by Mark Smith
Saturday 19th May started well. The sun was shining and the morning was pleasantly warm, very unusual for a British Spring Saturday. After a leisurely breakfast I mounted my Victoria Pendleton bicycle, purchased during last year’s Black Friday Halfords sale primarily for the commute to and from the lock-up garage a couple of streets away where our lovely Triumph Mayflower Mildred is kept and set off for the corner shop to collect our Saturday Times before heading round to collect Mildred.
The usual pleasantries were exchanged with the shop owner who always asks me what I’m up to that day. I explained that I was just off to the lock-up to collect Mildred and that Christine, Georgia and I were heading off to the lunchtime meeting of the Charnwood Custom Cruiser’s at Hathern where we planned to have our usual sausage, egg, chips and beans lunch at Lisa’s Diner before looking around the other cars and chatting to a few of their owners. I had then planned to drop Christine and Georgia off in town on our way home where they were going to pick up a Birthday balloon and banners before delivering them to the Bella Italia Italian restaurant where Georgia was having a Pizza Party with a few school friends the following day for her tenth Birthday.
We set off from home around 12:30pm in good spirits and with the sun still shining, Georgia full of excitement about her Birthday the next day. We had just got to the traffic lights on King Street where it joined the A6 to town when the lights turned red and we stopped with one car in front of us. I looked in the door mirror and watched a Transit sized van pull up behind me. As I looked ahead again, the lights changed to green and the car in front started to pull away. When we had pulled up I had knocked the column change gear selector into neutral and applied the umbrella-handled handbrake, it was a good thing I had! As I depressed the clutch peddle ready to select first gear, there was a terrific snapping sound and the peddle hit the floor and stayed there, we were going nowhere.
I knew the clutch mechanism was mechanical rather than hydraulic so assumed it was cable operated and that the cable had snapped. I got out of the car and went round to the lads in the van behind to explain what had happened and the passenger got out and pushed us the short distance across the A6 and into a lay-by parking area opposite. We ended up parked on the double yellow line area just before the start of the proper parking bays but there was no way we could have maneuvered the Mayflower into a parking bay even if one was available but the car was parked in a safe manner and was not causing an obstruction. I lifted the bonnet to get extra light through to the gearbox area under the car and crawled underneath to inspect the damage. I was amazed at what I saw, the linkage was not a cable, it was a ¼” thick steel rod and it had snapped where the threaded section began that attached it to the clutch peddle. A ¼” thick steel rod snapped clean through!
There was nothing I could do other than call the RAC so I told the girls to continue into town, have some lunch and sort out the balloon and banners for Georgia’s party and I would stay with the car until the RAC arrived. The RAC Call Centre operator told me it would be somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes to get an engineer to me and Text me the engineer’s contact number in case I wanted to call him and I settled down to await his arrival. I had explained to the operator that they would need to send a breakdown truck to take the car back home a it couldn’t be driven and I would have to track down a spare clutch rod and repair the car myself in due course. While I waited for the engineer to arrive, I rang Paul Burgess the Spares Officer at the Triumph Mayflower Club and told him what had happened and asked if he knew if we had any spares in the club. I also had to cancel a planned publicity photo shoot at Stonehurst Farm which we had organised for the Monday evening as I had no way of getting the car back on the road over the weekend.
I had just got off the phone to Paul when I received a call from the RAC’s engineer to advise me he was on his way and would be with me as soon as he could depending on the traffic. He was over at Syston near Leicester and hoped to be with me in around 20 minutes. As I waited in the sun, sitting in the driver’s seat of the car with the door open and the bonnet up, I had quite a few people walking to or from town stop to talk to me about the car. The younger ones wanted to know what the car was and the older ones who knew what it was, just wanted to look at it and everyone that stopped said how much they liked it. Even when Mildred is under the weather, she just seems to generate so much goodwill and you can feel the affection people have for her, which I just find so amazing.
The RAC engineer was as good as his word and arrived more or less to the minute of his predicted time. As he pulled up behind Mildred, I instantly saw he was quite a young chap and the first thought that went through my head was that he wouldn’t have a clue what to do because he wouldn’t be able to plug in a Lap Top. How wrong I was! I walked up to his van door before had had a chance to get out and told him that I had told the operator to send a low-loader as there was no way the car could be repaired. The lad smiled and as he got out of the van, he asked me what had happened.
I explained that the clutch rod had snapped and there was nothing he could do as I would need to track down a replacement so he would need to get a low-loader sent out. He said he had a collapsible trailer in the back of the van and could get the car home for me if all else failed but he’d have a look first. He got a torch out of the van and preceded to clamber underneath Mildred. After a quick inspection, he got up and with evident pleasure on his face said to me, ‘I think I can get that fixed!’ ‘Really?’ I replied. ‘Yes’ he said and went to get a few tools.
Within two minutes of arriving he had removed the broken rod and then returned to his van and made a phone call. He then told me he had rung a local exhaust centre who had agreed to have a look at it and hopefully weld it up. I was amazed for the second time in an hour! He said there might be a charge for the welding so I gave him the £15 I had intended buying our sausage, egg, chips and beans with and he said he would try to get the work done as cheaply as he could and would not mention money unless the exhaust centre did. With that, he got back in his van and drove off saying he’d be back as quickly as he could.
I settled back down in the Mildred’s drivers seat and waited in the sun for the RAC engineer to return, again spending my time chatting with passers by who showed an interest in the car. The time ticked by and as I was talking to a very nice family about Mildred, Christine and Georgia returned from their jaunt into town. We all stood talking for a few minutes when the RAC engineer returned as happy as Larry as he had been able to get the clutch rod welded up and free of charge too! He gave me back my £15 and then refitted the rod to the car. Within a few minutes, Mildred was mended and the engineer had the biggest smile on his face! He was so happy because he had actually been able do some real "mechanicing" instead of plugging in a laptop to diagnose the fault, then stating ‘There was nothing he could do’ before towing the vehicle to the nearest repair centre.
I thanked him and asked his name before asking him to have a photo taken with the car. He told me his name was Jack and he was as pleased as punch to be asked to pose with Mildred for a photograph. We said our ‘Goodbyes’ and went our separate ways. Christine and Georgia got back in Mildred and we drove home full of praise for Jack and the RAC. As soon as we got home I went on the RAC’s Facebook Page and Posted the photo of Jack with Mildred and praised him for his excellent service. Within a few minutes, I had received a reply from the RAC thanking me for my feed-back and asking if I would send my Membership Number in a private message so they could track down the Call Centre that dealt with my initial call in order that they could pass on my thanks to Jack. I was more than happy to do that and again thanked them for their first rate service. I then went outside and gave Mildred a nice wash down and a bit of a polish before returning her to her lock-up.
