What’s Your Favorite Classic To Ride In?
Here at Petrolicious, we’re sincere advocates of logging drive time in whatever set of tasteful wheels you fancy. No doubt, the joys (and occasional challenges) of piloting classic automobiles play a large part in shaping our preference for old metal. Oftentimes, the more engaging a vehicle’s operations are directly affects our fun-o-meter (a.k.a, the silly ear-to-ear smug grin you can’t wipe off your face when wheeling a Lotus Elan).
Mastering rev-match downshifts, ringing out the RPMs on your go-to cool Sunday morning road, feeling the mass of the car through the thin steering wheel build upon entering an apex, absorbing the bumps through the suspension, feeling the brakes fade… wait…better pull over and let those cool off.
We get really carried away while driving. Commanding something of grand mechanical scale has a therapeutic effect. Ripping our favorite road requires all of our senses and allows us to “unplug” from the grasps of reality. The sounds, the smells, the vibrations, they’re all reassurances that provide the feedback we crave. It’s easy to see why classics are fun to drive.
But what about riding shotgun? In most cases, not so much fun. Sure, I’ll happily take a ride in any vehicle—depending on who’s driving. Life’s too short to miss out on an opportunity to experience another car. Unless your last name is Leno, affording every classic you’ve ever yearned for probably isn’t going to happen, so take what you can get—even if it’s just a ride.
Just my $.02: I’ve found that simply asking for a ride in someone’s old sports car turns into a Chinese-fire-drill seat-switch about three blocks in. Still, I don’t hold my breath for the owner’s offer to let me take the wheel—the things people cherish are oftentimes the things people are the most protective over.
Some cars, though, might always be better as a passenger. For instance, my father sort of fell into buying a 1937 Rolls Royce 25/30—I know…random. My dad didn’t necessarily dislike driving it, but the brake pedal was more of a suggestion and the steering was quite heavy, especially after having to hand crank start the straight-six.
Being a limousine model, it had extra room for rear occupants, which was really the place to sit. I was young, I believe around 12 or 13 when he picked it up, but I vividly remember sinking in that dark red leather wrapped rear seat. To this day, it’s the most comfortable car I’ve sat in—that Rolls’ rear bench would give a Restoration Hardware down sofa a run for its money.
With thick white walls around red spokes, dramatically swooping front fenders that turned into running boards, and suicide doors all around, the polar white Rolls oozed opulence. Even at that age, I understood this was a car to be seen riding in, not driving. The quirky and challenging wheelman duties were far too laborious for pre-teen aristocrats like myself. No, no. Leave those workings for my father, The Chauffeur. I jest.
But cars that are best enjoyed as a passenger aren’t limited to diplomatic limousines/chariots for the wealthy. For varying reasons, some people don’t feel comfortable driving certain vehicles. Perhaps they’re intimidated by unfamiliar characteristics, are too paranoid to enjoy driving someone else’s investment, or perhaps they feel the car at hand is too historically significant or too rare to take on the risk of responsibility.
Cars like the Mercedes Benz 600 are obviously tailored to be most fulfilling as a passenger, but what other kind of cars are more enjoyable to ride in? What’s your favorite classic to ride in and why?
Photography by Rémi Dargegen, Federico Bajetti, & Jonny Shears