Guy Berryman:
from the lights of the stage
to the tarmac of the Mille Miglia

The Coldplay bass player is a great historic car enthusiast

He has travelled the world through his music, and thanks to his passion he has also travelled through time. When he unplugs his bass guitar, Guy Berryman becomes a real lover of everything vintage. From ornaments to furniture and classic cars. He adores models built in the '50s and '60s, preferably Italian and even better if they are Alfa Romeo.


As with many historic car enthusiasts, for Guy Berryman this love has its roots in his childhood.

In the garage of his home at Kirkcaldy, where the Coldplay bass player grew up, there was a 1950s British car. Guy's father kept it parked here, a motionless reminder of a long-ago era. The shapes and lines, so different from contemporary cars, and that old-fashioned, demure air... it was easy for Guy to fall in love. "I nagged my father to get it restored," he explains. "Classic cars, like music, have a story to tell. They are genuine art forms."

Classic cars and music also often come together in the passions of musicians themselves. In fact, many famous stars are keen followers of the vintage car world, including the great Nick Mason, drummer of Pink Floyd: "We're neighbours, and he's also been collecting amazing classic cars for many years."

Guy himself has a very impressive garage, and actually admits he has too many cars: "My aim is to have just a few cars of value, and to look after them well." He prefers European cars from the '50s, '60s and '70s, when there were fewer constraints on designers, leaving them freer to express themselves. One of the cars he's most fond of is an Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Villa d'Este, just a few of which were built in the early Fifties. "It's a lovely sports car, with coachwork by Touring of Milan. One of the most incredible ever built." Its history is incredible, too.

It comes from America, where its previous owner kept it parked in his back yard, unused for 50 years "From the look of it, you'd have said it might as well be demolished. But I like buying cars that have an interesting history and are in a very bad state, so I handed it over to a group of talented Italian mechanics for restoration. I sometimes do some work on my cars myself: I clean them, I take a few pieces apart .... it really helps me to relax. But when it comes to bodywork and mechanical parts, I call in the professionals."

At the Museo Storico in Arese, where we caught up with him, Guy was able to breathe in Alfa Romeo's history and savour a foretaste of the Mille Miglia, where he will compete for the first time partnered by Derek Hill, son of great Formula 1 champion Phil.


"I met Derek last year at the Concours d'Elegance at Villa d'Este. We hit it off at once and it occurred to me he might be the right person for me to spend 15 hours with on board an uncomfortable, noisy historic racing car!

On the Mille Miglia course, Guy and Derek will take turns at the wheel of the Alfa Romeo 1900 Sport Spider, a racing "barchetta" of which Bertone built just two, in 1954. A car with sleek, streamlined forms, just the kind Guy Berryman likes. "The idea of driving an Italian classic car in Italy really appeals to me. Yours is a country rich in history and tradition. I can imagine Twenties kids crowding the roadsides to watch these marvellous cars crossing the squares and speeding through the narrow streets. They couldn't help falling in love with them, and handing down their passion to their children and grandchildren."

It's not just a matter of looks, because the Mille Miglia is also a race that really puts drivers' endurance and talent to the test. Especially those taking part for the first time.

"I'm very excited by the idea of competing in the Mille Miglia, a race with an impressive history, but from what I've heard it's also very tough. It's the first time for both Derek and me, and we'll be giving it everything we've got."

Events like the Mille Miglia nurture the passion for and interest in the world of classic cars, just like organisations such as FCA Heritage, a window on the past in this age of continual modernisations. "Our roads are starting to fill up with electric cars; perhaps the transition will be quick or it may take longer. In any case, in my view it is important to conserve the memory of automotive engineering, and of the engines, designers and builders of classic cars. I believe that FCA Heritage plays a vital role in conserving the treasures left by this age for generations to come."

Guy Berryman and the Alfa Romeo 1900 Sport Spider at Mille Miglia
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Guy Berryman and the Alfa Romeo 1900 Sport Spider at Mille Miglia

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