By Mike Peake
We were all up bright and early Saturday morning, lined up ready to go. We were joined at the campsite by Rob Shalcross and his son Luke in their Tempest kit car based on a Reliant Fox. (Yes, I’d never heard of it before and had to ask too.) It is a great looking car though and for a little 850cc engine, it went like a rocket! Mind you, I’m not sure it was your regular unleaded that was being burnt. There was a definite whiff of “Speedway” about the exhaust when I was trying to follow him.
Phil was acting a bit like a worried C3P0 trying to chivvy everyone along as he was concerned we’d be late for our lunch stop, but there were photos that needed to be taken and drone footage to be shot and we all had to stop and laugh at Gus in his get up!
You can see from the drone footage of us leaving the campsite that I was laughing so much, I nearly fell off the road.
We finally left the campsite only 3 minutes after C3P0 Allin’s final deadline of 10AM. It would appear that he wasn’t quite mollified though, as he set off in Big Rov at quite a lick with us all trying to hang on to his coat tails on our 1st leg to the glamorous setting of Sainsbury’s Petrol station. It would appear that Big Rov only has 2 speeds. Broken and 100mph!
We all managed to cling on though and those brave enough to look away from the road and the passengers that didn’t have their eyes shut were able to catch glimpses of the stunning countryside as it flashed by. We all made it through and were joined by Chris Baker in his rather nice TR7 FHC.
16 classic cars filled up with fuel before we let Nick “When’s the next petrol stop” Arthur drain their bunkers for his Jensen.
The next leg was to Edensor via Chatsworth house where Phil “C3P0” Allin assured us that there was a great spot to plant a photographer so that he would be able to get good shots of the cars as they passed with the epic view of the house in the background. To this end, we all pulled over to let Phil shoot ahead with our 2 nominated intrepid photographers, Paul Cheetham and Andy Gardner who had been so unfortunate as to forget to bring their classic cars to a classic car tour.
17 classic cars pulled over on the side of the road does generate some attention from the Muggles. There were lots of smiles, wows and phone snaps taken as they drove by. There was one grumpy woman in a silver 4x4 that shouted “BLOODY OLD CARS!” out her window as she drove by, but we think we spotted a sticker in her back window saying “My other car is a Blue MGB GT” so it was probably that woman from the steam fair last year.
As you can see, the photos taken there were fantastic. However, either they didn’t get the brief or Chatsworth House was just too small for them to notice. Great shots though Guys! Well done.
Shortly after the photo shoots we had a couple of “panics”. My panic first though. We’d just driven over a cattle grid when Poppy started making an horrendous “grinding, rattling clicking” noise that was very loud and alarming. It was so alarming that I immediately pulled to the side and leapt out of the car to investigate whilst other enthusiasts swarmed to my rescue and to laugh at a Fatbloke crawling around on the floor.
To be honest, I was fully expecting to see half the car dragging on the road but after a full 5 minutes laying on the ground searching fruitlessly, Liam piped up. “You know your number plate has fallen off don’t you? I was going to tell you earlier but I was laughing too much”. Yeah Thanks Liam! I was too relieved at the simplicity of the breakdown to beat him up though and I quickly removed the remaining screw and slung the number plate in the boot. The second panic? We realised no one had stopped to pick up our intrepid photographers, so Kevin was quickly despatched in his 1998 Volvo support vehicle to rectify this.
What with C3P0 still having “Light Speed” engaged on Big Rov”, my minor mishap and the abandoned photographers, the group had become split up. Fortunately, Phil’s rally notes were superb and Mrs FB was able to navigate us along the rest of the route with ease through the picturesque village of Edensor and to the car park near Grindleford where we were to stop and admire the view. Unfortunately, as the mini convoy I was leading arrived, the mini convoy that had managed to hang onto C3P0 was just leaving. So we filtered in with them for the 5 minute drive to the Yorkshire Bridge Inn for our lunch stop.
At this point C3P0 relaxed back into the easy going chap we all know and love and we all fully enjoyed the lunch of soup and sandwiches in our own private room that our Phil had arranged.
After lunch we all walked up to the nearby Ladybower Dam to admire the engineering marvel that is the overflow plug hole. Unfortunately, the water levels were too low for it to be flowing, but it was still an impressive site. The views of the countryside from the dam were also lovely. A relaxing few minutes was spent laughing at Liam’s antics as he tried to find the best position to take a group photo.
We left the pub at a much more relaxed pace and stayed in full convoy until our next stop at the famous Derwent Dam. We were between Liam’s P6 and Tosh’s Wolseley but they’d swapped drivers. As we were pulling into the car park after a 13 mile drive, Liam started shouting and gesticulating out of the Wolseley’s window. We thought he was just doing his Father Jack impression again so ignored him, but when we finally stopped, Liam leapt out of his car and retrieved his expensive iPad from the boot of the P6 where he’d left it before we left the Pub. Of course it was my fault though, as I hadn’t spotted it while following just behind for 13 miles. I guess I was still avoiding looking at boot lids.
Derwent Dam is every bit as impressive as I was expecting having seen it so often in one of my favourite films. As we were sitting at the bottom between the towers, it was easy to imagine the roar of low flying Lancasters overhead. It was actually quite poignant to be there so close to the 75th anniversary of the famous Dambuster raid of 1943 and I spared a thought for the 56 airmen that didn’t make it back and the 1600 civilians that died as a result. Well said, Fatbloke - Ed
Sorry. Got a bit deep there. Anyway, after a cheeky ice-cream for everyone, we set off for what was to be the most challenging and fun drive of the tour so far. The long steep climb to Mam Tor. It was fantastic and the scenery was breath taking. I haven’t enjoyed driving so much for a long time and I enjoy my driving. Everyone felt the same and as we got out of the cars at the car park at the top the comments that were on everyone’s lips were “Wow! That was Fantastic!”, Boy that was fun!”, “What a run!” and “Thanks Phil, that was awesome.” As well as all humming the tune to “Days like These”
After giving the cars and drivers a bit of a breather after the ascent, it was time for the 1 in 5 descent through the Winnats Pass. The first time you see the view at the entrance to the Pass really is an “Oh wow!” moment and it just gets better as you go down. It was at this point that Anita asked me why everyone was leaving such big gaps between the cars going down the steep hill? Maybe I should have thought about my reply before blurting out, “in case of brake failure” but it made for a very quiet descent and I could concentrate on enjoying the scenery.
The next stop was Phil’s favourite view of the Peak District. The car park of the Monsal Head Inn. Well OK, it was the view FROM the car park, and I have to say I agree with him. It was a beautiful sight. Very tranquil, relaxing and peaceful… until the busy bee buzz of Gus’s drone spoiled it all! But he got some great footage and supplied the entertainment with the panic displayed when he thought he’d lost it. It was also really good to see Paul Berman and his wife who had driven out to meet us and have a chat.
The last leg was supposed to be down to Caudwell Mill and back to base camp. Unfortunately it was getting a little late so it was decided to head back to the camp site and get our glad rags on in time for the evening meal at the Druids Inn.
