It’s a mystery to me why more people don’t realise that you can hire a supercar in the UK. Day after day, petrol-heads squeeze themselves into a special helmet two sizes too small and drive a few laps around a local track on an ‘experience day’. As if it wasn’t bad enough that you are wearing a helmet, you are given an instructor to glare at you every time you change gear or push the car over 60. As if you need the helmet; you’re never going to hit a speed that would be likely to do any damage.
Suffice to say, you are much better off hiring a sports car and spending a few days with it in order to properly experience it.
For those of you who don’t feel like investing in a luxury marque and just want to hire one when you’re next in the country, the team at Drive South West are your go-to guys.
We collected a red Ferrari F430 Coupe on a blistering June afternoon this year from an undisclosed location in Wiltshire (no secret, it’s on the website). If you are spending a few weeks in the country and need something fun to drive, or even if you just need to indulge a midlife crisis, I recommend heading over to Drive South West and considering their range of Aston Martins, Porches, Bentleys, Maseratis, Ferraris, Audis – the list goes on.
Once we collected the F430, it was down to business. Our production team were heavily salivating, but don’t worry, they were kept away from the body work. We drove out with our motoring editor, who was driving the new Rolls Royce Wraith.
Who do you think caught more attention?
I have driven many cars in my life, but nothing captivates people’s minds like a Ferrari. It seems people can spring a conversation out of mid-air at a petrol station (“Expensive to run, is it?”) once you own a Ferrari. Running costs are luckily not really an issue.
In this instance, however, it was no issue at all. We would be handing it back somewhat begrudgingly in a few days, so purchasing costs don’t factor. I could tell you about the launch control, the horse power, the engine sound on the down-shift, but let’s be honest, you can book up and hire it yourself.
Mark Hanner, managing director at Drive South West, was there to welcome us and give us a tour of the car.
“I have been enthusiastic about cars since I was a nipper,” he told me. “As I came to the point in life where I could start driving and appreciating cars, this enthusiasm just grew and grew. For many of us, myself included, owning and running a sports car isn’t cheap, and most of us wouldn’t have time to drive them enough anyway. So, hiring a car for the odd day or a weekend away is a much more affordable alternative.
“Another reason for starting the business was due to my own frustrations in finding a sports car to hire in the local area. There just seemed to be very little choice, and most only offered classics. The kind of cars I was looking to hire seemed to be huddled around the big cities, which, let’s face it, isn’t the best place to fully appreciate a sports car.
“So, I thought I would try to start bridging that gap by creating ‘Drive South West’, and really promote the idea of a drive in the country. We’re not part of a franchise or larger outfit, and we update the website ourselves, so our aim is to keep prices very reasonable, offer something more than just a car to drive, and to develop the collection of cars on offer.”
There are few things more pleasurable in life for me than driving a supercar across our green and pleasant land whilst the sun shines. Rather than keep the Ferrari locked up over the weekend, we smoked up to Beaufort Polo Club’s afternoon fixture. When we decided to head to the cashpoint at midday, we were faced with exiting the grounds towards the flow of oncoming traffic. Far from ideal.
Luckily, people tend to melt in the presence of a Ferrari. Gates open, champagne falls from the heavens, and so on. We were given access to the owner’s private lane. We were also directed into the VIP entrance, until we explained that we preferred to ‘rough’ it with the locals. Better drinks and a younger crowd was the real reason. A Ferrari certainly does open doors for you. Remembering, of course, that new money shouts and old money whispers quietly into a gold lined velvet cushion. This means that, as the F430 is a classic model, you do look like you have owned it for years. Not only that, but where are you likely to find an opportunity to drive a classic Ferrari. You can buy one, or hire one. Your options are sparse.
So, whether you’re looking for a weekend escape, need a fun run-around whilst your here on business, or just get bored of the weekday saloon, Drive South West have got the horse power for you – minus the overheads.