The orange light of a setting sun strobed through the trees. Above me arced the treetops and a high, blue Scottish spring sky. I pulled my bombardier hat lower to fend off the brisk green air as we picked up speed. There was a bass rumble and a roar growing to eclipse the sound of a chorus of wobbly metal saws, the sound the wind makes in my ears. I sat shotgun on the left side of the car, tucked in low like a bobsledder. A narrow band of gray asphalt snaked off into the distance and mirrored the movements of the River Spey. The notoriously pockmarked Scottish backroads had been transformed into little more than a bouncy cloud.
The Caterham 7 was moving fast. Colors and recognizable physical objects became blurry streaks, and I half-hoped half-fretted that we were about to enter Hyperspace. I don’t know much about classic cars, but I know when I’m strapped into engineering greatness. I shouted several giddy and cringe-worthy exclamations over the wind during our wild three-hour ride from Fochabers to Grantown-on-Spey and back that I’m sure Boyd Stokes, the driver and owner of the car, appreciated.
“With the roof off the Caterham 7, the experience of touring the highlands is unmatched. You can see the treetops and the sky, and experience the elements. It’s physically tiring in a good way, like you’ve been active in the countryside,” Boyd told me over a pint after our ride. He’d recently left Rolls Royce and started Highland Caterham Hire, a business aimed at helping others experience the Scottish highlands in such a unique and invigorating way.
Touring is one of my favorite activities in Scotland, but there’s a major difference between driving a Kia and driving a classic car with the top down. The experience was amplified and felt more whole. I felt more integrated with the natural surroundings. Boyd had kindly provided the ride as part of my Best Holiday in the World winnings, and it will go down as my favorite way to see the MoraySpeyside region.
Boyd and I had a lot in common despite our generational and geographical differences. We’d both left well-worn and comfortable paths to blaze new trails for new businesses. Boyd’s phrase “looking at the treetops” summarizes it nicely. We can all get from point A to point B in our compact cars. They’re built to help us focus on the road in front of us, but they also function as blinders from the beauty and variety outside the temperature-controlled cockpit. Riding in a Caterham 7 literally rips the top off and exposes you to the wide world and its physical influences: wind, rain, sun, sounds, smells. That can only be healthy.
If driving a Caterham 7 through the Scottish highlands sounds fun to you, then be sure to check out Highland Caterham Hire and talk to Boyd. If you’re not quite sold, then check out this video I shot during my ride.
Are you looking at the treetops?