by Gar Cole
Having only restored 1 car in the past, a Rover SD1 Vanden Plas V8 EFi that I bought from group member Charlie Badams, I had fallen into the trap of believing I could take on anything, trouble is that Charlie sold me a very solid car to start with, mechanically and structurally sound, it was mostly basic parts to replace, refit interior and blow it over in the original colour, it looked a million dollars with much ' back patting ' from all that saw it, wahayy Gar the super restorer, fast forward 4 years, the car was sold, I was an admin of this fine group, I had no classic car and I was sat in our apartment in Spain slightly drunk when the phone rang.......
'Alright bro' came the greeting from my brother in his bizarre Brummie/Dorset hybrid accent, I was on a farm near Seaton today and saw this Princess, the old boy indicated he was interested in selling it as it's too much for him to take on. 'Does it run?' I asked, 'Barely' came the reply. 'Colour?' 'Well it's sort of red but most of the panels are different shades of it, that's what I can see of it under the dust, mud and seagull poo'.
I took another good gulp of my Vodka before saying the immortal words ' offer him £300 for it and not a penny more' said my good night's and hung up before sleeping all night on the sofa.
The following morning I awoke with a bad back and even badder head and no memory of the previous nights phone call, until the second call came that afternoon to say it was all mine, oh good lord I thought to myself, what have I let myself in for?????
Being an honest sort who would never back out of a deal I arranged to collect the car the following weekend after flying home, the trailer was hired and off I set for darkest rural Dorset, the place was so remote the sat navigation gave up directing me some 1/2 mile from the farm and advised me to do a 'U turn' , that may have been sound advice from what followed.
The owner emerged from one of the barns looking every inch the character from 'Father Ted'. Wild curly white hair, wonky eyes, wellies ripped jumper and a pipe, speaking in the broadest Dorset accent which I'll only attempt this once he boomed ' Arrrrr ye lost or can oii elp eee with sumthin? ' quickly I explained who I was and that I was here for the car, he gave me a gappy toothed grin and led me to the barn and flicked a switch so that 8 dusty fluorescent lights blinked into life revealing the car in question.
It was every bit as rough as Neale described, I climbed inside, the roof lining was sagging so far it nestled around my head and shoulders making me look like an extra from a Bonnie Tyler video. After Father Ted connected a booster pack she fired up on the third attempt with a deafening roar, the exhaust had more holes than a good cheese, I slowly rolled out into daylight with instructions not to run it for long before loading it, so I took off down the lane in second gear, exhaust blaring while trying to see through the roof lining that was doubling as a wedding veil and the growing cloud of smoke coming from under the bonnet.
A hasty retreat to the barn found his holiness clutching holy water in the former of a 'fire extinguisher' , inspection under the bonnet revealed decent quantities of petrol flooding out of the carb joints all over the exhaust manifold causing the aforementioned smoky cloud, after making sure nothing was on fire I swept the cobwebs, dust and fluff from my hair that the headlining had deposited earlier, loaded the Princess onto the trailer and bid Ted goodbye, he waved the wad of £300 I had just given him at me and said ' best of luck young un, best of luck'.
I made the short 15 mile drive to my brothers house near Lyme Regis to stay for the night before heading to Brummie land the following morning, as I arrived in their rather nice neighbour hood I was met with laughter from my brother due to actually going through with it, horror from his wife who was worried the neighbours would see it and suggested maybe it could be covered overnight, my plummy accented 9yo nephew then guffawed ' oh uncle Gar you are a hoot buying tat, I shall have to call you Uncle Steptoe from now on'.
After stopping myself from kicking him up the backside with my 'size 12 boot' I retired to their house for a large drink, thinking the day was ending in a similar way to the one that got me into this situation in the first place.
Part 2 to follow
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