Il Lavoro Italiano Event

Great Escape Classic Car Hire has teamed up with Prestige Promotions to offer the remarkable Il Lavoro Italiano (that's Italian for The Italian Job in case you wondered). From Kent to Maranello, home of the Prancing Horse Ferraris, this amazing top class tour takes in the Alps and Italian Lakes for some truly stunning driving.

The package includes ferries, 5 star quality hotels, dining, breakdown cover and comprehensive tour notes.

If you're lucky enough to own a classic or super car already you can take that. Alternatively we are offering special packages involving any of our fleet of 50 classic cars for hire. Start from any of our UK locations or we'll deliver the car to the start point at Lenham.

The tour runs from Sunday 11th September to Friday 16th September 2011. Places are very limited. To find out more call 01527 893733 or visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk/ to view our range of cars.




E Type coupe back after rebuild

We've got our beautiful 1970 Jaguar E Type 4.2 coupe back after a 3 month, £5,000 refurbishment by a classic Jaguar specialist. The car will rejoin Great Escape Classic Car Hire's rental fleet in Suffolk based near Stowmarket.


The Jaguar E Type has been a popular part of our hire fleet for several years but we took the decision earlier this year to withdraw it and treat it to a major overhaul. The work included some attention to the rear suspension, engine overhaul, new tyres and a brake refurbishment. The work was entrusted to a specialist and has improved the car significantly. We have begun testing the car and it runs beautifully with a sweet and smooth engine and surefooted roadholding.


Great Escape Classic Car Hire has the largest fleet of Jaguar E Types for hire in the UK including two V12 convertibles, one V12 coupe and the 4.2 litre coupe. Jaguar E Types can be hired from Great Escape locations in Suffolk, Cotswolds and Yorkshire. The perfect way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Jaguar E Type.


You can find out more about the Jaguar E Type for hire by visiting http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk/ or call 01527 893733.

Weekend Challenge for Alfa Spider

One of Great Escape Classic Car Hire's Alfa Romeo Spiders took on a challenge last weekend (23rd and 24th July) put down by a classic car motoring journalist. Phil Wheedon of Classic Car Buyer and Classic Car Mart borrowed our 1992 burgundy Alfa Romeo Spider Series 4 for a trip to Scotland and back over 48 hours, via his home in Peterborough, for a forthcoming feature. We were happy to oblige because we were 100% confident in the car's reliability.


The 19 year old Alfa Romeo Spider performed faultlessly throughout the journey, which included Phil returning from Scotland with the hood down all the way. Although we will be checking the car on the ramp following this epic journey, there are no reported faults on the 65,000 mile car.

At Great Escape Classic Car Hire we work extremely hard to improve the reliability of our fleet of cars, of which the average age is over 30 years old. We operate a strict maintenance regime for every vehicle and we have invested in an in-house workshop at our main Worcestershire site. This has improved vehicle turnaround and enables us to ramp check every car on a regular basis. Our other sites have similar arrangements with local garages.

"Our breakdown rate is less than 2%," explains Graham Eason of Great Escape Classic Car Hire. "That is pretty remarkable considering that our cars cover over 5 times the average classic car mileage and very nearly the average motorist's mileage."

Every Great Escape classic car is covered by full nationwide AA breakdown recovery. Unlike some classic car hire companies, Great Escape does not charge for vehicle repair and recovery from anywhere in the UK.

For more details on the Great Escape fleet visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk/ or call 01527 893733.

BBC Top Gear loves the Jensen Interceptor

The BBC Top Gear television programme can be a fickle thing but when it finds something it loves, it praises it to the heavens. So it was that last night (Sunday July 24th 2011) the Jensen Interceptor found itself in the programme's radar beams as Clarkson and co doffed a floppy hat to the car of the 70s.


