By Holly Bush.
If you've been happily reading the story of the Singer Gazelle AJC 87B, you might be wondering where the car had been living in the years between 1986, when the Webb family sold it, and 2014 when the car was finally reunited with them?
Well most of that time it was living here in Scotland with me!
The lady who'd bought the car from the Webb family had kept it for several years, and during that time it seems, some "botched repairs" had been carried out. There was certainly lots of body filler sticking out of places it shouldn't have been when I got it!
I bought (saved?) the Gazelle 19 years ago in 1997. I'd always fancied a classic car, so when AJC was advertised locally I jumped at the chance to go for a look. I discovered the owner was a young lad who'd just passed his driving test.
Well I wasn't much older than him at that time, but I reckoned I was a "capable and more mature female driver" and I wasn't going to use the car for whizzing up and down the High Street at night - I was going to take the car to some Classic Car Shows and cherish her.
The Gazelle looked to be in fairly good, original condition (apart from all the body filler!). The colour combination of white with a maroon stripe was very nice indeed. The interior was immaculate with lovely thick red carpets, wooden dashboard, and red (fake) leather seats. The smell of the old car was wonderful! So I bought her!
The BEST thing about the car though, was a little handwritten log book which had been passed down with the rest of the vehicle history. This little book became very important, and it's the reason I kept the car.
It had very neat and meticulous notes of every single journey made in AJC by the first owner, Mr Sydney John Hope Roberts. In this book were details of picnics, trips to the seaside, meetings with family and friends etc. Another section of the book had details of all the maintenance that had been carried out over the years. What a lovely little book!
He'd had the car from 1966 to 1983 and it was obvious this car had been cherished and very well cared for during his ownership. Every winter it had been "laid up" as Mr Roberts was a man who didn't like his car being ruined by our British weather!
What followed over the next few years were many happy times for me and AJC. I took her to several classic car shows, and we even won a prize for "Best in Class" Ok, AJC was The ONLY car in that class, but it was nice to win a prize anyway!
Another memory of the car show era was meeting a nice chap with a VERY immaculate Singer Gazelle. I felt SO embarrassed when mine was parked beside his beautiful car. One day I hoped mine would look as nice as that!
Sadly for AJC, instead of trying to get her to a similar condition to the nice old gentleman’s Gazelle, I decided to buy a Campervan and poor AJC got neglected for a while.
It was taking up valuable space in our garage, so my hubby talked me into the idea of selling it and AJC was advertised.
A couple of guys from Ireland responded to my advertisement and they were offering almost double what I'd paid for the car, so I decided to sell AJC to them.
They came over to Scotland with their trailer to take the car away as planned, but just as the cash was being handed over I was overcome with emotion and thoughts of all the happy times the old man had documented in his wee log book and my happy years with her too. What would happen to the car if I let it go? I'd never see it again!
"I'm sorry this car is no longer for sale - I'm keeping it!" I heard myself say. (Guys if it was YOU and you're reading this I'm VERY SORRY to have wasted your time!)
Over the following months my thoughts turned to the intriguing little log book. It was looking more and more likely that the original owners Mr & Mrs Roberts would have died by now, after all they'd bought the car in 1966 and this was 2005. The last entries in the book indicated frequent trips to hospital for blood tests etc and the handwriting was becoming very poor... Oh dear what had happened to them? I had to find out!
What if I could trace some of the original family? I wonder if they'd like to see the little book again, or perhaps they'd like to have the car back with them? Hmm... maybe!
So I did a bit of research. But remember, this was in the days before I had the internet. I went to my local library and searched the phone books for clues.
Armed with some addresses and names I planned our summer holiday that year. It was going to be a road trip in the new Campervan to visit all the places listed in the Log Book, (North Wales & Manchester!) to try to find out as much as possible about the family who'd owned my Gazelle.
Well disappointingly I didn't find out very much on the holiday. The Roberts family had gone long ago from their little bungalow in Deganwy, although one of the neighbours fondly remembered the old couple and their lovely car. Next stop was the address of Mr Roberts daughter in Manchester. Sadly I discovered the family had moved away a few years before and I had no other way I could think of to trace them. My little dream of reuniting AJC with the original family had come to an end.....or had it?....
To Be Continued......
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