One recent cool, damp evening I found myself at a garden barbecue. Luckily the host had erected a marquee, so only the chef suffered prolonged exposure to the elements. Having brought along more than enough booze for my own consumption – and that of half the village – I remember little about the evening, other than a fine time was had by all.
But one incident was recalled the following morning: a conversation between an expat, briefly back in the UK on holiday from Canada, and a man with a collection of odd vehicles – two of them being vintage tractors. The overseas guest was keen to view them the next day before he flew home. I forget which brands the workhorses were, possibly an ancient Fergie and a Fordson Major, but I distinctly recall the visitor saying: “I don’t really know how it started, I’ve just always loved old tractors.”
As do a lot of middle-aged men in my locality. An amazing number of non-farmers keep a pet tractor, getting almost as much fun from tinkering with them in their garages as they do from driving them or showing them to friends.
Others, like myself, prefer classic cars. The old marques had so much more character than today’s indistinguishable clones. As a boy I recognised almost every car I saw: the Morris Minors, Ford Populars, MG Midgets, Austin 1100s, and Triumph Heralds… Now I can sit fuming in a traffic jam for hours, barely able to put a name to any car I see, they’re all so alike.
I’m convinced that if cars were still styled as classics, but had modern advantages, such as fuel efficiency, working brakes, and engines that start, the manufacturers would shift them like hot cakes. If or when that ever happens, someone’s going to make a mint. I hope they remember that I came up with the idea first.