Looking for a last-minute stocking filler? Then try this


Author: Martin BuckleyPublished:

My recent reading, the Gentleman's Guide to Motoring, is a quirky book by Vic Darkwood that looks like an excellent stocking filler if you can get it in time for Christmas.

It is a sort of antidote to the banality and aggression of modern motoring that applies the values of the tweedy golden age of driving to a generation that might not necessarily feel the need to automatically smoke a pipe and wear a hat behind the wheel.

Darkwood – if that is his real name – is presumably a ‘young fogey’ of the VSCC persuasion and instructs us in the gentlemanly arts of road etiquette and roadsmanship.

Under the heading of 'demeanour' he writes 'experiment clenching and unclenching your jaw, raising a quizzical eyebrow... make sure you try out your 'road face' on close friends before driving your vehicle'.

He also offers advice on recreational driving, maintenance and repairs and sartorial choices, even down to keeping your facial hair tidy.

In the world of the motoring gentleman, motorways are only used as a last resort and about the most modern car you should ever aspire to owning is an Alvis 3 Litre.

Written with the sensibilities of a dandy and a gentleman of leisure who can afford to be loftily eccentric, it is an amusing and surprisingly lengthy read that juxtaposes the stiffly Brylcreemed culture of the 1940s and '50s (doctored pictures of lots of grinning men in cardigans) with modern concepts such as chavs and obese people.

There's a chuckle-inducing section on gentlemanly road signage that advocates no spoiler zones, obligatory smoking and no baseball cap zones, plus spouse disposal facilities – brown signs where 'the wife' can be dumped if she gets gobby.

The only thing I'd knock it on is the fact that it's a bit dull to look at. Anyway, at £9.99 (ISBN 9780749572754), it's worth a go.



My dear Martin, what a fine choice. Vic Darkwood and Gustav Temple are the anarcho-dandies behind The Chap magazine and promote social revolution based on courtesy, impressive facial hair and well cut tweed. If you like The Gentleman's Guide to Motoring you will no doubt appreciate their earlier tome, Around the World in Eighty Martinis.

They also hosted The Chap Olympiad this year with suitably languid events such as umbrella jousting, butler racing and swooning. My manservant Pepito is currently warming the Lagonda for a run to Foyles bookshop to purchase a copy of their latest volume. I shall look forward to enjoying it over a plate of kedgeree, a large pink gin and an ounce of fine shag.

Yours in anticipation,

Torquil Chutney-Clagnut



Thanks to the eloquent post above I have discovered the The Chap; a fine read that has me determined, as a New Year resolution, to improve my sartorial standards. I would urge the C&SC reader to avail himself of it with haste.

Sir Cyril Menham Benham DFC


Chris Martin

What a stroke of luck eh?
Looking for a last minute 'stocking filler' and guess what?
In my local charity shop I stumbled (heh heh) over a wooden leg; how much? I enquired; five quid was the answer, "done" says I.
Perfect 'stocking filler' !
Chris M.


Dougal Cawley

Hi Martin

I'm glad you liked the "Gentlemans Guide to Motoring" i am proud to say some of the photographs in there were supplied by myself. Fig 11 page 184 is a picture of my Model A Ford whioch was packede up ready for a family outing to Scotland. However Vic has modified it an put some better behaved children in the back.


Dougal Cawley


lazze onslow

Martin,whos a lucky boy,my second fav super car after the Islero and the Montevedi 375,can we have more pictures of the espada,please.By the way,was given your excellent book on Maserati for xmas any chance of a follow up book on grand touring cars of the middle sixties to early seventies.many thanks

James Elliott

Lazze Onslow: Martin's first Our Classics report on his Espada is in the current (February) issue of C&SC.

Group Editor, C&SC


The opening scene is also great; Keef and Ronnie in 1972 driving a bright yellow Chevrolet Impala across Arkansas and they very nearly get busted (note to police: the dope is in the doors). 

Martin Buckley

As a follow up to my column about the Renault Avantime I bought before Christmas I have to say this car is not proving a joy. On the one hand its quite unusual find one of these with things like CD players and sat nav working; on the other hand it has an ‘issue’ with the power steering which I optimistically believed was low fluid but turns out to be a problem with the rack: in fact I doubt that is the extent of the problem. Taking it off requires dismantling half the car and it makes you wonder what will happen to vehicles like this when the money/effort calculation simply becomes to prohibitive to continue repairing them, no matter how rare and interesting the car in question might be. The Avantime was bought as a car for my betrothed to use in place of the boringly dependably 50mpg Skoda but I have a feeling its charms will begin to wear thin when she discovers that it only does 20mpg; and to be honest if she’s going to be burning fuel at that rate I’d rather she was doing it in an old Mercedes or something more conventionally classic. So basically I’m talking myself out of this car before it has really proved itself and it brings me onto the issue of modern car problems in general. A friend told me a hair-raising story about his seven year old ex Royal household modern Range Rover; the perfect tow car you’d think until one day the key wouldn’t come out of its ignition barrel. I can’t remember the exact details but one thing led to another with people at Land Rover saying things like ‘We can’t just sell you that bit sir but have buy the entire steering column - £2000 please’ and before he knew it what with labour a simple problem has cost him £4000 because this stupid car has to go on to a computer to have anything done to it. Last thing I heard the key had refused once again to come out of its ignition barrel and the Range Rover was limping about in emergency mode. In frustration the man in question is selling the ‘new’ RR and dusting off his old Vogue 4 door because, as he says, without a warranty he simply cannot afford to run the newer version. Meanwhile my 1980 two door Range Rover just burbles on: I absolutely love it and to paraphrase Charlton Heston (in his role as poster boy for the American gun lobby) it will have to be ‘torn from my cold dead hands’. Meanwhile perhaps this is what I could/should have bought: a Reliant Rebel. There is something weird going on in the Cirencester area with these cars. I keep seeing this parked near the leisure centre. At first I thought a student from the agricultural collage had dumped it. But it moved and came back again, then the other day I saw a man alight from it and walk into the leisure centre. He looked quite normal and may even have been about to go to the gym. Two days later I saw a Reliant Rebel Van driving down the bypass. I’m not sure I have ever actually encountered one of these before, but there it was actually moving – and with a different person driving it. In over thirty years of its existence C&SC has never done a feature on the Rebel: now, surely, its time has come?

My website, should you wish to explore it, is


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