by Gar Cole
My last blog ended with my Princess about to have yet more money spent on it. After a disastrous xmas period where the repaired suspension collapsed a further 3 times I decided to cut my losses after sinking over £2500 into the car and sold it to a fellow Princess enthusiast with more patience and deeper pockets than I have.
In the previous summer I had been given a 1959 classic caravan by my brothers 'father in law'. It is a charming and ridiculous 8ft long by 5ft wide, made by L & R Fisher this Holivan Junior was designed to be pulled by sub 1.3 cars of the era such as a Minor or A35 , weighing in at a featherweight 260kgs, it had been stored in a barn since 1985, it was in need of restoration even then but being stored for the last 30 years in the dry saved what was left of it, being a typical car hoarder now downsizing his collection the caravan and several cars went to new homes after never being 'gotten around to '.
I am in the process of fully renovating the caravan and plan to debut it at the Gloucester steam rally in August, question was what car would I get to pull it to shows?
Around October last year a friend mentioned he knew of a Moggy 4 door for sale by someone in the owners club, it wasn't perfect but a good car, arrangements were made and I went to see it, first glance he looked great, but on closer inspection every panel told the story of the last 50 years, a collection of rust bubbles, peeled lacquer, stone chips, moisture spots in parts that had been touched up over the years, perfectly described by Mike Peake as 'Gloriously Shabby' at a later group show.
However things vastly improved on the inside which is in very nice condition , it had been updated over the years with a heater from a classic mini installed, mini 2 speed wipers and heated rear window conversion plus seat belts front and back, a big wad of receipts for mechanical work carried out including the infamous 'trunnions' , he also had a full mot and drove spot on during the test drive, instantly charmed by this little car as have many others been before by its brethren I asked what he wanted for it, he showed me a valuation by his insurance for £2500 and indicated he was looking for close to that figure.
I felt this was a little high given the paint finish and asked him why he was selling it after spending so much on the oily bits, it seems he was in the army and was about to be deployed for another 6 months and has nowhere to store it and he didn't want to leave it out in the elements on what was a fairly rough housing estate, I put on my best sad face and said I couldn't afford 2.5K but if it was mine I'd properly care for it and take it to shows all year round while slowly restoring it one part at a time, I had £1100 in my savings account which is meant to be used for repairs on my 2 taxis as and when faults occur, so I offered that amount, he took my hand and shook it, with myself fully expecting him to wish me a good day and safe trip home, instead he said ' ok it's yours for £1100 if you promise to care for it'.
( Cue jaw on the floor moment )
Driving home the 60 miles from Aylesbury to Sutton Coldfield I couldn't believe my luck, yes it wasn't perfect but it was a decent car for little cash and after the money pit that was the Princess I looked forward to some low cost classic motoring, however..............
I didn't drive it myself on the test drive and was happy to be a passenger, however a few days after getting it home and sorting out insurance I looked forward to my first drive, opened the door and managed to get 1 leg and buttock in the car before I became stuck between the door frame and the original 18" steering wheel, imagine a Sardine trying to get back inside it's tin and you have the right mental image. Mortified I quietly ordered a nice 15" aftermarket steering wheel as an xmas present to myself and abandoned the test drive.
A few days after new year I fitted my shiny new (and smaller) 15in wheel and it's adaptor boss kit, it looked fab, I climbed in and arghhhhhh, despite it being 3 inches smaller it was a thicker rim and the boss adaptor brought it higher and closer that I'd imagined, the wheel now jabbed into my chest just under the rib cage, neatly making breathing difficult and controlling the car almost impossible, being a larger chap who had always fitted in modern small cars I never even gave a thought to not fitting in a classic small car, I swallowed my pride and carefully trawled the Internet until I found the smallest wheel I could find, an 11" Mountney wheel made for a ............. Go Kart.
Stop that sniggering at the back, at least I could fit in now and enjoy my first test drive which also happened to be my 40th birthday weekend shared with friends from our group, despite 'Nelsons' rough appearance every one had positive comments to give and made him star of the day at the Vulcan trust we visited, the car drove great but I could tell it needed some work doing which I'll cover next time if you're all interested 😀
Filter by Author
Filter by Month