A few of our favourite things

Christmas, of course, is a time for gifts and reflection. Reflection, in this age of blogging and multi media, means lists. Lists of favourite things, worst things, things done, things undone. At Great Escape Cars we like nothing more than a traditional bandwagon so jump aboard we have. Here is our list of favourite stuff from 2013.

1. Driving a Corvette
When we added a white Corvette C3 to our fleet recently I was a little worried. I like American muscle cars but the big curvy 'vette has so much presence that it can surely only disappoint when you get behind the wheel. Our car is also one for extroverts, which I'm not - bright white and similarly iridescent red inside. But I was hugely impressed when I drove it. Quick, pointy and grippy, the Corvette is so much more than you expect. And to heck with showmanship - it's loud and proud. 

2. Classic car rallies
2013 was the year of our classic car rallies - we ran more and had more customers on them than ever before. Our '5 cars, 1 great day' driving experiences never feel like work - we may be stuck with the Jeep and trailer but the enthusiasm customers have for the cars and the format make it great fun. Love what you do, or do what you love. We do what we love. 

3. TV stuff
There is no doubt about it, the Great Escape team has individually probably never worked as hard or put in as many hours as they did for Celebrity Antiques Road Trip this year. It was a logistical challenge but we pulled it off - 30,000 miles, 40 cars, 10 weeks, 30 locations. We met some great people, visited some interesting places, spent a lot of time sitting in trucks and only 1 car broke down (which we fixed same day). Re-flipping-sult. 

4. Customers
You can never please all the people all the time but it is extremely rewarding when you please pleasant people most of the time. Despite the fraught combination of fragile classic cars and big life events, in 2013 we seemed to make a decent fist of it, with lots of smiles, positive feedback and decent Trip Advisor reviews. We'll never get rich hiring classic cars but the happy customers genuinely make it worthwhile. We aren't perfect but the best we can do is try - and learn from our mistakes. 

5. Driving a truck
Our heavy schedule of TV and corporate event work meant we had to get a truck this year. A truck gives you a unique perspective on motoring, generally a lofty one. Stuck at 56mph our faithful Mercedes truck was a lesson for me in patience - and renewed respect for trucks stuck with daft speed limiters. If you've ever wondered why two trucks stuck at 56mph overtake each other (often several times) try driving a truck with a limiter. Following a truck whose limiter is set just below yours is considerably more tiring than having a free road. Sorry car drivers, it's just the way it is.

01527 893733


Drive your dream in 2014

Santa, sadly, has been and gone. Young or old, let's be honest with ourselves, we all need ways to fill the excitement void until the big bearded chap returns. 

So here are a few pheromone-stirring ideas to help blow away the Winter blues. We're also doing our bit to help make the dream a reality by knocking 15% our Yorkshire, Cotswolds and Devon fleet, including 15 new cars for 2014. 

To claim your discount just use discount code 'dreamdrive' online or call 01527 893733 and mention this offer. 

You can choose to book a particular day or buy a voucher valid for 12 months then just pick a date.

15 new hire cars for 2014 

We've invested over £150,000 to add 15 new cars to our hire fleets in Devon, Cotswolds, Yorkshire and Peak District. The new additions range from classic Minis to AC Cobra replicas and all points in between. See them here

You can choose to hire these car by the day or enjoy several of them on one of our driving day rallies. Use discount code dreamdrives to claim 15% off hire cars in Devon, Cotswolds and Yorkshire. Or call 01527 893733.

Old Favourites from £95/day 

Great Escape has the largest choice of classic hire cars in the UK - and the lowest starting prices. Choose a sedate, relaxing day away in one of our Morris Minors or a more adrenaline-fuelled trip in a Jaguar E Type or Jensen Interceptor. 