I later reported my experience on various Facebook car groups and thought that was the end of the matter but it wasn’t! A few days later I received a letter from the RAC. As I opened it I assumed it was either a general circular or a questionnaire about my breakdown experience but it wasn’t, it was a personal letter from the RAC’s Customer Care thanking me for taking the time to praise their engineer and report my experience! I am aware that other people may have different feelings about the standard of service they have had from the RAC in the past but I can only talk about my own experience and cannot praise Jack enough for the service he gave us, it was old school and of a standard we used to expect in a different age.
As I started writing this piece this, I heard from Paul Burgess that he has found a replacement clutch rod among the Mayflower Club spares stock. I’ve put my name on it and will swap it for the welded original as soon as possible. I know people say that a weld can be stronger than the original material but once bitten….
by Mark Smith
It’s been a frustrating week. Mildred Mayflower has been stuck in the lock-up. Oh I’ve visited her occasionally and started her up, even driven her out of the lockup but only a few yards. Mildred required her brake master cylinder changed as the brake fluid was finding its way past the inner seals when any amount of pressure was applied to the peddle but she was booked into my local garage on the Friday for the surgery to be carried out. Still, it was frustrating seeing the car sat there and not being able to let her stretch her wheels.
In order to help the time go a little faster and give myself the feeling that I was actually doing something to improve Mildred’s wellbeing, I spent the evenings scouring the pages of eBay for Mayflower related ‘stuff’.
During one such session the thought entered my head, ‘Could I find a set of spare keys?’ I searched for ‘Classic car keys’ and found a site that could supply new copies of all three keys. The company cut new keys to order - just had to supply them with the relevant reference numbers off the individual keys and the quantity required so I ordered two sets as the original keys are now very worn. At around £20 for the six keys and free postage, I thought it was bargain.
On another visit to eBay, I found another site that could supply two ‘Mayflower’ leather key fobs and ordered those too, ready to receive the new sets of keys. The next few days were very exciting waiting for the postman to arrive. Every day felt like Christmas Eve waiting for Father Christmas to call!
On yet another evening visit to eBay I found an April 1952 copy of ‘The Motor’ magazine that carried an article about the Triumph Mayflower so had to have that to put in Mildred’s history folder. I’m still waiting for it to arrive so more Christmasses next week!
I was held at the junction for what seemed like hours but was probably 30 seconds trying to hold the car on the handbrake as I feathered the clutch ready to pull out as soon as an opportunity presented its self. Eventually, things reached the point where the other half of the town’s drivers had decided to take an alternative route for long enough to allow me to turn left and head down to the garage.
I had just finished the last one when my phone rang. I was told the car was ready and if I would like to come and collect it now, I could have a look underneath.
I returned to the garage and was shown the under-side that was in very good condition for a 65 year old car. There were just four small holes that could do with welding at some point but they were all in the inner body sections where the body met the front and rear chassis sections but the chassis was in excellent condition. It looked as though these holes had been in the car for many, many years and I was told that if the car was put through an official MOT using the criteria that applies to a vehicle of this age, Mildred would pass with no advisories.
That is good enough for me. The car was given a safety inspection and the brakes checked on the rolling road where they gave a better performance than those on the Dolomite I had recently sold, not bad for an all-drum set up!
I drove Mildred back to her lock-up and walked home happy in the knowledge that I have a safe car that has many more years in front of her and couldn’t wait for Saturday morning when the plan was that I would take the family out to lunch somewhere local for a proper shake-down and get to know Mildred a little better as well as do a bit of a photo shoot.
Sadly, as Friday evening worn on, it became clear that the forecast for Saturday was grim. Rain was forecast from 11am and predicted to last all day and through the night to the early hours of Sunday, so Saturday was looking like a write-off. The situation only looked grimmer when the rain started around 9am on Saturday morning.
It wasn’t heavy, it was far more irritating than heavy rain, it was light showers interspersed with sunny intervals. The forecast was still showing heavy rain. At least if the heavens opened for hours on end, you knew where you stood but as things were, was it going to pour or was it going to miss us and be sunny? The morning worn on and the situation didn’t change it was still neither one thing or the other. Around 1pm, it seemed to have been dry for an hour and the sun was shining but it looked very grey over Bill’s mothers. What to do? Stuff the weather, lets go for it we said so I walked round to the lock-up and fired up Mildred, we were going for a drive!
After collecting the girls and throwing the camera and tripod in the boot, we headed on to the open road for the first real drive in Mildred since she arrived. We stuck to the original plan and headed to the GCR station at Quorn to park up, have some lunch and take a few photos.
The drive was interesting! As expected in a car of this age, the steering is a little, shall we say vague. Perhaps that is not quite the right word but as the steering does take the car in the direction intended but a straight line is a little more difficult. There is a little play in the steering mechanism but I was told by the garage that it was within the allowed tolerances so I guess it’s just a case of getting used to it.
The gears are surprisingly easy to select as long as you take your time in doing so and not have a flashback to your younger days and think you have suddenly become Paddy Hopkirk! The diving technique does need to be learned but in fairness it doesn’t take too long and you’ll never be going fast enough to interfere with thinking time. If that sounds derogatory, it is not meant to be. Mildred is a lovely car, a car that should potter from A to B. She’s an old lady but a kindly one and we found she puts a smile on the face of everyone who meets her (unless you happen to be stuck behind her in a Ferrari) as we found out after we arrived at Quorn Station.
The GCR was not very busy today. There were no special events on this weekend so the car park that used to be the old marshalling yard was almost empty of visitor’s cars and there were not many visitors wandering about but those that were made be-line for Mildred. We had a number of people come up to look at her and take photos. We also saw people riding on the trains pointing to her from their carriages as they waited for the train to pull out of the station. I saw a few children pointing and attracting the attention of their parents as they stared out the windows and they waved to us as the train moved off.
This little car that was never popular when it left the factory all those years ago and has generally passed the Classic enthusiasts by today, brought a smile the faces of those that saw her today and to myself and the girls that have taken Mildred to their hearts.
As Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac said when he guested as the ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’ on Top Gear a few years ago, we classic car people are a sentimental lot and he was right. If you are a true classic car enthusiast, you will understand our love for Mildred, just as you will understand the love other owners have for their Allegro or Marina. You might not share that love but you will understand it.
