The North East: Driving classic cars in the picturesque countryside

Newcastle. When most people think of it, they think of the city. Grand structures like the Millennium Bridge and the beautiful architecture of St. Nicholas Cathedral Church often steals the spotlight, but for a few – especially local Brian Hall  – Newcastle’s countryside offers a paradise for him and his motors.

“There are an awful lot of beautiful roads and great drives around here, in all directions really,” Brian says whilst driving his 1966 Renault Dauphine, “You’ve got North Yorkshire, you’ve got the Lake District, and you’ve got Northumberland and the Scottish Borders – all in easy driving distance for a day out.”

Billy Amann, otherwise known as ‘Left Foot Braking’, agrees: “Newcastle is a small city which means you’re never too far away from various locations for shoots,” he says, “We can be half an hour away from the city and be in the complete countryside or the moors.”

With locations so visually breathtaking and exciting to explore, it’s no surprise Brian claims: “Each person can have their own unique experience with any classic car, really. It doesn’t have to be a Ferrari or anything special, or even something Concours. I mean, this car isn’t Concours – but I still enjoy it and the way it is and people admire it.”

So, driving a car can be great fun. Driving a great car is an experience like no other. Combining that with magnificent scenic routes can take a person’s mind elsewhere, or out-of-this-world. “They’ve [classic cars] all got something that really brings joy to your heart driving them,” Brian says, “It’s an antidepressant as well I suppose, if I’m feeling low, I’ll jump in a car and drive it and it just brings your mood right up again.” And, with such a large community of car enthusiasts in the North East, it takes very little to find those who can relate to finding their escape through driving.

The fantasy of driving a car is something that doesn’t always need to be experienced firsthand, though. Remember the first time you saw your dream car? How did it make you feel? How does it make you feel now? Sometimes, the mind will race with just seeing a car, and in Billy’s case, his photography and love of cars allows him to have that creative outlet. “I think the fact that I was never amazing at drawing or painting or anything like that, but I can do it with photoshop and manipulating photographs and putting things together that weren’t there in reality; it allows me to be creative in that sense,” he mentions. Other times, seeing a familiar car can take someone back in time: “First car to have a ride in as a baby, it picked me up from the Hospital. My dad had a 1959 Renault Dauphine,” recalls Brian, sitting in the driver’s seat of his own ‘66 Dauphine. “I had a toy steering wheel that used to clip over the driver’s seat and I’d sit in the back as a toddler and ‘steer’ the car.”

Fantasising, daydreaming, or Photoshopping – the truth is that nothing beats the real thing. From hitting those perfect engine notes to turning the corners of an empty winding road in the countryside; most enthusiasts would say that it brings a sense of joy that, at times, seems impossible to beat. Or, as Brian says:

“Some people would take drugs, I would drive a classic car, that’s my high.”