Use discount code dreamdrives online to save 15% on hire cars from our Devon, Yorkshire or Cotswolds sites or call 01527 893733

Open All Hours 

To bring you a dream drive we never sleep. Well our website doesn't. You can book Great Escape online or buy vouchers 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year. Or email info@greatescapecars.co.uk with any questions for a same day response. Alternatively call 01527 893733 - we are open throughout the Christmas and New Year Holidays except New Year's Day. 

To book online visit our online shop

To book by phone call 01527 893733.

Our Elves are still working

The last few days have been extremely busy for our elves, preparing and sending gift vouchers for customers around the world. Monday 23rd December was our last day for posting packs but we can still get your gift to you in time for Christmas with our email voucher packs. Just as good as the posted packs they're easy to print off.
You can buy a gift voucher or book a car online at www.greatescapecars.co.uk 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year, securely and quickly. We don't charge extra for postage and packing or card processing - the price you see is the full price you pay. 
Or you can book by phone on 01527 893733.

Whichever option you choose, if you buy before 6pm on 24th December we guarantee to get your voucher to you before Christmas Day. We've never failed to do that in 7 years - but if we do, we'll double the value of your voucher free of charge. Sort of a win win then.
A Great Escape gift voucher gives you access to the largest range of classic hire cars in the UK (in fact, in the world, but that sounds a bit too grand for us). We also have the largest choice of collection sites including our three main sites in Yorkshire, Cotswolds and Devon. Prices start at £95 and we offer straightforward self drive hire as well as driving experiences and weekend getaways. 
We are always adding to our fleet and for 2014 we have 15 new cars, ranging from an Audi Quattro to an AC Cobra replica. 
You can find out more at www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733

Your handy gift matching service for classic car fans

When you're a small child it is hard to imagine a day when you can't think of a single thing you want for Christmas. Each year you're asked 'any ideas?' And each year you scratch your head in genuine wonderment. 
It is into this gift-giving void that socks, ties, underpants and handkerchiefs swiftly fall, drawn like moths to a flame. If you're still wearing last year's pants, socks, ties and kerchuffing into a similarly aged handkerchief you may appreciate this helpful guide. Assembled here is our handy 'mix and match' service - matching you to the classic car of your dreams (which are all handily available to hire from Great Escape). To avoid sock hell, simply retweet this and say 'I'm a number (insert number) darling.' Enjoy.

1. Silver Foxes

Silver foxes, and you know who you are, are aging style gurus who still shop at independent men's stores. You still buy the occasional issue of GQ. You are cool, in a ruggedly craggy sort of way, and a little part of you still knows it. Non-foxes admire you, and rightly so - you are maturing with dignity.  You appreciate the understated style of a Jensen Interceptor or classic Porsche 911. 

2. Drop top romantics 

Inside all of us, well most of us, lies a closet exhibitionist. Drop top romantics have always dreamed of owning a convertible sports car but never quite managed to fit one into their lives. Which is understandable, given the parlous nature of British summers. Once time and funds allow the drop top romantic would love to own a classic weekend cabriolet - until then a hire car will have to do. An E Type V12, Alfa Spider, MGB or Triumph TR6 would be just the ticket for you chaps.

3. Classic car aficionados 

CCAs know their onions, or at least your MGBs from their MGAs. You've spent years buying classic car magazines and assembling an enviable library of car books. You know exactly the classic car you want to drive and the exact model of the exact car too. You are people like us - enthusiasts. Of course, any of our 60 cars might float your boat but generally you're switched on by E Type coupes, Jaguar Mk2s, Saab 900 Turbo, Jensen Interceptor, Triumph Stag or Austin Healey. 

4. Weekend Warriors

You work hard, you deserve a weekend break. A classic car turns a weekend break into a real escape - memorable trip that doesn't have to break the bank.  You're less bothered about what you drive than that it is simple to drive, stylish and distinctive. For you we have cars like our Alfa Romeo Spider, MGB, Porsche Boxster, Mercedes SL or Jaguar XJS - drop top cars that are relaxing and easy to drive. 

