Rolls-Royce owner Brad Hope tells George Matlock how he cares for his motor the way some fans care for their clean CDs, and about the day Elton bought the car - second hand!
I have had the Rolls for nearly 5 years now. My late father owned the car, a gold-coloured Corniche, for six months before he died. He was managing director of Britain's premier Rolls and Bentley distributor, Jack Barclay Limited (JB), based in Berkeley Square, London W1.
The car was bought new by a Mr. Jennings from JB who owned it for one year, then returned it to JB.
Then Elton John bought the car in 1975 from JB and would have dealt with my father (Robert McLean or MAC if you're reading Elton).
These days, any servicing that is carried out is done by me (let's call it a labour of love) and I know it's been done properly. Only exception is the brakes and suspension, which are too complex and need too many specialist tools.
The worst enemy of any car, be it Rolls or Mini, is rust, so washing is kept to an absolute minimum, only on very hot days it's washed in the shade, dried and then left in the sun for the inside of the doors to dry out. It's washed only twice a year.
As for polishing, this is kept to a minimum as well, as too much rubbing of the paintwork will eventually wear it out. The car's kept in a large garage in London, but if it gets dusty I simply rub over with a damp sponge then dry with a Chamois cloth. As for hoovering, very rare but I do feed the leather with creams once a year.
Driving? Only on special occasions or once a month to get up to normal working temperature. Miles covered last year: 296, miles on the clock: 38,000.
General maintenance is quite high for such a car. I've had a quote recently to sort out a problem with the high pressure brake system which will cost £1,650. But on the other hand, the limited mileage insurance premium is probably less than the average car, just £195 a year.
The car has never been modified, and is just as it was when it left the factory, although I pulled out a microphone socket from near the gearbox, which I now regret!
The car was available for private hire for a time, to help with running costs, but insurance premiums were too high and uneconomical unless I allowed it to be hired for long hours, which I wasn't.
But it does appear in television shoots. I received a call from a filming company looking for a gold Rolls Royce for a short caption series called "The Dream Team". The series is currently showing on Sky TV in the opening sequences.
If Elton ever called and said he wanted to buy it back, I would gladly let him take it round the block for old times' sake, but I'm sorry Elton, I'm too attached to this car to ever want to sell it!
I'm an Elton fan, and have a handful of his tapes. One record I would like is "Captain Fantastic" on vinyl album - it features this Rolls in the folder inside.
(Interviewed October 3, 1998, at the London Convention, Albany Hotel, Earl's Court)