To Be Continued…
by Paul Sweeney.
It is our pleasure to present these video clips filmed by Garry "Gus" Brooks and John Ticehurst during the Peaks tour - its available below to view and download if you wish to keep a copy. Obviously, everyone there thoroughly enjoyed the tour - special thanks are due to Gar Cole and Phil Allin for taking on the not inconsiderable job of organising the tour - very well done, chaps!
To view the video, click the 'Play' button above. To download it to keep, click here.
by Gar Cole.
Part 3 of this blog picks up almost a full year from the last instalment (you can refresh your memory of the last part here - Ed).
As with all projects they have taken far longer than predicted, however perseverance has paid off and we're now on the home straight.
I know some of you have a soft spot for classic caravans and my 'Doris' an 8ft by 5ft Holivan Jnr certainly draws attention. Following on from the last blog the interior repairs have all been carried out, a new L shape seating area built and installed which allows for a single 6ft 4in bed to be made up at night. Period correct materials were used to refurbish the inside but it has been kept as basic as the day it left the Fisher workshop down in Surrey almost 60 years ago.
Now repainted in Goose wing grey with Trafalgar blue accents to match her tow car, for your £197.00 you got a bed, 3 cupboards, a sink and 1 gas lamp, but hey it beats tenting, and at just 260kg you could pull it with a small car, for example, a Morris Minor............😀
Nelson, my trusty but slightly tatty 4 door Moggy had been left in the care of the Brooks brothers in November of 2017. By New Year the original A series engine and gearbox had been removed and the replacement Triumph 1500TC engine installed. We even got to hear it running despite having no exhaust fitted and it fired up right away.
Speaking as someone with basic mechanical ability who can just manage an oil change or brake pads I watched in awe as Gus continued to somehow shoehorn vastly larger components into original spaces. The Borg Warner automatic gearbox is twice the size and 3 times the weight of the original, yet with careful fabrication of the original cradle it slotted up into the transmission tunnel without having to alter it at all.
From then on, the car started fighting back a bit. The steering column had to be moved slightly to clear the bell housing, with the carbs and exhaust being on the opposite side to the A series it required a custom made down pipe and exhaust system, all built in-house by Gus.
It's always the final details that are hardest and this was true of this conversion. A custom-built prop-shaft was made for it, and finding a suitable radiator that sat further forward of the new engine proved troublesome until a Peugeot 205 diesel radiator was suggested by a fellow Moggy owner. This worked and with some custom water pipes and a few other tricky jobs overcome he was ready to be collected early April.
Now my intention was never to create a "Hot Rod" - I simply wanted an automatic conversion with a tad more power to pull Doris the Caravan. However going from 48 bhp to 84 bhp was always going to be interesting in a 780 kg rear wheel drive car, so you ask, what's it like to drive?
The short answer is "Huge Fun"! It shoots off the line instantly, it has so much torque it barely uses 1st gear and goes for 2nd at 5 mph, what follows is a rorty and very rapid blast to 60 mph with very smooth changes. Between the twin carb induction noise and the large bore exhaust it's fairly loud, but in a good way; it keeps saying 'Go on ya wimp, push me some more".
Unfortunately I did just that and managed to get a speeding ticket in a 52 yo car, something I'm childishly proud of, and no doubt will be a source of amusement when I attend my speed awareness course - 53 mph in a 40 Your Honour.
During the Peak District tour of 11th to 14th May, the car covered 280 miles and it didn't miss a beat. On motorways, traffic jams and mountain roads it is more than capable of keeping up with far larger classic cars and I had a few fun white-knuckled blasts chasing the V8's on the tour with us. Gus's workmanship is top notch and everything he fitted and made worked flawlessly.
I now need to up rate the rest of the car to cope, number 1 being disc brakes on the front, closely followed by wider wheels and tyres. In my enthusiasm chasing aforementioned V8 Rovers, I hit the engine sump on a bouncy road and cracked it so that it started dripping, it's currently off being welded and I will be having the suspension raised by adjusting the torsion bars and fitting a sump guard.
It's a great fun car but possibly a little bit too powerful. I'm toying with swapping back to a single carb and adding a second exhaust box, this should detune it by around 10bhp and make him a less menacing-sounding brute. I'm now setting about improving his paintwork as he tours in rather exotic company 😀
By Mike Peake
They mentioned the boot lid! ... A lot!.
However it was all a jolly good jest and I’m over it now, so it didn’t stop me enjoying what was to be one of our best meets/tours to date.
It didn’t start too well for me though. Mrs FB had sportingly agreed to tow the caravan up despite only having done the odd short jaunt to Weston and such, so a 3 hour trip to the campsite near Matlock was a bit daunting. However, as the only alternative was my tent that I’m not sure has recovered from Snowdonia, the matter was settled.
Anita coped magnificently though, even when my sat nav had a melt down and decided the camp site was in Brassington and took us there via Middleton.
Now these are two picturesque villages nestled at the top of large mountains, along roads barely wider than the caravan and bordered by stone walls. Anita wasn’t happy and of course it was my fault that the sat nav was useless, but as I was in a separate car and there was no phone signal, I could only faintly hear the screams, shouts and swearing emanating from the Honda so felt I could safely ignore it. That is until it became evident that we needed to turn around. The only place we could do this was at a T-junction. Still on a very steep hill. Still on very narrow roads and still bordered by stone walls.
I got out of Poppy, and from a safe distance, informed Mrs FB of the situation. The scary glare of death directed my way encouraged me to maintain the safe distance but by shouting instructions like “left hand down” and “right hand down”, Anita had that van turned around like she’d been doing it all her life and I quite like the smell of burning clutch anyway. We eventually made it safely to the campsite by Thursday evening, where I was saved from being beaten to a pulp by the presence of witnesses. Tosh and Bella the dog already had the camper van pitched and were waiting patiently for us.
Gar and Phil Allin also arrived and we set about a strategy meeting for the upcoming tour which hardly involved any alcohol at all.
It was during this strategy meeting that we learned just how much effort Phil and Loraine had put into this trip. Tales of Phil scouting out the route earlier in year and being foiled by the conditions abounded. My favourites were when he was stuck at the top of Mam Tor in a blizzard and 10 feet of snow for a week with only his thermos and a cheese sandwich for company.
Then, when he was swept away by the ford at Tissington in full flood and ended up floating in the middle of a lake waiting to be rescued by the RNLI. AND, after all this, Phil and Loraine wrote and produced a fantastic booklet full of detailed instructions on our routes along with maps and notes on the interesting sights we would see along the way.
On Friday morning, we pitched the new super duper events shelter and as I was there to supervise, it went a lot better than the pitching of my tent at Snowdon. There was one moment when the wind got up while Tosh was trying to manipulate the canvas and he looked like Han Solo frozen in carbonite, but we got there in the end.
During the rest of the day, our terrific team of tourists gradually arrived so let me introduce them.
And of course Paul Cheetham and Andy Gardner, who both forgot to bring their cars.
