AOL Cars talks to Quentin Willson about The Classic Car Show

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Quentin Willson Ferrari Dino
The Classic Car Show / Influence Associates

There will be no setting fire to old cars, no driving them into the sea or deafening pyrotechnics – these are the words of Quentin Willson – one of the presenters for new Channel 5 programme, The Classic Car Show.

This new car show will focus on both multi-million pound thoroughbreds and models that can be bought for a mere £5,000, looking into not only the cars, but also the history and culture surrounding these old machines.

We caught up with Quentin at the launch of The Classic Car Show, which will air every Thursday at 7pm from today onwards, to find out exactly what we can expect from this glossy big budget car production.

What makes The Classic Car Show stand out from other old car shows?

What you see on screen is what we believe is the distillation of a proper proper old car programme. We wanted to take a hobbyist genre and move it into the mainstream and show people that these cars are beautiful and that they're beautiful to drive.

It is the best job in the world and remarkably, people pay us to do this. There is, trust me, no hardship in what we do!

What makes a classic car in your book?

We like to say that it's a car that makes you feel better at the end of your journey than when you started. I hate all these formulaic "it's got to begin in 1946..." and all that crap. It is a car that radiates this allure, this charisma, that is special, distinctive and separate.

Which car from the series stands out for you?

The one car that is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of "I want that and I want it now" had to be Keith Richards' 246 Ferrari Dino. Absolute little poppet of a car. He cared for the car better than himself and he had it for 15 years – it's immaculate.

We drove it all around Monaco, with these Bentleys and these Ferrari 458s and Veyrons and the Dino just shone out in its own shaft of gold. Every time I drove over a bump there was this fine dust coming from the headlining, which I thought was just glue – but it was nicotine powder. £250,000 was paid for that car at auction, but I would gladly have driven it home.

AOL Cars talks to Quentin Willson

AOL Cars talks to Quentin Willson


What was your favourite moment from filming the series?

Probably our drive from LA to San Franciso, where we stopped at the side of the road because there was this clutch of old cars outside this house – and Jodie knocked on the door – and we go in there and this bloke's got all these rusting old hulks in his back garden – Thunderbirds, Dodge Singers, Camaro SSs, the lot, and he just says, "yes, come and have a look."

How did you choose the cars to feature in the show?

We all sat down and said, "what are the great cars that we need to feature?" You come up with this enormously huge list of about 50, so then you whittle it down. You take landmark cars like the Ford Mustang or the Rolls Royce Corniche or the Ferrari Dino or Testarossa and the Mini and try to get that balance.

Are there any real curveballs that people won't be expecting?

Yes. You wouldn't think that we would do a Triumph TR7. But it's absolutely right to be there. You wouldn't think that we would be doing a Range Rover. Because it's too new. There will be surprises.

Do you think that there's scope in this becoming a multi-series production?

This is absolutely multi-series, yes. And we're talking about second series now, pre-production, so I want this to be a long-runner. We've done 13 one hour programmes and we haven't even scratched the surface. That list that we've got that is miles long – we keep adding new models to it.

There's so much to say – not just about the cars – but the people, the way the market develops, the prices, how you look after classic cars, how you modernise them. We could be doing this for the next 10 years quite happily.

We're in that wonderful place at the moment where you can go out tomorrow and buy an MGB and keep that for three years and get your money back and a bit more – so it's free. Classic cars can be free. How exciting is that? And if you've got enough money to go out and buy a Ferrari Dino for £200,000, not only will it be free, you'll earn yourself 100 grand in the process.