by Eric Dalton
I had emailed Practical Classics on the Saturday to see if I could be put on the list of interested parties for ownership of the Ambassador. Two days later in connection with my job as a recovery driver, I was at another garage and was shown a 1980 VW Jetta which looked like it may have been going to the crusher.
£100 later, it was on the back of my lorry and off to be hidden away. I could hear the present Mrs Dalton (she's the only one, but it keeps her on her toes.....) "You just couldn't help yourself!". I congratulated myself for actually getting away with something for once, and forgot all about it.
Three months later I received an email to say the Ambassador was mine if I wanted it. The joy of winning was wiped away by the realisation that I still had the Jetta! The day before I was travelling down with two friends to collect the Ambassador, I came clean to Mrs D. This was on the Friday lunchtime, and the next time she spoke to me was when I was leaving the next morning for my train.......
The Ambassador was collected, and I found more storage, this time in the garage at a bus group that I help with. This was a year ago.
Forward now to March this year. Browsing the internet, as you do, I happened upon a 1989 Rover 216 VDP with an autobox. One elderly owner had covered just 23,400 miles in its life. It seemed too good to miss, and the Friday night saw me and one of the same friends that I had collected the Ambassador with getting the sleeper over the border to London.
A taxi across the city, and we were soon on the train out to deepest Essex. A short test drive confirmed that it was the car for me. Leather interior, electric windows front and rear, electric sunroof and that lazy autobox. In the last 10 mot's, it hadn't had one advisory. If the owner had dropped his wife off at the hairdressers and it was raining when she was ready to be picked up, he'd tell her to get a taxi.
Bob and I shared the driving home; indeed I kept having to prize him out of the driver's seat. In one day the car covered one year's average mileage, with no problems.
A fortnight later we went off down to the NEC for the restoration show. That was my first contact with Gar. I must have thought he was a decent chap as he drove the Rover at Cirencester. A fortnight before the Cirencester show, I'd also been to the group meet at Coventry airport. For those who don't know, that was when Mike Peake drove home in a swimming pool.
In June this year, my kind wife pointed out I now had 4 cars - you can't fault her arithmetic! My daily has to stay, as my oldies hibernate. I could never part with my two Longbridge cars, so Johnny Foreigner has gone to be loved by another carer.
That is the current state of play until I get careless again!
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