While everyone was arriving we weren’t idle though. Super Enthusiast Man drove Poppy in order to compare to Henry which uses the same engine and running gear and just bodied differently and I drove Henry. They really are very different to drive though, even after Gus pointed out that my throttle cable was too long and I was only using half the travel on the throttle. This wasn’t embarrassing at all even if it had been like it since I’ve had the car…for 18 years! Nope. Not embarrassing at all. At least Gus fixed it for me though, even if he seemed to enjoy telling everyone about it.
Tosh was also busy. He was saving this bumbling incompetent fool’s marriage this time by replacing the hole I’d put in my caravan with a lovely locker door with Ian Woodward helping from the inside.
Jolly useful chaps these Brooks and a huge thanks to you both!
More car hopping was done and just as we were about to settle down for the evening, Gar tossed me the keys to Nelson. Well I didn’t need asking twice and eager to test out Gus’s workmanship, I jumped in. I have to say that as I sped away, wheels spinning across the field and leaving a “Back to the Future” trail of scorched grass behind me, I realised that Nelson actually had rather a lot more power than he did last time I drove him and I had quite a big grin on my face.
When I got back, an apron clad Gar was stirring up his souri… sootykaka… sukiouri… oh heck, it was Greek meatballs in a sauce with peppers and tomatoes and vegetables and stuff and pasta was boiling up in several caravans (I think you mean Soutzoukakia Mike. Ed) anyway, there was 24 litres of it and it was absolutely delicious. Gar could give Nigela a run for her money I tell you. He’d even done us strawberries and cream in brandy snap baskets for pud. He’s a star is our Gar.
After Gar had fed all 28 of us, Anita and I gave out the tour Hi Vis vests. Everyone looked very pleased and very smart in them too. And No. I don’t think we looked anything like council dustmen or a bunch of crims on community service as some of you have rudely suggested!
Much hilarity, fun and games continued into the night but eventually we all retired to our beds with our faces aching from laughter and our thoughts on the adventures to come.
To be continued…
By Mike Peake.
So, my boot lid is looking pretty good in primer and I’m waiting for my colouring aerosols to arrive as well as the next set of instructions from my patient patron of paint, Tosh Brooks. However my new dynamo brushes had arrived at the princely cost of £2.50 so I decided to crack on with this. I cleared an area in the utility room and put down some cardboard to protect the worktop. This was remarkably far thinking for me but proved effective when I was inevitably busted by Mrs FB. I actually got away with just a mildly suspicious “Hmmmmmmm”.
A certain Simon Yeardon of the group, flush with his success of actually being helpful in supplying the dynamo diagnostic booklet, was now filling me with fear on how difficult it would be to get the brush assembly back on whilst holding the brushes back. So it was with trepidation that I began.
I found my really big screw driver and applied lots of force to the stubborn retaining bolts. I got the lid off and had the old brushes removed in very short order. My diagnosis of worn out brushes proved correct.
I quickly fitted the new ones. However, instead of correctly positioning the end of clock type spring on top of the brush, I put it on the side, (Yes. On purpose too) effectively retaining the brush in the fully withdrawn position, allowing easy refitting of the top assembly to the body of the dynamo.
Once all fully fitted and tightened, it was simply a matter using a small screw driver to tease the springs back into position at the top of the brushes and job done in less than five minutes from getting my really big screwdriver out. Ha! Who’s the bumbling incompetent fool now Simon? Eh? Eh?
Feeling smug about my dynamo success and armed with Tosh Brooks latest missive of his step-by-step guide to the Dark Arts, I sat in front of my boot lid with a bucket of water and a cunningly folded sheet of 1500 wet and dry. My gods - is that dull work! After what seemed like days of work later, I was quite pleased with the result and had only gone through the primer in one place on the shaped back bottom edge. So, I dried it all off and applied a couple of coats of primer on the bare bit, gave it the requisite hour that it said on the can and tried to flat that bit back.
The can is a filthy liar! Primer is not ready to sand after an hour and I had a bit of a gloopy mess on my hands… and on the boot lid. Was I downhearted? Of course I was. Bottom lip a-trembling, I gave up and went in doors to have a merlot and pour my heart out to Tosh. Tosh’s advice and the Merlot soon had my upper lip suitably stiffened, and 48 hours later had me sanding that bit back to bare metal and reapplying fresh primer, leaving it 24 hours to dry properly this time, before flatting back again.
A thorough clean with panel wipes and a final wipe over with a tack cloth and I was standing there vigorously rattling my rattle cans. It was Friday afternoon after work and I only had the May Day bank holiday weekend to finish up and get everything back on the car before the Peaks Tour. So, carefully following Tosh’s instructions, I applied the 1st light coat and waited for 15 minutes to see if there were any adverse reactions. There wasn’t. It was looking good. So after another tack cloth wipe over I started adding coats of colour in earnest. Starting at the back bottom edge and working my way the top front edge and starting again at the back. I applied the best part of one and a half 400ml aerosols of colour and then stood admiring my handiwork for half an hour.
It started to rain, so I went to slide my work bench further into what remained of my garage. The boot lid slipped and was heading for the concrete floor but I caught it just in time to avoid complete disaster. However, there was now a thumb print on one edge so I shut everything away.
A further messenger heart to heart with Tosh and I was sure it would come out when I flatted back. On the whole though, the boot looked really good. So good in fact that when I posted the results in the group, Paul Sweeney and Brian Allison were driven to say that I was in danger of losing my reputation for being an incompetent bumbling fool. Even Lord John Simpson of Boston was impressed enough to offer his congratulations and suggest that I crack open the Merlot to celebrate. High praise indeed and who am I to ignore the instructions of such a giant in our field.
It wasn’t all good news though, Mrs FB came home and pointed out that the drive was now red with overspray and the house stank of paint. With hindsight, It may not have been such a good idea to say that it was a red brick drive so no one else will notice. Anyway, it was lovely to catch up with all the gossip and life events of the nurses at A&E who were, as always, very nice
Saturday was a write off when it came to working on Poppy as my daughter took delivery of her 2013 Mini One convertible. We had to drive all over Wiltshire in the glorious sun with the roof down for the whole day. We still haven’t been able to get the grin off her face. This put me in mind of the time we bought Mrs FB’s 1st blue Mini back in the mid 80’s… but that is a story for another blog..
Bright and early Sunday morning and I was back with my bucket of water and cunningly folded 1500 wet and dry. The thumbprint was now almost invisible and I proceeded with my trusty machine polisher, and cutting compound followed by a softer pad and polish followed by a generous application of incredibly expensive wax that promised advanced protection against UV.
I stood back to admire my work and , WOW! Even if I do say so myself, WOW!
It was gleaming, It was stunning, I WAS A GOD!
Considering that a month ago, I hadn’t even heard of most of the terms I’ve used above, I have never attempted anything like this before and I was having a go without any of the recommended expensive equipment, yes, I have to say, I was quite pleased with myself.
I was so pleased with the finish that I went immediately to the lock up to refit the dynamo to Poppy and slowly drive her home from the lock up so nothing would fall out of the boot that was without its lid.
