Meet Sam, Sid and Tod. Three local college guys with a daily need for anything petrol powered.
Their friendship has grown along with their commitment to classics; spawning road trips and a knowledge of cars beyond the average enthusiast.
Each car says a little bit about the person that owns it - whether it’s a relaxed surf wagon, a cheeky British classic or a stocky little Suzuki. Every car works in its own way. We spent the day with them and rather than organise poses for pictures, ended up whiling the time cruising around the south coast with nothing in mind but enjoying these cars in the sun. If there's one thing these chaps have taught us, it's how to enjoy the freedom a car can give you.
Sam's Lada is a lesson in turning something a bit fuddy into a worthwhile surf wagon. The roof rack, the wooden side wrap, the wheel caps, all considered additions that take this brick from the scrapheap of Russia's dull family runarounds and turn it into a properly cool estate. Sam's even put a Weber on the gutsy 1500. On the twisty bits the tiny wheels scrabble around a bit - there's a lot of hilarious body roll. Probably best keep things on the straight and narrow. None of it matters though because this car has a stereo, a massive boot and enough room for actual people.
Sid’s Mini (Mabel) takes a mixture of approaches. It’s not covered in stickers like bits of the Lada. It’s got those cream leather seats (oooh) and unique and mysterious purple metallic paint; sometimes it’s black, sometime’s it’s not. The one thing unsubtle about it is the exhaust: a centre-exit, dual piped raucous that announces Sid’s arrival before you even see him. Nice.
The Suzuki, on the other hand, takes to the road like a squash ball rolling along a gravelly path. It’s got some real retro kudos though. Look at off-road Suzukis around today and in the back you’ll probably find a gingham rug and some Sainsburys shopping bags. In Tod’s car however, you feel like putting your arm out the window and turning up the music. Roofless, with chrome bars and some hardy scuffs all over, it’s a meaty chunk of fun that spits at the big 4x4 dogs before scrambling off to climb a hill, or wallow in some mud.
What’s clear is that each car takes a unique look at what owning your first classic is like. Separate... they are outlaws; but together they scream individuality and style. But what about keeping them going? I've been the only one with a classic in my house-share before and it's a lonely venture. Mornings spent fiddling with faulty electrics while everyone else is in bed certainly lose their edge. Living in a city I felt like a mad person with a piece of junk spewing out fumes at every red light. A romantic picture isn’t it. The truth is classics can be hard work, but not when there’s people there you can share that journey with. As Sam, Sid and Tod will tell you, having that shared passion makes things just that little bit easier. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the secret sauce to owning your first classic, without wanting to drive it off a cliff.