5. Retro Fans

If you love the cars you grew up with then we have the gift for you. You're not fussed about style and speed, you just love the associations that come with old cars from way back when. It doesn't matter whether that's cars of the 50s and 60s - like our Minis and Morris Minors - or the 70s and 80s - like our Audi Quattro, Ford Granada and Ford Capri. These cars are perfectly for taking you straight back to a time and place. 

So there you have it. Simply choose who you are and pass on the number to your significant other. Prices start at just £95 and we sell gift vouchers online and by phone that are valid for 12 months. 

For more details visit www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733

The season of peace & goodwill (except in Adland)

I like GT Porsche magazine. The editorial staff work hard and it is laid out well. I even used to like Unity Media, the publisher, which I have been dealing with since it started in 1995. Here is the full sad story of how desperate advertising sales people are. 
For many years I worked in the double glazing industry. Not in sales, I must add, but near enough to be familiar with the industry's trademark moral ambiguity.  Despite prolonged exposure to a wide array of questionable sales practices, even I was surprised when I was recently stung by an advertising sales executive.
We don't advertise in traditional paper media because it costs too much and generally doesn't work for us. But I deal with each opportunity case by case and with classic car magazines I try to give it proper consideration because we work with them a lot. So when I was approached by GT Porsche offering a deal I was polite. I showed interest but asked, as I always do, for written confirmation of the offer so that I could consider it. 
What I actually received was an email that said 'Thank you for your advert booking.' Just to be clear, I hadn't booked anything by phone or by email. I ignored it, as I have a business to run, reasoning that it would go no further if I didn't respond. 
Unfortunately for this tale, shortly afterwards I went on holiday. In my absence the magazine contacted my fellow director and told him I'd booked an advert (just to be clear, I hadn't). He quite reasonably arranged copy for the advert because the deadline he was given was very tight and he had been told it was booked. 
When I returned from holiday I discovered what had happened and contacted the magazine. I told them what I've explained above - that I hadn't booked anything and my partner only sent copy because they told him I had. I pointed out that it would hardly be worth my while making this story up. In return I received a letter which at best seemed to have been written in a parallel universe where truth and honesty are irrelevant. Despite writing again to make the facts and events clear, I was ignored and then, a few weeks later, sent Court papers to claim the sum plus legal costs. 
As a result I have decided to settle. The magazine has got its money, I got an advert I didn't want and hours of wasted time. 
So what is going on? I was scammed by a classic double glazing trick - the Assumptive Close. If you've ever found that you've bought something, often as part of a package, that you didn't intend to buy then you've been done by the Assumptive Close. The premise is simple - if you show interest in something but don't actively say 'no' then you end up buying it. This approach was adopted with considerable success by companies selling PPI. It is selling by 'opting out' - unless you actively opt out you've bought it.  It is not only morally bankrupt but also illegal. The trouble is, trying to prove you didn't agree, particularly in advertising where many contracts are verbal, is extremely difficult as I have discovered.
Reputable organisations either require written confirmation or allow a cooling off period. But if you're selling something people don't want or need you have to resort to underhand tricks. 
I respect the journalists who work on this publication and asked them for a comment. For the same reason I have also been reluctant to name the title. But for the sake of other advertisers I feel I have to. Sorry guys, but I did give you a chance to respond. The journalists do a fine job but I have zero respect for the disgraceful people who sell their advertising space. 
At Great Escape we sell a lot of vouchers and gifts by phone. We provide a 7 day cooling off period and we honour it when we have to. We aren't perfect but I like to think we start from a place where we try to be. If only advertising sales people felt the same.
Rant over. But some things sometimes need to be said. 


Since writing this blog post I have received an interesting letter from Unity Media. It's marked 'strictly private and confidential' undoubtedly because nobody at Unity Media wants me to tell you what it says. I can, however, tell you what it doesn't say. It doesn't apologise. It doesn't explain why I was duped. It doesn't imply I have a right to complain. It doesn't give me any reasons to believe that what I've said above isn't entirely fair and valid.

