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Want to See Classics Driven Every Day? Visit London

I was in London about a month ago, and was pleasantly astonished to see so many cool newer and classic cars being driven as daily commuters, just parked on the street like any other car. Granted, my hotel was just a few blocks west of Harrods in the somewhat tony Kensington High area of the city, so moneyed folk lived everywhere around. But I live not so far from Beverly Hills, myself, where the same socioeconomic conditions exist and I still don’t see this degree of old iron being used every day. Please pardon these crummy cellphone photos; it’s the only thing resembling a camera I had on me at the moment.

delft blue Daimler was sold here as tJaguar 420; it is for all intent and purpose an E-Type with four doors; same 4.2-liter 3-carb XK inline-six, independent rear suspension, and a choice of 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic. This example, parked on tmain drag, was showing tsigns of many miles and harsh damp winters, but it still looked cool. These are great driving cars too, with walnut- and leather-wrapped cabins, and a nice ride and handling balance. Other than texpense and care issues involved in running an old Jag every day, I can see this as a great daily driver; comfy for four, nice ride, plenty of go, and enough persona to get you smiled at. I used to own this model’s predecessor, a 3.8 S-Type sedan, somewhat of a cross between this 420 model, and an old Mark II.

a hundred yards down the road, I spotted this Bentley Continental coupe. I saw it first in profile, quickly thinking “what’s this old Chevy Deluxe or ’49 Caddy sedanette” doing over here? A longer look revealed that it was, of course, a real Conti, pedaling down a London main drag at 2:00pm on a Tuesday. It was immaculate; no wear or rust on this baby. And it looked so right on the streets of London too. If it had pulled to the curb, and Sean Connery hopped out, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Super elegant, sporty, and oh so mightily British. Wonderful!

I saw Ferrari 599 Fioranos, F430s, and who knows how many old Benz SLs running around too (the latter are pretty common here in SoCal) along with several Aston Martins. I’m not saying your classic is the right car to run around in every day (that depends upon your commute and parking situation) but the point is that it can be done, if you can give up power everything and Bluetooth. When I owned my yellow Pantera, it was my everyday car, rain or shine, for two years. We both lived to tell the tale. My thanks and congrats to these Londoners who not only enjoy, but share their classic metal, on an everyday basis.

Maybe you should too?