We usually have an eclectic mix of items to bid on at our Annual Dinner & Auction, and way back in 2019, Mike Timmins was successful in bidding for one of them. A Ride in a Tank!

He finally got to go last week, and regales us of his experience here:-

My first conversation with Jim Carr was during a visit to the Bovington Tank Museum. I made a comment that while I thought it a very good museum I couldn’t get as excited about it as I would with a ‘proper’ car collection. Jim looked surprised and asked me why. I said it was because you couldn’t own and drive a tank like you can a car so it wasn’t as easy to relate to. Jim then casually mentioned that he owned 17 tanks, 5 of which he drove regularly on the roads!

On a subsequent B100 to Roger Dudding’s extraordinary motor collection, I said to Jim how much I liked the Lotus Cortina they had. Jim agreed and said how much he enjoyed racing his Lotus Cortina. I admired a Ford GT40 – Jim’s example he said was previously owned by Ron Dennis and has covered just 7 miles! What is so refreshing is that Jim never volunteers the extent of his collection of ‘big boys’ toys’ unless something he owns comes up in conversation. We rounded the next corner to see a stunning Rosso Corsa Ferrari Dino 246 and I asked Jim if he agreed that this was the prettiest car ever made. It is a good looking car he said – mine’s the same colour! If we had a B100 modesty award I would nominate Mr Carr.

At the 2019 annual dinner Jim offered an auction lot of a ride in one of his tanks for two people and he and Vero would treat the successful bidder to lunch. That was something I wasn’t going to miss.

Last week after the inevitable Covid delay, Lindsey and I visited Jim and Vero’s beautiful home in ‘Great Bentley’ of all places. I genuinely wanted to tick the box ‘I’ve been driven in a tank’ and we weren’t disappointed. Jim explained that the five tanks he had at home were all AFV’s (Alvis Fighting Vehicles) and that the one we were to drive in was a CVRT (Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance, Tracked). The particular vehicle we travelled in was a FV107 Scimitar which was in service from 1975 until just a ten years ago. It was originally powered by a 4.2 Jaguar petrol engine – amazingly the same unit that in different tune powered the E-type Jaguar! During the 1990’s the Jaguar unit was replaced with a Cummins BTA 5.9 Turbo Diesel. The Scimitar weighs c7.5 tonnes, has a 30mm Rarden cannon and Jim said it has a top speed of 50 mph.

During the drive around the lanes near his home, Jim seemed to be going considerably quicker but we were assured that the brakes were excellent! The expressions on the face of the local motorists ranged from the regulars who seemed to be quite accustomed to meeting a 7.5 tonne tank with a 30mm cannon hurtling towards them. At the other extreme were the ones who looked shocked and bewildered as they dived for the cover of the near side verge.

We were shown four other tanks (all CVRTs). Two Scorpions, a Spartan and a Stormer. The military theme was enhanced by a beautiful 1942 US Army Willis Jeep. The storage hanger also housed a AEC Routemaster London Bus and a collection of various motor bikes (this is David Shaw’s incentive to persuade Jim & Vero to host a B100 visit when he can use his superior knowledge of two wheeled machines to describe them in more detail).

Jim knew very well that it was his superb car collection that I was most excited to see and that he realised this was obvious when we arrived to see all his cars beautifully displayed on the lawn outside his home. He knew also that for me the jewel in the crown and my dream car since the 1970’s was his Ferrari Dino. So compelled was I to get close to it that I can’t believe I almost sprinted past an Aston Martin Vanquish S, a genuine Supercharged AC Cobra, a Porsche 356 in ‘Outlaw’ spec, a race prepared Ford Falcon and a very elegant Ferrari 250 GTE, amongst others.

I was disappointed when Jim said that unfortunately the Dino’s battery wasn’t holding charge so we could use any of the cars to go to lunch with the exception of the pocket rocket. Just a few minutes later with a chuckle he told me that the keys were in the 246 and Lindsey and I should follow him & Vero to the pub (which turned out to be a beautiful restaurant). We followed them in glorious sunshine down gorgeous country lanes in a car I’d been dreaming about most of my life. The rule is that you should never meet your heroes. Having been warned over the years to prepare for a disappointment I was immediately overwhelmed by the visceral experience of driving the car.

Jim is fastidious about the engineering quality of his vehicles and so this may not be a typical example but driving this automotive legend was sensational. The steering wheel looks as though it requires arm extensions to reach – in practice the wheel feels perfectly positioned. The steering is sharp and offers perfect feel. The dogleg first, five-speed all synchro gear change with the typical Ferrari gated slots was perfectly easy to use and that V6 quad cam engine revved so freely and sounded phenomenal.

Lunch was fantastic and even better as we were joined by my friend John Reed and his partner Kaye who are close friends of Jim & Vero. As we approached the end of lunch, John asked what we had planned. I had to say that ‘doing a runner’ with the Dino had crossed my mind but then I looked a genial Jim and remembered all those tanks and artillery and decided it wouldn’t be a great idea!

Twenty-five years ago I was given the opportunity to drive a Le Mans winning D-Type Jaguar and will still bore anyone who will listen about this amazing car and the experience of driving it. Genuinely, driving Jim’s Dino was just as amazing and memorable and something I will be talking about for as long as I live. I now want one so badly that I am considering remortgaging my house, my daughters, Lindsey, my other cars etc etc

Many thanks Jim I will always be grateful for your generosity.

Final Inspection to make sure everything is in one piece!

What a great story Mike – thank you for sharing your experience with the members!

We are very much looking forward to meeting everyone again, at this year’s Annual Dinner & Auction on 9th October 2021, where we will be wined, dined and entertained in the unique and stunning surroundings of the Motor Museum amongst the glittering best of our motoring heritage.

Look out for the invitation and exciting evenings programme which will be winding its way to you all, this month!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Leslie Hamilton Green says:

    Great story! As an Army veteran I feel a need to correct a couple of points in the story. AFV stands for Armoured Fighting Vehicle , more commonly known as a ‘Tank’ and normally fights other tanks, whereas a Scimitar is a light armoured reconnaissance vehicle used for that purpose and supporting infantry. Sorry! I can’t help myself!!


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