A classic automotive caper: Pottering through the Latest Forest in a revered old motor is a joy at every turn
- Hugo Brown sets off from the village of Beaulieu in an Austin-Healey convertible
- The drive is an element of a latest offering from Beaulieu Garage and the Montagu Arms
- The deal involves dinner, bed, breakfast and classic automotive rental for the day
Flashy cars have never made much sense to me. Perhaps it’s the loud engines, the preoccupation with being seen, the worth tags. Driving is only a solution to get from A to B, isn’t it?
But zipping through the Latest Forest in a 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III convertible, I’m beginning to see the attraction.
The game classic costs upwards of £60,000. Sadly though, I haven’t won the lottery — this can be a partnership between the Beaulieu Garage and the Montagu Arms, involving dinner, bed, breakfast and classic automotive rental for the day. And, I even have to say, I’m thoroughly having fun with it.
Old-fashioned charms: Hugo together with his 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III convertible outside the Montagu Arms. The hotel has teamed up with Beaulieu Garage to supply a latest deal that features dinner, bed, breakfast and classic automotive rental for the day
On occasion we’re passed by one other driver in a vintage vehicle, duly returning our waves and each honking horns.
The Hampshire village of Beaulieu is home to the National Motor Museum and to Palace House, where the Montagu family has lived because the sixteenth century. The museum was founded by Edward, third Baron Montagu, and is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this month with an exhibition showcasing the history of motoring through 50 objects.
There’s plenty occurring for families and vehicle enthusiasts alike, including an exhibit featuring cars from the newest Bond film. Plus, there are numerous historic cars.
The museum is devoted to the 2nd Baron Montagu (Edward’s father, John), who made his own mark on motoring history when, in 1909, he commissioned a sculptor friend to design a figure for the bonnet of his Rolls-Royce. The design was modified to grow to be the Spirit of Ecstasy, which now adorns each of those magnificent vehicles.
Within the Austin-Healey, my friend Abigail and I swap theories as to how people might think we’ve acquired it. (Trust fund? A generous departed relative?) The garage also has a 1966 E-type Jaguar and an AC Cobra which might be rented for a day, evening or weekend. The method is straightforward and ‘should you scratch it, don’t worry, we’ve a paint shop and may sort it without cost’, I’m told.
The Hampshire village of Beaulieu is home to the National Motor Museum. Above is a gleaming Rolls-Royce on the museum
The Montagu Arms (montaguarmshotel.co.uk) Classic Automobile package includes automotive rental for the day (beaulieugarage.co.uk), tickets to the Beaulieu Motor Museum, plus dinner, bed and breakfast from £500 pp.
Just a brief walk from the garage is the Montagu Arms, which has a reassuringly classic air, with a legion of staff, a distinguished maitre d’ and a sommelier who at all times appears just as our glasses are near empty.
The food is delicate and inventive — we enjoy courgettes and nasturtium leaves from the kitchen garden — while three latest courtyard rooms are a beautiful addition.
The village is ready around a big pond, with views of Palace House and a few charming cafes.
We sit by the water within the sunshine, occasionally shooing away inquisitive wild ponies which have spotted our apples. And there’s plenty occurring in the realm: Lymington is nearby, there are numerous wonderful pubs and Calshot beach has watersports for families.
As we pull into the garage, I linger — and later find myself Googling classic cars. Perhaps I’d higher start buying those lottery tickets.