Halloween Horrors

Democracy is, on balance, a wonderful thing. It generally prevents abuses of power, moral turpitude and George Galloway running the country. It lets us live and let live. But that very freedom comes with a catch and it goes by the name of Taste. 

These five cars are standard bearers for freedom. They're also a powerful argument for bringing back Stalin. As our own little contribution to the Halloween vibe, here are our 5 Halloween Horrors. 

1. BMW 635


The BMW 635 is perhaps the Germany marque's last subtly designed car. Delicate and understated, it is an exercise in minimalism. This particular 're-imagined' 635 isn't. It's also white, in a way that only Persil scientists would relish. 

2. I Am Auto DeLorean


Set against solving world hunger, the Syrian crisis and Brexit, 'improving' the original DeLorean doesn't exactly feel like a priority. Yet willfully quirky Will.I.Am clearly felt the need, foisting this bug-eyed monstrosity on a bewildered world. Frustratingly it's part of his I Am Auto car company, suggesting there is more to come. 

3. Stutz Blackhawk 


America is the world's greatest democracy. If proof were needed that democracy ain't all it's cracked up to be, here's the Stutz Blackhawk. It could be made so it was made. Nobody was sent to Siberia, although looking at it you may wish they had been. Because the Stutz takes 'eclectic' as a design ethos, combining a collection of ideas to create a visual mess on wheels. 

4. Loewy E Type 


Raymond Loewy was the father of modern design, penning the Coke bottle, Greyhound bus, Shell logo and Le Creuset posh cooking pots. And this monstrosity. Like Will.I.Am Ray decided to 'improve' a car that many already agreed was perfect, the Jaguar E Type. The result was a bulbous-nosed mish-mash of ideas, including an odd roof-mounted spoiler. It's awful, made more awful by how good the original is. 

5. FSO Polonez 


In the late 70s and early 80s Britain suffered an influx of automotive tat from Eastern Europe, of which the FSO Polonez was easily the worst. With a name that sounded like a treatment for hay fever and looks that appeared to come from the pen of a disillusioned 4 year old (in fact, it was Guigiaro), the FSO seemed purpose-designed to sap British morale as a precursor to some sort of invasion. 

Don't expect to see any of these insults to the eyes any time soon at Great Escape Cars. To hire some infinitely more beautiful cars call 01527 893733 or visit www.greatescapecars.co.uk. 

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Graham Eason
wwww.greatescapecars,co.uk



Right Car Wrong Badge

The chances are that Brad Pitt would not have ascended to the dizzy heights of Hollywood if he'd been baptised Geoffrey. And so it is with classic cars: a single strange quirk of birth means there are many great cars languishing, unloved, by simply being born under the wrong name. 

Here are my 5 favourite brilliant but unloved classics...

1. Reliant Scimitar 


Is it a Scimitar? Is it a Reliant Scimitar? These existential dilemmas are key to the svelte Ogle-designed coupe's problems. Whichever it is, the Tamworth car was made at the right time by the wrong company. Practical, stylish, often trimmed in brown hues so beloved of 70s men with bushy moustaches, the Scimitar should have been a world beater. Today it's cruelly overlooked simply because it shared factory space with a three wheeler. 

2. Renault Alpine GTA


Like the Scimitar, the lovely GTA could never quite decide whether it was a Renault or an Alpine. It hardly mattered, neither spelt high performance Porsche-beater. Which is a real shame, because the GTA is a properly sorted sports car with the added benefit of being practical and (relatively) cheap to run thanks to all those shared La Regie parts. 

3. Panther Kallista 


It arguably looks and goes better than a Morgan and it's cheaper too. And yet the hand-built Kallista - and the Lima - are written off almost as kit cars. That is all to do with the Panther name, an arriviste chancer better known fo gaudy throwbacks like the J72 and Royale. But there is nothing fake about the Kallista - it's a good looking, well sorted and powerful retro design that deserves more attention. 

4. Vauxhall VX220 


Somewhere in the annals of Vauxhall's filing system there must be a memo justifying why the company should take the Elise, a car it jointly developed with Lotus and de-Lotus it.  On paper, it probably made a sort of sense - reduce the risk associated with a Lotus badge and replace it with some safe and steady Vauxhallness. The trouble is, in the 1990s the Vauxhall brand promised about as much excitement as a cup of cold sick, even when nailed to a car as fundamentally brilliant as the VX220. Everyone bought Elises, nobody bought the plucky Vauxhall. Although, stranded beside the M4 at 3am beside a broken Elise, they may have wished they had. 

5. Jensen Healey 


The plucky Jensen Healey is the exception that proves the rule: a bad car with the right name(s). Sired by the combined might of the people who brought us the Interceptor and brawny 3000, on paper the Jensen Healey was a sure fire winner. Except it wasn't. Ungainly looks and catastrophic unreliability conspired to I'll not just the car but the two marques behind it. 

