Everyman Classics: She Drives a Classic!: treading lightly with everyman Brits from the mid century

Is there anything more sustainable and planet saving than a car that is still being used half a century or more from the moment of its manufacture? We spent some time with classic driving YouTuber Steph Holloway – whose love of old cars by accident created a vision of the motoring future.

Caption: Steph Holloway with Nancy: the Morris Minor currently under restoration (Pic: Steph Holloway)

Influx: Why classics in the first place?

Steph Holloway: I bought my first Morris Minor in 2009. I only ever really passed my driving test because I wanted to drive a classic…I don’t know, I just always really liked them. I really liked them. This sounds so pretentious I want to chew my own head off, but I am very into vintage stuff anyway. I live in a completely vintage house, right down to the knives and forks and bathroom scales. Nothing in the house is modern. When I started renting it, on the advert they said it was dirt cheap because it ‘requires modernisation’. I thought, ‘don’t threaten me with a good time!’. So I haven’t changed anything, it is all as it was when the house was built about 40 or 50 years ago, right down to the wallpaper and everything. So really, that is just like me as a person. I just think modern cars look really boring. There are some interesting new cars out there, like the all-electric Citroen Ami, that is quite cool. But your Corsas, your Astras; all the SUVs, absolutely hate them.  Classic cars have always just really appealed to me.  No one in my family is into them – so I’m not sure where it comes from. I guess I just like old things – but there is something actually really practical and accessible – and sustainable about driving a car that was manufactured forty or fifty or more years ago – and I think that’s part of the appeal too.

Caption:The Austin 1300 AKA Valerie. Front wheel drive and a great place to meditate.(Pic: Steph Holloway)

IN: And what was your earliest experience with classic cars?

SH: When I passed my test I looked at my options, everything from availability, budget, what I could share with my friends and get them all in, what am I going to be able to run on a daily basis quite happily. So I bought the Morris Minor and it was really unreliable. I learnt lots and lots  – but god knows why I carried on with these cars! I finished uni in 2012, and I spent my first two weeks’ wages  on another Morris Minor. A ridiculous idea. This one hadn’t been driven since the 80s. When I turned up the guy was like, ‘you are mad!’ He said, ‘you cannot drive this car every day’, and I said, ‘I think I can, I am going to do it’. I remember, there was quite a lot of animosity, because his wife was really pissed off that he was selling it. She was like, ‘I am going to drive it again’, but he said, ‘I don’t think you are because you haven’t driven it in bloody ages!’. So I bought it. I think he thought I was an idiot, which is factually correct. He was like, ‘I don’t know what you are doing’, and I was like ‘I don’t really know what I am doing either, but I am just going to crack on and see how it goes’. I took it for its first MOT and it passed straight away, and since it has passed every MOT first time every time!  Since then I have bought a load of other shit cars, including yet another Morris Minor, and I currently have a Metro, which I am selling, a couple of Morris Minors, a Marina, and the Triumph 1300. 

Tina the Marina is a reliable companion. And completes Steph’s look perfectly. (Pic: Steph Holloway)

IN: These cars are like an extension of your personality, and you see them more as objects of design than practicality? 

SH: Well, yes and no. It is a bit weird because I don’t have a modern car. I use my classic cars all the time, every day. Some classic owners are like ‘look! Mavis made it 7 miles to Tesco!’ But I do 70 miles minimum a day in my car, everyday to work. Some people almost fetishise old cars and somehow identify completely with their classics – they become their whole personality.  I actually find that quite ‘cringey’. It sounds ridiculous, but for me, my cars really are a way to get me from A to B.  I would get really downhearted, though, and not feel myself, if I had to drive a modern car. I already have to do so many things that I don’t want to do. I just think ‘ I can fix this car, I know what I am doing, it is actually half decent to drive most of the time’ so why not drive something you love?  The thing is, too, that I have met all my friends through classic cars, so we all have them. I met my best mate, Joe, because he had a Ford Anglia, and I had a Morris Minor, and then he got a Marina, and we followed each other on Instagram, we were always commenting on each others pictures, and then he moved to Huddersfield for uni, and that is how we met. So whilst our very first day out was to the NEC Classic Car Show, we had never met before… We went and I just spent the whole day with this mad stranger, but now I can’t remember the last time we discussed cars, we are just friends in our own right. We are all exactly the same really. 

IN: What do you think about alternative fuel, and do you think you will ever be interested in alternative fuel cars?

SH: I have heard people who have said that when the new regulations about fossil fuel vehicles come in , that they will just stop being a motorist. And I think, well you are cutting off your nose to spite your face. You look at a man like Alec Issigonis, who designed the Mini and the Morris Minor. He was all about ingenuity and invention. He had experienced shortages of fuel during the forties and fifties, and could foresee that there would be more of these sorts of crises. In response, he went and made the Mini. I  think someone like Issigonis would think that all this Alt.Fuel stuff is really interesting technology. I think he would want to embrace it and see what could be done with it. I personally would rather enjoy my classic with a hydrogen or an electric set up inside it than not enjoy it at all! The thing is, though, that  I think we march forward with all this really expensive technology, at the expense of people on low income, and people that are barely able to afford what they have got. Whilst all this technology is great, and I think it is great, we forget the people in high rise tower blocks, we forget the pensioners who live in terraced housing, or people on low income. There are a lot of people on low income in rural jobs. It is great technology, we just have to be mindful that not everybody can afford it. There are millions of people living in poverty in this country and more every year. How these new technologies impact on that situation is a debate we need to have. If we really are going to cut emissions, then alternative fuel vehicles and electric vehicles have to be made available for everybody.

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