Raymax Blackwood

We first spoke to Raymax after spotting his gorgeous 260Z at a London car meet. It turned out Ray actually runs his own club: The Afro-Caribbean Classic and Sports Car Club.

So, we headed up to London for a cruise around town, getting to know his 260Z and why he started the ACCSCC in the first place.

WHY DOES THE UK NEED AN AFRO-CARIBBEAN CLASSIC CAR CLUB?

“As a black person, I go to a lot of car shows. Now, black guys love cars, a few of us like classic cars. If I go to a car show and I see another black guy, I want to talk to him. We share an interest, we’ve got something in common. But I don’t know what he’s going to be like - so I just try and make contact, nod as we pass or something. He might try and do the opposite - try to not pay me any mind at all. I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable or anything - so I’ve just got these cards I hand out and just say look I’m in this group just in case you’re interested."

WHY?

“It will be the first time there will have been a club where it’s just a group of black guys. Just with classic cars. It's almost like history, I’m doing something historic in the classic car community. We’re having our first club stand at The Bromley Pageant. I’m having a banner made, ‘Afro-Caribbean Classic Car Club’. This morning I was looking for the bunting to put around our cars… we’re gonna have vintage clothing, an 80s theme. On Friday I’m going to be cooking loads of jerk chicken and fish, gonna have a proper Carribean party thing. Just something a bit different, you know.”

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IS THERE A NEED FOR CLUBS THAT RECOGNISE THE OWNERS INSTEAD OF THE CARS?

“Probably. I’m hoping there will be. In Jamaica, there’s a Jamaican classic car club. They’ve got every car you can think of, Porsche 911s - things you wouldn’t think to see in Jamaica. When I go there, I still love to go to car shows - it doesn’t matter that it's Jamaica, you know?”

“It also shows other members of our community another side of us. We can do charity things and all sorts, just like everybody else. You could have track days or whatever, there are loads of things we can do. I have had people that have been a bit uncomfortable with it, a bit like ‘oooh I don’t know, it sounds a bit funny.’ But it's just a fun thing.”

“IF THE WEATHER’S NICE, I’LL GET HOME FROM WORK AND I’LL JUST DRIVE AROUND FOR HALF AN HOUR, THERE’S BE NO POINT, BUT I FEEL HAPPY, I FEEL GOOD - IT’S JUST MY THING.”

RAYMAX’S COLLECTION

Raymax is a car collector. He’s one of the lucky few that has got ‘the knack’ for spotting cars at the bottom of their depreciation curve, snapping them up as they turn around and start to increase in value. But there are no hangars full of vintage racers, no timber extensions on his house, full of Ferraris - this is London after all. Raymax’s collection is always evolving. At the moment the centrepiece is a 260Z and an SLC. Raymax also has an unusual soft spot for his MR2 MK1.

WHAT DO PEOPLE THINK ABOUT ALL YOUR CARS?

“People think I’m mad. People say you can’t drive them all, and I don’t really, the Honda [Prelude], the Datsun and the Mercedes at the moment are the only three cars that are insured and on the road. Finding the right insurance for them can be a problem.”

WHAT STARTED IT ALL OFF?

“I wanted a car, I wanted a classic car. I was actually looking at the Mercedes W123. I couldn’t see any at the price I could pay. I saw the SLC in 2012, it was in pretty good condition and that’s what started it off. I paid £700 for it, I love the car. Then I would just be on eBay and if I saw something that was in pretty good condition for cheap, I’d have it. My plan was to buy cars, do them up, sell them for a profit. Ultimately I want an Interceptor.”

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SO YOU’RE CHASING AN INTERCEPTOR - YOU KNOW THEY’RE GOING UP, RIGHT?

“I know, I’m doing it all the wrong way, but I find it really hard to sell [my cars]. Even that Honda - really by now I should have sold it and made a grand or whatever. I bought that car for £750, I should be happy to sell that for £2000. I’ve done nothing to it apart from putting a battery in it. But it just drives so well.”

SO DO YOU THINK YOU’LL EVER GET THE INTERCEPTOR?

“I don’t know, I don’t know. As you said they're appreciating away from me. I’d have to sell everything. Looking at the Jensen now, what they’re going for, if I put both the Merc and the Datsun on eBay, I should get enough money to buy my Interceptor, and still have my MR2 and Vitesse as a backup - but it's hard because they’ve become a part of me now. Every time I buy a car, I like it and can’t sell it. That's where I am now, 6 cars I can’t sell.”

I’VE NEVER KNOWN ANYONE SO EXCITED ABOUT A STOCK MR2. WHAT ARE WE ALL MISSING?

“It’s a fantastic car, I can’t tell you enough. I’ll tell anybody, it’s reliable, you can drive it anywhere, it's so much fun - it's economical. It’s the ideal classic, you’ve got Japanese reliability - that engine is bullet proof. I spent £500, I’ve driven it 7000 miles, I’ve not even changed a spark plug in that car.” 

MANY WOULD KILL FOR A 260Z, WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE INTERCEPTOR THAT TOPS A 'Z CAR?

“There’s no car with a name better than Jensen Interceptor. If some guy walks into a pub, puts his keys down and says 'I drive an Interceptor' you’re thinking ‘what in the world’s going on here.’ It’s just mad, I love that aspect of it. I think it's a fantastic looking car. I think it’s better than an Aston Martin, I think it’s even better looking than an E-type Jag. It’s got a 7.3 litre engine. It doesn’t make sense. None of it makes sense.”

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I stopped to think. Tom and I thought we’d come to do a story on a guy that was battling against the odds - owning a Datsun in London. But it soon became clear that the whole saga was actually about a Jensen Interceptor - but here we were listening to Ray waxing lyrical about a 90s MR2. 

Raymax really is a true car nut - totally unbiased. The cars he has, he loves for their merits. I couldn’t help but think back to when we went to see Hammond - even though he has some really blue chip cars - his collection is identical in motive to Raymax’s. It's just about having a curiosity about a car and becoming a part of a car's history for very simple reasons. “I just liked the way it looked”.

Raymax’s 260Z is the perfect side-kick for while he’s building the ACCSCC. It's a universally loved - a no quibble, awesome, retro car - the perfect conversation starter to help Ray grow the club. Will you ever see Ray cruising around Tottenham in an Interceptor? I don’t know, but I really hope he manages to get to the point where a Jensen can be a reality for him. Although Ray did confess - even when he gets to the magic number to buy the car of his dreams, he’s not sure if he’ll be able to give up the cars that helped him get there along the way...

TheToms