We took a few photos in the sun and then headed in to the Butler-Henderson café for lunch. Sadly, the gloom had descended again by the time we had finished lunch and it wasn’t long before the rain had returned but we managed to take a few more photos.
I moved Mildred to a couple of different locations within the old shunting yard to try and get a few period atmospheric shots before backing her up to the fence that divides the yard area from the railway lines and waited for the next southbound train to arrive which was being pulled by a lovely steam engine called ‘Leicester City’.
The train pulled in and I managed to get a shot with Mildred in the foreground and nothing to give away the fact that the photo was taken around fifty years after steam engines ceased to run on our national networks. By the time the train pulled out of the station, the rain was setting in again and as Mildred’s windscreen wipers are not very good (new ones ordered), we headed for home proud of the old lady and eager to ride in her again as soon as we can.
by Mark Smith
It would be no use hiding the fact that I had a love / hate relationship with the Triumph Dolomite. It was a great shame. The Dolomite was a pretty looking car by 1970’s standards. It was, we are told, a fast car too. It was designed to take on the models being produced by the German automobile manufacturer, BMW.
I recall a friend buying a Triumph 1500 which may or may not have borne the “Dolomite’ label but I can’t remember and I’m afraid I am not that well versed in the multitude of similar cars produced by British Leyland under the Triumph name but his car was great! It ran well, drove well and looked fantastic in white.
My Dolomite was nothing like that. Oh yes, it looked good but under the skin it was a mess. It is well known that these cars leaked oil even before they left the factory, but mine had multiple leaks brought on by age and lack of maintenance over the years before it came into my hands.
I did what I could. I had the gearbox rebuilt, I had the springs and shock absorbers replaced, I overhauled the brakes and did the best I could to patch up the rusting front wing tops but the transmission needed majorly overhauling as did the engine.
It didn’t smoke, but it was very noisy and not a pleasant place to be at over 50mph on any road. Driving it at speed gave me a headache. But don’t misunderstand me, I LIKED the car. I used to love pottering around the town in it or driving our local country lanes. It was comfortable, never found a Triumph of the period that wasn’t. The best seats of any British Marque and model in the 70’s.
It was roomy inside too but something was lacking. I can’t put my finger on it but this particular example of the Triumph Dolomite just didn’t do it for me. I tried, really I did but when the engine started playing up for no apparent reason and even conked-out on the way to a local car meet one Saturday lunchtime recently, that was it. It had to go.
They say that every cloud has a silver lining and it seems that whoever ‘they’ are, ‘they’ were right! The evening of the same Saturday that the Dolomite threw its toys out the pram, I saw a post on Facebook by a friend who shared an advert he had just put on a Classic sales site advertising his 1952 Triumph Mayflower. It was love at first sight!
I knew this was the car for me and contacted him straight away and said I wanted it. Only slight hiccup was the small matter of having to sell the Dolomite first due to the Classic enthusiasts nemesis - lack of storage space and money! Space was the main issue but if I could off-set the cost of buying the Mayflower by at least getting some money back on the Dolomite, that would be a big bonus.
My friend explained that the car would not be going anywhere as he was off on holiday the next day so immediately I listed the Dolomite on eBay and sat back and waited. I had some 120 people watching the car so, despite the lack of bids, I felt confident. Sat watching the screen as the auction wound down, waiting for the bids to flood in at the last minute…..but they didn’t! I had three bids but they didn’t reach my reserve.
I suggested either ring or text me by 9pm the next evening with an answer and there would be no hard feelings if he decided not to buy the car. The next evening, I waited for his answer. The evening wore on and eventually I had a text saying that he couldn't decide and I should re-list it. I thanked him for letting me know and sat back to think what my next move should be.
I decided to contact the highest bidder and offer it to him. I had just done so when I had another text from the other man saying he had changed his mind and would be up the next day with a trailer to collect the car. I apologised to the highest bidder and explained what had happened and he was very good about it. The next day the prospective buyer was as good as his word, collected the car and paid the agreed sum.
All in all it was a good result. Yes I would have liked more for the car but I think it went for what it was worth and I recouped what I had spent on it so I broke even. The next issue was how I was going to get the Mayflower over from Wolverhampton. This challenge was very generously solved for me when my friend said he had a friend with a vehicle transporter and he would help me with the cost.
The fee was £150 but if I agreed to pay £50, he would stand the rest. What a nice chap - I didn’t have to think twice about that one! Ian then contacted his friend Nick who said he could deliver the car on Saturday 23rd September if that was OK with me. Again, didn’t have to think about that twice either!
It was a long week. I didn’t think Saturday would ever arrive! Eventually it did but it was going to be a hectic morning. Georgia had a Brownies seaside trip so had to be at the meeting place for 8:30am and our family Citroen had to be at the dealership by 9am for MOT and service. Luckily, the meeting point for the Brownies trip was not far away, so Christine walked Georgia there and I drove the Citroen to the garage.
I then had three hours to kill. There was no point in walking home as by the time I would have got there, it would be time to turn around and head back. Luckily, I had taken the latest book I am reading about Donald Campbell and the Bluebirds and the time went by fairly quickly. I left the dealership just after noon and stopped by our local corner shop to pick up the Saturday paper. The shop is run by a lovely family and I had told the owners son about the Mayflower so he asked me how things were going.
I showed him a photo on my ‘phone and explained that I was off home now to await the arrival of the car. He suddenly looked out the window and exclaimed, “It’s just arrived!’ I turned in surprise and followed the direction of his gaze and blow me down, he was right! Nick had stopped right outside the shop and was waiting to turn right into the road that our road is off of!
I hastily bid farewell and charged out of the shop, called to Nick and Ian who was following the transporter in his own car and tried to cross the road to the Citroen parked opposite. Why is it when you are in a hurry, an otherwise fairly quiet road turns into a slip road for the M1? It seemed to take me ages to get across to the car but eventually I made it and I pulled out to follow them both to our house.
I had told Nick it would be a good idea to back down our road as it is a cul-de-sac and he would struggle to turn around at the bottom. He managed this without incident despite the huge amount of cars parked on either side of what is a narrow road at the best of times and proceeded to unload the Mayflower which Ian had informed me was known as ‘Mildred’.
