Advice and Information for our American Visitors

As we are based in one of the most picturesque and interesting tourist areas of the country and about 75% of the production of Austin Healey, Jaguar, MG and Triumph cars were exported to the US, it is no surprise that our classic car rental service attracts a lot of interest from visitors from the US.

 

This page summarises some of the information needed but more importantly some places to visit which over the years we have found have been of particular interest to our American Cousins.

 

Driving in the UK

 

Firstly you have to get used to driving on the correct side of the road.   This isn't really a problem and we have never yet had an American driver involved in an accident.

 

For details on the rules of the road - see our section on the Highway Code.

 

The main sections to read are:

  • Firstly remember that we drive on the left side of the road and our roads are generally much narrower than in the US. 
    • You will be changing gear with your left hand rather than your right hand but this is easy enough to get used to. 
  • Traffic lights - we do not have a 'turn on red' rule over here.  Our roads are narrower than those in the US with insufficient room for extra lanes and some junctions have limited visibility.   
    • If a traffic light is red you must STOP.
  • Few American states have roundabouts, or traffic circles, and getting used to these can take a little practice.  Occasionally you may read about foreign visitors who join a roundabout and are too scared to leave or can't find the right exit and keep round and round for ever.  These are just urban myths of course. 
    • The basic rule is that traffic joining a roundabout should give way to traffic already on the roundabout - coming from your right.   
    • If in doubt hold back before joining. Just read the road and watch the traffic and you'll be fine. 
  • Look for the yellow cross hatched 'box' junctions.  Some of these will accompany traffic lights, some at normal junctions.  You should only enter a yellow box if you can see that your exit is clear.  Don't block them. 
  • Beware of speed cameras - yellow boxes on grey Poles. They are everywhere. They are generally preceded by speed camera warning signs.  If you are watching the road you should be aware of the speed limit for that stretch of road.
  • Speed cameras and Active Traffic Management on motorways.  Some stretches of motorways now employ Active Traffic Management whereby the speed limit is displayed on overhead gantries.  These gantries generally have speed cameras built into them to enforce the speed limits.

 

 

Driving the cars shouldn't be a problem for you either.

 

Although the steering wheel is on the right, the pedal layout is the same as in US cars.

  • All our cars (except appropriately enough two of one American cars - Ford Mustang Convertible and the Corvette and our Jaguar Mk2) have manual gearboxes - stick shift.  So you must be able to operate a stick shift car.
  • None of our customers have ever had problems with changing gear with their left hand.
  • As the UK specification cars of the late 1960s and 1970s did not have the US emission control equipment installed, they are generally about 20% to 30% more powerful than the export models, so don't be surprised if they are a bit quicker than the one you owned or drove in your youth.

Places of special interest to American Visitors.

 

Based between Warwick (pronounced Worrick - the middle 'w' is silent) and Stratford upon Avon, we are surrounded by all things automotive, cultural and historical and there is something within one hour's drive of us to cater for any interest.  

 

Interested in classic cars?

 

Two of the finest motor museums in England are within half an hour of us:  

 

British Motor Museum (formerly known as the Heritage Motor Centre) in Gaydon. Originally setup as the museum for the Rover Group, which sadly is no more.  The museum is now run as a charitable trust covering the UK motor industry.

 

Coventry Transport Museum.  Coventry was our own Motor City, a mini Detroit, home to manufacturers of bicycles, cars, and buses and the Transport Museum covers all of these and a couple of record breaking cars including the current land speed record holder Thrust SSC.

 

 

Interested in Shakespeare or Warwick Castle?

 

Warwick Castle's history stretches back over 1,100 years.  In 914 AD Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, ordered the building of a 'burh' or an earthen rampart to protect the small hill top settlement of Warwick from Danish invaders.  The Castle has changed much over the centuries and is now one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country.

 

Shakespeare's Stratford with the five Shakespearian properties: Shakespeare's Birthplace; Anne Hathaway's Cottage (his wife); Mary Arden's Farm (his mother); Hall's Croft (home for his eldest daughter and her physician husband); Nash's House and New Place (Shakespeare died at New Place in 1616. Although later destroyed, the location is now preserved as a picturesque garden space).

 

Royal Shakespeare Company. The main theatre in Stratford was rebuilt in 2009-2010 with a new thrust stage layout whose aim is to improve the relationship between the audience and the actor by bringing them closer together and creating a more intimate theatre experience. 

 

Have you or anyone in your family been to Harvard?

 

If so, you will be interested in Harvard House in Stratford. The building now known as Harvard House, in High Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, was built in 1596 by a wealthy townsman, Alderman Thomas Rogers, who had twice served as High Bailiff.  It was said of him in 1595 that "besides his butcher's trade, which until now of late he always used, he is a buyer and seller of corn for great sums and withall useth grazing and buying and selling of cattle".  His initials are carved on the front of the house (with a bull's head to denote his trade) together with those of his wife Alice and his eldest son, William (then aged eighteen), and the date 1596.  There is documentary evidence that the fires of 1594 and 1595 caused substantial damage in this part of the town and this no doubt partly explains why the property was rebuilt at this time.  The elaborately carved façade, by far the richest example in the town, is testimony to Rogers' wealth and standing. 

  

The link with Harvard dates from 1605 and the marriage in Stratford in that year of Katherine, daughter of Thomas Rogers and Robert Harvard of Southwark, like Rogers also a butcher.  It was their son, John, born in 1607, who emigrated to America in 1637.  On his death he left half his estate and his library to help found a college at Cambridge, Massachusetts, re-named Harvard College after him, by an order of 1639.

The Edwardian novelist Marie Corelli energetically campaigned to save the building and Edward Morris, a Chicago millionaire, presented it to Harvard University in 1909.

 

How good is your history?  Do you know what happened in 1472?

 

Among other things, Christopher Columbus, a young sailor, born in Genoa, Italy, celebrated his 21st birthday.  This was a full 20 years before he sailed for the Americas in 1492.  Also in 1472 The Tudor House Inn opened in Warwick. This is the oldest pub in Warwick and is only 2 miles from The Open Road.  So why not pop down the road and treat yourself to a pint of proper English Bitter beer in a pub that is 20 years older than your entire country (excluding anything native American of course).

 

Interested in Winston Churchill?   

 

He lead us to success in the Second World War with a little American help.  Visit Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire where he was born.

  

Blenheim Place was built as a gift from the nation to the 1st Duke of Marlborough. He successfully led the forces of a European Alliance against the French in the War of Spanish Succession. At Blindheim on 13th August 1704 he achieved a great victory. This victory as Winston Churchill wrote in his history of the 1st Duke, changed the political axis of power in the world. Marlborough had prevented the complete dominance of Europe by France. It was for this that Queen Anne and a grateful nation built him his great house. This was a family home and in particular a monument to his achievement and to the Stuart dynasty.but also the home of the Duke of Wellington who beat Napoleon from the days when the French were our enemies and not our allies.

 

Interested in George Washington?

  

His ancestors came from Sulgrave Manor about 40 minutes from here just outside Banbury in Oxfordshire.   Sulgrave Manor was built by Lawrence Washington, George's five times great grandfather and houses the largest UK collection of George Washington memorabilia, demonstrating the British contribution to the origins of the USA with a separate exhibition on George's life and career in the US.

 

The Manor is held in trust for "all the people's of America and the United Kingdom" so over 360 million of us all have an interest in it!  When Sulgrave Manor was opened in 1921 the intention was that it was to be "a centre from which sentiments of friendship and goodwill between the British and American peoples will forever radiate".


 

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