"The Rat typifies the wacky racer aesthetic: non-standard, full of texture and patina - and is the most spirited of specialist drives, as Charles Wright writes. This is The Rat. It’s a 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300 TI Saloon, which was "
Imported Classics: Porsche Carrera, The Little Yellow Job
Cars with style and backstory have always had a way of drawing people together. And for Charles Evans they have been the building blocks of a dynamic community and part of an important process of healing.
“I’d always been a bit of a car nut,” 57-year-old Londoner Charles Evans tells me.
“I was into custom cars as a kid and as long as I’ve had a licence there’s been a classic or two around my garage,” he explains.
“But it’s only been during the last few years that I’ve been fortunate to be able to indulge that a little bit more.”
As well as being able to assemble a killer collection of imported classics over the last few years – sharing the simple joy of driving with the community around him has created a whole new chapter in Charles’ life.
“I nearly wasn’t around a few years ago – because of addiction to alcohol. Getting more deeply involved in the cars and the people that came together as a community, proved to me to be part of the road to recovery. If I had known that this was what I was supposed to be doing since I was 17, I might not have gone all around the houses to get to this place.”
Right here, right now, Charles is at the centre of a vibrant community that gathers around the @DouzeCoupes Insta account – and manifests in the ‘Wacky Racers Coffee Club’ drive outs and regular Wimbledon car meet known as the ‘Southside Hustle’.
“DouzeCoupes was just an Insta tag — I’d never touched social media until I launched that account,” he says.
“But it quickly became an important way for friends to communicate and a way to draw people together around the love of interesting cars.”
For Charles and the community around him – it’s not just about the cars themselves – it’s about exploring their human histories, finding out about the different parts of the world from which they come and imagining the former lives they have led.
“I have been known to look at the addresses of their former owners on Google Maps,” he admits.
“It’s a bit geeky and obsessive but it helps me understand a lot more about the cars and what they are all about.”
But as well as teasing out the backstories it’s important to Charles and his friends to get out there and to drive.
“We’re far more interested in driving than just looking at perfect cars”, he says.
“I’d much rather drive a car with character than just look at an immaculate machine.”
During the last couple of years, in and out of lockdown and isolation, for many folks classic cars were a way to gather together in community – whilst still maintaining the necessary level of social distancing.
He says: “We have to keep the numbers small because then you don’t get the wrong sort of attention, but coming together around the cars made a lot of people really happy. Coming together regularly is quite therapeutic – and we try to take a kind of ‘guerrilla’ approach – and always of course keep the meet-ups to a maximum of 30 people.”
Charles and the community’s story is testament to the fundamental humanity in which these machines are infused.
“I love trying to imagine the impact of people’s cars when they were new,” he says.
“I was like many kids obsessed with Top Trumps in the school yard – the Porsche Carrera was the car that you wanted to have. And now I own an actual example – I love to imagine what it must have been like when it was brand new – how it felt to step out in the early 70s on Sunset Boulevard in LA and drive this thing. Now with the digitisation of data, there is a whole wealth of research possible to find stuff about these cars — it’s so much easier to connect with people and the classic parts that you need to find.”
Porsche Carrera 911 RS
Charles Evans’ Porsche early 70s RS 911 has lived a long and twisted history – and it served under the arch-skilled stewardship of one of the greatest drivers ever to spin a wheel, writes Charles.
First question: is this a genuine 73 RS? Technically, the answer is no. It is a 1972 car supplied new to the US market to San Francisco in 1972, but very early was taken back to a full RS spec by a guy over there who put a 1974 2.7 motor in it, all correct and rebuilt to an RS spec. We still have the bill sheet for that.
He then ran that car until 1997/8, and it ended up in San Diego. We don’t have oodles of history about it in its American life. I love the idea that this started life out on Hollywood Boulevard or whatever. California was my dreamworld for cars when I was a kid. The idea of this little German import over there, and then now being an import to here. It was bought into this country in 1999 by renowned Porsche specialist Nick Faure.
Nick sourced it for Mithril Racing at Goodwood. Mithril were kind of the corporate entertainment arm at the Goodwood circuit – and they ran a fleet of classics, super cars, single seaters, go karts, skid cars, you name it. They wanted to have an RS on the fleet, and this was an affordable way of doing it for them. They went all the way through the car and put in the correct RS panels that were illegal in the US. It then lived at the circuit for nearly 16 years.
At the end of the period, Lord March needed the Mithril premises back, their workshops are on the estate. And at that point the Mithril guys decided that they had had a good run, and it was time to call it a day. As a consequence of that, they sold their fleet of cars, which they did gently over the next couple of years. I knew the guys well, I had done their track days with them etc. I knew how well they looked after their cars.
What made the car particularly interesting to me, was that literally the only paperwork that came with the car was a two-page Excel spreadsheet print out of all the work Mithril had done to it in their works, and outside as well, during that period. There were no other receipts, no supporting paperwork, apart from the original customer book from the car. I secured the car for pretty much exactly what I wanted to pay for it, which I was delighted with.
It has proved to be a great car and a great buy, because nothing has gone wrong with it. I am going to hate saying that, but it was so well built and maintained. It is still looked after by Paul Mullen, who was the engineering guru at Mithril. The car has done weddings and track days. It has done hill climbs, sprints, road trips, car meets, you name it. That is what I like about it, it doesn’t owe me half-a-million pounds like a genuine RS would. It looks just like a real one and it goes just like a real one would, and it means you can use it a bit harder than you would a real one. It is just a great car.
The other supreme bit of history with this car for me, and the thing that makes it more special than anything else, is that Stirling Moss regularly drove this car at Goodwood. Not competitively, but in the early 2000s, into I believe 2010 or 2012, he would be a guest driver for Mithril. On really big corporate days, Stirling and other competitive drivers would come down and take passengers out in the cars, and would scare them and give them really good fast laps.
Stirling always used to bag this one first. He christened it the Little Yellow Job, it was the car he always wanted, and he would hang onto it all day, well until he had worn the brakes out! Having had Stirling Moss all over this car means everything to me. It is a real connection with the car, and that is something – I don’t think there is any UK 911 that can boast that as part of its heritage.
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