This was the first chance I had so far had to see the car in the metal and it was everything I had been told it was. The car is solid, structurally sound and just in need of some TLC to the bodywork. Nothing nasty, just some surface rust here and there. The inside is lovely but needs a new headlining. This car is just right, in good enough condition to drive as it is (subject to the fitting of a supplied new master brake cylinder that I was aware of before buying) but enough little jobs to keep a fettler occupied.
The car was unloaded and after having a good look around it, Ian started it up. What a lovely sounding engine! It purrs! Nothing like the engine of the Dolomite. Nick had to set off for home but Christine and I got in the Mayflower and Ian drove us round to my lock-up garage where I was introduced to Mildred properly. Afterwards, I had my first go at driving her as I backed her into the garage and locked her up safe and sound. I can’t wait for a proper drive in her but that will have to wait for another day.
Click on images to enlarge
After checking that the garage was secure, the three of us walked back to our house and Ian and I completed the paperwork. I had swapped the insurance over from the Dolomite to the Mayflower on Friday, taking effect from noon Saturday and during the afternoon I went online and sorted the tax out on the DVLA site.
The car is now officially mine and is legally ready for the road once the braking issue has been fixed. It goes without saying that I can’t wait to take my first proper drive in Mildred but this will be dependant on when Wally at my local garage can get her in to swap the master brake cylinder. Hopefully he can fit the car in during this coming week.
So, there we are. The Dolomite has gone on to pastures new and hopefully will get the care and attention I was unable to give it in the end and Mildred Mayflower has entered our lives. Mildred is like an elderly Great Aunt; stately, dignified, a bit frilly round the edges and probably going to be grumpy at times but no doubting she is one of the family.
by Mark Smith
The Morris 1100 Traveller stuck in my mind as a result of its idiosyncrasies. Given the spectacle it make as it bounced over the campsite field in Norfolk with smoke erupting from every orifice and the engine sounding like thunder as I waited for the exhaust pipe to vibrate its self back into the remains of the broken bell-end, I am sure there are still people in East Anglia suffering trauma to this day. This car eventually went the way of its predecessors and met its end in the local scrap car dealer’s crusher.
I am sure there are many of us that remember our past cars as a result of the experiences we had with them but we do not always remember them in the order in which we owned them.
So it is with me. I could have sworn that the Morris was car number three but after my last Blog offering was published, I remembered to my horror that this was not actually true. Car number three was actually a Triumph 1300 front wheel drive. From the reader’s perspective, this makes no difference at all of course as the events described did actually happen, just not in the order I had assumed. Describing these events out of chronological order will not have affected how much activation your ‘tickle bone’ as Ken Dodd describes it, was activated. You will not suddenly be thinking ‘I should not have laughed so much as the fool told the tale in the wrong order and I must now re-read it and laugh less’ for instance. However, put yourself in my position; I have had a memory lapse. I have had a Senior Moment. In essence, my brain has become muddled.
What’s more I have to face the truth of the matter which is……I’m getting old! Oh it’s no good being patronising and saying ‘It doesn’t matter….could happen to any of us.’ You see, it does matter! It’s perfectly normal to forget your anniversary, the wife’s birthday (in my case that’s a double whammy as they’re both on the same day), or even the birthdays of your children….but to forget the order in which you owned your cars, well that is SERIOUS!
So we will move on. We will forget car number three was actually car number four and car number four was actually car number three and talk about car number three as if it was car number four. Car number five, you will be pleased to know, is actually playing itself in this narrative so no confusion there…I hope.
Right then, car number four, the Triumph 1300 Front Wheel Drive. This in itself is confusing because for all these years I have been telling people ‘I once owned a Triumph Toledo 1300 front wheel drive, the one with the rubber doughnuts’ only to discover recently that in fact it wasn’t. The Toledo was rear wheel drive. So my car was just a Triumph 1300…..with front wheel drive and rubber doughnuts. One thing I am absolutely positive about though, is that it was maroon. ‘Does that make a difference?’ I hear you ask. Well, to you no, but to me it makes the world of difference, it means I have remembered something that was correct! And that is a good feeling.
I purchased this car as I did with many of my heaps, though an advert in the local paper. This was convenient as I knew I would never have to travel too far to look at it which made life easier as the reason I was looking for another car in the first place, was because the last one was now residing in the local scrap dealer’s yard.
In fairness to the Triumph, despite its high mileage, it wasn’t that bad. The paint was knackered which saved me lots of time as there was no point in polishing the thing but mechanically, it was not that bad. Of course it did suffer from the usual Achilles Heel on these cars - perished rubber doughnuts. So these had to be changed. I purchased new ones and talked a friend into helping me change them one Saturday morning. After all, difficult could it be? Well very actually!
Oh, if you have access to a workshop lift, I should think it is reasonably easy but we were attempting the job with the passenger side of the car on the pavement and the drivers side on a scissor jack laying on the road on our backs under the car! Health & Safety ? What’s that! I recall it was a real struggle but we did eventually complete the job. Beyond that, the car never really gave me any trouble…until it eventually died. It used a bit of oil but then all my cars did and in any case it was a heck of a lot less than the Morris had done so a good result all round.
During the time I owned the Triumph, my friend had just passed his driving test and purchased a lovely Triumph 1500 in white. It was a stunning car and reliable too. We joined the local branch of Club Triumph and attended their monthly meetings at the Enfield Golf Club. We would take it in turns to drive so one of us could have a couple of pints. The evenings would usually involve some rally films or a quiz and a raffle. The first meeting we attended, one of my raffle tickets was drawn out of the hat. Brilliant I thought! OK, it was the last one drawn so the prize was not going to be great but hey, my ticket was drawn out and I never win anything! It turns out I didn’t this time either. I joined the queue to collect my prize and by the time I got to the front I saw that the table was strangely empty. ‘Sorry’ I was told, ‘We drew out one too many tickets’!
During our time as Club Triumph members we attended a few Auto Test’s, even acted as minor Marshall’s at one. We never took part in any actual events as my friends felt his car was too good to risk damaging and mine was too rubbish to risk damaging….especially as we needed to drive home in them afterwards! It also became clear that many members didn’t actually compete in their road car. Most it seemed, had stripped-out Minis that they towed on an A frame behind their car. It seems you could tow another car behind on an A frame and it would be classed as a trailer as long as it was under a certain weight, hence the stripping out of any unnecessary weight. This usually meant that there was only the shell, driver’s seat, engine and transmission left. We did see one young woman who competed in her Spitfire and was extremely good at it too but we just felt it was too much of a risk for us to attempt it.