Merry Christmas to you joyful people in ad sales. And you too of course Unity Media. 


10 Good Reasons to Choose a Classic Hire Car From Us

Some people might call it blowing our own trumpet. I can't actually blow a trumpet, let alone play one, but I am happy to stand accused.  Because whatever you call the art of shameless self promotion, I prefer to call it self believe.  Here at Great Escape we genuinely love what we do. So here's why, if you're considering a classic car hire or driving experience gift voucher this year, we think you should choose us. Warning - there are a lot of metaphorical trumpets being metaphorically blown below.

1. More cars means more choice
A Great Escape gift voucher goes further because we have by far the UK's largest fleet of classic cars - over 60, with cars being added almost every week. So if you receive a gift voucher from us you aren't limited to a handful of cars from one location. Our fleet covers everything from Minis to E Types and starts at just £95 a day.

2. More locations than anyone else
We hire cars from three main locations in Devon, Midlands and Yorkshire as well as smaller local sites. And our large sites each have examples of our most popular hire cars.  So you don't have to travel to the ends of the earth to enjoy a great day out - in fact, you're never more than 2 hours driving time from a Great Escape site any where in England or Wales.

3. The best value we can deliver
The biggest headache with classic cars is the cost of maintenance.  We do our own so we save money. And we pass that on to you. All of our prices include comprehensive insurance, full UK breakdown cover (we don't make any hidden charges for breakdowns) and either unlimited mileage or a generous mileage allowance. Unlike other classic car hire companies, 20% of the price you pay goes straight to the VAT man, so we are generally also cheaper on like for like prices.

4. More convenient: simple online or phone booking
Great Escape is the only classic car hire company with full online availability check and online booking facilities.  We also have a Gift Shop online where you can buy a range of packages and vouchers. It's all backed by our secure payment system with no hidden extras - no hidden charges for VAT, postage or booking. The online system works in real time 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year. Or call us any time 8.30am to 6pm Monday to Saturday.

5. More than just classic car hire
Hiring our cars to customers who want to use them for a day or more is where we started and is the bread and butter of what we do. But now we do more. So if you want to a day out driving several cars on some of our favourite roads or a themed weekend getaway package, we do them. Prices start at £199 for a driving day - a perfect way to sample 5 classic cars in 1 day.

6. Reliable, high quality vehicles
When you buy classic car hire you generally don't get the chance to see the car you'll be driving before you drive it. So it's only fair that we ensure our cars are at least of the sort of standard you expect. Although they work hard, we also work hard to keep them in good condition, investing at least 35% of our turnover in maintenance and improvement via our own workshop. It's also important that the car you drive is reliable - by investing in our fleet we keep breakdowns on hire to less than 1% of all hires. Which, we think, is quite probably the best level in the industry.

7. Transparent, clear pricing
Transparent, honest pricing has been part of how we work from day 1 - I believe you should get what you expect. So a day's car hire means a full 24 hrs, not AM to PM.  Where we can we provide unlimited mileage, if we need to limit the mileage to preserve the car we make the allowance generous and make this clear. Comprehensive insurance is included. Full UK breakdown is also included - unlike some companies, we don't charge you if you happen to breakdown somewhere that is inconvenient for us or a long way away.

8. Our own mechanics & support staff
When you're out in an old car you want to know that if you're unsure about something or something goes wrong, someone is there to help. We not only have full phone support 7 days a week but we also have our own recovery transport - that means we can get to you faster, usually with a replacement car, if we need to. So your experience can continue and you're not stuck. It's unlikely to happen but if it does happen it's good to know it's there.

9. We can do it for them so we can do it for you
No other classic car hire company undertakes the sort of large-scale corporate events and TV projects that we do. To make them succeed we need reliable staff, reliable cars and good customer service.  I like to think that if we can be trusted to undertake a corporate event with 40 cars and 100 people, we can make your hire a successful and enjoyable experience.

