Friday, 19 August 2022

Cabrio perfect for trip down memory lane

NOSTALGIA is big business these days with vintage shows and shops springing up everywhere.

NOSTALGIA is big business these days with vintage shows and shops springing up everywhere.

I got a strong whiff of the old heady stuff recently on a car launch driving around Britain’s Jurassic Coast in Dorset.

We stopped for lunch at a place on a cliff overlooking the sea that triggered in me remembrances of things past.

Although it was not exactly a Proustian moment - biting on a madeleine biscuit - it must have been that rack-of-lamb lunch by the sea that set me off.

I had been well prepared: earlier that day I had driven through the seaside shrines of my childhood: Christchurch, Bournemouth, Sandbanks and Swanage.

And there on a cliff road some miles up the coast near Bridport, the shingle swathe of Chesil Bank disappearing in each direction as far as the eye could see, I came across the Seaside Boarding House.

I almost did a double take. Was I seeing things? Even the name of the place brought back memories of halcyon days splashing around on a beach and playing in the sand.

But it was real enough and I have been back since to find out just how much of it was simply a romantic notion. But more of that later.

One of the advantages of driving lots of cars is that often the car of the week suits the occasion.

This was true of this week’s drive, the DS 3 Cabrio, a small, stylish car whose DNA is shot through with nostalgia for Citroëns of the past.

Deep in the DS brand’s genes is the original Citroën DS, an innovative model that wowed on its first appearance at the 1955 Paris Motor Show.

More than three decades after the last DS appeared, in 2009, the first supermini DS 3 was launched. It has not been apparent to me that the new DS 3 relies upon any nostalgic notion from its illustrious past to make it work successfully in 2016.

However, there is definitely a whisper of its stylish antecedents in the look of this DS 3, especially the Cabrio.

With the hood rolled back, the plush interior is revealed to the light. In this car you can really see yourself enjoying a summer’s drive along the Côte d’Azur.

And the top-down DS 3 Cabrio proved fun to drive around our own Jurassic Coast. In fact this week’s drive was the perfect fit for my trip down memory lane that brought me to the Seaside Boarding House.

Naturally, I wanted to find out how this gem of a small hotel — it has just eight luxury bedrooms — came about.

It is a venture by the same people that brought us London’s Groucho Club, which opened in Soho in the Eighties. A lot of media people have gathered there regularly ever since: enough said.

But how does the Seaside Boarding House capture the essence of an all but lost more genteel time and render the visitor all misty-eyed? It might be the exquisite simplicity of the place: the beautifully polished brass, the dark wood bathroom fittings, the snug library-cum-sitting room with a table waiting for a game of bridge or backgammon to begin.

Or it could just be the building itself, which reflects another age. It is probably as it was originally built, with clean, simple lines enhanced by careful redecoration inside and out, with commanding views to Lyme Regis one way and Portland the other.

If like me, you are lucky enough to visit on a sunny day in a DS 3 Cabrio then the power of its PureTech 1,199cc turbo, direct injection engine will whisk you there in comfort usually found in more expensive and bigger cars.

The trip from Henley is something to be done with an overnight stop and this can be satisfactorily fulfilled with a stay, however brief, at the Seaside Boarding House.

It’s a drive of around 130 miles from Henley and 120 miles from Gloucestershire where I live.

Of course on the coast top down motoring is a must. The test car was in a stylish Whisper Purple with Topaz Monogram Roof and Topaz Aphrodite Wheels.

Economy was good in the DS 3 Cabrio with official figures of 62.8 mpg (combined cycle). There is an old song, I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside. It was a popular British music hall ditty, written in 1907 that championed summer holidays by the sea.

Its jolly lyrics reinforce a sentiment that seems to stay with us Brits no matter what. Maybe it’s because we are an island race.

More likely, it is because we never tire of walking on a beach listening to the lapping of the waves.

For information on when to stay at the Seaside Boarding House, in Bridport, visit

Fact file:

DS 3 Cabrio Prestige PureTech 130 S&S 6-speed manual

Cost of test car: £22,340

Options on test car include: Whisper Purple/Topaz Monogram Roof, £695; reversing camera, £200

Max speed: 126mph

0-62mph: 9 secs

Standard equipment includes:

Black Akinen Alcantara & Black cloth seating

RDS stereo radio/MP3 compatible CD player

Six speakers, DAB radio

Seven-inch touch screen

eMyWay Sat-Nav

Available options for new DS 3 Prestige include:

Black leather pack/ Grey and black leather pack

Chrome door mirrors, roof graphics

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