One summer our Branch of Club Triumph had made arrangements with one of the West Country Branches to have an inter-Club Auto Test competition. The venue was to be on the Plymouth Hoe. My friend and I decided to go down and watch. We went in his 1500 as it was too risky in my 1300. We took a tent to sleep in but couldn’t get a campsite on the Plymouth side of the Tamar so ended up on the Cornish side. This allowed us to make an evening visit to Polperro on our first night which was very enjoyable.
On another evening, we headed on to the Moors and found a high spot to park up. Back in the late 70’s, CB Radio was the in thing. Of course, people had been using the American AM system for years (not me I hasten to add) but by the late 70’s the Government had legalized a British FM system. This one was not as good as the AM one I am led to believe as its broadcasting distance was quite limited and in a built up area, you would be lucky to reach someone in the next street!
However, I had bought a set and we set it up in my friend’s car. My friend was an apprentice electronics engineer with the BBC (he worked on a number of the Top of the Pops recordings of the period) so he thought we should find the highest spot in the area and see how far we could reach. Due to the height and the openness, we thought 10 to 20 miles would be possible. Imagine our surprise when we picked up someone in Scotland! The signal was weak but we were able to confirm his position and he was just as surprised to know he was talking to someone in Cornwall!
We were very lucky with the weather, the sun shone for the three or four days we were down there. We went on the Friday and travelled home on the Monday I think. Anyway, on the Sunday morning, the day of the Plymouth Auto Test, we were woken about 5:30am by the sound of a motorcycle engine. It went on and on and was getting very annoying. We imagined it must belong to one of the other groups camping near by.
We opened the tent door to see what on earth they were playing at and were surprised to see that it wasn’t a motorcycle after all, it was a huge blower being used to inflate a Hot Air Balloon prior to igniting the burners! We decide to get up and watch them launch the balloon, which was very exciting.
Once the balloon was airborne, the rest of their group took to their cars to follow it and prepare for the landing. They all arrived back around breakfast time. We set off for the Auto Test just after they arrived back and when we returned at the end of the day, they had broken camp and left.
I kept the 1300 for a couple of years but eventually it went the same way as all my cars at that time. It seemed to be that I was the last of the line for all these vehicles! I left Club Triumph after the car had gone as I felt there was little chance of me ever having another. In fact I did get another…..around forty years later! I now own a Dolomite 1850HL and a member of Club Triumph once again. As I explained at the start of this Blog, things have got a bit muddled and the Triumph was actually car number three, followed by the Morris 1100 Traveller and then car number five, a Ford Cortina Mk1 1500GT.
The Cortina belonged to a rather fierce woman I worked with. She had owned the car for many years. It was red with the cream flash down the side but had never had a proper wash in all the years she had owned it so the paint was very grimy. The car only had 55,000 miles on the clock.
Beth was not a car person, it was just a mode of transport, wheels to get her to work. Her husband didn’t drive and so also had no interest in cars. As I said, Beth was a fierce woman, scared the life out of me for sure! At the time she owned the car, Starsky and Hutch was THE programme to watch on telly.
One day Beth was sat in her car at a set of traffic lights and a couple of lads pulled up next to her. Being the type of person she was, she would not be intimidated by anyone so she sat there blipping her throttle. One of the lads wound down the passenger window and shouted across to her, ‘Who do you think you are…..Starsky’s mother?’
Anyway, one evening on her way home from work, someone rear-ended her as she waited to pull out from a junction. Her husband said the car was not worth repairing and insisted he would get her another car. She didn’t want the bother of finding a replacement car but he insisted so she had to sell the Cortina. I said I was interested and she sold it to me for £55!
When I had a closer look at the car, the only damage was to the driver-side rear wing where the light cluster sat. The light was undamaged but there was a crease in the metal. My friend with the Triumph 1500 and I spent a Saturday morning stripping the light assembly off, bending out the metal as best as we could, applied a bit of filler, repainted the area and refitted the light assembly and unless you knew, you would not have known it had ever been damaged. The car was then washed and T-cutted before being polished and looked brilliant!
I kept the car for a few years and loved it. The son of another woman I worked with eventually said he wanted to buy the car off me if I decided to sell it. Looking to buy my first really good car from a dealer, I found a lovely Ford Escort Mk1 1300 Saloon in red. It was a gorgeous car. I took my father to look at it with me and he thought it was nice too so I raised the £650 to buy it and sold the Cortina to the lady’s son. He had not long passed his test; a price was agreed….and he wrote the car off within two weeks by wrapping it around a lamp post. He was unhurt luckily but I was devastated, the car was already rare back then, just think how rare it is today and what it would now be worth. To the lad, it was just an old banger and didn’t matter.
I don’t have any tales to tell about my time with the Cortina but I loved it and in hindsight, should have saved my money and kept it, but the Escort was the newest car I had ever owned (it was on an ‘L’ plate) and it was a beauty.
How strange it is that back then, all I wanted was a newer car, a ‘better’ car and today I would rather have an older car, a car from the 1970’s or earlier, a car that most people still think of as poorly built and yet both my Lada 2101 and my Triumph Dolomite 1850HL have what a modern car lacks….soul.
by Mark Smith
I shall bundle cars three and four together. There is a good reason for this…I can remember little about car three! This is very strange but I have thought about car three until my brain hurts and still I cannot summon up that much information about it. I do recall that it was a Triumph Toledo.
I can’t remember how I found this car, where or who I bought the car from or what happened to it but I’m guessing (based on previous history, that it was scrapped). I can recall that it was maroon and had a 1300cc engine that drove the front wheels. I seem to recall that the body was not in too bad condition but beyond that, nearly all other memories have disappeared in the mist of time. There is one thing that I do recall though and that was changing the rubber drive couplings on the front half-shafts.
These cars were one of the few that Triumph produced with front wheel drive. However, instead of using universal joints, they had opted for rubber doughnut couplings of the same sort as used on the Lotus Elan. These couplings were fine when the car was new but as a car aged and as a result of the stress they endured, they had a habit of splitting. Those fitted to my car were holding on by a thread. I ordered a new set and decided to change them myself.
This is a fiddly job at the best of times, but the problem was made worse by the fact that I had to swap them at the side of the road and on a jack. I managed it after a struggle and the car lasted me for a couple of years. It also brought me into contact with Club Triumph for the first time and a friend and I used to attend some of the Auto Tests held around the country, as spectators not competitors!
As I said, I cannot remember buying the car or how it met it’s end but its replacement is an entirely different matter! Being car-less yet again and desperate for wheels, I saw an advert in the local paper for a Morris 1100 Traveller and discovered it actually belonged to a chap at the other end of our road who I vaguely knew, so I gave him a ring.
