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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