Hiring your car for TV and film

Old cars are great. We love them. But they don't make a huge amount of rational sense.  And, of course, most classic car enthusiasts have someone in their life who takes a more pragmatic approach to the costs, practicalities and inconveniences of sharing their life with a classic car.
If that sounds remotely familiar then you may have considered how to make money from your car, at least as a preferable alternative to divorce. Making it available for TV, film and advertising use is a common route and one that can helpful offset the cost of owning a classic - as well as being enjoyable.
At Great Escape Cars we source and supply upwards of 100 classic cars every year for TV, film and advertising work - known in the trade as action and static prop vehicles. One of our contracts is for the BBC's popular Antiques Road Trip and Celebrity Antiques Road Trip programmes.

Filming is about to commence for 2017 and we're looking for cars - unusual, stylish or just ordinary, we need them all.

But should you hire your car out for filming?
After sourcing classic cars for filming for many years I've learnt a few lessons - here's my advice before you commit.

1. Be Realistic
Production companies and advertisers are working to a budget.  It may be a big budget but they know what they need to spend on hiring in a classic car.

2. Accept the Risk
At Great Escape Cars we love classic cars.  We've got 20 of our own on daily hire.  We are the guardians of your car while it's with us.  But we don't have a magic wand - there is always a risk of damage or problems.  A very small risk, but it's there.  If you make your car available for filming, accept this downside.  If cars are damaged in our care, we'll fix them.

3. Establish the requirements and your 'lines in the sand' at the outset
Check how the car is going to be used, how many miles it is likely to cover, who will be driving it, how it will be transported and how it will be insured.  Make clear to whoever you hire to what your rules are - that way, they can follow them.
Your car should ideally be transported to/from locations (to keep the mileage down), it should be returned with a full tank and valeted.

4. Check the payment terms
Most production companies pay on completion - and often not very quickly.  Clarify when you expect to be paid.

5. Check who will be looking after the car
If you are not attending the shoot with your car, find out who is.  Your car should be accompanied at all times by someone who is protecting your interests.

Great Escape Cars has been hiring in hundreds of cars from owners successfully for several years. For the most part owners accept and understand the issues and risks.  Occasionally, where a car is damaged (it's happened 5 times in 5 years, a 'hit' rate of less than 1%), we'll fix it quickly, without query.  Usually to a better standard than before.  And also very occasionally, things get a little heated. Perhaps that's inevitable.  From our perspective, Great Escape Cars is not responsible for pre-existing faults or weaknesses, particularly where they cause us problems on location.  We're also not in the business of funding the improvement of your car through our insurance.  Where we're both approaching this as an honest, mutually beneficial arrangement, we'll get on.

For an informal chat about earning money from your classic please call Graham on 01527 893733 or email graham@greatescapecars.co.uk.

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Graham Eason
www.greatescapecars.co.uk
01527 893733








Time to listen and learn



Running a small business has its moments.  Negative feedback - which sort of comes with the territory when you hire out old cars - tends to feel like a personal slight. The fact that it's usually expressed in extreme and emotive terms doesn't help.
What people think about what we do matters to me because my business really matters to me.  So when we recently signed up to the Feefo review system and received our first negative review I wanted to understand why.  The feedback concerned our Mini Cooper replica, which the customer felt was tired.  So I emailed him and asked him for more details.
Feedback like this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt since.  For example, this car also received several five star reviews on Feefo and Trip Advisor in recent weeks. But expectations vary and the negative customer's response made me see the Mini in a new light. I noticed the dings and bubbling that are pretty much inevitable when a car does 15,000 miles in an 8 month season.
The decision was made.  Restore it.  Although it would have been easy to talk away the negative feedback, it was a valid opinion and not one I wanted to repeat.  My business is about exceeding expectations and delivery a great experience.  So we acted.
Negative feedback hurts but where it's constructive and insightful it's vital to improving a business.