He explained that I was welcome to come and have a look at the car but don’t expect too much! I was at the stage where as long as the car started and moved under its own steam and was cheap, it was the one for me so I paid the seller a visit. ‘Traveller’ was a rather posh title for what was a rather slab-sided grey and non-descript old banger.
The car started and it did actually move; these were its good points. The bad points were that it seemed to burn oil a bit and the hydraulic rams that should have stopped the rear door falling on the back of the neck anytime anyone attempted to put anything in the car just didn’t work but hey, it moved under it’s own steam so I bought it for the £150 asking price. I say it burned a little oil, I was soon to find out that it was a bit worse than that!
The A series engine as used in the Mini was a great little engine but when it was bored out to give more power for the 1100 range, it had an Achilles Heel in the form of value stem guides that wore quite badly as the engine aged. My car had been around the clock. The valve guides had not just worn, I think they had dissolved! When the car had been used and once the engine was hot and everything had expanded, the oil that was left on the rockers would drain down the valve stem guides and go to sleep on the top of the pistons.
The first I knew of the problem was the first morning I started the car from cold. Some of the people that live around where I live now complain about the smoke created by the steam engines on the Great Central Railway as they pass the back fence of their homes. Compared to a cold start of my Morris 1100, these people don’t know they’re born. I have never seen smoke like it before or since! In those days I was working as Postman in Harrow and had to be in the Sorting Office by 6am. This was a good thing as there were very few people about at that time of the day. I would start the car and by the time I reached the bottom of our road (which was about a quarter of a mile long) I couldn’t see the top end! James Bond would have been pleased to have had a smoke screen like this car could produce!
Petrol wise, the car was actually surprisingly economical. I am not exactly sure how many miles to the gallon the car did but it did about as many to a gallon of oil! OK, that may be a slight exaggeration but I think it would be safe to suggest it did use a pint of oil to the equivalent miles per gallon of petrol. This oil problem also had another side effect; the engine would actually run OK when the car was being driven but once I arrived home and turned the key to the off position, the situation was very different. I could get out the car, lock the door, let myself in the house and make a cuppa and the ruddy engine would still be chugging away, the over-run was that bad!
All of this led to another failing that these cars were prone to. The engines of course were transverse which meant that the exhaust manifold was at the back of the engine in the middle of the bulkhead. The exhaust pipe then dropped down low enough to then run under the car to exit under the rear bumper. Where the pipe bent, it had a support clip that bolted to the gearbox.
The banging and thumping as the engine rocked back and forth on the over-run, put added strain on the exhaust pipe that in turn put even greater pressure on the union between the pipe and the manifold causing the bell-end to snap off the top of the pipe. This was such a big problem with aging 1100’s that someone produced a replacement bell-end on a short piece of pipe that was made to be flexible. The original exhaust pipe would just slip inside the new fitting. I am not sure if the pipe was supposed to be welded to this adaptor but it wasn’t in the one I ended up fitting. But that was in the future.
In the meantime, I persevered with a broken bell-end. This meant that when I started the car in the morning, the exhaust pipe would jump slightly out of line with the remains of the bell-end that was still attached to the manifold. This of course increased the noise of the engine but I found that by the time I reached the bottom of our road, the pipe had realigned its self and all was well…for a while. As the problem got worse, I found that the bracket holding the bend at the bottom of the exhaust pipe to the gearbox, would work loose and the pipe would drop. The solution to this was to get under the car, loosen the bracket some more, shove the pipe back into place and re-tighten the bracket and all would be well again…for a while.
Life carried on in this fashion quite happily. I saw no point in forking out for a new exhaust as it wouldn’t last very long and having the head of the engine rebuilt was financially out of the question. Anyway, the car drove quite well once under way and clambering underneath approximately once a week was no big deal to a lad of nineteen or twenty. I never had to go too far in the car anyway so if I did get a major breakdown, I could always walk home or get a bus.
And then one day, two friends decided we were going on a fishing holiday in Norfolk. We were to camp but they decided they wanted to go on their motorbikes; one of them had a Triumph and the other a Norton. As I was not a motorbike-ist, I was to go in the 1100 and take the bulk of the gear, including the fishing tackle. They would go up the day before and just take their tents and basic needs that could be fitted on the bikes.
We were to camp on a site in the grounds of a pub on the edge of Ormsby Broad. Despite the fact that I was under no time pressure to get there the following day, it was still going to be a fair old trek in a car that was, if not on its last legs, certainly on borrowed time. Surprisingly, the knackered old Morris completed the journey in both directions without breaking down once! However, that was not the whole story.
Once I arrived at the site and found the other two, I set up my tent and unloaded the gear before the three of us headed for the pub. The next day was spent doing a bit of sightseeing using the 1100 so by the next day I needed to fill up with petrol. I checked the oil level and discovered that it was low, in fact it was so low that it barely registered on the bottom of the dipstick, let alone reached the “Minimum” mark. I set off to the local filling station with the usual problem but by the time I reached the edge of the camping field, the uneven ground had assisted the resetting of the exhaust pipe and all was well. I filled up with fuel and oil and headed off for an uneventful day.
The next morning things were a lot different! Topping up the oil had resulted in there being much more floating around in the rocker box when the car had been parked up the night before. This in turn led to far more draining into the cylinders, which in turn led to far more smoke being generated on start up and the usual jumping out of position of the exhaust pipe.
Now, picture the scene; it was a warm sunny morning, I had both door windows wound down and the ground was uneven. I started up the car and straight away the exhaust pipe parted company with the bell-end on the manifold. This instantly drew looks of displeasure from other campers and caravanners due to the sudden noise shattering their tranquil breakfast and causing them to choke on their bacon butties.
I should have been conscious of their displeasure but was in fact oblivious to it as I was instantly enveloped in a thick cloud of acrid bluish black smoke as the oil in the cylinders mixed with the ignited fuel from the carburetors! In order to mitigate the situation and stop the racket blasting out from under the bonnet, I slipped the gear stick into first gear and let out the clutch.
The car leaped forward, much to the horror of my fellow campers who didn’t know whether to sit still and hope for the best or grab their bacon butties and run. As the 1100 picked up speed and kangaroo’ d across the field, the resultant up-draught forced some of the smoke up through the air vents and out the open door windows, the rest being blown under the car and out under the wheel arches. There was now smoke blowing through every orifice and every gap around every grommet through the dashboard etc and still the exhaust pipe had not re-found its correct position.
