Lawlessly Yours column

Bill Lawless.
Bill Lawless.

Message to all petrol heads: enjoy the antics of Jeremy Clarkson while ye may, because the old Sultan of Speed may soon run out of revs.

It’s very difficult to see how even he can test a car without a driver.

The days of 200mph car tests, and the ability to accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 2.4 seconds are surely over. And his two mates will be joining him in the dole queue, not to mention poor old Stig who, naturally, is at the front having beaten ‘em to it.

I first became a car freak at the age of 11 when I read a sentence in a book called ‘Kings of the Road’. It described a pre-war Bugatti ‘rasping its way on a string-straight Route Nationale from Paris to Nice at 100 mph.’

It still gives me a funny feeling when I recall it.

About six years on I was rasping from Tonbridge to Maidstone absolutely flat out in my Ford Eight special at as much as 60mph when the front suspension collapsed and the car veered off the road and systematically wrecked itself in a small copse of saplings. That gave me a funny feeling, too.

As my earning capacity increased, and my courage in seeking credit drew gasps of admiration from my mates, I gradually scaled the ladder. At one stage I had a clapped out Alvis plus trailer carrying a 500cc Norton and a suit of Lewis leathers, all of which was on the drip. The repayments exceeded my income by some 20 per cent.

But no, I have no regrets. It was the last of the happy days on the road and I enjoyed every moment of them. Even the rozzers were nicer - and driving Wolseys they couldn’t catch much. Before long I was happily married with two kids, a mortgage and a Ford Escort and by and large behaved myself in the horseless carriage stakes.

But I did have some useful cars - Lotus 7, Triumph TR2, Healy Tickford with 2.5 Riley engine and a very quick Mini Cooper S that went like you-know-what off a chromium-plated shovel.

My love of motor bikes lingered on. At the age of 70 I celebrated my birthday by doing 130mph (1200cc Suzuki Bandit ) on a private road at my disposal (no, you suspicious sod, not the M6) so I think I stretched things as far as they’d go.

Never did ton-it in a Bugatti. But I shudder to think what the young petrol heads of today have to come.

Electric cars like glorified milk floats with no steering wheel for no driver to get behind.

We’re definitely approaching the end of the road.