celebrated cars of the 1980s.
“I think my car says about me that the 1980s was one of the best eras for cars and music. My 205 GTI was built just when the era of house music began. It really is my little time machine, which takes me 30 years back whenever we venture out on the roads. Of course, there’s only ever that era of music played in my little pocket rocket.”
So, if you’ve never thought about it, are you thinking about it now? What do you drive and what does your classic say about you?