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By Tom Endean

Classic owners are nicer people

Let me set the scene. I was 18 and was driving home from the international Land Rover show at Billing Aquadrome in Northamptonshire. It was in my first car; a 1963 diesel Land Rover SIIa short wheelbase. All of a sudden the engine lost power, stalled and I coasted to a stop at the side of the duel carriageway. Problems with the car were not uncommon, as it was basically a rolling restoration. I lifted the bonnet and stared at the engine hoping for something obvious to stand out.

I was only looking at the car for a matter of minutes before two other Land Rovers pulled up behind the car. They checked if I was OK and if they could help. Within minutes the loose fuel line was discovered and promptly reattached. The breakdown was not a surprise, but from thereon in I noticed somewhat of a pattern. Whenever a classic car or motorcycle was in trouble other classic owners would go out of their way to help them.

Over the 14 years since, I have heard many stories of people going far outside their planned journey to tow or follow a limping and fragile car. They have given lifts and gone to pick up tools or fuel - and not once have they expected payment. They just want to see that the classic (and possibly the owner) get home safe.

I have also known of people who don’t own classics, but just appreciate them, carrying out the same level of interest and care for those with stricken cars and bikes of a certain age.

This was not uncommon many years ago, but today it is rare that you see someone in a Mondeo pull over to help a fellow Mondeo owner – or any modern car driver in fact.

I believe there are two things going on here…

The first is that older cars and bikes summon something up inside us. Even some non-lovers of classics feel the need to help old vehicles. It’s the part of our brain that loves watching Herbie films and wanted to see the old bug beat all the posh shiny stuff. It’s that loveable underdog syndrome that we all suffer from. This is something that makes everyone see classics as characters and therefore in greater need of help than the modern machines.

The other power at play here is that people who own classics, care for their cars and bikes that bit more, like you do a pet – or that's the impression we give to many. Somehow this makes us seem more trustworthy and less likely to stab the first person that stops to help us.

I honestly believe that two identical people will be considered different depending on the vehicles they drive. Just image two identical people; one with a 1960s mini and one with the BMW MINI Series (I think BMW brand it differently). I bet the one with the mini would get far more people stopping than the one with the MINI.

Whether we are, or not, the world will continue to see us as nicer people because of the machines we care for. This association with the lovable, makes us more lovable. Well, it worked for Keith Harris.

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