Fortunately this isn’t the Oscars…so I can take as long as needed to raise my hat to the various friends, family and complete strangers who inspired, intrigued and influenced to bring me to this point!!
Without question, the first nod of appreciation has to go to a family whose name I cannot remember. They lived in the same village as us back before decimalization had even been invented, and owned a pillar box red Morris Minor Traveller. I was completely enamoured by that car, and regularly daydreamed about adventures that could be possible, if only it were mine! In fact that experience would happen some years later, as my very first car was a 1958 Morris Minor. Grey, four door and affectionately known as Isabelle.
If the Morris offered reliable long distance travel, then the MGB provided a far more exotic sensation. Enter Auntie Colleen…she was an model for a couture house in London in the 50’s/60’s, and maintained the poise and elegance that came with her career long after it was replaced with other opportunities. Whenever I think of Auntie Colleen, the indelible image of her standing in front of a white MGB (complete opposite to Henry Ford – she would drive any colour of MG, as long as….), raven black hair pinned into a chignon and always wearing driving gloves. The car was just as elegant, especially in the summer with the top down. Her inspiration stayed with me, as the first car I owned when I came to LA was a 1978 bright yellow MGB Roadster. Less than 35,000 original miles on the clock, and the pride & joy of her previous female owner. I named her Benina Banana, and we had five happy years & many additional miles of fun together. Ironically she’s back in England now, being looked after by another friend who continues the trend of driving and smiling.
Back to my childhood, when the sporting theme was then amped up a notch with the arrival of one Mike Hasted’s Silver Aston Martin DB something. Seeing a real person driving James Bond’s car, in Norfolk of all places, was mesmerizing. This was also the first car that connected sound to picture for me. I’d always been drawn to their shapes or colours, but suddenly I started to register the more subtle aspect as I’d hear the engine pulling away.
Teen years… enter first boyfriend, Anthony Fraser. First boyfriend’s father had a garage with a Lancia Fulvia in it, and was also editor of a magazine called Car during the early 70’s. So, now not only was I expanding my appreciation of various nationalities heritage; I had discovered the concept of the enthusiast. Clearly the family shared the car magazine gene, as Anthony subsequently became a great car photographer, and his older brother joined the enviable ranks of motoring journalist!
To confuse things a little further, there was another Ian Fraser…this one drove a Ferrari (no idea which model, it was just red). Nothing more entertaining than Ian Fraser #2 visiting my parents at the weekend, climbing out of said car then staring suspiciously as the sky. If there was the remotest hint of rain, he would climb back in the car and disappear back down the driveway….sometimes with a wave, sometimes not. Enter the serious collector!
And then of course, there was my mechanical cousin, Harry. I used to love spending time in the garage watching him work on the engine of his pastel yellow Volvo 1800. Not quite as smooth as Roger Moore, but I also have to thank Harry for introducing me to Wagner (hard sell), Beethoven (instantly smitten) and the realization that anyone can own an old car!
My later teen years were also serenaded with the dulcet tones of Snetterton Motor Racing Circuit. We had moved to a village called Garboldisham, and less than 10 miles away was a little village with a big track. Summer afternoons would often be permeated with the low rumble of carts, cars or motorcycles & I was so disappointed to discover years later just how close & yet so far I was from the truly beautiful and brilliant Ayrton Senna in the early 80’s, as his career was just starting out.
Early to mid twenties….a series of company cars, with a couple of honourable mentions…my black VW Sirrocco, that offset the blonde hair period I was going through quite nicely, and resulted in some very entertaining chases on the A140 or A143 as I’d head down to Suffolk. I’ve often wondered how life may have been impacted if I hadn’t turned off to Woodbridge that one particular summer evening after reaching the roundabout just before mystery man in his Jag….
Second mention was my faithful Audi 80. I could and would drive for hours in that car….nothing she liked more than Friday night, hitting the M1 at about 7ish and heading up to Nottingham to visit my then boyfriend. Each time I took that journey, I’d try to reduce the time by minutes. The plan was going really well until I found myself travelling at 120 mph one evening and not completely sure whether the car was still connected to the tarmac in the same way it had been 20 miles slower…slight boat sensation as the car swayed convinced me that there was a need for speed, just not quite that much of it!
Los Angeles introduced me to the concept of car culture and along the way I’ve been lucky enough to meet a number of great car & motorbike collectors, racers and restorers. Each one adding a little thread of new information and understanding that has kept my interest and appreciation going.
So, to everyone that has nudged me along the path to my current adventure with The Egg, I say thank you!