By Mike Peake
How about that then? Nick Arthur came up with a new title for me and I like it much better than Bumbling Incompetent Fool, so I think I’m going to use it for a while. I’ll explain later, but don’t worry, I won’t forget my roots!
Well that was another epic success at the groups 2nd showing at this prestigious event. The Lancaster Insurance Classic Car show with Discovery, at the NEC in Birmingham.
Our beloved Fat Controller of Events, Gar Cole, outdid himself yet again with a wonderful collection of cars and owners all beautifully displayed in Hall 8. The cars looked great too. Annoyingly, work got in the way a bit so I missed set up and didn’t arrive until Friday afternoon to be greeted with a very professional looking stand.
So let me introduce you to some of the cars and their owners.
First up is this 1966 Mini Crayford Convertible owned by the delightful, if slightly bonkers John and Elaine Fisher.
Oh! Sorry. Wrong pictures. This isn’t how it appeared on our stand, but how it was discovered. Now, most people would have looked at that and thought ”how sad, a lovely rare little Mini that has gone to meet its maker, fallen off its perch and is, indeed, an ex Mini.” But not John. He looked at it and thought, “that will fix up alright”. Yes, as I said, “slightly bonkers.”
Quite an Improvement isn’t it? So, although bonkers John was correct, but before you witty wags start, it took a lot more than the miraculous “bit of T-Cut”. It took an epic and substantial rebuild which eventually turned the rusted heap into the car we see before us today. A sympathetically rebuilt car that retains the heart of a really great and rare little Mini. (let’s just hope that Stephen King’s “pet cemetery” isn’t true.)
Now whilst this provides quite enough evidence of bonkersness, John and Elaine provided even more by admitting that they actually have 761 other Mini’s and mini-based cars at home, AND they spent the weekend camping in a field … in a tent … in the middle of November, just to be at the show! Yes, as I said, “slightly bonkers.”
Next in Line is Matt Harris’s 1928 Morris Flat Nose Cowley and as you can imagine, it has seen a lot in its 90 years of life.
The pick-up truck actually left the factory as a 4 door car and is believed to have been converted to its current configuration during the 2nd World War. The reason for the conversion is thought to be because as a commercial vehicle, it would receive the larger petrol ration than that received by private vehicles. Apart from a little woodwork, the car is believed to be completely unrestored since its modification.
It has a 1546cc 11.9 HP side valve engine which, after a rather complicated starting procedure, ran as smooth as a sewing machine. I noticed it could be a little smoky when revved hard though. It took me ages to get the soot off my face and clear my lungs and I decided not to stand behind it anymore.
The Morris has a 3 speed crash box with a cork clutch but I was reliably informed that no bottles of merlot will be harmed when it comes to be replaced.
There is also evidence that the car was used on the BBC TV show, All Creatures Great and Small as the sign written doors bear the legend “Jeff Mallock, Fellmonger, Darrowby 308”. He was the knacker who collected dead animals in the fictional village. An ex BBC Props manager also confirmed that the truck was hired from Action Cars for filming, but Matt confesses that he hasn’t yet waded through all 7 series and 90 episodes to find it.
Finally for now, Bernard Owen’s immaculate 1962 Morris Minor 1000.
Bernard is one of our groups elder statesmen. (That is the polite way of saying that he is really, really old. See? I can be polite when I need to be.) Bernard is a lovely chap and everyone’s idea of a favourite Grandad but he has a wicked sense of humour with one liners that can cut you dead. He also turns into a berserker whenever there is sausage plait being shared out.
The Minor is just like him too. All cute and cuddly on the outside but a bit of a sleeper underneath. You see, the mystery engine has been identified. It turns out that a 1.3 Marina engine and gearbox has been fitted at some point during its life, along with the larger SU carburettor.
Having a “modified” car on the stand, however lightly and sympathetically, inevitably attracted a “Norman Shufflebottom”. (See my “Spotters Guide to the Classic Car Enthusiast”)
Norman furtively approached the car and then in a stereotypically nasally voice pronounced “The brake master cylinder is in the wrong place. Why isn’t it under the floor where it should be?” We had the last laugh though, because although he had spotted this minor modification, (did you see what I did there?) he’d failed to notice the much larger engine and gearbox swap so Gar took great joy in pointing this out. Norman’s face was a picture of horror as he stumbled off in shock, muttering “Ohhhh, Its been modified!”
There'll be more on the rest of the cars later, but Friday afternoon was spent pleasantly chatting with old friends and getting to know new ones and continuing this over a very nice Chinese Buffet in the evening.
Well, I say “chatted pleasantly”, but most of my “old friends” just wanted to take the micky. You see, our group had been approached and asked if we would like to put forward a representative for a panel discussion to be held on the main stage … in front of an audience. I had volunteered.
Well, I say “volunteered”, but what actually happened was that whilst I was trying to understand the question, the rest of the admins had instantly run off and hidden behind the furniture. “Thanks Mike” said Captain Sweeney. “Be on stage at 10.45am on Saturday”. (Hence the “Celebrity Club Administrator” title)
I really hadn’t been all that nervous about it on the run up to the show, but I should have known I could rely on my friends to change all that. So when I went to bed, I had the nightmare of walking on stage to a rowdy chorus of “Who ate all the pies?” from my friends and the rest of the hall joining in. This played on an endless loop in my head all night so needless to say, I did not awake refreshed and relaxed on Saturday morning.
To be continued…
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