Monday, 17 May 2010

Age Concern

I could drive one of these at the SMMT Test Day.
One manufacturer in three must stop selling cars to drivers over 70. If industry publicists are agreed that three score years and ten is the upper age limit for drivers, it follows that it will become a cut-off point for salesmen.

Of 33 makes taking part in next week’s SMMT test day, 22 apply an upper limit of 70 or 75 for journalists. Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet, Honda, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Proton, Subaru, Toyota and Volvo will welcome older drivers who are, according to the RAC Foundation, amongst the safest on the road. Search Blogspot for Still Safe at 70.

Ford and Renault will allow older drivers into their slower cars. Audi and SEAT raise their disqualifying age to 80.

Of some 300 cars I have tested since I passed 70, all but one have been returned without so much as a scratch. The exception I am sorry to say was an Audi, on which I buckled a door sill on a low car park wall. I have driven Aston Martins, Bentleys, Audi R8s, Porsches, Jaguars and more but now, it seems, the PRs are imposing some kind of ageist apartheid. It can only be inferred that they will stop selling cars to anybody over 70.

I could, of course, easily fall off the edge of the Millbrook test track next week, if I go. Nobody’s perfect. But after something like two million accident-free miles (save for a couple of minor blemishes mentioned in the Blog) I hope to get away with it for a bit longer. The SMMT says the age limit is imposed by car companies’ insurers. My insurers find me safe enough, my licence is clean; I had some speeding misdemeanours when I was younger but I try and remain within the law nowadays.
Or I could drive one of these: splendid Jaguar engine at Geneva last year

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