Plum Crazy. Farnia Gray. Bleu Camargue. Jaune Pamplemousse. You can be forgiven for thinking these are works of art at a secluded atelier in the 6th arrondisement. In truth, they are indeed works of art – the whimsical names of colours that cars used to be painted. While reading “Found: The Lives of Interesting Cars and How They Were Discovered” by Gregory Long, I sympathized with the author, who longed for the days when cars and their colours captured as much stardust as speed.
So when I saw the keyfob for the 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT I was picking up came in Windy Sea Blue, my heart did a little happy dance. And when I laid my eyes on the sharp little hatchback with clean, angular lines in deep blue-green, I was enthralled. The Elantra was sporty in an understated, rather than come-hither way, with wraparound headlights glancing out from under the creased hood. It was going to be a good week.
As I settled in behind the wheel, I reached up to open the sunroof. Mon Dieu! A vast expanse of glass and steel, the panoramic sunroof took up nearly half the real estate above my head. Opening it, I felt like Moses parting the Red Sea.
My next tasks were less dramatic but equally satisfyingly – pairing my iphone and honing in on my favourite radio stations. Hyundai has one of the most user-friendly infotainment systems around, with just the right balance of knobs and touchscreen interface. In fact, I could whip around the radio stations with ease, going from local traffic reports on AM640 to SiriusXM Heart & Soul within moments.
Sliding into reverse, I noticed a whirring noise at the back of the car as the Hyundai badge on the trunk tilted out, and I could see everything behind me on the seven-inch touchscreen. Those Hyundai engineers surely sport degrees from Hogswort.
But it was as I wended my way to the west end of the city to check out some kittens, that I truly came to appreciate the Elantra GT. It’s not enough for the city to tear up the roads in my neighbourhood, oh, no. Road crews have been dispatched to the west end, where they impetuously mangled and lacerated all the streets in their way, and callously left the bits and pieces strewn about. With, of course, bulky construction equipment blocking the way, so no one could get through without a bit of effort. This meant scampering in and out of traffic, sudden stops, quick starts, and more than one aggravating U-turn as I sought a free road.
Finally, I made it to my friend’s, and we had tea as naughty Burmese kittens pounced on our laps and tried to scarf some scones. Because, well, Burmese kittens. I could have taken each and every one, but would have had some serious ‘splaining to do at home!
The next day, it was off to British Car Day, which is held every year in a large park in the suburbs. The Elantra had an automatic tranny, but held its own on the highway, and I didn’t miss being a three-pedalling gal at all. Its surprisingly potent 173 horsepower was more than adept at powering the light hatch into the left lane. In fact, the Elantra is one of the lightest vehicles in the five-door hatch segment, which also accounted for its precise handling. At one point, we even passed a Maserati Ghibli!
I knew we were in the right place as a Triumph TR6 pulled up beside us at a stoplight, and I followed him up the driveway. Even the three parking lots were a treasure trove of extraordinary wheels, including a Citroen 2CV, Jaguars old and new, a pristine old Celica, and a Subaru BRZ. Clearly, many connoisseurs had come to represent and salute automotive glory.
And there was plenty of glory to be had. Over a thousand cars had come, some travelling from as far away as Texas. There was an entire field of Jaguars – I was practically tripping over XKEs. Another field held MGs from five decades, as well as Triumphs of all kinds. There were marques like Sunbeam, Aston-Martin, Lotus, Rolls Royce, Morgan, TVR, and a row of DeLoreans, their gull-wing doors aloft. Vendors sold snacks, aftermarket goodies, books, posters, trinkets, and novelties.
But what stopped me dead in my tracks was a sublime 1974 Jensen Intercepter III, in glossy blue and black leather interior. With its lean, elegant silhouette, it spoke of Saville Row, Knightsbridge and Mayfair. Its actual colour was Brienz Blue, after a rambling Swiss Alpine village of charming cottages and stately manor houses.
I wondered, who had driven this sumptuous vehicle? Where had it travelled? What adventures were looped around its wheels?
That’s what stardust can do to a car.