I’ve recently had a falling out with Jezebel. We’d not seen each other for a year, and were reunited three weeks ago. It was like old times. Once again we were the best team ever, attracting admiring glances and comments wherever we went.
We decided to go on a trip to Norfolk. Happily motoring along together through South London’s weekend traffic, her water pump blew up outside Lewisham. What were you thinking? Shame on you! Jezebel is my much loved 1977 Ferrari Dino.
She’d been off the road for what I call ‘elective surgery’; new silencer, carpet set, mirrors etc and I hadn’t exactly hurried the garage along as I didn’t exactly want to face the bill. Anyway the inevitable happened, but more of a worry was Chateau Impney.
This is the second year that I’ve been the timekeeping sponsor at their annual Hill Climb. Aimed mainly at classic cars, there are vehicles from the Edwardian to the present day. It is fast becoming the Goodwood of the Midlands.
As part of my sponsorship package they said ‘would I like to blast up the hill in my Ferrari during the lunch break?’. Well that didn’t take too much thinking about. However, the motoring highlight of my year now lay in ruins thanks to the broken water pump. You don’t just pop into Halford’s for one. Despite the best endeavours of my excellent garage, but compounded by the utter lack of interest from the recovery firm, Jezebel wouldn’t quite be ready in time to drive up to Droitwich.
I tried my very best not to be grumpy about the whole thing as we arrived at Chateau Impney for what really was a glorious weekend. We’d taken some key buyers as guests and they had a memorable day, too. You don’t need to be a petrol head to enjoy a day like that.
However the day became even brighter when one of the organisers said ‘so sorry about your Ferrari. As an alternative, would you like Sergei here to drive you up the hill in his Bugatti?’. This, too, didn’t take much thinking about and very soon I was buckled up in the passenger seat of a four month old Bugatti Chiron, the first off the production line at a mere £2.2 million. It was probably the most photographed car there as they are rare beasts and this one came with the number plate BUG 1.
As we passed the marshals and waited our turn at the bottom of the hill Sergei asked me if I’d done the run before. No, I replied. Well, he said, that makes two of us and pressed the accelerator.
Not much scares me, dear reader. And I’ve been in some fast cars. But that Bugatti is something else. Even on a short and twisty stretch of country house hill, it was a visceral, bowel wrenchingly impressive experience. We made it-just, without driving into the straw bales and I emerged shaken and shaking.
Would I swap troublesome, fickle unreliable Jezebel for the mighty Bugatti? Oddly enough, no. It may have a top speed of 262 mph, but Sergei can’t drive over speed bumps. No good in South London.