There were a couple of occasions when the bumbling fool put in an appearance though. After fitting the dynamo I realised that it might work better if I actually connected those two wires and being ever so thankful that all the nuts, washers and spacers required to refit the boot lid to the car, were still in the boot gutter where I’d left them before my careful drive home from the lock up.
Poppy’s top deck was treated to a machine polish and lavished with a generous application of the same, incredibly expensive anti UV wax that I’d used on the boot in the hope that she would stay red slightly longer than a week this time.
Just the furniture to fit to the boot lid and the boot lid to the car and I would be ready for the groups Peaks Tour. I would be able to bask in the glory of my mastery of the dark art of body work thanks to Tosh’s patience and his excellent correspondence course. Along with the trouble-free dynamo repair, maybe I would finally cast aside the mantle of bumbling incompetent fool for ever!
To this end, I turned the boot lid over so I could fit the number plate light and cover ensuring that it would remain scratch free by carefully placing a dust sheet underneath it.
It was when I went to turn the lid back over again that disaster struck and my world crashed around me. You see, the dust cover had stuck to the surface and either left an imprint in the paint, left bits of the cover embedded in the paint or pulled bits of paint off exposing the primer. The whole thing was ruined.
I have to say that the air turned a virulent shade of electric blue with all the bad words shouted at full volume. I was devastated. I was heartbroken and after all the hours I had put in, and the finish I’d achieved, I am not ashamed to admit, I blubbed like a baby.
I don’t have enough time or enough paint to repair the damage before the tour, so instead of basking in my comrades admiration for a job well done, I have to put the lid back on the car and suffer the shame and humiliation of having the evidence of my bumbling incompetence glaring for everyone to see.
So, There are some new rules for those of you posting in the group or attending this weekend’s tour and they are as follows:-
To be continued if I regain the will to live.... PS anyone want to buy a Herald with Dodgy paintwork?
By Mike Peake.
Well I’ve been dreading it for five years or more. I’ve put up with criticism, unsolicited “advice” from strangers, and people telling me I should look after my car better. (I say put up with, but it’s getting quite crowded under my patio now.)
I’ve been quite happy to expose Poppy’s mechanicals to my incompetence, but I’ve never done …. Da Da Daaaaa! … BODYWORK!!
The thought scares me rigid. It’s always been something to give to professionals and never something any self-respecting incompetent weekend mechanic should contemplate. However professionals are jolly expensive and I’m jolly skint and Poppy’s paintwork is becoming jolly desperate as many of you know. The boot lid being the worst part of the car. So, I’ve been psyching myself up to this point for a couple of years and figuring that my boot lid couldn’t look any worse than it does now, I decided to face my fears. Maybe not head on though. More like a sideways glance peering through my fingers.
As I said above, I have received lots and lots of advice on what to do about the paint and how to go about painting. Most of it vague and largely contradicted by the next “expert” to offer me unsolicited advice. And anyway, I’d never really bothered to listen as I was usually trying not to biff them on the nose for daring to criticise my Poppy. So I needed proper advice from a proven expert. I couldn’t find one so… Actually no. I’m not going to make that joke. Anyone who has seen the Brooks brothers work can clearly see that they are at Gandalf skill level in the dark arts of car restoration and Tosh is the painting expert I needed.
Any last hope of finding someone to do the job for me for the love of it and a bottle of whisky were dashed when Tosh’s Blog, “Why a car restorer has no mates” was published. So I gave up dropping hints and asked outright for advice. I collared him at our Coventry meet in February and he was jolly nice about the whole thing and freely offered lots of really great advice and wasn’t put off even with Simon Yeardon adding his two pen’orth. I did my very best to listen intently and absorb the sage advice offered, I really did. I even understood all the individual words he spoke but the order in which he spoke them along with my innate fear of the subject, induced the human equivalent of the blue screen of death crash and my eyes glazed over while my panic stricken brain kept trying to reboot and engage.
Fortunately for me, good saint Tosh didn’t take offence and realising my predicament published a brilliant “How to" blog which I printed off and read repeatedly before pinning to my workspace wall for immediate reference whilst I did the job. (You can read Tosh's 'How to' by clicking here - Ed). He even took me shopping for sanding discs and primer and gifted me a special paint stripping wheel for my grinder whilst we were at the NEC restoration show. (oh…I wasn’t supposed to tell you that bit in case he gets drummed out of Yorkshire for not being “Financially careful”)
I was now ready to have a bash! All I had to do now was wait for reasonable weather and temperatures as I would have to do this outside. The fabled perfect conditions arrived on the weekend of Drive It Day. I couldn’t “drive it” as my dynamo brushes hadn’t arrived, so I did the next best thing and worked on my car.
Boot lid removed from the car, I took one last deep breath and fired up my angle grinder fitted with the paint stripping wheel. I have to admit it took a bit of getting used to, but after I learned that it was equally effective at stripping skin from unwary knuckles as it was stripping paint from my boot lid, I settled into a nice rhythm slowly and carefully removing my paint and redistributing it in my hair, face, boiler suit and drive.
There was one moment when I discovered that the 80 grit disc I’d bought wasn’t hook and eye like we’d asked for. When I put it on my sander and started it up, it flew quite spectacularly. I mean it soared of the backing plate, all the way across the road and in through the neighbours open lounge window. I’ve not been brave enough to go and ask for it back and they’ve not mentioned it yet.
I followed Tosh’s step by step guide religiously and after 12 hours hard work spread over Friday afternoon and Saturday, I had my boot lid back to shiny bare metal before a final sand with 120 grit on my trusty sander/polisher. I was now ready to paint but decided to call it a day and head in for a celebratory bath and a G&T. I decided that being as covered in dust as I was, wouldn’t be conducive to a good dust free finish on my primer coats.
A gloriously sunny and still Sunday morning found me back on my drive in my freshly laundered Po costume vigorously shaking my aerosol. (This is called “Twerking” today by the youngsters I believe.) After a thorough wipe down with panel wipes, I was stood with the can hovering above my naked boot lid. This was the moment of truth. My 1st attempt of painting where it mattered… I bottled out and decided to have a quick couple practice squirts on a scrap piece of metal. A short time later I was stood with the can hovering above my naked boot lid. This was the moment of truth. My 1st attempt of painting where it mattered…
I took a huge deep breath, said a quick prayer to the automotive gods and pressed the button. After that it was all a bit of a blur as I entered a Zen like state of terrified concentration. I just kept spraying until my 1st can of primer ran dry and I started the next. I lost count of the number of coats but pretty sure it was 10 plus. The 2nd can was getting light so I stopped as I didn’t want to run out hallway through a coat. My Zen trance lifted as I put the can on shelf and it was time to inspect my work. I couldn’t do it. I was too nervous. It was going to be full of runs and patches and splodges - I just knew it.
After a while, I could delay the fateful moment of judgement no longer. I turned around and opened my eyes. Dare I say it? It looked quite good! It all looked quite even and best of all, no runs or splodges at all! OK, there are a couple, OK a few bits of dust on there, but I was having to spray outside. I was really pleased and proud of the result of my unexpectedly black boot lid. (I was expecting grey.)
