by Mick Masters
“Bumble” as she is affectionately known (no prizes for guessing why!) has had 12 previous owners to me so she is well travelled – a previous owner who owned her from 1980 to 1993 told me he took her to Paris for Christmas 1980 and round the Alps in 1982.
To cut a long story short she was totally rebuilt between November 2003 and March 2006 by a Fireman and his mates between shifts in Hertfordshire - the electrics were updated to modern standards (multiple fuses and relays) – I have a complete photographic history of the work undertaken.
We bought her from him in July 2006 having been on the lookout for a Vitesse Convertible for about 6 months – there were an awful lot of poor ones around and our intentions were to buy a good rebuilt one which would only require maintenance and running repairs as necessary.
We had almost given up hope when one Friday night there was an advert on the Pistonheads website and from the pictures posted it seemed a good one.
So straight on the phone to book a viewing – he was out on the Saturday, so we arranged to go down on the Sunday. In the meantime it was a question of beg, steal and borrow enough cash to meet the asking price of £3500 – unfortunately cash machines limit the amount you can draw yourselves but with help we managed it.
So, a trip down first thing on the Sunday revealed a very good example – OK she wasn’t concours, but she was solid. Any panels replaced were metal and she could have done with some of the seats re-trimming but that wouldn’t have been a problem. Unfortunately she wasn’t running or starting well and I think she needed a good tune as the engine apart from being cleaned and painted hadn’t really been touched internally.
So we set off, my wife in the modern and me in the Vitesse and stopped at the first petrol station where I filled up but would she start back again – no way it seemed - until she finally caught and spluttered back into life.
It was a nice sunny day so with hood down and wind in my hair we set off at a steady 60mph. Once running she seemed fine and we had a good run back up to Leicester but the sun had taken its toll on me and I was a lovely shade of red – a lesson learned there, because I now usually wear a cap whenever the hood is down.
It took a while get the running sorted – it was mainly carburettor settings and springs and also a faulty condenser. I then changed over to electronic ignition and that made a huge difference. I also took the cylinder head off and had it converted to run on unleaded fuel.
She had a 4 speed gearbox which meant high revs for any decent speed although there was wiring for overdrive and an overdrive badge on the boot. So out with that 4 speed and replaced with reconditioned gearbox and overdrive. That definitely cuts the revs and helps fuel consumption as well and you can now hear the throaty sound from the big bore stainless exhaust to its full extent rather than a screaming engine.
Over the past 11 years I have also replaced the front seat covers and foams as well as the front door cards and the rear ones fitted rear static lap belts and replaced the modern CD/Radio with a period Motorola.
We regularly go to Classic Car shows and have even won a few prizes with her. But it’s always nice to talk to fellow enthusiasts and to reminisce with people who “used to have one of those” and done a couple of weddings.
But it’s always so nice to go out for a drive round the countryside with the hood down – you just realise how many sounds you are missing out on when cocooned from the outside in a modern car.
Well she passed her MOT again earlier this year, the 11th year running without any fails or advisories, which I believe is testament to the good job done when she was restored.
We look forward to many more years of happy motoring with her.
Filter by Author
Filter by Month