by Brian Allison
I've been promising myself another classic, or "toy" as my ex describes them, for a number of years since being coerced to let my Rover P5 go. Recently this itch has been getting stronger by the day. Each time I went to a show I found myself looking at the beauties there and wondering, A - Which car did I really want, B - which could I afford to buy, and C - which could I find parts for reasonably easily. The answer kept coming back as a P6.
So with this decided I set about scouring the ads.to try and find a suitable car to buy. I knew I couldn't afford a perfect example but felt confident that I was capable of any mechanical work needed, and could make a fair fist of minor body repairs. Bearing this in mind I set about ringing any likely prospects and arranging to view them. Over the course of three months I viewed four that seemed to fit the bill.
The first one was a 2200 described as very sound with excellent body and interior that could benefit from a re-spray. Only an hour's drive away, so off I went. From a hundred yards it didn't look that bad. The could benefit part was obviously an understatement but I still had a good look round. I looked for and failed to find the door bottoms and the interior came complete with a paddling pool and badly worn drivers seat bolster and sun damaged rear seat. Good job it was a private seller, trade description would have had a field day. The next two I looked at, neither less than a three hour round trip, were no better and I was beginning to wonder if the time and fuel were worth the bother. But the itch was still as strong as ever, so onward and upwards. The fourth was another 2200 but two hours away. The photos with this advert really did look good, nice shiny primrose paintwork and apparently no faults at all mechanically.
Well worth a look he assured me, only selling because he was moving back to England, had it four years and never had a problem with it. What wasn't to like ? So off I went, nice two hour drive on a beautiful summer day with the promise of a bit of a bargain at the end of it. When I pulled in to his yard there stood a very shiny P6 and I thought it was my birthday .... until I really started looking closely and very quickly realised that the reason for the shininess was new paint. New, but not everywhere, the roof and boot hadn't been done, and whoever sprayed it hadn't been skilled when it came to masking tape. God only knew what lay underneath.
The next thing I noticed was something I'm still unable to work out. The offside panel gaps were all normal, likewise the offside door panel gaps, but the offside sill stopped about 20mm ( three quarters of an inch in old money) short of the trailing edge of the front wing, twice the gap of the nearside. I measured the sills and they were both the same length and both lined up perfectly with the jacking points. I could find no evidence of accident damage and am still totally baffled as to how this large gap could occur when both wing and door appeared to be positioned correctly. Any theories would be welcome on this. I was about ready to leave it when the seller decided to start the engine to show me how good it was. It sounded like a sack of chisels, due as I soon confirmed to a water pump with as much play in the bearings as a spoon in a teacup. Exit stage left one very disillusioned potential buyer.
I was still monitoring the ads in the fading hope of finding a genuine P6 when one for a Triumph Mk2 2000TC caught my eye. It was described as having a solid but not perfect body and interior, mechanically sound and reliable being used most days. Again almost two hours away but I decided it might be worth a look. I'd driven and worked on the same model belonging to a friend in the 70's and remembered it as being a very civilised, comfortable car, so rang the owner to arrange to have a look at it.
The following day I was about to set off to see it when the owner rang to tell me that he'd just taken a deposit from another buyer. Damn, or words to that effect. Back to the ads. Imagine my surprise when a week later he rang to ask if I was still interested. The original buyer had been forced to back out due to family reasons and would I like to go have a look rather than him re-advertise it. Amazingly the car was exactly as described. I took it for a run and found everything working perfectly, even the clock. The only thing that didn't work was the cigar lighter. The body had been Zeibarted from new and apart from a little bubbling on the front panel to wing seams was totally sound. The seller was a genuine gent not far shy of my own age and a deal was quickly struck over a cup of tea and home baked scones with his equally charming wife. Sitting in the sun chatting with them was the icing on a very good day.
I collected the car today and once I re-educated myself in the use of the overdrive had an extremely pleasant drive home. The car, hereafter known as Betsy 2, behaved impeccably, cruising at a steady 60 on the motorway section of the trip, and handling the far from perfect road surfaces with ne'er a knock, squeak, or rattle. All it needs now to make it ready to show is a polish. Oh, and a EBMVBB1985 sticker for that rear window.
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