I spent an hour gazing in wonder and taking pictures to publish on social media (who delighted in pointing out it was the wrong colour primer and I’d missed a couple of small dents) before putting it away snugly to fully dry and harden for a week whilst I was on a business trip. When I got back I would be able to do something that I knew vaguely was called “flatting back”. You see I’d run out of “how to” blog.
To be continued….
By Mike Peake.
Further help then came from a most surprising source. I noticed that Simon Stock Yeardon had commented on my post. So, with a heavy heart I clicked on the notification expecting sarcastic comments or accusations of alcoholism. Imagine my shock then, when I came across a comment that was actually rather helpful. No, really it was!
He’d posted a link to a scanned copy of a jolly useful booklet issued by Lucas and aimed at small independent garages. It was full of instructions of all the procedures to thoroughly test and check all the functions of the Lucas C40 dynamo and regulator. I printed this off and then did nothing for a couple of weeks as I was a bit busy.
A couple of weeks later I had found my enthusiasm for car tinkering again and I was back at the lockup. (It was that or rebuild a garden wall that some idiot knocked down with a caravan!) There I was, in my red boiler suit not looking like Po from the Teletubbies in the slightest, with all my tools around me.
The car was edged out of the lockup and I was ready to go. I just needed that bargain multi-meter that I’d bought off flea bay for £3.99 2 years ago. It took a while to find it but I did. Apparently, cheap as chips multi-meters don’t react well to having a pack of stubby spanners thrown in the box on top of them. I had no option but to pack up and head home having achieved sweet …… err having achieved not very much at all.
I did make sure that this took me long enough that I didn’t still have to build the wall when I got home.
I ordered a new multi-meter from Amazon and less than 12 hours later, on a Sunday, it arrived. Now that’s impressive! I was very quickly back in my red boiler suit , in my red boiler suit not looking like Po from the Teletubbies in the slightest,, with all my tools around me and the car was edged out of the lockup. I was ready to pretend that I knew how to use a multi-meter.
Simon’s wonderful booklet said *puts on best 50’s BBC announcers voice* “Test 1. With the engine running, disconnect wires from the dynamo. Attach the red lead from the test meter to terminal D and the other lead to a good earth. Then, run up the engine to 3000 RPM. If you get a reading of between 2-3 volts, your brushes and commutator are in good order.”
Well I had no idea which one was terminal “D” so I went for the big one on the top as that was easiest to get to and connected the black lead to the –ve battery terminal. Then, like a proper mechanic, I raised the revs to 3000 by moving the throttle linkage on the carb. (Sometimes I even impress myself!) The reading on the meter never exceeded 0.1V though. Maybe that wasn’t “Terminal D” then, I thought.
So I tried the other one with the same result. Being a clever chap, I deduced that having not got the required 2-3V, my brushes and commutator are NOT in good order! Indeed, when I removed the dynamo from the car and looked in the back, air could clearly be seen between the black blocky thingy and the shiny spinney roundy thingy,
I was actually really pleased with this result for 2 reasons. Firstly, the rest of the tests looked progressively more complicated. I didn’t even read Test 4 all the way through for fear that my little head would just explode. Secondly, it’s the brushes. I’ve seen them for sale at £2.50 and I’ve changed brushes before, how hard can it be?
Now I just need a clear area in which to strip the dynamo. What do you reckon? Coffee table or kitchen top?
by Gar Cole
I'd like to tell you about a man who - like you - I've never met, my Grandfather Charles (or Charlie as he was known) Young.
We have all heard stories about people who led quiet but often remarkable lives, touching the lives of many in their community with their actions. Yet with the passing of the decades their stories are somehow lost to all but a few surviving members of their family or friends. In case you were worried I'd started writing a blog for Readers Digest I can promise a pre 85 Brit vehicle features in this tale ... still with me?
Born the 4th of 11 children on Christmas day 1915 in the mining village of Penpedairheol, known locally as 'Cascade', like most mining communities they were extremely poor but close knit.
Everyone was willing to help out anyone else if they could, and as with most kids of the time Charlie left school at 14 going straight to work at the local mine at Penallta. He was rail thin and an extremely tall 6ft 5in by the time he was 16, definitely not an ideal height when you're digging out coal seams lying on your side at the coalface for hours on end.
Cars were an extremely rare sight in 1930s South Wales. What few taxis there were simply didn't go to these villages outside of Cardiff. Coal and milk were still delivered by horse and cart, and the only car one might see in a mining village belonged either to the Doctor or the Vicar. The steam train was the prefered mode of transport for those who could afford it, the once-yearly trip to the coast during the 'Miners Fortnight' holiday period.
Charlie had a very strong work ethic. He worked the standard 12 hour shift 6 days a week, often agreeing to work overtime to complete a 16 hour day, all powered by 8 jam sandwiches and a flask of tea. Being such a hard worker enabled him to financially care for his parents who could no longer work due to the effects of dust inhalation from years of working underground.
He also bought - after 7 years of saving - a Morris Minor fabric bodied saloon in 1936. Talking to my family all I know is it was built in the 20s and was a deep wine colour. As you can imagine this caused quite a stir in the village and tongues started wagging. "Who does that Charlie Young think he is? Driving himself to work every day like some of his betters. He's getting above his station if you ask me" and so on.
He was by all accounts quite the eccentric, often wearing a full length Swedish army trench coat and carrying a full size alarm clock in his pocket. The local kids naturally found this hilarious and would stop him often to ask the time just so he would take it out and set the alarm bell off. Charlie wasn't handsome, or a smooth talker, but he was kind, considerate and at 6ft 5 and with his own car he was someone you couldnt fail to notice.
Now the little Morris became a fixture of village life. Charlie would take people to hospital for operations, families to visit sick relatives and so on. In 20 years a total of 7 babies were born either in the car on the journey to the hospital or at the side of the road if there wasn't time to reach it. A knock at the door could come day or night.
The car also acted as the bridal car for nearly every marriage in the village, including his own when he married my grandmother Edith in 1939. Edith was the local 'Glamourpuss'. 5ft tall with a huge personality, head of the local choir and quite a successful singer in the local areas singing in town halls, dance halls and a few nightclubs in the city. They certainly made an odd couple but they were devoted and proved the old adage that sometimes opposites do attract.
With coal production being classed as an essential service, he wasn't called up for military service during WW2. Life continued as normal in the village with the arrival of my mother Julie in 1942. Like many others in the rural communities they also took in 3 evacuees from London and 2 from Bristol, from 1 to 6 children in as many months.
Mechanically gifted Charlie could fix most things and was in demand, especially with the growing popularity of cheap British motorcycles and sidecars that were starting to appear in the valleys. This included fixing a non-starting Royal Enfield 350 Bullitt owned by a 17 yo lad from the village called Gerry Cole.
I remember asking my Dad Gerry once what he thought of Charlie. Dad told me, "He came across as shy and simple, but was in fact probably the most gifted all round engineer / electrician in the village, yet he could barely write a sentence". With my mother being only 8 years old at the time I doubt she even registered with my Dad, however 11 years later when he left the RAF he certainly noticed her and they were engaged just 3 months later.
