Our E Type coupe gets a £3,000 overhaul

Great Escape Classic Car Hire has completed a major mechanical overhaul of its popular 1969 Jaguar E Type coupe. The work was done entirely by the company's in-house workshop over 10 days.
The E Type required a new clutch double-quick time in order to keep its time off the road and off hire to a minimum. This is a popular car and we needed to avoid inconveniencing customers through a lengthy repair process. As we have our own workshop and mechanic it means we can prioritise the work and repair the car to our own timescale, rather than trying to fit it into the schedule of a busy specialist garage. Consequently we can get it back on hire faster, which benefits our customers. One other advantage is that we can effect the repair at a much lower price. Had we taken the car to a specialist we would have paid over £3,000, a considerable sum to find at short notice. Having our own workshop makes the repair much more viable to complete immediately.
The clutch repair required removing the engine, a major and very physical taak. While the engine was out we decided to tidying up the engine bay and bonnet to make the car's cosmetics more attractive to hirers. The engine, ancillaries and chassis were all painted and minor corrosion rectified.
We checked the condition of the flywheel and decided to refit the original as we could only source an alloy replacement at short notice. Waiting for a steel replacement would have meant further delays and inconvenience for customers.
The car was repaired within 10 days. This meant that some customers had to switch their hires to one of our convertible E Types. Fortunately we have 6 E Types on the fleet, so we are able to do this, and the variable Uk weather played its part with some warm weather ideal for open top motoring.
This major job proved the value ofbour in-house facility and large fleet, which helped maintain customer satisfaction in an unavoidable breakdown situation.
To find out more about Great Escape Classic Car Hire visit www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733

New video road tests of DeLorean and 911 now available


Two classic cars available to hire from Great Escape Classic Car Hire have received rave reviews from Classic Cars Driven's road tester Matt Nichols. Matt has posted two 5 minute videos road tests of the company's 1969 Porsche 911 and DeLorean DMC-12 on YouTube.

The Classic Cars Driven road tests were conducted from Great Escape's Cotswolds site and include up front and personal impressions of each car from the driver's seat. You can view the videos by clicking here.
Classic Cars Driven was set up by Matt Nichols earlier this year. Matt has been our resident road tester for over a year before setting up the site. You can read his reviews of our cars throughout the Great Escape website at www.greatescapecars.co.uk.
"Written and video road tests of our cars are a great way for us to get across the customers what the cars are actually like," explains Graham Eason of Great Escape. "We give Matt a free reign - his opinions are honest and practical. Fortunately he loved the 911 and DeLorean that he recently drove."
You can find out more about Great Escape's fleet of 80 classic cars to hire in the UK, France and Italy by visiting www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733


Our tips for future classic cars


Hiring out old cars for a living tends to expose us to the likes and dislikes of the general public pretty quickly. I've lost my shirt a few times on classic car purchases I was sure would be sure fire hits, only to see them spend more time in the workshop than on hire. But sometimes I take a punt and get it right. Sometimes...
Here's a list of cars that we either hire out through Great Escape Classic Car Hire or get asked for. They're not the established classic cars but the ones we see coming over the horizon.
1. Jaguar XK8
If you like luxury old smokers and you haven't got your eye on a xk8 coupe, convertible or xkr then you should start now. Demand for and interesting in these cars is seriously on the up compared to 2011. And they won't get cheaper. We hire out a xk8 convertible and xkr coupe and they have been a joy - hassle free, reliable and customers love them
2. Jaguar xjs
Another big cat and xk8 fundraiser. The XJS has been in the doldrums for years, stuck under the E Type's shadow. No more. We are experiencing lots of 'try before you buys' from people in their 30s for whom the E Type is just the stuff of photographs. They grew up with the S and want a piece of its superb ride and handling action. Another cheap classic that can only appreciate
3. Classic Mini Cooper
There are loads about but not loads of good ones. Everybody's first car or mum's car has never been out of fashion but good ones are being snapped up as weekend cars, rather than cheap student transport. Early ones have been silly money for years, now late ones with wood and leather are catching on
4. Peugeot 205 GTI
We've been raving about the pint size Pug for ages, but it really is that good. Good ones are getting scarce - last year 2.5k was top money, now it's 3.5k or more. Don't wait any longer, you know you need one!
5. DeLorean DMC-12
Oh my, how popular is this car? Once the butt of jokes, well the stainless steel supercar has the last laugh. Interest in them is phenomenal and prices are racing - the 40k DeLorean can't be far off. Sure, it isn't the last word in sports car handling but who cares - look at those doors!
And the stuff that I bought that I thought would work? I'll maybe post the full story one day. But the numbers 9, 2 and 8 still make me visibly weep.
We're always adding new cars to the fleet and we'll continue to take a punt on cars we want to just try out. If you have a car you love but we don't have on the fleet, please tell us via www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733

