Want to roar down the Promenade des Anglais in a Ferrari? Or bumble through Sicily in an old Fiat 500? Or hammer an E Type Jaguar round a legendary English racetrack? Well you can. From classic saloons to the latest supercars, from drag racing to rally driving, there is a world of opportunities for anyone who cares about cars.
Here is a sampler*:
Mithril Racing is based at the historic Goodwood circuit in West Sussex, where the likes of Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart once raced. As well as modern supercars like the Ferrari 360 and Lamborghini Gallardo, Mithril has an impressive fleet of classics, including D and E Type Jaguars, an Aston Martin DB4, an AC Cobra, a Ferrari 308 and a 911 Carrera RS. Single car drives are in the region of £100, multi-car packages around £250-£300. www.mithril.co.uk
Everyman Racing operates from five tracks in Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire and, most notably, Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, where Top Gear is filmed. It has a car collection to make a rock star jealous (Ferrari 355, 360, 430, 458; Lamborghini Gallardo and Murciélago; Audi R8; Porsche 911 Turbo, McLaren MP4-12c; Ariel Atom; Caterham 7, among others). Prices start at around £50 for one car and at around £200 for five cars. www.everymanracing.co.uk/
Higgins Rally School is run by international rally champion, David Higgins, in a 900-acre section of Welsh forest in Powys which works teams use for practice. The school offers half-day (£199) or full-day (£299) tuition in either (you choose) a classic tail-happy Mk 2 Escort RS2000 or a modern Mitsubishi Evo. Take the exam to get your rally licence for an extra £35. www.higginsrallyschool.com
Dream on Board draws crowds on the Place de la Concorde in Paris with a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder and a Ferrari California. For €89, you get to drive either car (you choose) round Paris for twenty minutes, past the Eiffel Tower, down the Champs Elysees and towards the Arc de Triomphe. You can book in advance, or just turn up, show them your licence and sign a waiver. www.drive-me-89e.fr
Cross Channel Sports Cars are based in Tarn et Garonne in South West France and have a classic Citroen 2CV to rent for €150 a day (€125 if you have it for three days or more). They also have an MGB and a Morgan but they are more expensive, and less French. www.ccsportscars.co.uk
Liven Up offers drives in a Ferrari 430 convertible along the Côte d’Azur, starting from Nice, Eze Village or Monaco, from €119 for 15 minutes to €1,290 for eight hours. www.livenup.fr
Pure Sport operates from six circuits throughout Italy, including Monza and Imola, and offers the chance to drive an ex-Damon Hill Arrows A18 Formula 1 car. If the €2,489 to €6,776 price tag is too much for you, they also give drives in Formula 3 and 3000 cars for around €1,000 – €2,000 as well as ‘ordinary’ Ferraris and Lamborghinis. www.puresport.it (Italian language only)
Push Start is based in Ferrari’s home town, Maranello, and has a series of Ferraris (430, 458, 599 and California) and – incongruously – a Lamborghini Gallardo for hire. Prices for the 430 coupe (the cheapest) range from €70 for a ten minute blast down the road to €350 for two hours in the mountains. www.pushstart.it
500 Vintage Tour runs self-drive tours in historic Fiat 500’s from Taormina or Catania in Sicily. Themes for the tours include wineries and locations used in the Godfather movies. www.500vintagetour.com
Ice Driver is based in the ski resort of Geilo, where it has a hotel, a frozen lake and a Porsche 911, BMW M3, Ford Focus RS and Subaru Impreza WRX. Spend a day driving the cars on the lake for £500, and include an overnight stay in the hotel for £1,100. www.icedriver.com
Trabi Safari is based near Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, and in Dresden. It offers self-drive day and night tours in Trabants (see my post of 3 November 2014) and also classic Ford Mustangs. Tours are in the region of €50 to €100 per person (more for a Mustang). www.trabi-safari.de
Rent Race Car is based in Nürburg, close to the legendary Nürburgring circuit. It has stage 2-prepared race cars for you to hire and drive on the circuit. Prices range from €199 for four laps in a Suzuki Swift Sport to €1,499 for a full day in a BMW M3. www.rentracecar.com
Several outfits also offer “taxi rides” round the Nürburgring with professional racing drivers in Porsches, BMWs and the like. Prices are from around €200 to around €600.
World Class Driving is one of several organisations offering driving experiences in and around Las Vegas. For US $299, you rotate between three late model muscle cars such as a Ford Shelby GT50, Chevrolet Corvette 206 and Dodge Challenger SRT8 on a 30-mile run through the Nevada Desert. They also offer supercar drives. www.worldclassdriving.com
Frank Hawley’s School of Drag Racing is based in Gainesville, Florida but runs experience days and licencing courses throughout the States, for instance in Arizona, California, Colorado and Ohio. Drive a big block Chevy-powered dragster capable of 0-60 in 3 seconds and 130 mph in the quarter mile for half a day at US $399 or a full day at US$599. www.frankhawley.com
Off Road Rush offer drives in V8-powered racing buggies at their centres on the Gold Coast and in Sydney, where they also offer drives in Subara Impreza WRX cars. 12 laps in the buggy for AUS $399. www.offroadrush.com.au
Aussie Trax is one of a number of organisations in and around Hervey Bay which hire out jeeps for self-drive tours of Fraser Island. Prices start at AUS $233 per person, based on two sharing (cheaper with more people). www.fraserisland4wd.com.au
There are also several companies in the area which offer passenger tours of Fraser Island.