Unusually for the times my Mom was an only child by choice, in order to give her a better life; she had piano lessons and went to a private school. This raised more than a few eyebrows in the small community and her nickname of 'Princess Julie' was probably justified, so in 1958 devoted dad Charlie promised to buy Mom a new car the following year if she passed all the exams she was taking at the time.
Dutifully she did, and as 1959 rolled around she fell head over heels for the all new Austin/Morris/Seven/Mini that was being advertised in the press and all the fashion magazines that young girls devoured in the 50s. Mom passed her test in July 1959 aged 17 and fully expected to see a new Mini at Christmas, however.....
My grandparents announced the Mini would have to be delayed because a full 17 years after my mom was born, Nan was pregnant at 44 (this kept the village gossips going for months!). "WHAT?" shrieked my horrified mother, "you mean you and Dad still do that and your both in your 40s? errggghhhhhh"
Following my uncle Clive's arrival on New Years Day 1960, Charlie kept his word and in the summer of 1960 Mom got a nearly new Mini. She was also given strict orders not to drive it over 40mph, because as a grey haired Charlie said (and is now family legend) "Stay below 40 as those little 10" tyres will wear out too fast going around so quick, and I'm not made of money my girl, I have a baby to raise"..
Mining for 30 years between 1929 and 1959 it had taken its toll on his back and Charlie was now Head of Maintenance in the mine workshop. This job was physically less demanding but still kept him at the mine often for 14 hours a day, it also gave him the freedom to visit the pit ponies living at the mine.
It seems for most of his working life he had been sharing his 8 jam sandwiches with the horses/ponies, plus he used to buy them mints and other treats. In the days before animal welfare existed these ponies led a hard life underground, never seeing daylight. The men who cared for them looked after them fondly but all too often if one became sick or elderly it was often put down and a replacement brought in - something Charlie disapproved of.
He managed to rehome several of these ponies with local farmers' children and eventually adopting 3 himself, which grazed on the patch of ground behind my grandparents house. They could also wander off up the mountain with the wild mountain horses, which must have been heaven for them after years of living underground.
As the winter of 1966 approached, Charlie still owned the 1920s Minor Saloon. It had done him proud for 30 years, although in a similar way to 'Triggers Broom' it was on its 3rd gearbox, 2nd axle with many other parts 'knocked up by Charlie in the workshop. My parents were due to marry that November and encouraged him to get another car, but he wouldn't hear of it stating 'plenty of life in the old boy yet ' which proved to be an 'ironic' prediction.
Sometime in the late morning of 21st October, messages started flying around the mine that a landslide had buried a school in the village of Aberfan some 4 miles away. Immediately mining stopped and the workforce ascended to the surface to help with the rescue. A local transport firm brought in buses to help get the men to the disaster site, and Charlie managed to get 6 in the Minor plus a boot full of equipment.
He and hundreds of other miners and villagers spent the next 48 hours digging through the slurry and debris, with family bringing them food and drink to keep them going. Unfortunately no survivors were found after midday the first morning, and what followed was the slow recovery of the bodies of 116 children and 28 adults.
He returned home on the 3rd morning ashen faced, told his family he never wanted to talk about it again and it wasn't to be mentioned in the house. He retired to the spare room saying he needed some peace and quiet and to leave him be. My Grandmother took him some tea the following morning and found him barely conscious.
Charlie had suffered a heart attack in the night aged just 51. He was taken to East Glamorgan hospital where he spent 6 weeks recuperating, the longest time he'd done no work in 36 years and he drove the nurses mad. In the end they transferred him to the Miners Rest Convalescent Home (so they could have some peace no doubt).
Following my parents delayed wedding in December waiting for Charlie to be well enough to attend, he returned to work every day in his old war horse Morris Minor, but on restricted 6 hour days on light duties. He pottered away happily for several more years and looked after his now 5 adopted retired pit ponies.
He retired in 1970 aged 55; my parents were making plans to move to Birmingham over Christmas 1971 with my older brother and sister, and in one last selfless act, Charlie gave up driving and sold his Minor then gave the proceeds plus some extra he'd saved to my parents to put a deposit on their first non rented house in Birmingham.
The family moved to the Sparkhill area of Birmingham in January 72, Charlie passed away just a month later in February and a full 5 years before I was born. My grandmother kept 2 of the ponies after Charlie died and had the last one called ' Ginger right up to 1984. I used to have a sit on him when I was a little kid when we visited, different world back then.
I wish I could have met him. I find him interesting, and if you have read this far I hope you did too. Through hard work and being a generous person he improved the lives of his family and had a positive influence on nearly his whole community and circle of friends.
I find myself writing this some 46 years after he died, proud of him and also the proud owner of a Morris Minor 😀
By Mike Peake.
Sunday morning dawned extremely bright and disgustingly early and before we knew it, an unnecessarily cheerful and loud Gar was banging on our doors telling us it was time to get up. Cursing the fact that the start of British Summer Time had deprived us of an hours sleep, we staggered about getting dressed and finally fell into Gar’s bus for a very quiet trip into the NEC for our final day on our stand.
I’d say uneventful, but I had to feel sorry for Gar as his eyes were watering profusely due to all the stale alcohol induced emissions from our 2 Yorkshiremen. Not me of course, I was just extremely tired due to the loss of that hour and not hungover in the slightest. We realised things were bad though when we arrived at the stand to find that even “Last minute Liam” had beaten us there. At least the show hadn’t opened to the public though. (It Had?... oh, sorry…)
There followed a brief bout of fisticuffs over the right to curl up and die in Apollo’s sleeping quarters. Apparently, being an “Admin” does not mean I have the right to claim priority in such matters. (Just no respect for authority some people!) So I decided I would rely on sugar to get me through my sleep deprivation. That, along with the constant supply of very strong, lifesaving coffee from Apollo soon had me back to close to normal.
There was a steady flow of visitors to our stand but nowhere near as busy as Saturday. This was nice as it gave some of us a chance to recover and chat to our fellow stand members who turned out to be a jolly fine selection of chaps. It also gave me a chance to have a proper look and scramble over the fantastic selection of motors that we were displaying. Finally! I hear you say. Half way through part 3 and hardly a car mentioned! Well that is part of what is so special about our group. It’s just as much about all the great people here as it is about the cars so I make no apologies for that. We are a fine bunch of people, all 22,000 of us! Congratulations.
Yes, yes, I know, the cars. Where to start? Well let’s start with young Thomas and his rather lovely Granada Mk 2.
Young Thomas is just 17 years old and at the time of the show, hadn’t even passed his driving test. (He has now. Congratulations!) His car is an absolute credit to him especially as he has done so much of the work himself. I don’t just mean a service and a bit of a polish, but proper heroic and manly stuff like cutting and shaping metal and welding and spraying type of stuff. The week before the show, Thomas was still showing us pictures of holes and dismantled car parts which gave Gar some heart murmurs I can tell you. He did it though, and a newly MOT’d and rather good looking and well-presented Granada arrived on Thursday along with Thomas’s Dad Adrian. Adrian is slightly less good looking and nowhere near as well preserved, but he was available to bring the car for us.