In a lengthy feature dedicated to the Jensen Interceptor the Top Gear team tested one of the new Jensen Interceptor S models and then created their own TV detective programme in homage to the fantastic 70s fastback, complete with fulsome moustaches. This pastiche featured three Jensen Interceptors from our friends at Cropredy Bridge garage in Banbury, who do all the fettling on Great Escape Classic Car hire's own Jensen Interceptors.


We're proud to say we've always loved the car that Jeremy Clarkson said has the best name ever put on a car - Interceptor. The Top Gear feature captured everything that is wonderful about these stylish grand tourers - the retro individualism of a car that is now so out of kilter with modern times. Our customers love it too - our two Jensen Interceptor cars are amongst the most popular hire cars on our fleet.


You can live the Clarkson dream by hiring a Jensen Interceptor in Yorkshire or Worcestershire for the Cotswolds. Prices start at £245 for 24 hours and include unlimited mileage, comprehensive insurance and full nationwide AA breakdown cover. For more details visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk/ or call 01527 893733.

Great Escape cars at Silverstone Classic

The extremes of Great Escape Classic Car Hire's fleet took pride of place at the Silverstone Classic on the weekend of 23rd and 24th July. Our white 1972 Jaguar E Type V12 convertible, which also features on magazine covers this month, took part in the E Type 50th Anniversary parade lap in the hands of celebrity DJ Simon Hirst, while our 1988 Peugeot 205 GTI circuited the track with a customer on the Retro Run event.


"We are really pleased to see customers making use of our cars in this way," says Graham Eason of Great Escape. "Lapping Silverstone in a classic car has to be one of life's real achievements."


The Jaguar E Type convertible and the Peugeot 205 GTI are part of the UK's largest fleet of classic cars for hire. Prices start at just £95 for 24 hours, including unlimited mileage, comprehensive insurance and full UK breakdown cover.


For more information visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk/ or call 01527 893733.



Try before you buy Alfa Romeo Spider

Great Escape Classic Car Hire road tester Matt Nichols tries out the Alfa Romeo Spider


Do you sometimes wonder what makes a car a classic car? It’s not as though there is a straight forward definition, or line drawn somewhere out there in the sand. Some cars just seem to naturally gravitate to being classics, whilst others pick up provenance along the way, possibly from appearing in a film, or perhaps owned by somebody famous. Look around some more and you find another group that have had to go out and win big time to gain entry, often facing severe adversity in races and rallies across the globe before finally being recognised and appreciated for what they are.

