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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2017, 14:36:18 »
 Cars Part 4.

I had a vague idea about what I was getting into with the Lotus. Its worth repeating that Lotus translates into “Loads Of Trouble, Usually Serious”.

It was an ex-works rally car, first registered by Ford in December 1965 as NOO 29C. The bodyshell was pre-airflow, which means that it did not have the eyeball vents at the ends of the dash, which was superceded in 1964, which set the scene of something created from what was around and what was in the parts bin. It had leaf spring rear suspension with a Watts linkage. Body seams were welded, the fuel tank was a huge 25gallon affair in the boot, behind the rear seat, filled from behind the rear screen. All the brake lines, fuel pipes and cables were inside the body. There were two electric Facet fuel pumps in the boot, each switched from the dash and with a fuel tap on the floor by the driver. A heated front screen was a novelty, as was the Twin Halda Tripmaster thingy for the navigator, which we never mastered.

Safety equipment consisted of a roll cage, proper seats, full harness seat belts and fire extinguisher.

Curious items were the umbrella handbrake (it pulled up alongside, and parallel to the steering column) and an additional silencer fitted across the back of the car, which I removed. It was on steel wheels with off road tyres.

It did not like town traffic, and the idle would become erratic in the time it took for the average set of traffic lights to sequence. A blip of throttle and the twin Webers would make as much noise as the exhaust and a steady rumble would resume. The clutch was mighty heavy. However it always started for me, even when under a pile of snow. Get in, switch on the lower power fuel pump, wait for the pump noise to slow (a bit like a mini or morris minor) two full presses on the throttle, then hold a touch of throttle and turn the key. As soon as it fired hold a nice fast idle while you did up the belts. Do Not, under any circumstances touch the choke.

I found some Dunlop alloy wheels with nice road tyres, which made it much more civilised, given that I was now living in Queenborough (someone has to) and working in Snodland. Detling Hill was my daily challenge.

At one point it began to charge erratically, so the regulator was checked and found to be faulty. I wandered in to Lucas on Duncan Road, Gillingham and asked for a replacement, quoting the number. No such part, mate. So I got him to actually come out and look and he agreed that was the number on it. Back in Birmingham we had been to Lucas’s Competition Department (sounds imposing but was a glorified shed up some white wooden stairs) so I phoned them. Much thumbing through lists later it turned out that my car was fitted with a high output dynamo and matching regulator as a comparison to other cars that were being fitted with the early alternators. This feature, he said, confirmed that it was built for the Monte Carlo Rally as an ice note car. Bottom line was just use a standard regulator, should be fine, and it was.

Martyn and I had entered the November Rally run by my old B.U.M. Club (I said they were unfortunate initials!) but the delay getting the Lotus meant a change of plan. We therefore decided to use his Anglia, I would still drive and he navigate. I picked up the Anglia from Reading, and did our usual middle of the night run through central London. When I got to the end of Blackheath there was an old van coming around the roundabout, no indicators used (times don’t change) and I braked to a comfortable halt to let him round. At this point I was hit quite hard from behind with just a short tyre screech as a warning, which enabled me to take the brakes off. The impact took me to the centre of what was quite a big roundabout. I got out and was surprised to see a flashing blue light already there. That was quick I thought, then it dawned on me it was the Police Rover 3500 that had hit me.

We had to wait for the Station Sergeant to arrive, and everyone was very civilised about it. The Anglia took it quite well, probably the only solid bit of the car was the rear, which was now an inch or so further towards the front.

Everyone happy with the paperwork and I went on my way. Only a few hundred yards down the road and the exhaust fell off. So I stopped at the next phone box, called the police and explained. A few minutes later a police van arrived, the driver chucked the exhaust in the back and just said “follow me”. He took off a fair rate, me with open exhaust just behind having a great time. He took me to Clifton’s on the South Circular roundabout where at about 2am a bleary eyed mechanic did a good job of bodging the exhaust back together with couple of new bits.

I don’t know about now, but back then the Met Police were not insured, they had deposited a bond and simply paid out claims themselves. Martyn did quite well I believe.

