Capri braves the snow again

Last week I had to swap cars between Great Escape Classic Car Hire's Suffolk and Worcestershire sites. Since one of the cars being moved was our 1984 Ford Capri 2 litre S readers of this blog will know that inevitably it snowed. Snow and our Capri are like gin and tonic - whenever one appears, the other closely follows. Fortunately the Cappa, as it's known, excels in the slushy stuff despite being rear wheel drive. It is light and very easy to control with narrow tyres, all of which helps it plough easily through the snow.

This time we got caught in a blizzard on the A14 east of Kettering. The snow fell rapidly and quickly clogged up the roads, causing lorries to slide into ditches and bringing traffic speeds right down. The weather worsened as we headed west but by 9.30pm we had made it as far as Stratford Upon Avon. Problems on the A46 Stratford to Alcester section - caused by a steep hill - nearly forced us to abort and B&B overnight in a deserted Stratford. But the mighty Ford Capri pulled through and a hairy detour via snowy roads to Bidford finally got us through.

So thanks again to the Ford Capri. The Ford Capri S will be heading back to Suffolk in early March when our Ford Capri 280 Brooklands arrives in Worcestershire. So Capri fans - or anyone who fancies a 1980s fix - can hire a Ford Capri from Suffolk or Worcestershire from Great Escape.

To find out more about the Ford Capri cars for hire visit the Great Escape website or call 01527 893733.

Chasing Time in a Jensen Interceptor

The video for hotly tipped folk singer Alan Pownall's single Chasing Time, which features oone of the Great Escape Classic Car Hire Jensen Interceptor cars, is now available to watch on YouTube.

Great Escape provided the dark blue 1974 Jensen for the video shoot in Islington in January. The video, which is based around a bank robbery, features the Jensen Interceptor as a getaway car driven by the rising folk star. The video features the car extensively and it fits the retro 70s chic of the video and location extremely well.

The video features Great Escape Classic Car Hire's 1974 Jensen Interceptor Mk3 based in the Cotswolds. This car is finished in dark Brienz Blue with a refurbished cream leather interior. The car also has a professionally fitted electric steel sunroof. It is available to hire by the day, weekend or week from Great escape Classic Car Hire's central base in Inkberrow, Worcestershire.

Bodmin or Bust

Bodmin is a long way from the Great Escape HQ in Worcestershire. So when the Historic and Classic-car Hirers Guild (HCHG) decided to hold its AGM in Cornwall's former judicial centre our first thought at Great Escape was - which car shall we take?

The obvious choice for the wet weather, 225 mile mainly motorway jaunt was either the Porsche 928 or the Jaguar XJR saloon. These mile munchers are perfect for long distance travel being extremely comfortable, very fast and very relaxed at motorway speeds. Except by the time the AGM came around both of these cars were out on hire with customers.

So we took the Alfasud. Our 1984 Alfa Romeo Alfasud Green Cloverleaf is new to our fleet. Like all of our new cars it has to have a minimum 500 mile 'shakedown' before it goes on hire to iron out any problems. So what better way to do it than a trip down to Bodmin?

The Alfasud performed faultlessly, holding a steady - if a little noisy - 70 all the way from Worcestershire to Bodmin via a short stop in Paignton. For 6 hours it battled torrential rain, wind and bad motorway drivers to reach Cornwall. And the next day it did it went all the way back again.

Over 450 miles the plucky little Alfasud used just 70 litres of fuel and held a steady engine temperature and oil pressure. So who says Alfas are unreliable?

We bought the Alfasud at the end of 2009 and have spent the last few months steadily fettling it to a hire standard. The car was already in excellent condition - it was used as a dealer showroom exhibit for many years - but needed detailing to bring it up to the standard we expect. After 18 months off the road it sailed through its MOT.

The Great Escape Classic Car Hire Alfasud is now available to hire from our Worcestershire site. It is part of our growing fleet of 1980s classics, joining our existing Jaguar XJS convertible, Porsche 928, VW Golf GTI and Ford Capris.

