Many of us have been there: Booked a holiday or a flight, and reserved a hire car to collect at the airport. Sometimes, if you’re brave or optimistic, you specify a particular model, hoping that the agent will make sure the Hyundais are given to others and you can have a Curbivore-approved choice. Maybe you’re a member of the hire company loyalty programme so you feel properly treated and can request an upgrade, or not, as the capability of car hire companies to mess up, or give you a Jeep Renegade, whilst believing they are going further than expected is immense, in my experience.
But, how often have you been disappointed by the car Avis or Hertz come up with? But, good news, we’ve found a way round this, as demonstrated by a group of Australians we met in south west France earlier this summer. We went to the market to buy truly fresh fruit, garlic, saucisson and a baguette, and encountered several Austi-Healey 3000 and 100/6 in the adjacent parking area.
Simply, choose your preferred car (perhaps your classic Austin Healey 100/6?) and join forces with five friends looking also to travel to Europe.
Load all six cars into a shipping container and put it on a ship to Felixstowe, the major container port in eastern England.
Six weeks later, fly to the UK and collect your cars, and head off on your holiday. As the insurance advertisements say “Simples!”
In this case, it was a drive in the Alsace on the France – Germany border to join a European Healey Meeting for a week of classic Big Healey driving in the Rhineland, with wine tastings, biergartens and the remarkable Schlumpf Collection included.
The trip continued with a tour through France to the Mediterranean and then back to the UK, before the cars were shipped back to Australia.
There may be a couple of downsides to this plan – the cost may exceed Avis, there’s going to be a lot paperwork and people will keep stopping you in French markets asking “Are those your Austin Healeys?” (sorry but it had to be done and you don’t hear many Australian accents in Lot et Garonne) but as a way of getting a winter sun holiday with your classic it would take some beating.
The cars themselves were a wonderful cross section of big Healeys, including the original 100/6 and 3000.
The green 100/6 really caught my eye, along with the 3000 with the fixed head.
But my favourite was the 3000 Mk2 in BMC rally red with a white roof and a convincing period road rally look. A very attractive, well presented car, and truly a holiday highlight.
Better than Avis? You bet.