10. There's a lorra lorra love in what we do
Nobody sets up a classic car hire company to get rich. We do it because we love it. and hopefully that enthusiasm filters through to how we handle every customer and every hire.

If we can help with planning your Christmas gift, from car hire to driving days or weekends away, please call 01527 893733 or visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk.

Thanks for getting this far. Trumpet returned to box, rarely to be blown quite so stridently again.

New hire cars for 2014

A couple of years ago a customer describe us as running the best sweet shop in the world. Well, the shop just got bigger. For 2014 our fleet gives you more choice than ever with lots of new cars added. More sweets means more choice means more fun.
Here are our new hire-ready cars. We also have 5 more in the workshop that will go on hire in early 2014. You can hire them by the day or the best way to sample a selection is on one of our '5 cars, 1 great day' car rallies - just £199 for drivers or £99 for passengers.  Visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733.

The only full replica I'd ever put on hire is a Cobra. And now we have. Fake snakes are a 10th of the price of a real one so they're the only practical option if you want a Cobra experience. Our Cobra is based at our Cotswolds site and will feature on our Cotswolds-based rallies. Prices are just £229 for 24 hrs or £399 for a weekend. The car is burgundy with a cream interior and V8 power.

2. Audi Quattro

As a child of the 80s I've been waiting a long time for the cars of my youth to hit classic status. The Quattro has always been revered but is only just becoming a classic. It's also one of the few 80s cars we'd consider hiring - it's quick but it sticks to the road, so we can sleep at night when it goes out. Grab some Stig gravel-scattering action for just £199 for 24 hrs or £349 for the weekend. The car is based at our Shropshire site.

More replicas but for the same reason - fake Coopers are much cheaper than originals and just as much fun, so we can hire them out for a realistic price. In this case, just £95 for 24 hrs or £160 for the weekend. Our first two Coopers are based in the Cotswolds (white car) and Yorkshire (red car) and finished to a very high standard. We will be adding a blue car in Devon during 2014.

The Trollhattan turbo pulls off the unlikely trick of being a practical four seat convertible that is also quite cool. When we were looking for a four seat convertible to hire at a low price the classic Saab 900 was the obvious choice - just £160 puts you behind the wheel for the weekend. Our 900 convertible is based at our Yorkshire site on the edge of the Dales and is a 1986 full pressure 16v turbo. The car has been restored in our own workshop and is finished in white with a natty burgundy leather interior and manual gearbox. 

Porsches that are not 911s have a history of being cheap and forgotten. Not quite so the Boxster. Yes, Boxsters are good value but forgotten, nope. We have added a Boxster to our Peak District fleet because it does everything so well - stylish, fun to drive and practical. A Boxster is the sort of car you could buy but in reality it's expensive to own - so borrow one instead and let us take the pain.

Everybody has to drive a Bentley once in their life. Or more, if you wish. Big, brutal and bonkers, the Bentley Turbo is distinctly out of step with the modern age of lightness and small engines but who cares? Our car is one of the best, a very rare Brooklands Mulliner long wheelbase version. It's based at our Cotswolds site and costs £249 for 24 hrs or £449 for 48 hrs. Which, if you care to check, is the cheapest self drive hire package for a classic Rolls or Bentley in Britain (and you won't look like a pub landlord). 

We already have one drop top Beetle - and Fern Brittain drove it on telly - so we had to get another one. The new addition is based at our Cotswolds site (the other one is in Devon) and is a proper Karmann convertible finished in silver with a black leather interior.  Practical for four people, good fun and brilliantly engineered, the Beetle is a great way to enjoy the Cotswolds without breaking the bank. 

Old Jags are no longer the preserve of criminals and motorway hard shoulders. Under Ford's ownership Jags got good and the XK8 is one of the best with a growing following. We already have a popular supercharged XKR coupe on our fleet in the Cotswolds so it made sense to add another one.  The new addition is a naturally aspirated 4 litre convertible based at our Peak District site. It's the ideal alternative to th Boxster if you want to waft rather than hoon around. 