The Alfa Romeo Spider, although gaining recognition in the film ‘The Graduate’, seems to fall into a fourth category, one that is arguably the most difficult to gain entry. A category where cars are simply born and live out their entire lives as classic cars, spread in this case over an incredible three decades. Because for over 27 years, Alfa’s pretty two seat sports car was held in the highest esteem throughout the world and across all four mildly tweaked generations that culminated in this roll out series 4 derivative. On the surface surprising, but then to some degree easier to understand when you look up the original recipe and recognise some of the key ingredients; pure Alfa DNA, gorgeous Pininfarina styling and classic front engine and rear wheel drive layout. All topped off, like the icing on an already impressive cake, by something that is no means guaranteed from any car, classic or otherwise, one that is grin inducing fun to drive.Quite how good this car is to whiz along with the roof down is perhaps the biggest surprise of all, particularly when your overwhelming pre-conceived idea is that of a car demonstrating form over function. Or one some might refer to as having a strong feminine appeal. Not a bad thing, just not necessarily an image that conjures up the right impression of a true driver’s machine. Which just proves how wrong you can be?
Having spent a day driving the Great Escape car I have to admit that although there is forgiveness in the chassis and suspension, which certainly helps prevent a sudden diversion to the nearest dentist immediately after every speed bump, there is also something else that you discover when pushing on a bit. Thankfully not the disappointing wooliness that I was expecting, instead a lovely deftness around how weight is transferred from both left to right and front to rear delivering real driving pleasure that can be enjoyed at any speed.As a consequence I am now convinced that this car’s hidden brilliance is as a direct result of it being rear wheel drive, because it constantly reminds you that there are two ends to consider.
From the slight shimmy over minor undulations to the way it hooks itself up into corners. On a car of this size the sheer mass of the live rear axle means that unless provoked, it is basically stuck to the road. What you feel sat in the cockpit is therefore as a result of the solid steel bars that connect the axle to the rest of the car. If the Spider were front wheel drive it would loose that feeling, and arguably its proper sports car credibility. Personally I reckon maintaining this layout represented a great call from Alfa, a landmark decision that also meant the Series 4 Spider was the last mainstream Alfa to use a front engine rear wheel drive layout before the Fiat chassis era finally took over.
Navigating both slow and fast sections of the highway I cannot hide my unexpected appreciation and respect for this diminutive Alfa sports car, from its great looks, both inside and outside the cockpit, to the pace you can maintain whilst rolling along with barely a tickle on the throttle pedal. Look at the dash and think it too modern, then eyeball the front wings, or right hand rear flank through the drivers mirror and you’re immediately transported back in time. As you are every time the rear of the car reminds you of its presence over bumps and undulations, truly sensational.In terms of classic car traits there are very few, namely a squeaky rear end and very slow drivers side electric window, but these minor points aside, the roof is the best I’ve experienced, controls light and easy to use, brakes brilliant, gearbox a delight, indicators that cancel themselves, and as I now appreciate most unusual of all, a clock that still works. No adjustments are required from driving cars from a more modern era either, the fuel consumption is very good and better still it requires only normal unleaded.
This really is a car that can be enjoyed by everyone, whatever you drive or have driven before, delivering a truly fun day out, so go on you know you want to.
Verdict
1991 Alfa Romeo Spider Series 4
Driving
In one word 'fun'
Engine
Alfa's 1962cc twin cam engine works particularly well in the middle band (3,000-4,000rpm) whilst in fifth gear travelling at 60-70mph
Performance
Max Power: 120 BHPMax Torque: 122 lbs/ft0–60 mph: 9.4 secondsTop speed: 118 mph
Brakes
The all round servo assisted disc brakes on this car are brilliant
Handling
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all, agile and engaging
Desirability
Series 1 and 2 values are the highest and on the rise, which bodes well for later models. Series 4 car values are holding strong with the less well liked rubber bumper Series 3 models the cheapest buy
Pro’s
Fun car for any occasion that comes with classic Alfa DNA
Con’s
Buying: Mechanicals, as long as well maintained, are robust and reliable, but sadly the steel used by Alfa during this time was not the best, so be careful Renting: None
Overall
4.5/ 5

Moggy Minor cover star

Great Escape Classic Car Hire's cute 1962 Morris Minor convertible graces the cover of August's Practical Classics magazine as part of a major feature on 4 seater convertibles. The car is photographed alongside 3 other classics on the seafront in North Norfolk, a perfect setting for this most relaxing and sedate of open top tourers.
We work regularly with classic car magazines to provide cars for photoshoots. On this occasion we delivered the Morris to Peterborough using our dedicated transport facilities and then collected it a couple of days later from Kings Lynn.
The Practical Classics team were very complimentary about the car and the article mentions how the Morris consistently received the most attention throughout the shoot. Although the car didn't win the back-to-back road test, it did come second, pipped only by the larger Corsair.
"The feature looked at the best 4 seater family convertible for the summer," explains Graham Eason of Great Escape. "The Morris is a very good choice for anyone with a family because it is spacious, very easy to drive, easy to own and attracts huge amounts of attention. Our customers always report seeing the brighter side of life when they're behind the wheel."
Great Escape Classic Car Hire has three white Morris Minor convertibles available to hire in the UK, based in Worcestershire, Yorkshire and Suffolk. A red car is also available in Lincolnshire. The cars can be hired by the day, weekend or week and prices start at just £145 fully inclusive of insurance, breakdown cover and unlimited mileage.
For more details visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk/ or call 01527 893733.
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Aston Martin DB6 road test

Try Before You Buy – 1967 Aston Martin DB6



by Matt Nichols
If you’re reading this then maybe you fancy being James Bond for the day, enjoying film star status and associated admiring glances from everyone who sees you driving this instantly recognisable silver DB6. Nothing wrong with that, and if it is the case then I recommend planning as many opportunities to park in public places as you can. Equally it could be that you just want to spend some time with a thoroughbred car from Great Escape Classic Car Hire and so once again no problem, because this 1967 Aston Martin DB6 will perform both roles equally well.

