Meet the owners
Thanks to Cambridge Vintage Tours, you can explore our historic city ‘VIP-style’ in an award-winning electric replica Model T Ford, as owner (and chauffeur extraordinaire) Lee Cave explains…
You launched Cambridge Vintage Tours in 2019, but where did the idea come from?
I first had the idea whilst on holiday in the South of France with my wife and daughters. I used to go there as a kid, and there was this land train I wanted to go on, but my dad always made excuses as to why I couldn’t. So, when I returned as an adult, I thought I’d finally have a ride on the land train. Within minutes of setting off, I said to my wife ‘Cambridge needs something like this’ – so, once home, I started doing my homework. I quickly realised the land train model wouldn’t work for Cambridge, but a different vehicle would.
Tell me about the unique vehicle that you drive?
It’s a very special vehicle that I helped design – and my research took me all over the world, including Belgium, Croatia, and China, where it was made. It’s a replica of a 1910 Model T Ford with a few differences. It has an extra row of seats so can carry up to seven passengers, and because it’s a new replica it has seatbelts. The biggest difference though, which makes it totally unique, is that it’s electric.
What do the tours entail?
We have two tours. The 25-minute tour of the city takes in famous landmarks including King’s College Chapel, the Mathematical Bridge, The Fitzwilliam Museum, and Parker’s Piece, where I give a nice historical commentary about the origins of the rules of football. I provide a commentary throughout the tour, though I’m careful not to bombard people with information. The great thing is because we’re fully licensed, we can drive down streets that normal cars can’t navigate, such as Bridge Street and Silver Street, so visitors get a different perspective.
Where does the longer tour go?
Our 50-minute tour includes everything in the city, plus a drive out to Grantchester. We talk a little about Grantchester and the TV show that is filmed there with Robson Green. A lot of foreign visitors haven’t seen villages like this before, so love it!
What’s the response been like?
I always thought it would be successful, but I didn’t realise how quickly it would become popular and how much everyone who rides with us loves it, especially when bystanders take their pictures! We’ve been booked for weddings, proms, graduations, and won Historic Tour Operator of the Year 2020/21, which was amazing considering we were in lockdown! We also recently made it to the final for Experience of the Year in the East of England Tourism awards 2021/2022. On the night of the final we were Highly Commended, technically making us the best tour in the east of England as no other was even nominated!
What type of passenger do you attract?
It’s 50/50 between people visiting Cambridge and locals, and the nice thing is that every tour is private, so you never share with someone you don’t know. We’ve got one very loyal customer Len, who is in his 90s, and has done the tour a few times now! His son booked a tour on his birthday as a surprise, so we had an artist draw up a picture of him in the Model T. He absolutely loved it – and it has pride of place on his mantelpiece now!
We hear you’re going to be on the big screen?
Yes, we will be in a big budget Bollywood movie coming up later this year! We were hired for a day last summer, and the two main characters rode in our vehicle through Cambridge, dancing out of the windows and singing to Bollywood music, while a drone captured footage. We’ve also had quite a few famous faces onboard including TV presenters Steven Mulhern (pictured left), Jeff Brazier, the boxer Tyson Fury and the movie legend Robert De Niro.
What do you love about running Cambridge Vintage Tours?
I just get such a buzz from the fact I’ve invented this tour – and seeing how much people love it!
What are your dreams for the business?
We’ve got a second replica Model T on the way, in white, which will be on the streets of Cambridge soon! Eventually, I’d like to take the tours to other cities, such as Oxford, York and Stratford Upon Avon. Although I also have a couple of other companies including a locksmith and taxi business, moving forward, I am hopeful that my tours will fully take over my time once classed as a national company.
Find out more about Cambridge Vintage Tours at cambridgevintagetours.uk
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