What is surprising is that young Thomas has managed all this derring-do on his Granada whilst Liam, who has 108 rotten Granadas including the one he bought at the show - and none of them actually running - has only managed to polish his Chopper! (It’s a Raleigh Chopper. Behave!)
Young Thomas has proved his dedication to our hobby and even though he is only 17 he didn’t seem to be a hooligan in a hoody at all. He organises a charity car show in his home town of Maesteg in June. It was a great day last year and we’re making a weekend of it this year with a tour of the valleys on the Saturday. Details can be found on our website here. It would be great to all turn up and support him.
Next up would be Mark Smiths Triumph Mayflower, Mildred. Or, as I heard many a muggle say on their approach “Oh isn’t that sweet! It looks like a baby Rolls Royce!
Mildred is a fairly recent acquisition for Mark, unlike his yellow bowler hat, but his enthusiasm and love for the car is abundantly clear. He only had to catch someone glancing in Mildred’s direction and he was off to deliver his encyclopaedic knowledge. I have to be honest and say that Triumphs of the 50’s have never grabbed my attention as much as those from the 60’s and onwards, but having sat in the gloriously comfy driver’s seat and listened to Mark’s enthusiasm, I might just allow myself a 2nd look at these baby Rollers. Oh, and if anyone knows where to get a seal for the under screen vent, let Mark know.
Now, not only did we have the only Ford Zephyr in the show, we had a brace of them. They couldn’t have been more different though. It was definitely a before and after experience. The Brooks brothers were kind enough to bring their stripped out and stripped-down example at extremely short notice after another car pulled out. As none of us would fall for the “Can you fit a Fatbloke in Apollo’s toilet?” jape anymore, they decided to see how many fat blokes you can fit in a stripped Zephyr instead. Surprisingly, we ran out of available fat blokes before the car was properly full!
it proved a huge draw of the crowds alongside Farty Woodward’s glorious, fully restored and multi award-winning example. As much as I love this stunning car though, there was no way I was going to brave the interior without a military grade Nuclear/Biological/Chemical suit. In fact, as nice as the interior looks, it was a condition of our public liability insurance that the car was hermetically sealed for the duration of its stay at the NEC.
Of course, I have to mention Apollo the Rover P5B Camper. Yes, I said a Rover P5B camper. For those of you that have been members for any length of time and haven’t been hiding under a rock, you will already know and love Apollo who has become somewhat of a mascot and flagship of our group.
For those of you that have been living under a rock and newer members, put the shot guns and pitchforks away. Apollo was converted into a camper by his original owner way back in 1972 when you couldn’t spit without hitting one of these cars. No one is really sure why he chose this car to convert but he did and created a unique vehicle.
The Brooks bought him at this show some years ago, and worked their magic to produce the glorious, mad as a box of frogs vehicle we see today. A wonderful mix of the old and new, he was, quite possibly, the most popular car of the show. There wasn’t a moment when he wasn’t surrounded by admiring muggles and he bought a smile to everyone that approached our stand.
OK I know technically, it wasn’t on our stand but as Paul Clappison is a member of our group and he won the Pride of Ownership award its close enough and we’re claiming it! His MGB GT is stunning and his pride of ownership was evident in the way he spoke to everyone that approached his car whether they wanted to or not. Congratulations Paul. Well deserved.
I have deliberately left the next car on our stand to the end for one very good reason. I have fallen hopelessly and irrevocably in love with Alan Crown’s 1948 Rover 18. The moment I sank into the voluptuous armchair masquerading as the driver’s seat and clapped eyes on the view down, down, down that beautiful long bonnet, I was smitten.
My mind was whisked away to wafting down country lanes and through the county towns of Britain in the 50’s and may have accidently let slip some brmmm, brmmm noises.
Oh and gadgets! This car has great gadgets! You can keep your sat nav, heated seats and Bluetooth. This gorgeous Rover had a great big lever on the driver’s door that instantly opened or closed the window in case emergency hand signals were required. It had a slidy switchy thingy above the driver’s door that raised and lowered a sun/privacy screen over the back window. (there is a surprising amount of room in the back seat too.) It had a windy handle that opened the bottom of the windscreen AND It even had a great big free wheel on the dash! I have no idea what this free wheel does but it said “Free Wheel” on it and I think it was jolly nice of Rover to give you one especially when you remember that rationing was still a thing when this car was built.
The Rover has a great history too. You remember I said young Thomas was our youngest active member? Well, Alan isn’t and this was his 1st car back when God was a boy. Alan has owned the car ever since apart from a brief spell when he sold it to the chap who restored it and then bought it back again. He’s driven it all over Europe in his younger days too.
Sadly and all too quickly the end of the show was announced over the PA system. As is tradition, all the owners sounded their car horns. Imagine our shock then when our ears were assaulted by the loudest rendition of “Dixie” on air horns that I have ever heard. We looked over to see Young Thomas sat in his pride and joy with the biggest grin imaginable on his face. Perhaps he is a hooligan in a hoodie after all!
The horns quietened and we set about dismantling the stand. By the time we were ready there were massive traffic jams of classic cars at each of the halls roller doors. It looked like we were going to be stuck there until midnight. BUT…. We hatched a cunning plan. We got Farty Woodward to open the windows of his Zephyr.
As you can see, this instantly achieved the desired result and we were all headed home to our own beds.
In case I haven’t conveyed it or maybe despite what I have written in these blogs, I had a fantastic weekend with a truly great bunch of blokes. So I end with the thank yous and apologies if I missed anyone.
A big thank you to Gus and Tosh brooks, Alan Crown, Ian (Farty) Woodward, Mark Smith and Thomas and Adrian Jenkins for supplying the cars and manning the stand. Also, to Bernard Owens and Liam White who despite not having a car of their own on show, agreed to help out on the stand anyway. We appreciate that It is a massive commitment in both time and money to show your cars at an event like this and without you we would have no stand. Thanks again. Thanks also to all our international members for supplying the great photos for our international members wall.
Further thanks to Gus and Tosh Brooks, Liam White and Ian Woodward for being sporting chaps and not getting offended enough to cause me physical harm for anything I’ve written.
Obviously HUGE thanks to Gar for having the dedication, enthusiasm, patience and above all, pig headedness to organise a truly professional stand at a prestigious show like this. Most of all though, thanks for not actually killing anyone whilst in “Mr Hyde” mode.
Thanks also to Shannon Jenkins (sister of young Thomas) for manufacturing our stand uniform shirts, Eric Dalton and the Brooks brothers for supplying the carpet, Phil Allin for the banners and Dominic Coleman for the plaques and photos. All of which, under Gar’s project management, produced one of the best non-commercial stands at the show. Further Special thanks to Ian (Farty) Woodward for providing the “soundtrack” to the whole weekend. The man is a miracle of evolution.