Now before we go any further and get all ‘anoraky’ about exactly which car Britain’s number one secret agent was given the keys to by long suffering Q, let’s all get into a room, close the door and in whispered tones agree, OK yes it was in fact a DB5, before considering the differences between the two cars. Sit in the driver’s seat taking in the beautiful dash and frontal view whilst listening to the 4.0 litre 6 cylinder engine and there is absolutely no difference at all. Because like watching Kylie Minogue in concert in the 00’s, back in the 60’s when planning the move from DB5 to DB6, Aston Martin’s whole focus was on the rear.
The changes, which until pointed out would appear to be quite subtle and largely a refinement of the previous model, provided more headroom in the back, a longer wheelbase, larger boot, race car inspired Kamm Tail and stiffer rear chassis. All brought about from a slight deviation to the full Superleggera aluminium body uniquely formed onto a tubular frame, to one that used some steel adding the grand total of 8Kg. So yes I think piloting this beautiful DB6 you can quite justifiably feel like 007, I know I did. Or just choose to relax and enjoy classic car driving from a bygone era and wonder why the bloody hell we stopped making motor cars like this in the first place.Sat inside this surprisingly low slung GT Coupe, in which your legs seem to stretch horizontally in front of you, smell the leather and absorb the aircraft styled dashboard, and it is difficult not to break into an involuntary smile. Are you really in an Aston Martin DB6 and about to put the key into the ignition, start the engine and drive away? The good news is that starting it is easy, achieved by simply swinging the choke lever all the way across to its ‘Start’ position, pushing the gear selector forwards against an invisible switch and turning the key to bring the engine into life. Follow this by a couple of blips on the throttle to clear the engines throat and it will settle into a fast and smooth idle. Waiting for everything to warm up provides a great opportunity to become familiar with the location of vital temperature and pressure gauges as you by now grin uncontrollably. Yes you really are behind the wheel of a DB6 and about to set off.
As soon as you’re ready to go it is just a case of selecting Drive (D1) whilst covering the brake pedal, releasing the counter intuitive ‘fly-off’ handbrake, if left on, and pulling away to instantly discover how well this classic Aston will purr along both quietly and comfortably with only a little more noise than a modern car, all of which thankfully comes from the gloriously resonant 6 cylinder engine and signature background whine of the transmission, absolutely superb. There is also the lovely feel of the large diameter thin rimmed three spoke wooden steering wheel, assisted by very well judged power steering.
Once out on the open road you don’t really miss this car being a manual, other than maybe nowhere to hide an ejector seat button (damn!). Because although the acceleration has been diluted slightly, as the car is well over 40 years of age anyway, driving this classic is probably no longer about achieving competitive 0-60mph times, if it ever was in the first place. Instead the DB6 is best appreciated as a Grand Tourer and more about what you do once you get to 60mph, at which point you are in a great position to work with the car in dealing with the road ahead. Fast bends soon become a joy and once over the shock of how far the skinny tyres allow the front of this 1500kg car to move around you find yourself gradually getting braver and braver. Also, with mid-corner adjustments being quite tricky to pull off the old adage of ‘slow in and fast out’ could not be more appropriate. The auto box, which is lightening quick at getting into top gear, and doggedly determined not to go back down until at a virtual standstill means you are apparently locked in third gear whilst cruising along. This is where the engine really comes into play by delivering large shovelfuls of torque providing strong acceleration on straight sections of road accompanied by essential power through the twisty bits to keep some weight over the back axle on this thoroughbred British GT.
When you do need to slow down there are the usual options of lifting or braking and then once around 40mph you have an additional option to bring into play the Low (L) gear, just one click down from D1, which drops the car a ratio whilst providing additional benefits in the form of permanent engine braking. This works particularly well around town and whilst descending steep hills providing a routine that enables you to be fully engaged in the overall driving experience. For me returning from back up from L to D1 seemed to work best on a very light throttle which helped avoid the forced auto-box change feel like you are sat in the carriage of a train being shunted around a siding.
It’s normally at this point in these reviews I like to dwell on what we call classic car traits, just so you know what to look out for, or consider on the day. With the DB6 there are a couple, as you’d expect, but the only one you need to take any serious note of is the brakes. Because never before have I seriously considered the benefits of doing one legged squats in the gym for 3 months leading up to driving a car, that is until I had to stop for the first time at the entrance way of Great Escape Cars business unit. The pedal was solid enough and allowed me to press very hard indeed and thankfully the car did stop safely. It just didn’t seem to stop anywhere near in proportion to how hard I was pressing. That said I only had to learn that lesson once and funnily enough never forgot it or had a problem again, as I just left ample room to slow the car down.
All in all I loved my time with this DB6, its jaw dropping good looks and attention it generated, which ranged from a thumbs up from the youthful driver of a lowered BMW 3 Series to my ‘slightly’ more mature neighbours walking helplessly towards it like zombies in the dark saying ‘…that’s a…a…a…’ yes it is an Aston Martin DB6, lovely isn’t it? To the superb way this car does A-Road Britain in true classic British GT style. I really hope you decide to have a go in this car, because life is short and despite messages to the contrary on the big screen by the man himself, you do in fact only live once.