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Graham Eason
Www.greatescapecars.co.uk
01527 893733

How Grand is The Grand Tour?



When we ran a recent poll on our Twitter feed (@classiccarshire) I was surprised to discover just how negatively our followers view Amazon's Grand Tour.  I admit that our polling methodology won't be troubling Mori any time soon, but as a quick litmus test on Clarkson, Hammond & May it was instructive.
I did a bit of digging to see why viewers are turned off by the show. Even filtering out the love/hate relationship that many have with Clarkson, there were a few constructive criticisms about the show's scripting, format and certain components that don't work. Amazon don't release viewing figures so we'll probably never really know how well it's doing. But eight episodes in, here's my own take on the show.

1. It carries the weight of expectation surprisingly well 

Compare the generally divided view of the show with universal derision that greeted Chris Evans' Top Gear and it gives a better impression of what the three amigos have achieved. They had a lot to live up to and, I think, the show generally delivers. It's worth remembering that much of the old Top Gear felt tired and patchy with some episodes missing and others hitting the mark.

2. The Everyman Outsiders are now on the inside 

Top Gear thrived on the sense of three ordinary blokes swimming against the tide and doing what they love regardless. The show's battles with the BBC did much to feed this outsiderism.  We even applauded the trio's obvious financial success as an example of how ordinariness can triumph. And then they signed a £160m deal with Amazon. In some subtle way this changes everything - now we're watching a slick subscription-charging juggernaut, not a humble little BBC programme that just happened to go interstellar.

3. It definitely is too scripted 

Of course Top Gear was carefully planned and scripted. But bereft of hefty budgets and commercial imperatives it was altogether more relaxed and therefore less obvious. The Grand Tour has the same set ups and banter but it just doesn't ebb and flow in the same way. Clarkson, Hammond & May seem awkward and uncomfortable. I suspect constant change of location isn't helping here - the old studio must have felt like a lovely old coat, comfortable and settling.

4. May is underused 

May's shtick is reticence and drollery. But on The Grand Tour his calm relative to Hammond and Clarkson means he's been sidelined and underused during the studio bantering. This is a real shame because he is arguably the best thing about the show - unshowy, insightful, funny and genuinely likeable in a way that the other two just aren't.

5. The studio segments 

Top Gear was weakest when it dawdled in the Star In A Reasonably Priced Car segment and The Grand Tour suffers similar problems. Conversation Street is a poor relative of the previously excellent sofa chats (mainly because of the wooden scripting) and the 'dead celebrity' gag is about as funny as a wet weekend in Rhyl. Apparently it's a joke on the BBC's insistence that the show has no celebrities (for legal reasons), but it's boring and weak.

6. The pure car stuff is brilliant 

Nobody does car features like Clarkson, Hammond and May. Watch Evans' Top Gear to see how easy it is to miss the mark. They are consistently entertaining, insightful and creative with superb filming.

The original Clarkson Top Gear took years to settle into itself and The Grand Tour will likely be the same.  Lets give it a chance to shine.

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Graham Eason
Www.greatescapecars.co.uk
01527 893733















When top is not best


While the world holds its breath ahead of the inauguration of a flappy-haired, orange-hued sore winner, petrol heads prefer to occupy themselves with a number of thorny issues. Right up there amongst those spikey disputes is What Is The Best 205?

Not content with creating the best hot hatch in the world, the 205 1.6 GTI, back in the mid 80s Peugeot decided to have another bite at the cherry, gifting go-faster boy racers the 1.9 GTI, with its jaw-dropping 130 bhp. This Lilly-gilding effort by our garlic-chomping chums has engendered decades of debate as enthusiasts argue the relative merits and superiority of each GTI version. Some say that the revvy 1.6 is sweeter and more chuckable, others argue that the torquey grunt of the 1.9 cannot be surpassed. 20-odd years after the last 205 GTI rolled off the lines, nothing has been decided.

