I’ve done this a lot (not as much as my several Brit Readers, of course, but certainly as much or more than most Murkin tourists). So when in response to my post about The George last week, Reader Raven comments:
“We need to know what is the best car to tour rural England [and its pubs – Kim]. And with whom.”
…I need little or no prodding to get this one on paper, so to speak.
Some ground rules first.
There will be no travel on any highway beginning with the letter “M” (M25, M4, M1 etc.) because 1) there are no pubs located on any of them, and 2) if you think road construction in Michigan during the summer is bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ until you hit a 25-mile-long highway construction zone (with only about a half-mile’s worth of actual construction taking place therein) in the British fog and/or rain.
Forget that nonsense: we’ll be taking (at least) the “A” and “B” roads. And just in case you don’t know: the higher the number following the prefix, the smaller/narrower the road. The A4 (London to Bristol old main road), for example, is mostly a two-lane affair with only occasional widening to accommodate turnoffs or city traffic.
By the time you get to, say, the B237, it’s likely to be a single-lane thing, with a tarred surface being an optional extra. This is the two-way approach road to The Plough Inn in Cold Aston, Oxfordshire, just off the A436:
So forget anything wide, and a large engine will just gulp petrol (currently at $15/gallon US) without getting you there any faster. And you won’t be able to park your behemoth in any pub’s parking lot, if indeed it has a parking lot at all.
So you end up parking in the street.
Good luck with that. Also, unless you do this tour in summer (when the traffic is absolutely terrible, on just about any road in Britain), expect rain — so no soft tops / drop heads, especially on the older types, which leak.
So here we go. First, the car choices, starting with the Top 5, and in no specific order.
Lotus Elan +2 (1971)
MGB GT (1968)
Triumph GT6+ (1971)
Jaguar E-type 42 (1970)
(I know I said no soft tops; but to drive an E-type around Britain? I’d take my chances. My game, my rules). And finally:
Jaguar XK120 (1952)
All the usual caveats about , leakages and reliability apply.
Let’s look at the Top 5 Traveling Companions, who would have been in their prime during the vintage of most of the above cars:
Shirley Ann Field
(By the way, Belinda Lee died tragically in a car crash, aged 25)
And two Brit models of more recent vintage, for those who can’t imagine the Oldies in their prime:
And one car of more recent vintage with which to drive either of the above two youngins around in:
Morgan Plus 4
Yeah, I faked you out; but it is a 2021 model, after all.
I know Britain’s a small country, but equipped with any combination of the above cars and womenfolk, I suspect it would take one absolute ages to compete the tour. And then there are the pubs…