Fuel for thought

In today's green and pleasant age of eco-friendliness classic cars sometimes get a hard rap. Their big lazy V8 engines, inefficient 6 cylinder engines and thumping V12 motors are considered rather passe compared to modern hybrids and ultra efficient small capacity power plants. But are old cars really that flagrant with fuel?
Lets get one thing out of the way first - modern cars have the benefit of progress so the gap between the fuel efficiency of old cars and new cars will always get wider. Certainly over the last 5 years that gap has widened quickly as car manufacturers finally grasp the nettle that is finite fossil fuel resources.
I'm not going to argue that classic cars are cheap to drive, but I will suggest that their reputation isn't quite what the uninitiated will have you believe.  So when you hire one it won't cost you the earth, in any sense, to do so.

Lets start with the worst offenders. The Jensen Interceptor has become a byword for shocking fuel consumption. As someone who discusses Jensens on a daily basis with customers I can confirm that it is the first thing everyone says about the multi-cubic inched V8 West Brom bullet. Sure, its fuel consumption is bad, by modern standards, very bad, but not as bad as its reputation suggests. Most people assume that the Jensen returns single figure MPG on a good day.  if you hoon around with your foot sea-sawing on the gas pedal then yes, it will. But if you drive a Jensen as it should be driven, namely at 50 mph max and with your mind set firmly to 'cruise' you'll easily achieve 15-20mpg. To put that into context, large executive saloons and most GT sports cars of the early 70s era like Mercedes 450s, Jaguar XJs and E Types all returned around 20mpg.  Amongst its peers, the Jensen certainly didn't stand out.

Of course, in 1974 fuel was peanuts and now it isn't. So then the issue is about how far you plan to go in your thirsty classic hire car. Our average mileage per day is 100-150.  In a Jensen that means about 8.5 gallons of fuel at a cost of £50.50. Sure, not cheap.  But how much would it cost to travel the same distance in a more reasonable 40mpg car? That would be £22.25. So, for a day out in a thirsty old Jensen covering 150 miles it will cost you an extra £28.25 compared to a modern Eurobox. You wouldn't want to do it every day, for sure, but surely for the love of driving a Jensen, that's pretty small beer?

Jensens and V12 Jaguars are clearly not paragons of fuel efficiency.  So how about the rest of our classic car hire fleet ? Our most popular cars are Jaguar Mk2s, MGBs and Triumph Stags, all of which will deliver at least 25mpg on a relaxing day out. Our Morris Minors and Alfa Spiders average at least 35 mpg and are generally good for 40mpg plus, well up there with modern cars.
The popular counter argument from classic car enthusiasts is that old cars don't go far so their carbon emissions are negligible compared to modern cars. Which is true. Obviously our classic car hire fleet does relatively high mileages - typically 10,000 to 15,000 miles a year - but we maintain them to a high standard to minimise pollution. There are plenty of arguments we can use to defend what we do but the reality is that people will always want to drive old cars - provided we are responsible with our maintenance, why should they not be allowed to do so? We have also extended our hire network so that customers don't need to travel as far to get to us - so their own carbon emissions are reduced.
If you want to hire an old car for the day or weekend then chances are its fuel economy isn't going to dissuade you. But perhaps when you see how the costs stack up - and how these old cars actually do perform - you'll see that the sacrifice required to drive a Jensen for the day is not significant.
We are always mindful of the total cost of hiring classic cars, which is why we haven't increased our prices for over 2 years. We are introducing a small increase in March 2013 but it will remain well below inflation - making hiring a Great Escape classic car this year cheaper than it has ever been.
You can find out more about hiring our classic cars by visiting http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733.