W if the wind is favorable, your plane land on runway 27R at London Heathrow, then you can see it out of the window: the Battersea Power Station, that mighty brick building with the four white chimneys that houses the Ministry of Truth in the film '1984' and the main motif on the cover of the Pink- Floyd album 'Animals' forms. Mighty and sad it lies there, empty like a dinosaur skeleton in the museum since the roof was removed at the end of the 80s to remove the huge turbines and generators from the coal-fired power station.
Today you see it with different eyes, when you're on your way to England to have Nick Mason show you his car collection. Two hours later, our car rolls through an inconspicuous gate, a very slack windsock is hanging from a mast, and a narrow concrete path leads to a row of hangars that look as if the Royal Air Force had a couple of Spitfire fighters there after the air battle Forgot England. The gentlemen who store their old cars and airplanes here don't appreciate the exact location being named, so let's stay with southern England.
It doesn't get any more English
Here the pubs along the street are called' White Heart 'or' Red Rose 'and their picturesque coats of arms remind of those times when most pub customers couldn't read identified by the signs above the door. In other words: It doesn't get any more English. On the meadow in front of the hangars is a helicopter, an Aérospatiale AS 350 Squirrel, dark blue and painted in a cloud design. 'Oh, Nick is already here,' says our companion, pointing to the aircraft. The gates of the halls are open, in one of them two men in faded janitorial coats are working on components that they have apparently taken from a Boeing Stearman biplane.
Charles Knill-Jones is waiting for us in a hall. He is responsible for Nick Mason's vehicles and restores Bugatti racing cars on a part-time basis. Or the other way around. Because in the hall there are five Bugatti 35s in various stages of repair and restoration. They belong to customers, says Charles, and Nick is up in the office. Then he comes down the stairs, in loose jeans and a purple shirt, and doesn't look a bit like you would imagine a rock star to be, says 'Hi, I'm Nick' and poses for him as experienced as he is patientPhotographers.
Nick Mason with multi-million dollar car collection
In the meantime Charles has pushed open the door to the second hangar, standing here Nick's cars. Or at least some of them. The Ferrari 250 GTO and the 512 BB LM, for example, are missing, are already on their way to Goodwood, where son-in-law and professional racing driver Marino Franchitti is supposed to drive the cars.
But it doesn't matter, it says so in the hall Enough around what fans and car freaks will forget. A mighty black Bentley 4 1/2 liter, next to it a yellow Ferrari Daytona in racing trim, an Aston Martin International, a Bugatti 35, between them a Jaguar D-Type crouches. You have to squeeze your way through so that you can look at the cars in the second row: Ferrari 512 S, Ferrari F50, Lola T297 and, a little ashamed, a dark blue LaFerrari in the corner and pegged to the wall with a thick cable. How many cars he owns is a question Nick doesn't have a very precise answer to. Around 50 is a good estimate, he says.
And which one to choose if he could only keep one? The 250 GTO, of course, because it is by far the most expensive, he says very seriously. Just to smile immediately afterwards and point to the black Bentley: 'I probably wouldn't part with it, it belonged to my father for over 35 years.'
Guest starter in Auto Union
Little Nick's passion for cars began with the 1930 Bentley, when he wasn't a drummer, but a boy born before the end of the war, out of the noble London borough of Hampstead. Father Bill was a documentary filmmaker, made motorsport films, used the Bentley as a camera car and occasionally used it himself at club events.
So the Bentley is set. And of course the Ferrari GTO as well, just like the D-Type, the two Bugattis that Nick drove in classic car races around the world in the 70s and 80s, and of course the red Aston Martin, which he first acquired as that Drumming at Pink Floyd made money. With the time as the drummer of the mega rock band Nick has finished, made his peace with his colleagues David Gilmour and Roger Waters, whose egos have caused various attempts at reunion to fail. But Mason doesn't like to talk about that. He has to get back to his helicopter anyway. An Audi team is waiting for Nick in Goodwood, he is once again allowed to drive the Auto Union Type D twin compressor at the Festival of Speed. An honor, he says very unpretentiously.
The next day we stroll through the paddock, Nick Mason signs autographs and chats with festival visitors, always relaxed and friendly, whether it's a fan with album covers, René Arnoux and Jochen Mass or the host Earl of March. The type D roars warmly in the box, gathered with its loud twelve-cylindera growing crowd around them. The clouds over the nearby North Sea tear open, today the wind is favorable.