Classic cars or classic bikes? Your thoughts please. Gareth Perkins, Jersey
Philosophically or technically? Or both? It’s an interesting question either way. Not surprisingly, since virtually all my friends are motoring journalists or car enthusiasts, this is the sort of thing we talk about all the time so it’s no problem to come up with a straightforward answer for you.
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Classic cars any day of the week for me. Most old motorbikes are crap to ride. Not only have I owned a lot of bikes over the years (over 40 when I last bothered to count), but some of my mates have also got significant collections. Between them James May and Richard Hammond have over 70 bikes and they’re pretty generous with the keys so I get to ride quite a few of them. But never do I get on one of these classic bikes and immediately think ‘I wish modern bikes had steering like this, or brakes like this, or throttle response or anything else like this.’ My old Laverda Jota (a bike that was the ultimate want for a teenager in the 1970s) had a powerhouse of an engine but it was a beast to ride and not much fun because it was such hard work.
It’s a total contrast with classic cars. I’ve driven a few original Lotus Elans and within yards of driving immediately I start wishing that modern cars were this light, had such accurate steering and above all, rode as nicely as an Elan. A ’73 911 RS is an even better example: light, fast, simple and only 210bhp. Lotus Carlton, Delta Integrale, early E-Type; there are lots of old cars I can think of that have attributes that are rare on modern cars.
Some old bikes have fantastic styling. I used to love Kawasaki’s three-cylinder strokers so one day I bought a 750 H2. The best colour scheme ever sprayed onto a bike (two-tone purple) but what a pile of rubbish to ride. I sold it just before values shot up but it taught me a valuable lesson: don’t let nostalgia take control of your wallet.
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