“My Austin Seven is my oldest friend”

Mick Fleetwood looks back at the cars that shaped his youth, and the early years of Fleetwood Mac
“My Austin Seven is my oldest friend”

Illustration by Eoin Ryan

I’ve always had an affinity for cars. I won’t say I sit there like Sammy Hagar with 50 cars in a warehouse, but it’s been a weakness of sorts through the years. Back in the day, Lettuce Leaf [a 1933 Austin Seven four-seater] was very active around London. She’s been with me since I was about 20—nothing that special, but it means a lot. Any car freak out there knows this. You often get the question, “Why the hell do you want to hold on to that?” It’s a sentimental thing—she’s my oldest friend.

Now, I live in Maui and I have an art gallery there and Lettuce Leaf is still working and still usable. I sort of retired her after my mom passed away about three years ago and she sits in the art gallery in Maui. She’s very happy.

During those early years, I also had a Jaguar XK120 Roadster, a two-seater. I had no money at all, and I don’t know how I got the car. They’re worth a fortune now. I bought it for 60£ as is. It never had a soft top—I couldn’t really afford to put one on.

I have huge memories of that car. I used to drive it in mid-winter to gigs—’cause you gotta look good—and I just loved it. I drove all over England in the early Fleetwood Mac days through thick and thin. I had all these fishing uniforms that the seamen put on when they’re pulling nets in on the North Sea, so I could drive through the rain.

The only downside when I was driving, which quite often happened—I actually used some retired flying gloves, and I mean flying gloves for when they used to fly open-cockpit planes, when they would have frozen-hand issues. I used those gloves to keep my hands from freezing, but the wheel is so big on an XK120 that part of your hand is actually in the airstream outside of the car. A couple of times I got to gigs and my hands were pretty much frozen. I got these little slow-burning glove warmers and stuff like that before the electric things that they have now. A couple of times, I literally couldn’t play—I got chilblains, which is like the beginnings of frostbite.

This stupid story is just about the lunacy of people who love cars—they almost want them to break down so there’s another war story. That’s probably my passion—the drama of all of that. But I used to turn up in that car like the abominable snowman—I was determined to turn up to the show in my lovely old car.

Mick Fleetwood’s new book, Love That Burns, chronicles Fleetwood Mac’s early days with archival photographs and personal recollections; fleetwoodmacbook.com