Toot toot: meet the classic car owners

Simon Dillon with his 1968 VW Karmann Ghia
Simon Dillon with his Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
"The car isn't incidental but we never really anticipated all the things that we would do with it"
  • | by Emily Bater

There was a bevy of eye-catching classics from across the country at the recent CarFest event at Oulton Park in Cheshire.

We chatted to some of their owners about how having a driveable piece of automotive history has enriched their lives...

Jane Ellison-Bates, Nissan Figaro Owners Club

A yellow Nissan Figaro and its owner

Some say that dogs often resemble their owners, but what about cars? Jane, who hails from the Yorkshire Dales, and her Nissan Figaro certainly look alike.

"I'd always liked Figaros and I saw one in a classic car magazine that was on sale for £5,000. At the time I was driving around in a Honda Civic, which was worth an awful lot more than that, and I just thought why not?" said Jane.

So, Jane duly traded her Civic in for the retro-styled Japanese roadster two-and-a-half years ago and named it 'Susanna' after the love interest of the eponymous hero of Mozart's 'The Marriage of Figaro'.

A Nissan Figaro badge

Since then she's thrown herself headlong into the Figaro lifestyle, attending several meet-ups and rallies organised by the Figaro Owners Club, and is particularly looking forward to the festivities planned for the cute convertible's 25th birthday next year.

"Because she's a lovely bright yellow colour, when I'm driving along I see people turning their heads and smiling. I say she's sunshine on wheels, " beamed Jane.

Sarah and Simon, Aston Martin Owners Club

An Aston Martin DB6

Sarah and Simon, from Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, have been proud stewards of their red 1968 DB6 for 12 years and have been members of the Aston Martin Owners Club for just as long.

"It's probably the best thing we've done," said Sarah, who attends the annual get-togethers and biannual trips to the Classic Le Mans event in France organised by the club with her other half.

An Aston Martin badge

For Sarah and Simon, membership of the club isn't just about finding out where to find a spare part or learning how to solve a common mechanical fault – they've had incredible experiences and made lots of friends along the way too.

"Originally it was all about the car, but we soon realised that it's what we do with it," she said. "The things we've done have just been amazing… the car isn't incidental but we never really anticipated all the things that we would do with it or the club would do."

Simon Dillon, Karmann Ghia Owners Club

 A VW Karmann Ghia and it's owner, Simon Dillon

The unique colour of Simon's 1968 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia drew in people from all across show – its custom paint job refracts all the colours of the rainbow, depending on the weather. "When it's sunny it picks up golds, greens, bronzes. When the sun's low in the sky it picks up blue and it gets bright pink spots when it rains," explained Simon, who lives in Barnsley.

The interior of a VW Karmann Ghia

Simon has owned his red beauty – which he's dubbed 'Marmite' because of it's divisive colour – for 17 years, 12 of which he spent restoring it to its former glory. "I'd do it all again, it's a fantastic car to drive," he said.

While Simon originally intended his Karmann Ghia as something just to drive and enjoy, joining the Karmann Owners Club has led to some amazing adventures. "It's great to see different parts of the country," said Simon. "I would love to drive it abroad but we're thinking of having a change – the wife wants a hot rod!"

The back of a VW Karmann Ghia

Jonathan Alton, Morgan Owners Club

A Morgan Roadster

This ash-framed Morgan Roadster might look like a classic, but it's actually only four years old.

Jonathan bought his Morgan Roadster in 2011, and has been a member of Norce Mog, the regional group for Cheshire and north Wales, ever since. "I've always wanted a Morgan since before I could drive," he said.

With events and meet-ups every month, the club is small but committed. "There are about 55 members in our group, but many more world-wide," said  Jonathan, who seemed a bit distracted as his kids climbed into his beloved motor with a big packet of sweets…

Julian Hunt, DeLorean Owners Club

A Delorean

The DeLorean's famous stainless steel exterior is so easily marked that owners have resorted to putting signs in their windows to stop people from touching them, but it doesn't seem to do any good. Owner Julian explains that it's no harder to clean than your average black car – just more attractive to curious hands. 

"For some reason nobody can seem to stop touching them and then when they do touch it all the grease on their fingers marks the steel – hence the sign," he sighed.

Julian, from Derby, had been a long-time admirer of the car made famous by Back to the Future and took the plunge after spotting one on a driveway in 2006.

The Belfast-built coupe still enjoys an incredibly dedicated cult following, not least in Julian's neighbourhood. "There are about 15 DeLoreans within a five mile radius of my house – it must be a weird coincidence," he said.

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