Advanced driving skills – how do these improve your drive in a classic car?

Like many others I never got around to doing the IAM RoadSmart advanced driver course for a long time. Mainly because as a classic car driver I felt that I was competent on the road and mechanically knowledgeable.

After a taster session with my local group (Guildford Advanced Motorists) I took the plunge and the rest they say, is history.

I became a full member on passing the Advanced Driving Test and joined my local committee and qualified as a national observer (mentoring others). I am currently taking my IAM Roadsmart Masters qualification to continue furthering my knowledge.

I proudly carry the IAM RoadSmart roundel on all the cars I drive. Both my modern car and classic 1955 Morris Minor were used during my driving sessions for the advanced course. At the other end of the spectrum, I’m now doing my master’s course in an electric vehicle.

So, the main question here would be: is the Advanced Driver Course from IAM RoadSmart relevant to an experienced petrol head in a classic, veteran or vintage car? The simple answer is yes in so many ways.

It all begins with the preparation for driving; pre-drive checks and a cockpit check. In a modern car automation helps us, but in a less frequently used classic car the systems deteriorate with time. Making fluid checks, condition checks and brake tests essential and good practice when preparing to drive a classic car.

Then we need to consider the driving process. Most of us will be comfortable with push/pull on heavy non-assisted steering and careful rev-matching during gear changing. But coaching on timing and sequencing of braking, gear changes and steering helps ensure a smooth and progressive journey.

The main aspect of the course that really improved my driving skills was all around observation, anticipation and planning.

So much has changed over the years when classic cars were built in comparison to the cars now. Our cars are now built to deal with busier roads, faster traffic sometimes populated with vehicles that can accelerate, brake, turn and stop virtually instantly. Some are assisted in various ways, and crash with better survivability from each Euro-NCAP safety iteration.

Finally, most of all it is fun and local groups provide a great environment for those who take pride in their vehicles and driving skills. Give it a go and give your local IAM RoadSmart group a call.

Gordon Farquharson
Classic and Modern Owner
National Observer – Guildford Advanced Motorists (GAM)