by Tony "Tosh" Brooks
So it all began on the 28th of March 2015 at the Classic & Restoration Show at the NEC Birmingham, when myself, (Tosh), my elder brother Gus & his daughter Julie, my daughters husband Carl & his dad Tim, and our friend Paul, went for a great day out together. We had no intention of bringing anything home - little did I know there was a Silverstone Auction on at the show that day!
I saw this very unusual looking Rover P5 with a camper type conversion on the back of it lurking in the corner of the auction area. On closer inspection, and after reading the write up, I saw it had no reserve, and decided there and then that I had to have it!
My wife and I have been converting panel vans to campers for the last few years, and my brother Gus is a top mechanic, so I knew from the start that we could make this into something special.
Unfortunately the camper was the very last lot to go through the auction, so I had a long but very enjoyable wait wandering around the show before my “dream machine” would be up for bidding! I drove everyone mad, going on and on about this camper, and everyone thought I was joking about actually buying it, (including my wife Alison, who I’d phoned to tell her about it), but I was deadly serious.
The bidding started slow and I actually thought I was going to get it for £500, but someone else must have had the same idea as me and a bidding war ensued, which neither of us wanted to lose! It was back and forth at £100 increments until the other guy caved in at £3100. With the fees I paid just over £3500 for it, but it was mine!!
Once I’d won it, I was discussing what to do with it with my brother Gus, and we decided to go halves and restore it between us. It looked ok from a distance but was very rough round the edges and the interior was horrible, damp and old fashioned.
It had a current mot, was taxed, and I had insurance to drive it, so we decided to take it home that very evening, although that meant us waiting around until the show had closed before the organisers would allow us to remove the vehicle. By the time we got out it was pitch black, raining and blowing a gale outside, and the thought of driving this strange car 80 miles home filled me with fear, but little did I know exactly HOW much fear, or should I say blind terror, the journey home would bring!!
The drivers window was down and there was no handle on it, so I couldn’t wind it up. The wipers - once I managed to find the switch - were worse than useless, and did absolutely nothing to clear the torrential rain from the misted up windscreen (because I couldn’t find the blower, or it didn’t work!).
The headlights were like using a bicycle lamp, and the interior dash lights were non existent. There’s obviously no rear view mirror and the wing mirrors were so small and badly set, that I had no idea what was behind me either.
So all in all I was getting soaking wet, I couldn’t see further than two feet in front or behind me, I had no clue where I was heading and the fuel gauge was on empty, in a 3.5ltr petrol automatic - and that was the good bit!
Next time - getting Apollo home.
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