Verdict
1967 Aston Martin DB6
Driving
Ultimate classic GT driving experience that is best suited to the fast flowing A Roads that adorn our green and pleasant land
Engine
Aston Martin 3995cc in line six cylinder engine, with DOHC and Triple SU Carbs carried straight over from the DB5
Performance
Max Power: 282 BHP @ 5500 rpmMax Torque: 280 lbs/ft @ 4500 rpmWeight: 1498kg0–60 mph: 6.5 seconds (Manual)Top speed: 150 mph (Manual)
Brakes
There may be servo assisted disc brakes front and rear, but the brake pedal has to be pressed very hard indeed. Selecting Low (L) on the auto-box helps shed the last 30-40mph
Handling
Beautifully weighted once the front tyres have carved their groove into the corner and so best enjoyed with a ‘slow in and fast out’ driving style
Desirability
This Aston is right up there no question, although purists still insist on a DB4 or DB5 and so they are where the really serious money is
Pro’s
Stunning classic British grand tourer that makes you feel like James Bond
Con’s
Buying




With aluminium body panels and the unique Superleggera construction onto a spaceframe chassis it’s all about hidden horrors. Project cars have been known to require six figure investments to bring them back up to scratch Renting: None
Overall
5/5
Great Escape Classic Car Hire has introduced a new range of low cost 1980s classic cars for hire. Based at the company's Cotswolds HQ, the new cars are available to hire with the best value hire package on the market.
The range of new cars are from the 1980s and include a Saab 900 Turbo 16S, Peugeot 205 GTI, VW Golf GTI Mk1 and Rover SD1 Vitesse. Prices are just £95 for 24 hours use or £160 for a 48 hour weekend, including unlimited mileage, comprehensive insurance and full nationwide AA breakdown cover.
"Our customers want to drive the cars they remember from their youth and 1980s classic cars are the next thing in classic car hire," explains Graham Eason of Great Escape. "We've put together a range of iconic classic cars from the 1980s and by sheer chance, most of them are finished in period bright red.
"Some people are a little sniffy about 1980s classic cars but the Saab, Peugeot, VW and Rover are simply brilliant drivers cars. We can offer them so cheaply because they are more reliable than our older fleet - so they cost us less to run."
For more details on the new range of low cost classic cars to hire from Great Escape Classic Car Hire visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk/ or call 01527 893733.
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E Type cover star (again)