9. Ford Granada Ghia X
Occasionally we like to bring customers a bit of a left field choice. Here's one. If you grew up in the South East you'll know that when it came to one-up-manship in the 70s and 80s it didn't get more up than a Ford with a Ghia badge on it. In an era before German car makers took over the Granada Ghia X was the top dog. Sample some ruched leather loveliness from our Shropshire site now. 

The last proper MG sports car is still hovering around the pre-classic market but we felt it was time to add them to our fleet. Because they're cheap we can hire them for a low price - just £160 for a weekend. That makes it easier to discover what we've come to realise - the MGF is great. It looks pretty good, it's very practical and it's easy to drive. We have cars based at our Cotswolds and Yorkshire sites, both high spec VVC models. We think the MGF is a worthy successor to the venerable B.

Nobody really does wafty, luxurious drop top GT cars better than Mercedes. The R129 SL, built in the 90s, is a worthy successor to the gorgeous Pagoda and bulletproof R107 and perfect for touring the South West. We already have a 1983 R107 SL on our Cotswolds fleet. Our new addition is a high specification 500SL V8 convertible with electric everything. Available to hire now for just £199 for 24 hrs or £349 for 48 hrs.

Before TVR went bonkers and then bust it made relatively conventional cars like the Chimaera. The Chim was the 'soft' TVR, if a 4 litre V8 with nearly 300bhp, rear wheel drive and no driver aids can really be called soft. It's a practical, stylish GT that is as comfortable pootling around as blasting along B-roads. Our TVR Chimaera is based at our Shropshire site and finished in metallic burgundy with a cream lesther interior. Hire it for £299 for 24 hrs or £549 for 48 hrs.

In the realm of future classics the 90s Alfa Spider is a sure fire bet. Low prices and reliability mean we can offer the Pininfarina-designed Alfa for a bargain hire price in 2014. The Alfa is perhaps one of the nicest looking convertibles of the last 20 years and unlike previous Alfas is fairly well screwed together and dependable. It is comfortable, sound good and is fun to drive. Hire ours for just £160 for a weekend from our Cotswolds site. 

15. Chevrolet Corvette

The Corvette is America's E Type. Big and brash where the E is small and lithe but we think it's all the better for it. Unlike the Mustang, which has always been more of a chopped saloon car than a sports car, the Corvette is a proper GT car that handles well and goes well. Frankly, there's nothing quite like it. Ours is white with a red interior - if you want to make a statement, it does. Hire it in 2014 from our Yorkshire site.
16. MGB 

You've got to love a B. Simple and stylish the venerable B delivers its thrills humbly and easily. So we've added a third MGB to our fleet, based at our Cotswolds site. And it's a good one - this is the car restored by Practical Classics and Wheeler Dealers at the NEC Classic Car Show in 2013. 

17. Triumph TR6

Britain has always been rather good at making hairy chested, brutal small convertibles. Think Austin Healey and TR6. And a strong smell of Old Spice. The TR6 is the grown up MGB, the Austin Healey you can actually drive in comfort. In short, it's great. Our Workshop Manager has rebuilt this car in our workshop and now it is available to hire from our Cotswolds site. 

18. Triumph Stag

The Triumph Stag is one of a long list of nearly-there British cars. It was a brilliant idea, brilliantly executed. A burbling V8 convertible styled in Italy, comfortable and spacious and with the engaging, sporty driving experience you would expect from a Triumph. Except, of course, when it came to bolting this triumphant package together things weren't so, well, triumphant. None of which actually matters to anyone driving it now. While the Stag has never topped our reliability list, the 40 year old examples now with enthusiasts are not beset by the daily driver dramas when they were new. We've added a second Stag for hire, based on the Peak District. 

Book any of these cars before Easter 2014 and mention this article to claim 10% off the total price.  Call 01527 893733 to book or visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk for more details.