Sadly none of these cars will ever be popular enough to make it onto the Great Escape Cars fleet. But  the combination of wrong name, right idea means that all of these cars remain bargains for classic car enthusiasts. If you can look past the image you can still grab a great car: go on, do different. 

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Graham Eason

www.greatescapecars.co.uk





The Cars That Made Britain Great


Back in the good old days, somewhere between 1956 and 1967, Britain made the best cars in the world.  Here at Great Escape Cars as we battle daily with the grim reality of post-war Britain's less than stellar commitment to manufacturing quality, it can sometimes seem otherwise. But one look at the swooping line of an E Type or the gleaming chrome of a Mk2 and you have to concede it's a hard statement to fault.

So here, for your delectation and debate, are our favourite cars from Britain's post-war era.  They may not have helped make Britain great - in fact some did quite the opposite - but all, in their own way, show why we are Great Britain.

1. Jaguar E Type

Any car that continues to top Most Beautiful and Most Desirable polls 55 years after it first hit the road has to be a work of genius.  The E Type may not be the last word in driving finesse, but when a car looks this good it really doesn't matter. With the illustrious E Jaguar had the world at its feet.  And then came British Leyland...

2. MGB 



Lets be honest, there is nothing special or especially great about the MGB. And yet, in its humble and unassuming way, it is wonderful. Simple, pretty, practical and reliable, the venerable B made convertible motoring popular and few cars can claim to be loved by so many. The B's longevity displays its brilliance - a car that remained relevant 20 years after it first went on sale. 

3. Lotus Elan


In the 1960s Lotus had it all: superb designs, brilliant engines and a charismatic leader driving the business forward.  But like the most of the rest of the British motor industry, it had an Achilles heel - reliability.  The Elan typifies the problem - a brilliant little sports car with performance, practicality and style.  And terrible reliability. 


4. Jaguar XJ


The Jaguar Mk2 might be the saloon car darling of the classic car world but it is the XJ that is the better car. With the cossetting ride of a Rolls Royce, the svelte looks of a sports car and a super smooth V12 under the bonnet, the XJ had all the ingredients of a world-beater.  Such was demand that there was a 12 month waiting list. As the car's reputation for catastrophic reliability took hold, orders dwindled and Jaguar was pushed into endless rehashes and updates on the same basic design. Only with early 00's XJ was the original 1960s architecture thrown away...

5. Aston Martin DB5




Aston Martin hasn't made many cars but those it has produced have, generally, been brilliant. The DB5, even without James Bond, would have been brilliant. This is a car that typifies everything that was great about Britain in the 60s - achingly stylish, rakish even, quick and perfect for the sort of trans-continental assault that our chaps kicked off at Dunkirk. Lovely.

6. Mini




If you wonder where it all went wrong for the British motor industry, look no further than the original Mini. Here was a clever, original design that met a clear market need. The trouble is, Austin got so carried away with its own sheer genius that it forgot to work out whether the car made any money. It didn't. Then, with a sizeable hit on its hands, the same team fumbled the ball trying to come up with a replacement.  It took them until the not-quite-brilliant Metro of the 1980s in fact, a car that was actually outlived by the car it was meant to replace.

7. Jensen Interceptor 




You may spot a theme developing here.  The Jensen was a great idea, conceived in just three months, and sold by the bucket load, mainly to America. It's GT style and thumping V8 even appealed to Cliff Richard. And yet the plucky West Bromwich firm struggled to make the Interceptor very well and entirely messed up replacing it, lumbering through various half-baked designs that barely got off the drawing board.

8. Austin Maxi



Not even a chipper lady in hot pants can make a brown Austin Maxi look sexy. The Maxi was another of those brilliant ideas that floundered in the execution. It's hard to believe now but the Maxi was a big seller, giving The Man In The Street his first taste of hatchback motoring. That it looked awful and had the gearchange from hell were surely minor inconveniences when you could fold the seats into a handy double bed...

9. Ford Capri


In the 1960s and 70s Ford really could do no wrong.  Unlike the rest of the British motor industry, Henry designed cars that looked good and built them to last. The key was simplicity - great designs that covered basic and often antiquated mechanicals. The Capri was perhaps the greatest of these, an E Type for the masses that was simple, stylish and could be endlessly personalised with options and specification.

10. DeLorean



Oh dear. The DeLorean flips open its silly doors and gleams its stainless gleam like an over-eager cheer leader. And yet, somehow, despite everything, it remains brilliant. And there is a lot to despite: it's slow. It's dismal to drive. It's impractical. It's the ultimate parts-bin lash up. It's unreliable and built very badly indeed. None of which matters a jot when you see one parked up in Sainsburys. The DeLorean is a ray of sunshine on a dull day.  It is, despite all the despites, great.


At Great Escape Cars we've got several of these cars available to hire. Find out more at www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733. Drive 5 cars in one day on one of our road trips for just £199.

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Graham Eason
Great Escape Cars
01527 893733