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Madeira's Marvellous Motors

“Since moving to this island, I’ve developed a real passion for old cars. ” — David J Whyte

The great thing is you can summon a classic car to take you out for the evening

Why? Because Madeira is full of them! If an older Merc or even a 70s Simca drives by I’m oohing and ahhing as if it’s a beautiful woman. Sometimes I worry about myself! I suppose the design of cars is one of life’s more discernable mile-markers! The decades are defined by the form, functionality and even smell of cars, especially the old ones.

“Madeira’s climate is as kind to old motors as it is on ‘old codgers’ like me!”

Frederico, the restaurant owner next to our building just bought a little Morris Minor. It’s been totally restored and refurbished. But there are lots on this island just like it. It is estimated that there are around 800 classic cars on the island reaching back to the 1930s. Classics’ are defined as being older than 25 years. Then there’s the subset called ‘vintage cars’ which are manufactured pre-World War II.

This beautiful Merc showed up last week

But it’s the cars that have been around during my lifetime that seem to have the most emotive effect. There are plenty of motors from the 70s or 80s still in daily service and, whether they’ve had work done or not, in very nice condition.

This little gem parked right next to me. I felt like picking it up putting it in my boot.

My first car was a Ford Cortina Mk 1 purchased in 1976.

I must admit, I’m tempted to own one! A Mercedes would be my marque, say an early 70s, 300 SEL 6.3, a luxury saloon with a 6.3-litre V8. But what would you do with such a car on this island? Take it along to the next Classic Car event I suppose. For the moment, I’ll stick with my 2-year-old, 1-litre engined Hyundai Kauai and continue to ooh & ahh as the classics roll by.

David J. Whyte


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