Rovering around

Towards the end of MG Rover the Rover name was hastily superglued to virtually any model that John Towers and co could fit it on. But behind the proud Viking insignia lies an illustrious history of cars that were once the BMWs of their day. At Great Escape Classic Car Hire we think it's time to remember what it really meant to drive a Rover.

In the 1950s and 196s Rover developed a range of cars that were conservative and traditional but superbly well engineered and made. These cars, such as the Rover P4 and Rover P5, were popular with doctors, lawyers and bankers for whom a Jaguar was just a little too flash. This range of cars and this market was solid and worthy but not necessarily wide enough to keep Rover in business for ever.

The staple car for Rover through the 1960s was the Rover P5, launched in 1958 with a 3 litre straight six engine and developed through Mark 1, 2 and 3 versions with steadily improving aesthetics and comfort. The Rover P5 was available, unusually, as a saloon and four door coupe, the latter having a sloping rear roof and particularly pleasing lines.

In 1967 Rover had a flash of inspiration. Following the chance discovery of a lightweight V8 Buick engine during a trip to the USA, the Rover management secured the manufacturing rights and promptly dropped it into the Rover P5 to create the P5B (B for Buick). The P5B was a wolf in sheep's clothing, the lightweight 3.5 litre V8 engine producing a lovely throaty noise and remarkable performance. This old girl could really lift her skirts when the doctors and lawyers of Britain's shire counties fancied a walk on the wild side.

The Rover P5B in many respects saved Rover from oblivion. Plodding on making cars for Middle England was unsustainable in the rapidly changing Swinging Sixties. The Rover P5B changed that. It was equally at home chauffeuring a Head of State - Margarat Thatcher loved the Rover P5B - or the Managing Director of a newly successful engineering firm. Rover became about nouveau rich as well as olde worlde money.

Despite the opulence, style and capability of the Rover P5B, it has always been one of those cars that has hidden a little under the radar in the classic car fraternity. It seems to have been under the shadow of cars like the Jaguar Mk2 and later Rover P6. At Great Escape Classic Car Hire we've always loved them. And now we have two - a 1965 Rover P5 Mk3 with the 3 litre Rover engine and a Rover P5B coupe with the Buick engine. The Rover P5 is available to hire in Suffolk and the Rover P5B is available to hire from our Cotswolds base. Perfect for a day or weekend away with friends and family - just drop the picnic tables and enjoy some 1960s style. The Rover P5B is finished in white with a grey roof so it also looks good as a wedding car.

Jensen Interceptor Getaway Car

The Great Escape Jensen Interceptor lived up to our name in London in February 2010 when it starred alongside a hotly tipped new singer songwriter in his first video. The premis of Alan Pownall's video for his first single Chasing Time was a bank getaway and for the producers the Jensen was the perfect set of wheels. The Jensen's jetset 1970s style and mammoth burbling 7.2 litre V8 fitted the London setting perfectly.

The Great Escape Classic Car Hire Jensen Interceptor was used extensively in the filming and performed fautlessly. The shoot required us to deliver the car to Islington in London by 7.30am and shooting finished at 7pm. This involved a 3.30am start in 2 inches of snow on undriven roads - a tall test for the high powered rear wheel drive Jensen but one that it took easily in its stride. We arrived early after a 70 mph blast down the M40 and through early morning London traffic. The trip back was equally uneventful. The only downside was the cold weather. At motorway speeds the engine stayed so cold that the cockpit heater thermostat wouldn't kick in meaning a rather chilly journey.

The Jensen proved a massive hit with the people of Islington. Parked by the kerb for 12 hours it attracted a constant stream of questions and oggling with cars slowing down to admire its sleek continent-busting grand touring lines.

We would say this wouldn't we but at Great Escape we think Alan Pownall is great - a genuinely nice guy with some excellent tunes. Not that in the music business that always means much. Good luck to him and we look forward to seeing the video on YouTube in a couple of weeks. To view the acoustic version of Chasing Time by Alan Pownall click here.

Even if you haven't got a music video to make you can hire the Great Escape Classic Car Hire Jensen Interceptor by the day, weekend or week. Every hire day includes a full 24 hours use, unlimited mileage, insurance and breakdown cover. For more details visit our website or call 01527 893733.