High heels and gas pedals are more compatible than might be expected. From Penelope Pitstop in her Compact Pussycat to Twiggy in her E-Type in The Blues Brothers, girls in fast cars capture our attention.
One of the most famous female classic-car owners was Diana Dors, whose exquisite 1949 Delahaye Roadster sold for $3m at a California auction in 2010. This so-called “rolling sculpture” boasted curves as breathtaking as its owner’s, together with a see-through steering wheel and bird motifs on the insides of the doors.
I’d recommend Hexagon Classics, a classic-car dealership in South Kensington, for women looking for vintage wheels to speed around on. Forget the jewellery hall at Harrods, this immaculate showroom, glistening with polished chrome and glass, is the adventuress’s Shangri-La. On my last visit, owner Jonathan Kaiser led me towards a 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190SL (second picture, £89,995), a remarkable ivory-hued convertible with a red-leather interior and black-mohair hood. As my eyes adjusted, Jonathan turned the key in the ignition. The roll of the car’s four-cylinder engine reverberated around the glass walls. It was impossible to look at this car and not picture myself racing down La Grande Corniche on my way to have lunch in La Turbie.
Such magical “What if…” moments and flights of fancy inevitably crop up around objects of beauty and desire – be it the red lipstick that bestows Bacall-like levels of confidence or the box of sharp new pencils to sketch the perfect dress – but to be transported to quite such an imaginative reverie seems particularly linked to automobiles.
Elsewhere in the Hexagon showroom, I spotted a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTE (first picture, £235,000) – a car made for thrills of a different nature. The 250 GTE 2+2 Coupé was the result of a collaboration between Pinin Farina and Enzo Ferrari, who wanted to produce a Gran Turismo with a large luggage capacity. Piero Ferrari remarks that his father “loved the 2+2 – this was his personal car. My father normally drove himself, but he always had a driver with him, and a little dog. So a two-seater car wasn’t enough.”
Ah, now we’re talking. A car with space for suitcases as well as a whiskered navigator? Fantasy road trips are already mapped out in my head, complete with soundtracks.