As I neared the edge of the field, the exhaust finally jumped back into place, allowing the smoke to regain its correct path through the pipe and out the back and giving me a clear view ahead as the last wisps of smoke exited the car’s cabin. Meanwhile, my two mates who had never seen anything like it before, had collapsed on the ground with tears rolling down their cheeks and never again worried about the small oil leaks their British made motorbikes suffered!
After I got home, I read about the bell-end fitting specially developed for aging 1100’s and ordered one. It made a lot of difference to the exhaust problem and I found that I could reduce the amount of smoke emitted by reducing the amount of oil I put in the engine. As long as I kept the oil level above the “Minimum” mark, all was OK.
Somehow, I managed to keep that car on the road for about three years before it failed the MOT due to rear sub frame rot, after which it joined my previous ones in the breakers yard.
Looking back, I think this car gave me more fun than probably any other just because it was SO bad!
by Mark Smith
It was sad to stand and watch the hydraulic claws of the grab-arm on the scrapyard recovery truck as they pierced the windows of the Morris 1000 and lifted it unceremoniously onto the back of the truck. It had been my first car and had done its job of ferrying me around very well over the last 10 months or so after I had passed my Driving Test.
We had enjoyed some fun moments like the time I had taken part in a Pike fishing competition as the guest of some friends at an old gravel pit. The service track around the lake was rough to say the least and after the heavy rain of the previous week, it was impossible to see where the potholes in the surface were. As a consequence, when we eventually finished at the lake, I discovered that the Morris had no brakes! The linings of all four drum brakes were soaked through. The drive home was ‘interesting’ to say the least and it took a few days for the linings to dry out.
And then there was the time during that previous winter when we had a significant amount of snow that then froze solid and lasted for best part of a week. The Morris handled the conditions very well but it was hardly a powerful motor. However, on the second day of the winter conditions, my preferred parking place at work was taken and I was forced to park in one of the turnings around the corner.
I worked at a domestic appliance store in the old Pinner High Street at the time and was forced to park in Grange Gardens, a turning in front of the lovely Pinner church that is situated at the top end of the Elizabethan High Street. The problem though, was that the gutter areas were covered with frozen ruts. I couldn’t actually drive the car tight enough to the kerb to park it and had to get out and slide it in by pushing on the passenger side until it would go no further. Getting it out at home time was even more of a problem.
I had hoped the cars in front would have moved and I could then drive it out but sadly they were still there, blocking my way out. I tried to push it out but I was working against the camber so it wouldn’t shift. As I stood contemplating my next move and whether I would have to catch a bus home, a gentleman came around the corner and offered to help. Between us we pushed the car far enough out to allow me to drive it home.
Well, it had gone now and I was left with the prospect of finding another car. Eventually, I saw a Sunbeam Rapier MKIV in our local paper and decided to go and have a look at it.
The Sunbeam was a great looking car with a wooden dashboard full of dials and pillar-less front doors. The rear side windows could be wound down into the bodywork and with the front windows downs, it left the whole side open which was great on the odd hot summer day.
Of course I knew nothing of any of this at the time, I had been attracted by the £95 price tag! When I saw the car I thought ‘this is the one for me’ and bought it there and then despite the fact that it came with four slick tyres that were so bald the canvass was clearly visible in places! Four remould tyres sorted that problem and I was ready for the open road again.
A friend came to have a look at it and spotted a spot of rust on the top surface of the passenger side indicator / sidelight pod. The indicators and sidelights were mounted on the front of a pod fitted to the body just below the headlights. I think this spoilt the lines of the car. In my opinion the lights should have been fitted flush to the body and I can only imagine the designer had had one too many G & T’s one lunchtime and thought this was a good idea ta the time. Anyway, my friend was not content with pointing out this rust bubble and insisted on investigating further by thrusting a digit into the area. Now I had a hole! Out with the plastic padding and spay can of British Racing Green paint and I was ready for the road…again.
The car drove very well and didn’t use any oil despite the high mileage and the cabin was a lovely place to be. The wooden dashboard was in great condition and the dials all worked. The seats were very comfortable if a little worn and it was like driving around in a gentleman club on wheels.
Before I passed my Test, my father was the only one in the family that drove and had never owned a car that was anything like the Rapier so polished wood was a novelty for me. Two of my friends (twin brothers and old school friends who were into custom cars by this time) were quite impressed too and decided that this car would make a great cruising machine.
In the late 70’s, there was (might still be for all I know) a big cruising scene in London and the two of them along with one of their other friends, decided we should take the Sunbeam on a cruising trip the next weekend. My old and fuddled brain can’t recall the full details of this event but I think it was held on Chelsea bridge on a Saturday evening. Being summer the evenings were nice and light and this particular Saturday was warm too.
The other friend was a bit of a twerp, for want of a better and printable term. He had what had once been a rather nice Vauxhall Viva HC in a dark blue but had jacked up the rear end, flared the rear wheel arches and shoved on grotesquely wide chrome slot-meg wheels. He had spent a fortune on the add-on’s and totally upset the geometry of the vehicle to the point that is was plainly dangerous!
He had offered me a ride in this death-trap on a number of occasions, but I had graciously refused citing health reasons…I wanted to live! Anyway, this character went to the cruise in his car and my friends came with me in the Rapier. The evening passed without incident, despite the Police interest in the event. I parked the Rapier somewhere nearby and my friends and I watched the custom cars go by from the safely of the bridge wall. The pillock with the jacked-up Viva joined the cars as they slowly drove over the bridge. After he had finished looking a twit, we all drove home. So ended my brush with the custom car scene of the 1970’s.
The Mary Rose was eventually lifted from the silt of the Solent in 1982 and was lying under a tent-like structure in Portsmouth Dockyard near to HMS Victory. The Mary Rose Trust were having to keep the remains of the Henry VIII’s flag ship drenched with fresh water to wash out the hundreds of years of soaking in salt water and to stop it drying out and becoming a pile of dust.
It went on public display in October 1983. By then, the girlfriend of my Morris period had dropped by the wayside and another girl was lurking on the horizon. The problem was that she had a boyfriend but he was a radio operator in the Merchant Navy and was away a lot of the time. I got on well with them both and one day he suggested I look after Susan whilst he was away. I thought this a rather odd suggestion but decided I wanted to go and see the Mary Rose on the first Sunday it was on display, so asked Susan if she would like to go with me in the Sunbeam. She readily accepted.
