Valentine’s test drive

awheel

Vintage cars like this Rover 90 P4 can be a romantic surprise for your partner, so pull up to their house and take them for a spin.

What this fern-green British classic car lacks in mod cons, it makes up for in character. So it is certainly not for a shrinking violet, because wherever you go, people will stare and point as you power down the road beeping its lively horn, in its top fourth gear.

It has been carefully restored, so your passenger might feel like they should be wearing a ball gown on the way to the opera. But be warned, driving it is no walk in the park and requires a fair bit of concentration.

It has a different gear ratio to modern cars and no power steering, so manoeuvring in small spaces is difficult. Also, its previous owner, who had to give it up because he could no longer manage it with his arthritis, said: “It’s a great car to drive forward, but reversing is a pain in the neck!”

Despite this, it still has a top speed of 62 miles per hour and there is plenty of power in it.
It needs a choke to start it, but once it’s warmed up and you’ve got used to putting the handbrake on to your right and that the gearstick protrudes from its beautiful hard wooden dashboard, it is light and exciting to drive.

The inside is cosy, fairly narrow, with a high ceiling, but the fern-green leather upholstered bench seats are perfect for cwtching and, perhaps contary to modern health and safety, there are no seatbelts to get in the way.

It might not welcome you with the luxurious open arms of a Bentley Continental GC, but sitting in this car, you cannot help but think it is wiser than you.  It oozes history and was first bought for £300 by a lieutenant commander from Swansea, and was probably owned by the Navy according to the current owner.

At £2,495 now, it’s a bit more expensive than the average vintage car. It also might take some persuading Matthew Davies at Nantgarw Garage to part with it. Although it is for sale, he said he is tempted to keep it for marketing purposes.

This car is perfect for a special night out or a trip to the countryside, but isn’t great for regular driving. Firstly, with two petrol tanks, it is a gas-guzzler and because it is so archaic, driving it is certainly a challenge until you get used to it.

There are a couple of other classic cars for sale around Cardiff, such as a racing green MG, which could rival this one. But for novelty value, it is up there with the best. Look at classiccarsforsale.co.uk for more information.

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