I've run four 205s, more than any other car.  That perhaps implies a passion for the Pug that I don't really feel - although like them well enough. My first company car was a 205 1.4 XS, with a heady 85bhp. A few years ago I briefly owned 1.6 and 1.9 GTIs in quick succession. Perhaps my experience with them distorts my view. The first, a lovely red example albeit with a lingering smell of cat pee, ended up wrapped around a tree by one of my mechanics. Viewing the wreckage I don't recommend hitting anything with a 205. This lesson is perhaps one that the same mechanic might have heeded when he decided, a few weeks later, to drive its 1.9 replacement at speed at a loan shark. The police impounded it. I never saw it again.

The trouble with the GTI, trees and loan sharks aside, is that it's a one trick pony. It's a brilliant drivers car, perhaps the finest FWD chassis of recent memory. But in its pursuit of handling and performance it sacrifices a lot of what is good about the 205. In particular the ride is hard and it all shouts red and sporty in sky-high letters that not everyone finds appealing.


Which is why I prefer the 205 XS. And I'm not alone. According to afficionados - and the Honest John Classics website - the 205 XS is the one to have.  It may lack the out and out performance of the GTIs as well as their more focused handling but it makes up for it with a simplicity and sheer chuckability that were startling in 1989 and remain refreshing in 2017. The later XS' peppy twin-choke 1.4 litre 85 bhp engine thrives on revs and when the second choke kicks in at 3,000 rpm fans of turbocharged cars will feel right at home.  It zingy in a way the more grown up GTIs aren't and it's easier to live with thanks to softer suspension and a less committed approach, inside, to the colour red.

The 205 is not the only example of a classic car where the top model is not necessarily the best.  The Jaguar Mk2 3.4 is much sweeter and more refined than the 3.8, with little given away in performance, and the 1.3 Ti Alfasud is a much zippier car than the later 1.5 Ti.  Capri 2 litre owners will also tell you there is much to say for the lighter, smaller motor over the revered V6 cars.

Making the connoisseur's choice over the conventional choice will get you a better car for less money - and the dubious advantages of rarity. I'm looking forward to bringing this battered and bruised Peugeot 205 XS back to life in our workshop (www.wefixclassiccars.co.uk) during 2017.  You can watch its progress here.


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Graham Eason
www.greatescapecars.co.uk
01527 893733








Our Five Top Cotswolds Spots


In a few short weeks we'll be shaking off winter's shadowy veil and looking forward to spring. Thank goodness.  If you're like me, spring can't come soon enough and you'll already be planning your first getaway of the year.
So we thought we'd help that along with a handy list of out favourite things to and places to see from our sites. Starting with our central Cotswolds site. Well, it makes a change from blathering on about Saabs.
We provide detailed driving routes of the Cotswolds that include these highlights - they're available free of charge when you hire any of our classic cars

1. Lower Slaughter

The Cotswolds can get rather busy, but if you know where to look it is very, very easy to get away from the coaches. Lower Slaughter, slap bang between the hotspots of Stow in The Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water is perhaps my favourite spot of all. If you saw a painting of Lower Slaughter you'd imagine the scene was faked, such is the completeness of its mix of stream, cottages, mill and countryside. It also has an excellent pub. Bingo.

2. The Rollright Stones

Odd, in the way that ancient monuments often tend to be, the Rollrights aren't a big tourist draw but they are worth a trip for two reasons - their oddness and their location. From the elevated site you get a clear sense of what makes the Cotswolds geography so engaging - it rolls greenly in a very English way. Cue the soaring Elgar strings.

3. Broadway

Yes, it is commercialised. Yes, there are lots of people but sometimes you have to go with the flow and accept what others see - namely a picture-perfect Cotswolds village that could be nowhere else. Some other Cotswolds towns have lost some of their character to tourism but Broadway, despite the tourist shops, still feels like a place where people live. Grab an ice cream and settle on a seat for some quality watching-the-world-go-by time. 