The day turned out to be quite a nice early Autumn day. I picked Susan up and we headed for Portsmouth. This was the first time I had attempted a long journey driving a car of my own since I had passed my test and just hoped the car made it there and back. The car ran very well and despite a long wait, we did get in to see the Mary Rose (they were only letting a few in at a time every hour on the hour). However, I soon discovered why the boyfriend had suggested I ‘look after’ the girl….she didn’t stop talking ALL day! The Chase and Dave song ‘Rabbit’ was written for her!
Not only did she not stop talking, she was also a fanatical fan of Boy George. Now I have to admit I liked his first hit, but this girl seemed to know more about his life and family than he did himself! It was Boy George from Harrow to Portsmouth. It was Boy George in the queue to see the Mary Rose and it was Boy George all the ruddy way home! By the time I dropped her off, I had the mother of all headaches! I did the only thing I could…I left her to the boy friend. At least he could get a break and give his ears a rest at sea!
The Rapier was a good car and I enjoyed driving it. The only problem I had found was on the yearly family pre-Christmas visit to see two Great Aunts in Banbury, Oxfordshire. Usually my father had driven but on a couple of visits, I offered to drive us in the Sunbeam. The car went well as usual….until we came off the M40 /A40 (the motorway finished before Headington in those days) when something very strange began to happen, the gauges went mad.
As we drove around the ring road to pick up the road to Banbury, we passed some electricity supply cables running along wooden pylons. The gauges in the Rapier had a voltage regulator to smooth out the voltage supply but the magnetic field around the power cables was interfering with the delicate mechanisms of the gauges and the needles in all of them shot across to the far right. Once we had passed the power lines, the needles settled back to their normal positions. This happened every time I drove past those power lines but the first time it happened, it was very disconcerting.
The car gave good service for a number of years but eventually it started to play up. It would start fine but once I had driven around a mile and a half to two miles it would suddenly cut out and would not restart until it had cooled down again. This was very odd because the engine had not overheated. I changed many parts but could never cure the problem so that car had to go.
Looking back, it was sacrilege to scrap a car like this but money was short and all a car meant to me then was transport - a way to get to work but still, it was sad to stand and watch the hydraulic claws of the grab-arm on the scrapyard recovery truck as they pierced the windows of the Sunbeam Rapier and lifted it unceremoniously onto the back of the truck…..
by Mark Smith
I passed my driving test in August 1976 at the second attempt.
The first test didn't go to plan when I accidentally selected third gear instead of fourth on the hill start and got stranded in the middle of a busy junction (Toledo gearboxes) and followed that with a sideways emergency stop, luckily on a quiet road!
Well it was hardly my fault that my test took place on the first morning of rain after a long dry and warm Spring - didn't stand a chance! Anyway, the second one must have been deemed better as the Examiner handed me a pass slip and I was then free to take to the open road. This was handy as I had a Morris 1000 parked on my parents drive that I had bought for the grand sum of fifty quid the previous Easter.
Now you didn't get much for fifty quid even in 1976, so I had bought a car with three fibre glass wings. It did come with a fourth which was the only surviving metal one as fitted by the factory. The colour was interesting, it was Safari Yellow. For those of you too young to have first hand experience of this colour, it is difficult for me to explain in printable terms its exact shade. I'm not sure if I could describe it in printable words so we will gloss over that and just add that it was quite a popular colour in the 70's. Mind you, any colour that required the use of dark glasses to look at it in the 70's, even in the dark, was a popular colour. But I digress.
This car had been sat on the drive and not stirred a wheel for near on five months but I had kept the engine running and the battery topped up. I had also been 'smartening up' the paint. Not having the equipment, the space or the skill to spray paint a car was a handicap but thank God for those tins of touch up paint! I must have cleared out the local auto-factor of every tin of Safari Yellow he had and it's only now as I sit writing this that I realised the significance of the shop owner standing at his doorway rubbing his hands together as he saw me coming down the street and the thick layer of dust that seemed to coat every tin I bought. He only lacked a stutter and a 'buy two for three' offer on the stand and he would have given Ronnie Barker a run for his money! In fairness, the result was not too bad considering it was applied with a brush and was quite passable at a distance of ten feet. It looked particularly good under the lights of the local petrol station at night.
Well, test pass in hand, I set about insuring the car and obtaining a Road Fund Licence. In those days the only way of taxing a car for the first time was to send off to the DVLA. I can't remember the full details of my financial status at that time but given the price of the car, I can't imagine I was going to be a millionaire anytime soon but I do recall I paid for the Road Fund Licence with Postal Orders. I then taped the receipt parts to the inside of the passenger side of the front windscreen as proof of 'Tax in Post'.
A few weeks later and still awaiting the arrival of my Tax Disc, I packed the fishing gear in the car and picked up my then girlfriend and headed off for a Sunday afternoon at Little Britain lake near Iver in Buckinghamshire for an afternoons angling. After an hour or so we retreated to the car for a cup of tea from the flask we had taken. As we sat there, a white Police Rover came past us. It stopped and backed up. One of the officers got out of the car and walked up to us. I wound down the riverside window and the following conversation ensued:
Police Office (in official voice): "This your car sir?"
Police Officer (still in official voice): "Had it long sir?"
At this point I got out as the Police Officer started to walk round to the boot.
Me: "I bought it at Easter but just passed my test so only had it on the road a week or so."
Police Officer (still in official voice): "Original colour?"
Me: "I should hardly think so but this is the colour it was when I bought it."
Police Officer (still in official voice): "Original number plate?"
We (getting worried now): "Yes, as far as I know! Why? It's not stolen is it?"
Police Officer (now very excited): "No! Mate of mine owned this car a few years ago, one of the last cars to come out of Anglesea with an Anglesea plate on it! Worth a fortune if you can sell it for the plate!"
I couldn't believe what I was hearing! He totally ignored the almost quarter of the front window screen obscured with Postal Order receipts and was just ecstatic that he had seen his mates old car! Suddenly I heard the radio crackle into life in the Police car and his colleague stuck his head out of the driver-side window and shouted that they had to go. The Officer I had been talking to apologised and said he would have to go and ran back to his car and the two of them drove off.
Sadly, the car was eventually scrapped as by the time I got to it's first MOT under my ownership, the drivers seat had all but collapsed and was falling through the rotten floor. There were a number of other expensive problems too and being perpetually skint, the car was deemed uneconomical to repair.
Oh, the number plate of the car? LEY 148
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