New Triumph TR6 to hire in the Cotswolds


Great Escape Classic Car Hire, which operates the UK's largest choice of classic and vintage sports cars for rental, has added an iconic British Triumph TR6 convertible to its hire fleet in the Cotswolds.
The Triumph TR6 was the 'big brother' thttp://www.greatescapecars.co.uko the MGB, offering more performance and a more dedicated sporting persona for the 1970s car enthusiast. Great Escape already has 2 Triumph TR6 cars for hire in Yorkshire and Bath - the popularity of these cars has led the company to add one to its largest Cotswolds site.
The new car is a 1971 model finished in red with a black interior and wood veneer dashboard. The car has a four speed manual gearbox with overdrive and uses the high performance 150 bhp version of the Triumph 2.5 litre straight six 'PI' engine. This gives the convertible blistering performance to match its brutish looks.
The Triumph TR6 to hire in the Cotswolds is available to rent from July 2012. Prices start at £199 for 24 hours, which includes unlimited mileage, comprehensive insurance for 1 driver (extra drivers can be added at low cost) and full UK breakdown cover.
"The Triumph TR6 was the last in a long line of hairy chested British roadsters, following the Austin Healey before it," explains Graham Eason of Great Escape. "It is hugely popular as a hire car so it made sense for us to add one to our busiest fleet on the edge of the Cotswolds.
"The new car is the ultimate TR6 specification - the right colour combination and the right engine specification."
You can find out more about the Triumph TR6 and the rest of the Great Escape Classic Car Hire fleet by visiting http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733.
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The government is mulling over new legislation that will make anyone providing chauffeur driven wedding cars subject to more rigorous controls.
Currently there are no restrictions or special regulations controlling chauffeur driven wedding cars. Unlike chauffeur driven cars for proms or taxis, wedding cars don't need a council licence (with associated checks on driver and car) and aren't subject to any checks other than the normal mot.
This has always struck me as a bit odd really. Sure, I'm pleased for the people who rent their classics for weddings and earn some useful cash. But it doesn't seem quite logical that you need a council licence to chauffeur a prom but you don't need one for a wedding. If nothing else, it's confusing for classic car owners, many of whom do offer chauffeur drive for proms without realising they're breaking the law (just google prom car hire to see what I mean).
Conversely it isn't clear how the government will regulate wedding cars, particularly since it has just exempted pre 1960 cars in order to avoid overhauling the mot test.
We don't do many chauffeur weddings but I would welcome clarity and coherence in the law. Personally, I do think if you're hiring a chauffeur hire car you should be given some guarantees, backed by law, that the car and driver have been recently vetted for that purpose. You wouldn't get in an unlicensed taxi, why get in an unlicensed wedding car?
I realise that view could hurt lots of classic car owners. But regulation will enable reputable wedding car providers to demonstrate the quality and safety of their vehicles. This isn't about benefiting Great Escape - we've already decided not to offer chauffeur hire on our cars. Frankly, it is incredibly stressful and a hard way to earn a buck. We care a lot about getting it right and take it personally when, on the odd occasion, our cars let us down.
All of this comes against a government backdrop, apparently, of cutting red tape. The Government has only just announced that pre 1960 cars will be exempt from the mot. Since wedding cars are by generally old and typically pre 1960, this decision seems particularly silly. The government is now saying that such old cars need MORE regulation and checks.
Am I the only one left confused?
At Great Escape Classic Car Hire we are still offering self drive wedding car hire, which is not subject to the proposed legislation.
Tell us what you think. We don't want to disadvantage classic car owners - but the current system is illogical.
www.greatescapecars.co.uk 01527 8937333             