4. Hidcote Manor Garden


There are plenty of scenic gardens to visit in the Cotswolds but this is one of the best, if not perhaps the best. Compact and self contained, Hidcote's gardens are like a series of outside rooms, each with a different flavour and style.

5. Chastleton House


This unique, unspoilt manor house is one of the National Trust's hidden gems: well, it was until the BBC decided to use it as a location in their new Wolf Hall series. Chastleton is rare amongst manor houses in that it remained in private hands until relatively recently, the family's lack of funds ensuring that it remained virtually unchanged down the centuries. It's a small property and definitely worth a visit.

To find out more about what to see in the Cotswolds call us on 01527 893733 or email info@greatescapecars.co.uk. Our Midlands base is located on the northern edge of the Cotswolds just 25 minutes from Broadway. To find out more about our cars visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk. We can help with places to see, eat and stay.

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www.greatescapecars.co.uk
01527 893733






How do you choose the right wedding car?

In the bad old days before Tim Berners-Lee had his game-changing brainwave, budding brides and grooms faced a rather arid landscape when it came to surveying their choice of wedding wheels. The internet, thankfully, has turned that outlook into a pretty lush and verdant meadow, with frankly more choice than you can throw a well-aimed bouquet at.

The array of cars available for wedding duties ranges from early twentieth century vintage motors to modern supercars and all points in between. Power can come from petrol, diesel or even hay. And, like many aspects of life ushered in by the internet, the breadth of choice and the decisions it offers can be a little bewildering. So here, for the simple purposes of helping you choose to hire a car from Great Escape Cars, is our guide to making the right choices when it comes to your wedding car.

Drive it or be driven?

Tradition has it that the bride and groom are driven to the ceremony in a pukka saloon piloted by a chap in a hat. Chauffeur wedding cars remain the most common choice and, for many, the only one because they're traditional and relatively straightforward.  Wedding venues often have good links with chauffeur hire companies so tend to recommend them. This option is well tested and you get a service as well as just a car.
The trend towards bespoke, individual DIY weddings has seen self drive wedding car hire become more popular. Self drive opens up a range of more unusual cars such as Fiat 500s, Morris Minors and Jaguar E Types, and is a more flexible and usually cheaper solution.  You do have to do a bit more work - generally involving collecting the car - but most established hire companies like Great Escape Cars will help you plan the logistics and timings.

Get the colour right


Photographers like the wedding cars because they add an extra variety to photographs. So choose the colour of your car carefully. It needs to match your theme, of course, but should be distinctive but not overpowering - you want people to remember the people in it and photographed with it, not just the car.


Be as practical as you want to be


Selecting the right car for your wedding involves some compromise. Wedding cars, whether old or new, are rarely the most practical vehicles, but they are usually the most stylish. So when choosing your car consider how easy it is to get in and out - elegantly - and what protection there is for the bride's hair. Consider the number of seats you need.  Convertibles are very popular but work best on sunny, still days.
No car needs to be discounted and the right choice for you will depend on your priorities.  But it is worth taking some risks to get a car that you will remember and enjoy seeing in photographs years and years after your day. As long as you take these practical considerations into account you'll get the right car for you.

Who's going to drive you home?


Whether you choose chauffeur hire or self drive hire, you need to get the right driver for the job and they need to be briefed properly. If you choose chauffeur hire bear in mind that they'll be the odd sock in the draw when you're enjoying the only private moment of the day driving between church and venue.
Self drive hire can mean the groom gets behind the wheel - or delegates this to one of the wedding party. Either way, the driver needs to be clear on their route, the timings and the intricacies of driving your chosen classic car.  At Great Escape Cars we offer a familiarisation option for wedding drivers before the big day - it's well worth doing. 

