QTo celebrate my husband's birthday, we'd like to drive a classic British sports car (preferably from the '60s or '70s) around England. Do you know of any companies that will rent us a car and plot an itinerary?
AFirst things first: Remember to drive on the left. That said, renting a classic sports car and tooling around the English countryside has become a popular pastime, according to Rob Constant of the Historic & Classic-car Hirers Guild (HCHG), which comprises nine rental companies nationwide. "It's a growing niche for those people wishing to add an interesting motoring dimension to their short break or holiday -- often as part of birthday or anniversary celebrations or as a longer touring holiday," Constant said in an e-mail.
HCHG members, which must adhere to strict guidelines to ensure safety, can set you up in everything from a 1972 Alfa Romeo coupe to a 1928 Ford Model A Phaeton Tourer. The Open Road Classic Car Hire in Warwickshire -- near Stratford-upon-Avon and about 90 minutes from London -- is among the companies with cars that fit your specs. Its offerings include a 1969 MGB roadster and a 1973 MGB GT, sporty little numbers bound to turn some heads. The daily rate for both -- pick up at 9 a.m., return by 8 p.m. -- is a hefty $233, which includes insurance for one driver, taxes and a tank of gas (if you want to take turns driving, you'll have to pay for extra insurance). The four-day rate is about $700, seven days about $1,170. Details: 011-44-845-070-5142, www.theopenroad.co.uk.
Open Road owner Tony Merrygold, who reports that about 80 percent of his clients are British (the rest are other Europeans and Americans), says his firm provides an info pack with each rental that includes details on area attractions and leisure drives through the Cotswolds. He notes in an e-mail that would-be renters need to be able to drive a stick shift, as most of the classics have manual gearboxes.
To latch on to other classic-car drivers while in-country, check out the HCHG's Web site at www.hchg.co.uk. The site has a directory of classics for rent throughout the United Kingdom, links to dozens of classic-club cars -- including those for Rolls-Royces, MGs and Aston Martins -- and an extensive listing of events, such as car shows and tours.
I'm looking for a place to travel in late February with daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s. We fear Australia will be too warm. How about South Africa?
Wilton Manors, Fla.
Good choice. According to Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, an information officer at South African Tourism, you can expect late February daytime temperatures near 70 in Cape Town ("Generally, it's cooler there since it's near the ocean"), closer to 75 farther northeast in Johannesburg. One thing you won't have to deal with is mid-Atlantic-style dew points. It can get a little muggy in Cape Town, he said, but nothing like D.C. humidity.
As for Australia, don't even think about chilling out there in February. "That's the end of our summer," said Carly Bogaerts of Tourism Australia. "It's definitely going to be too hot for you then." She recommended putting off the trip until April or so if you want to find temperatures on the continent to your liking.
For other options worldwide, go to the Weather Channel's Web site (www.weather.com) and test the Destination Finder, a useful starting point for finding a vacation spot based on weather and other variables. Click on "Travel" on the home page, then "Vacation Planner." Plug in your month of travel, preferred daily high temperature and region where you wish to visit, and the site spits out a list of potential vacation spots. Using your criteria and highlighting "All Regions," Weather.com suggested such exotica as Taipei, Taiwan (average high in February: 64); Quito, Ecuador (66); and Casablanca, Morocco (63).
Roy Ferguson of Columbia has another suggestion for the reader who wanted to know if he could take a camp stove on an airplane (Travel Q&A, July 10). Ferguson recommends the Sierra Zip Woodburning Camping Stove, which costs about $50, weighs about one pound, and burns twigs, pine cones, wood scraps or charcoal. Ferguson reports that it will boil a quart of water in about four minutes. "I found it easy to gather fuel, and I used simple wax paper as a fire starter," he said in an e-mail, "but with more practice I have easily started fires with a sheet of newsprint." Details: www.campmor.com.
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