I was fortunate enough to be bought a beautiful 1974 Mini Cooper Innocenti for my 17th Birthday. My first Mini. I was ecstatic and I named her Jules after a girl I had a crush on at the time. It was love at first sight and I immediately went about fitting her with all of the appropriate paraphernalia. No self-respecting 17-year-old classic car owner could be seen with a stand exhaust for heaven’s sake. The week I passed my driving test, my best friend and I embarked upon the most mighty of road trips. We threw a tent in the back of Jules and drove from London to Monaco and back. It was an epic 4000-mile road trip that traversed eight countries and firmly sealed the bond between man and machine.
I was brought up in the North of England and moved to London some 15 years ago for university. Jules was there when I moved into halls of residence, much to the envy of everyone else. My friends and I would drive into town and constantly be amazed at the amount of attention she would get. Next to all the Ferraris and Aston Martins and all the wealth and extravagance of London, it was my little car that would steal the show. When friends and family came to visit, I was amazed at how different their experience of the capital was from my own.
As a local, I knew where to grab the best coffee and street food, which pubs had open fires in winter and beer gardens in summer. But, when speaking to visitors, the conversation quickly turned to overpriced ice-cream in Leicester Square, monstrous queues at major attractions and uninspiring restaurant chains. There were clearly two vastly different sides to the city that didn’t seem to mix.
I wondered what it would take to be a tourist and still experience a city in a unique and authentic manner. smallcarBIGCITY was created to help solve this conundrum. My love for classic cars all started with Jules and my passion for meeting new people, history and London lead to the creation of this company. I have spent the last decade training a team of guides and restoring a fleet of classic Minis, to show off the capital through the eyes of a Londoner.
This car is so much more to me than a mode of transport. It is a member of my family. I have grown up with her, eaten, drank, slept, kissed, moved house, cried and cruised in her. I have owned her for almost twenty years now and own nice other Minis so I don’t think my addiction will cease any time soon. I will never sell her – there is simply not enough money in the world.