By Holly Bush
Well all my searching for clues about the car and the previous family had drawn a blank. The trail had gone cold, so there was nothing left for me to do but keep the car and wait for someone from the family to come looking for it. Yeah well that's not very likely to happen is it?
I kept the car for almost 10 more years and nothing was done to it during this time. I prided myself in keeping the car clean and dry as I wanted it to stay exactly the same as it was when I first got it. However, after 10 years our garage had become cluttered with various useless items. Boxes were stored inside it, and all around AJC and it was impossible to get her out of the garage and poor AJC became neglected.
She hadn't been forgotten about though..."when will you sell that bloomin Gazelle, there's no room to store anything in the garage, it's taking up all the space!" nagged my husband.
Eventually I let him advertise the car on one of the online car websites but this was purely to stop him nagging me. I didn't have any intention of ACTUALLY selling the car!
Imagine my surprise and delight though when I got an email from Nicholas Webb, the Grandson of the original owner. By some amazing miracle he'd been looking at the car website and spotted the Gazelle with the familiar AJC number plate! Several emails later and we'd exchanged some tales of AJC. Yes his Grandparents had indeed died in 1983 and the car had stayed in the family for another 3 years after that. Nicholas had even driven the car himself and had fond memories of it being in his family. Would he want it back I wondered?
This is the difficult bit because I wanted to make sure AJC went to a good and caring home. Would he want the burden of a rusty 50 year old car? Would he have the garage space to keep it as I wasn’t going to let her go to someone who would leave her sitting outside getting wet. Would he keep the car in the family forever? Oh it was too much to ask surely? The clutch on AJC had also mysteriously stopped working at this time, so the car would need to be transported. Damn!
Well Nicholas DID want the car and he promised to lavish attention on her and keep her forever. He even had his own car transporter with a winch. Wow! Could this get any more perfect? so I let him make the long journey north as soon as he could to collect AJC.
Yes indeed. Nicholas used to have hair on his head!
The day AJC left here was both happy and sad in equal measure. I was glad she had found a new home with the original family, but also sad to be letting go of a car I'd had for so long! All those memories! What would happen to it now?
I'd hoped AJC would pass an MOT with minimal effort, I knew it needed new brakes, a clutch , and possibly a bit of welding for the MOT. A couple of hundred quid or more maybe, and then Nicholas would have a nice old car to enjoy! (Well I could dream couldn’t I?)
What followed next made my nice little dream turn into a bit of a nightmare. Nicholas decided if he was going to keep the car forever, he'd do a proper restoration on it, and to save money he'd do it HIMSELF! Sounds good? Well we were about to open a can of worms...tin worms!.....
Yes a huge rusty mess had been uncovered as Nicholas began the painstaking job of restoring the Singer Gazelle. I was utterly dismayed at this, because I was so sure the car had been a solid little thing. I certainly didn't intend to burden him with a massive expensive project! I won't go into detail about the restoration, as Nick has done that, but I will tell you he had quite a lot of hair on his head when he first got the Gazelle, and now he doesn't, so I imagine he was tearing it out while he was restoring the car!
Many months of VERY hard work followed, and there were times when I thought he'd give up on the car. I badgered him regularly to keep him motivated - I'm not sure if that's one of the reasons he got it finished so quickly, I think he was sick of me pestering him but I actually enjoyed hearing tales of the work being done. it was good to know how much effort was being put into it and I knew the intention was to do it properly so that the car would last for many years to come and provide enjoyment in the future for his children and possibly grandchildren.
After almost a year of constant work on the car, the day finally arrived to display her at a car show and I made the long trip south to see AJC. Wow! Amazing! The wonderful thing about it is the smell - it smells exactly the same inside as it did when I first bought it 19 years ago! Sitting in the car was like being transported back in time to when I was young and carefree. Brilliant!
The car has been restored, but AJC still retains all the lovely character that made me love her so much all those years ago. I guess the memories are even better for Nicholas and his family, as the car has been part of their life for 50 years and now it's back with them again.
Oh, and the nice man with the immaculate Singer Gazelle I met at the car show all those years ago? Yes I met him again recently and told him the story of AJC. He had a tear in his eye when I told him my car had finally been reunited with the original family and restored. He's in his eighties now, and still attends car shows with his immaculate Gazelle. Well now mine is now immaculate too! I got my wish at last!
I know AJC will be looked after and cherished by the Webb family, just like Mr and Mrs Roberts did all those years ago. It's the perfect ending to my little fairy tale!
Look after her Nicholas!
Holly admiring Nicholas's work and looking rather please.
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