For the second time in a month a Great Escape Classic Car Hire Jaguar E Type graces the cover of a magazine celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E Type. This time it is the turn of our elegant white Jaguar E Type convertible V12 Series 3, which features on the cover of Classics Monthly's heavyweight tomb dedicated to the E Type Jaguar's 50th anniversary.
The £10.99 book, which covers the entire history of the Jaguar E Type, buying guides and driving experiences of every single model, has been specially produced to celebrate the E Type's anniversary. The book features a lengthy article on the Great Escape Classic Car Hire Series 3 E Type, with plenty of stunning images and a very complementary write up by Classics Monthly's Deputy Editor James Page. He starts a sceptic and comes away from the experience feeling that perhaps the Series 3 E Type, with its turbine-smooth V12 engine, is the best E Type of them all.
Great Escape Classic Car Hire regularly provides cars to magazines and TV and media organisations for photography and video shoots. We have four Jaguar E Type cars on our fleet including a 4.2 litre Series 2 coupe, a V12 coupe and two Old English White Series 3 V12 convertibles. Each car is available for hire on a self drive basis for weekends, weekdays and weddings.
For more information on Great Escape Classic Car Hire visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk/ or call 01527 893733.
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Where are the whale tales?

The 1980s. Big hair, big shoulders and big car spoilers. Nothing said 'sporting pretensions' quite like a large, fat rubber spoiler stuck on the back of your humble hot hatch. At Great Escape Classic Car Hire we've just added a Saab 900 Turbo with a full fat whale tale spoiler on the back. As we sit and stare in wonder at this iconic 80s throwback, we can't help wondering where all the fun and spoilers disappeared to?



Modern cars concentrate on low profile tyres, lowered suspension and little eyebrow roof spoilers to say 'speed' but it's all just a little discreet for us here at Great Escape. There is something endearingly innocent about the family sports cars of the 1980s, whose sporting adenda generally had some sort of purpose.



The whale tale spoiler that ended up adorning the rear ends of so many cars started life on production Porsche 911s. Pioneered on touring cars to increase rear end downforce and stick the front engined cars to the ground, it was Porsche that popularised the idea. The name reflects the design of the 911s spoiler, a massive assemblage that fitted over the engine cover and was intended to reduce the 911's famous tendency to create 911-shaped holes in hedges.



The popularity of the 911 whale tale led to plenty of copies, of which the classic Saab 900 turbo was the most obvious. Any saloon car with sporting pretensions suddenly had a rubber spoilerm, including the Cavalier SRi, Alfasud Ti and of course the XR3i. The Ford XR4i took the idea further with a massive appendage, which was later refined and enlarged for the Cosworth versions of the XR3 and XR4. Even the Porsche 928 got in on the act with a much-enlarged spoiler for the S4 version, replacing the wimpy S2's lip spoiler. The competition to get bigger and bling-er was made in the name of aerodynamics, a concept that car designers and marketers 'discovered' in the 1980s, after years of making 3-box bricks.



The whale tale spoiler was initially provided in unpainted rubber finish because manufacturers couldn't crack the paint technology required to cover a flexible surface. Many tried, resulting in flaking bumpers and spoilers a few years down the line.



The whale tale had it's day when insurers decided everyone was having too much fun and they needed to charge us for the pleasure. Insurance premiums for anything with a spoiler and GTI logo suddenly rocketed, resulting in manufacturers drastically toning down the external sporting paraphernalia.



At Great Escape Classic Car Hire we loved that era when designers had free reign to create great looking cars outside the dictates of insurers and before legislation strangled design scope. The whale tale spoiler seems to embody that spirit.



We've got a classic whale tale Porsche 911 for hire on our fleet as well as a brilliant Saab 900 Turbo with Aero bodykit. You can sample the whale tale effect from £95 for 24 hours. For more details call 01527 893733 or visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk/.