Another big thank you to group founder, Lord John Simpson of Boston. Despite having to spread his time and talents between our stand, Practical Classics and the Boston Classic car club stands, managed to spend so much time supporting us. This may have had more to do with the enormous quantities of cake on our stand rather than a true display of his dedication though.
My penultimate thanks go to our glorious leader Captain Paul Sweeney for his commitment and vision in steering and growing our group to where we are today. A fantastic fully inclusive community of like-minded cheapskates that won’t pay a subscription that can come together and mix it with the big professional fee paying clubs and be taken seriously when we are here. Thanks are also due for his guidance and support to Gar in his times of stress and to the rest of us Admins; Steve, Andrew, Zebidee and Edwin.
Finally, my biggest thanks of all go to Tosh Brooks for saving my marriage and quite probably my life. He came up with the idea of turning the new hole in my caravan into a locker door providing inside/outside access to the bathroom cupboard. It will be just like them new caravans and, best of all, Mrs FB loves the idea.
Our next event is our tour of the Peak district in mid-May. This happily coincides with my 50th Birthday so it could get messy.
Thanks for sticking with me and I hope you enjoyed it. See you soon.
Enthusiasts of British Motor Vehicles Built Before Nineteen Eighty Five and the Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show at the National Exhibition Centre. Part 1 (How’s that for a snappy title!)
Enthusiasts of British Motor Vehicles Built Before Nineteen Eighty Five and the Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show at the National Exhibition Centre. Part 2 (Perhaps the title is a bit long after all.)
by Mike Peake
After our eventful drive in and a fight with the jobsworth security guard on the door to the hall, we made it to the stand. Gar was fed copious quantities of cake and his personality was quickly reset back to his normal “fluffy” self.
Our stand was brilliantly placed to achieve maximum footfall in the 1st corner to the right of the main entrance. As soon as the door opened we were incredibly busy with visitors. Members and muggles alike crowded on for a chat and some cake and we were all kept very busy talking to everyone about our group and the cars on the stand.
It was fantastic to see so many of our members turn up to say hello. Please forgive me, but there is not room here to mention you all. We did get photos of as many of you as we could. They are published here on the website’s gallery and posted in the group by Tosh Brooks.
That said however, special mention must go to Anders Hakansson who travelled all the way from Sweden just to see the picture of his rather fine Morris Minor Pickup on our international wall.
It was also the day that many of our families came up to show support and bring more baked produce for our consumption. It was great to meet you all and sample the wonderful cakes supplied.
Mrs FB and my daughters Sophie and Emily were there too and even though Mrs FB still hadn’t forgiven me for the caravan incident she did bring her extremely fine sausage plait and G&T cupcakes. She’s a fine woman and very good wife whom I love very, very much. (Please forgive me and can I come home now?) Having made the comestible delivery, my ladies set off for a wander round the show.
As many of you know, my youngest daughter is a keen fan of the Classic Mini. What you may not know is that she is a Contemporary Dancer currently studying with the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Imagine her joy then, when she found something that fed both her passions in life. A rather fine Mini that was once owned by Dame Margot Fonteyn, the world renowned Prima Ballerina at the Royal Ballet during the 1940’s and 50’s and one of Emily’s biggest heroes.
My 3 ladies were so enthusiastic whilst looking round the car that the current guardian came over for a chat. On hearing that Emily was both a dancer and a fan of Minis, she opened up the car so they could have a proper look and a very long chat. She even let Emily sit in the driver’s seat. I think Emily become quite emotional when she realised that her bum was occupying the same spot on which the bum of Dame Margot Fonteyn spent so much time.
Thank the gods it wasn't for sale!
Moving on to my favourite car in the show (other than the ones on our stand obviously). I know I may have mentioned this car once or twice before but it is just beautiful. I have no idea what it’s like to drive, what parts availability is like or whether or not they are easy to work on, and to be honest, I just don’t care.
I think it is such a great example of a period when car designers placed as much emphasis on looking good as they did function. Boy did they succeed with this car. I would be quite happy to spend all day looking at those lines and especially that waterfall grille. The car is of course the 1938 Triumph Dolomite. Let’s all take a moment to just gaze in wonder.
Right! Moment over, it’s on with the show. As I’ve said Saturday was really busy with visitors so the day flew by in a bit of a blur and before we knew it, it was time to get our glad rags on for the awards dinner. Gar and I left early as we wanted to take particular care to look good and get our hair just right. Gus and Tosh are from Yorkshire.
We arrived back at the Concourse Suite and met up with our table companions for the night, Lord and Lady Simpson of Boston and were alarmed to see that the Brooks Brothers had not fallen for Gar’s ploy of sending them to the wrong venue. However, it was of amusement to observe that a Yorkshire man’s idea of “smart attire” to attend a formal dinner is to iron their flat caps and leave t’ whippets at ‘oome.
Obviously, Lord John, Gar and I were looking extremely dapper in our suits, and Gar’s tie didn’t clash too badly with his shorts after all. Of course it goes without saying that Lady Simpson of Boston looked simply divine in all her finery. Once we’d found a handy welding mask to avoid suffering multi carat dazzle blindness, we were also able to admire the new tiara and ring that Lady Simpson had bought that afternoon in the Jewellery quarter.
After being shown through to the dining hall, our starters were quickly served and we tucked in. I had a moment of alarm when I realised Lord John didn’t have his plate yet and was about to prostate myself to plead forgiveness for my commoners bad manners when Lady Sandra whispered to me that “Lord John doesn’t eat rabbit food”. I continued with my starter relieved that I hadn’t committed an almighty faux pas and overjoyed that they were serving Merlot at the table.
The meal ended and we progressed into the awards section of the evening. As you know, we were up for 3 awards on our table. The Group was up for best internet presence and national car club of the year and Lord John Simpson of Boston was up for lifetime achievement award again, even though he isn’t dead yet.
It would normally be at this point that I would run you through all the awards and their worthy winners and say what an honour it is just to be nominated blah, blah, yadda, yadda, but it was all just a bit of a blur. I was far too busy trying to keep order on my table (or spoiling the fun as Tosh would have it!) As it became apparent we hadn’t won anything, the Brooks started yelling abuse at the judges, Gar had to be physically restrained as his “KILLER” personality from this morning resurfaced and he wanted to rip Mike Brewers head off. However, It was when Lord Simpson of Boston threatened to give his butler the Purdey and tell him to "Have at 'em" that I gave up and decided to let go with a couple of well-aimed barrages of erudite wit of my own.
Fortunately, Paul Sweeney was much more on the ball even though he is 12,000 miles away and published the full list of awards and their winners here on our website.
So, as a social experiment, the evening had its points of interest. As an experience of a formal dinner that we’d like to be invited back to? Well, time will tell but let’s just say that the abundance of Merlot wasn’t the only reason I was banging my head on the table by the end of the meal,
To Be Continued… Yes I know, but I’ve still got Sunday to cover! Suck it up!
Click here for Enthusiasts of British Motor Vehicles Built Before Nineteen Eighty Five and the Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show at the National Exhibition Centre. Part 1.
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