Take it with you

Take it with you

by practical-classics |
Published on

Cheaper than flying? Danny Hopkins takes a family of seven to the Alps in a couple of old bangers


I've often wondered why people prefer to fly to Europe. Unless you are in a real hurry, it doesn’t make sense. With a bit of planning and some bold thinking, surely a better time can be had by all in a car, or on a train. You’ll see the landscapes you are travelling through, you can meet people along the way, enjoy that sense of distance and adventure, and you can also get to drive the cars you love… or experience the train journeys you have always dreamt about. On terra firma, it’s more fun. Or am I wrong?

Yes, it will probably take longer, but by making your journey on the ground you also get to take the luggage you want without paying through the nose for it. Plus, you earn ‘green points’ by reducing your CO2 emissions… flying is an eye wateringly filthy way to travel. All good then. But it could get even better.

The big question has to be around cost. Is it cheaper to drive and, in particular, drive in an older car? Time to put that theory to the test. Can you really holiday for less in older cars? The perfect opportunity presented itself last year when my partner Philippa planned a family holiday to Switzerland. Now Phil has a big family, four kids… although only three would be on the holiday with us. Two of the three would have their own partners along though, so all in all, there would be seven of us, with luggage.

There are lots of variables at play, but in simple cost terms, with the holiday we had planned, a few constants. We would be going for two weeks to two chalets in the Nendaz Valley. That accommodation would be constant in terms of cost as would our food and drink and the fun stuff we would do during the stay. Everything else would be on the table though.

The challenge was in play then, time would tell. First though, I prepared the cars for the big trip. Full service and MOT for both with a new battery for the C8 and a new fuel tank and rear dampers for the BMW. Hefty jobs, but typical of the sort of thing an older car might need to have done to become a dependable beast on a continental blast. OK… I can hear you laughing. Why was I taking a woofing great Nineties V8 on a Euro challenge with cost as its criteria? The Citroën C8 achieves 50mpg without trying even when fully loaded, while the 735i might reach 30 on a run. Well, I suppose this is also about enjoyment… life enhancing core memories are going to be made on this trip, and they are going to be built to a V8 soundtrack, probably on a hairpin.

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