I have always defined the love for a particular classic by whether or not it has the ‘glance-back’ feature. Those in the know will now be nodding in agreement with a wry smile on their faces, but if you don’t, then let me explain.
I’ve been very fortunate to own a reasonable number of classic vehicles over the last 27 years and luckily, most of them had this particular bonus: the motivation to make you glance back over your shoulder as you walk away having just parked up. Sounds like a little thing doesn’t it? But it’s what happens next that is the key. If you smile – physically, or just inside, then that’s the best reaction you can hope for. Maybe you get a little flutter in your stomach, or a pang of passion that you can’t really explain, but if you do anything other than blush with embarrassment or shudder with pain, then you’ve chosen well.
In the last 18 months though, I’ve experienced the ‘glance-back’ effect with something other than my entire vehicle – this time it’s the choice of tyres that make me smile!
Madness I know, but I adore my 1959 Series II Land Rover, and when I got the tyre choice just right after rescuing it from its 20-year hiding place, I realised that I had started to glance back at the tyres and smile too!
I’ve struggled with tyre choice for years: good off-road but too noisy; good on the road but rubbish on wet grass and beyond; too chunky; too modern. The list goes on, but when I first drove a Series One 80in fitted with Avon Traction Mileage rubber, I found my nirvana. A set of 6.00 x 16s were therefore the first choice for my ‘trans-Africa’ Series II; they looked absolutely spot on and after around 9,000 miles of motorway commuting, B-road trundling and byway exploration, I am well and truly smitten. Of course, the important part is that they handle well: grippy in the wet, low noise level, and those chunky outer blocks grip excellently for moderate off-roading. But, as I walk away from the Land Rover and briefly turn for another glimpse of my pride-and-joy, I now find myself smiling when the sun hits the wheel and casts a purposeful yet period chunky-edged shadow on the gravel beneath. Should I see a doctor? No – I think I’ll just go for another drive!
Name: Martin Port, Art Editor for Classic & Sports Car
Vehicle: 1959 Series II Land Rover
Time owned: since September 2016
Main photograph by David Shepherd