The strange birth of a British icon

For classic car fans the Jensen Interceptor is surely one of the great iconic designs of the last 40 years. But who designed it?
The story of the Jensen Interceptor's birth is a typically British one. Whereas modern cars are conceived over years by committees, focus groups and that most modern of concepts, the 'thought shower' (probably), the Interceptor took three months from idea to a physical prototype.
Credit for this must go to Jensen's talented Chief Engineer at the time, Kevin Beattie. Drafted in from the Rootes Group in the mid 60s, Beattie was something of a maverick in the staid world at Kelvin Way in West Bromwich. He had been angling for some change in direction with Jensen cars for some time, but remained a lone voice until a change of ownership in the mid-60s.
At that time all Jensen cars were designed in the peculiarly unique style of Chief Designer Eric Neale, the man who brought us the 'Chinese Eye' CV-8. Neale had been briefed in 65 to design a new sports car, the P66, to plug the gap left by Jensen losing the contract to build the Austin Healey.
Jensen's new owners could see that the P66, while not as challenging to look at as the CV-8, was still no world beater. This presented a problem. What to show the world at the 66 Geneva show? Jensen badly needed sales due to the AH going and Geneva was its shop window.
Up stepped Beattie. He had long argued that Jensen should go to an Italian carrozzeria for its designs, as was popular at the time. He also argued that Jensen needed a low volume, very profitable model, not a low cost, high volume model.
This was a major change of strategy mere months before the show. But Jensen's board bought it.
In the time available the only option for Beattie was to dress up the CV-8 chassis in better clothing. He touted the idea around different carrozeria and settled on Touring. Vignale also produced ideas that were rejected.
Touring quickly produced the iconic Interceptor silhouette. As Touring lacked capacity to build a prototype at such short notice, Beattie went to Vignale who built the first car.
The Interceptor went from paper to metal to Board approval to show in three months virtually unchanged. Such was the rush - and internal politics - that it was shown alongside a 4wd CV-8 at Geneva, a model subsequently quickly dropped and replaced with the Jensen FF based on the Interceptor.
For various reasons the first 30 or so Interceptors were built by Vignale. This involved a complicated process of shipping chassis out to Italy and complete cars coming back. Costs and poor quality by Vignale led to production reverting to West Bromwich by which time the unassuming Beattie had effected a sort of bloodless overthrow of the old guard (the founding Jensen brothers hated him for it).
The rest of course is history. As anyone who has driven or owned a Jensen will know, the car's rushed gestation is obvious in the detail - poor engine ventilation and cooling, recalcitrant electrics, sauna effect for occupants etc etc. But nobody can deny the thing looks absolutely brilliant.
So who actually penned that iconic shape? Remarkably, nobody knows. The design drawings are unsigned and nobody has come forward to claim it. Back in the 60s the Interceptor was just another bespoke design for a small manufacturer with grand ambitions.
Little is known of Beattie. He died prematurely in the 70s, his gargantuan work rate no doubt a factor. His role in the Jensen story has been assumed by other far more gregarious characters. But for me, he remains the father of the Interceptor, whether he penned the shape or not.
Great Escape Classic Car Hire has two of these great cars for hire in Yorkshire and Worcestershire. Mention this article and we'll give you 10% off.
www.greatescapecars.co.uk 01527 893733             

Now make your getaway in the Peak District

Great Escape Classic Car Hire has added a new Peak District site to its UK network of classic car rental locations. The new site, based in the heart of the beautiful Peak District in Chapel en le Frith, launches with a range of classic and modern cars from Mazda, MG and Jaguar. More cars are already in the pipeline for this new site.
The new Great Escape Cars site launches with a classic Mark 1 Mazda MX5, MGF VVC convertible and an ex-Jaguar press fleet Jaguar XJS coupe. The cars are available to hire 7 days a week and are backed by Great Escape's comprehensive hire package, which includes 24 hours use, unlimited mileage, comprehensive insurance and full UK breakdown cover.
The High Peaks area of the Peak District is one of Britain's hidden gems, with superb driving roads and dramatic scenery. Great Escape has hand-picked cars suitable for enjoying the region, whether you want to relax and cruise in a big Jag or drop the top and enjoy the scenery in a classic convertible.
The new site is run by Lee Adams, a classic car enthusiast who decided to work with Great Escape after first hiring a car from the company two years ago. Lee manages the site and the cars under strict rules set down by Great Escape and covering everything from servicing to vehicle preparation and customer service.
"The High Peaks area is perfect for a day out or a short break," explains Graham Eason of Great Escape. "We have been looking for a site in this area for some time and the opportunity to work with one of our customers to set up a new base was ideal.
"We will be building the fleet of cars over the next few months and developing relationships with B&Bs and restaurants to help our customers get the best out of the region."
Great Escape Classic Car Hire is the UK's largest classic car rental company with a fleet of over 80 cars for self drive hire in the UK, France and Italy. You can find out more by visiting http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733.
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