To ribbon or not to ribbon?
Wedding cars are wedding ribbons, so tradition has it, go together like X Factor contestants and tears. For some, ivory ribbons are a must. But for a growing minority, ribbons are a bit passe and they want their car to be simple and unadorned. Make sure that if you choose ribbons they look right on the car and suit what you want for your day.

Great Escape Cars has the largest fleet of self drive wedding cars in the UK.  To find out more call 01527 893733 or visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk 














 

Come and work for us

2017 in all its 12 month, four-seasons, 365-day, 24 hour glory stretches out before us. Hoorah indeed. 

If that shining vista has got you thinking about how you want to spend the year, and maybe a new job or change of direction, then hoorah again.  Because at Great Escape Cars we're recruiting.  Here's what and who we need.

The new posts are to support our TV and film contracts and our driving experience programme. Although we work hard, these are not 9-5 drudge jobs. We guarantee enjoyment.  

For more details on these roles please email me in the first instance - graham@greatescapecars.co.uk. 

Drivers

We need several full and part-time drivers to deliver cars for filming and attend on location for 2-3 days at a time, assisting the film crew. Fixed term full time contracts, part-time contracts and flexible zero hours contracts are available starting in March through to October. Drivers must hold a trailer and/or LGV licence for vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes (usually this is automatic for drivers over a certain age) and ideally hold a DQSA CPC qualification (if not, we will provide paid training before employment). 
The contracts available are designed to offer maximum flexibility to suit people who want full time work, part-time semi-retired work and occasional work.  Weekend hours will be involved but on a rota basis. The role is based at our Redditch site but will involve UK-wide travel. We need drivers who are presentable, professional, hard working and with a positive team attitude. If you like meeting people and a job where every day is different, this is for you. 

To discover more about our film work click here. 

Event Support

We are running 80+ road trips and experience days during 2017.  We are looking for professional staff to support the smooth-running of each event, including managing customers, providing simple administration support and dealing with suppliers on the day.  A DQSA CPC qualification is desirable but not essential.  This is the right job for someone who likes cars, enjoys meeting people and doesn't want to be office based. You will be used to dealing with the public, familiar with classic cars and possibly have held or hold a supervisory or management level role. 

There are several of these roles available on a part-time and zero hours basis (so you can decide how much or little you work) between March and October and is based at our Redditch site. 

To discover more about our driving experiences, click here

To find out more about Great Escape Cars and our current team, click here

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Graham Eason
01527 893733













Solving The problem of Trip Advisor

 

Customer review sites like Trip Advisor and Google Reviews are the bane of small businesses like Great Escape Cars. Unhappy customers tend to use them much more readily than happy customers, which means they are generally skewed towards the negative. That gives an unfair picture of any business, even if you work hard to encourage reviews. 
These sites are also essentially unregulated and unstructured. They are based on a star rating and a free text box. With little structure - and a tendency towards ranting and emotion - the information they impart to readers and business owners is extremely limited.  As a business owner I want factual, hard information about what went wrong or what needs to improve so that I can do something about it.  And ideally I'd like to hear about it in a simple, straightforward and clear manner.
I imagine customers are looking for the same - while a long-winded description of a life ruined by some minor inconvenience is on many levels entertaining, it doesn't really provide an objective assessment of the business.  It's much more a window onto an individual psyche. Customers surely want objective, factual feedback that gives practical advice.



Trip Advisor and Google Reviews don't do that. So we looked around for a review service that does and found Feefo. Feefo does these things.  It gathers independent reviews from customers in a structured and no-nonsense way. That means customers can assess what we do properly - and we can identify areas for improvement and development quickly and effectively.

__________________

Graham Eason
www.greatescapecars.co.uk
01527 893733

Action & Static Vehicle Showreel

Every year Great Escape Cars provides hundreds of classic cars for action and static prop work in TV, films and advertising. Our new showreel covers some of our recent experience. For more details or to register your car for film work, call 01527 893733.



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Graham Eason
www.greatescapecars.co.uk
01527 893733