Somewhat surprisingly, reaction to Nicky and her Vette among the British motoring public is reminiscent of what an independent woman might have faced in America, circa 1950. "When I have [my boyfriend] Jay in the car, most people automatically think it's his," Nicky tells us. "Yesterday, I was driving the car on my own, and I had other drivers pulling alongside me, checking out the car, then doing a double-take when they saw me driving it. And it was like, 'Hang on, there's a woman driving that,' and some made comments that I can't repeat. I even had a few guys follow me just to show me what they were driving and to impress me." Fortunately, Nicky has devised a foolproof method for confounding the hecklers and hangers-on: "I just accelerate and watch them disappear in my mirrors.

"Despite when this happens, I really like driving my Stingray," she says. "I can have a really bad day, but when I get into the car and start it up, I begin to smile, and everything that's pissed me off throughout the day is gone."

Given the current European predilection for tiny, diesel-powered tuna cans, we wondered: Has mastering the Vette's V-8 performance proved daunting? "I'm still a bit nervous," Nicky admits. "I'm very aware of how powerful the car is, and I know that [Corvettes] can be a bit endy, but I'm not stupid or silly when I drive," she tells us. "Besides, I don't want to smash it."

So, what does the future hold for Nicky and her Stingray? "Ultimately, I want to start taking it to shows," she says, "because I'm proud of what I have, and I want to show other women that if I can get an American car and do it on my own, so can they. Other than that, I just want to keep it looking good and, above all, enjoy driving it."

Asked whether the '76 has satisfied or simply stoked her yen for American cars, Nicky is quick to reply. "I would definitely like to get some more Yanks. The other car I want is a '69 Stingray convertible. All I'd have to do then," she giggles, "is find a house with a big enough garage.

"Some problems, it seems, are universal.