Our expedition on the Rally was not so good, somewhere in deepest northern Oxfordshire there was a bang and the ignition light came on. A quick look and the fan belt had gone missing. A quick reverse to where it happened, and there it was on the road. But… we were unable to refit it because the crankshaft pulley had lost the front section. They were simply spot welded together, and a properly uprated engine would use one machined from solid. The engine was a bit tweaked, as were the brakes, but this had not been considered. We then reported to the next control so our position was known to the organisers and set off back to Reading, with the heater on, high gear, low revs, no lights if there were no other cars, apart from my pair of Cibie Oscar driving lamps that had been fitted for the occasion.

We made it just before dawn, with a misfire at any speed over about 40mph as the battery slowly died, the windows wide open despite the November chill outside, as the heater tried to keep the engine cool, just.

We never rallied the Lotus. We did a couple of Sector Marshalling roles on a Maidstone and Mid Kent M.C. rally.  That was fun. The first one was around Bicknor, with our finish control near the water tower at the top of Hollingbourne Hill. The second one was along the Military Road from Appledore towards Rye. Out of interest we stopped where we knew the section start was and did a lowish speed cruise along to where we were to man the finish control. Back to the start and this time absolutely flat out, with the engine hitting the rev limiter on the way. Martyn timed it, looked at me and uttered some choice words as we would have dropped a load of time. In the parlance of the day, the watches were “tuned” to make that section impossible to clear.

I kept this for about 18 months, rebuilt the 1650cc engine, the man who rebalanced the engine was mightily impressed when he saw “Cosworth” on the con rods.

I met a Capri on the Paddlesworth Road near Snodland, he braked, locked up and blocked the road, I had nowhere to go and we had a relatively gentle impact. Some months later I sold the engine to one person, the gearbox to another and the rolling shell to a guy who wanted it for grass track racing. I doubled my money by doing this, old cars were just that at the time.

By now I was living in Culverstone, near Meopham. I took over the lease for a four bedroom house with a 3 acre field, 3 Nissen huts and an open fronted shed that could hold four cars. I sublet the other rooms, and if everyone paid up on time, and in full, I lived for almost free. It rarely happened.

Some fairly mundane cars followed, typically a horrible beige Austin 1100 with matching rust. However, browsing the KM one day I found, went to look at, and bought, a Fairthorpe Electron Minor for very little money. As I had virtually memorised my 1954 and 1960 copies of “The Observer’s Book of Automobiles” in my youth I knew what it was. I was, and am, a bit of a sad soul. These cars had grown out of the “specials” movement and were based on a Standard 8/10 or early Triumph Herald chassis and running gear. It was bodied in fibreglass, open two seater with a pram hood in fetching beige. It was slow, reasonably ugly and quite rare. After getting it home and checking the fluids I went to the petrol station just up the road and while filling it up struck up a conversation with one of the locals who was interested in what it was. He was a known car enthusiast, had previously had a Lamborghini 350 or 400GT. Again old cars were still affordable. By then he had an early Aston Martin DBS, 6 cylinder, ex show car with a pinkish leather interior. Very questionable taste!

How much did I want for it?  Hang on, I’ve only just bought it, but we parted with his insistence on first refusal. Only a couple of weeks later we met again, my enthusiasm literally dampened by the ingress of weather, and his sharpened by it now looking a bit clean and tidy. We parted this time with me doubling my money and him a happy chap.

Motoring News (aka Muttering Nudes) was the weekly paper with the classified ads to use to buy and sell competition and interesting cars. I went after a part-built Ford Escort. The owner was being sent to the Middle East for work at short notice and he needed it gone in a hurry. So a mate from work and I went to see it, I think it was Dorking but maybe not, taking the firms dropside Austin FG (the strange one with little curved windows by your knees) we did the deal. A black RS body shell, with front suspension fitted and most parts to build a Mexico. The truck had a tail lift, we wheeled the front wheels on, wheelbarrow style holding the rear aloft, then the tail lift took it up and we pushed it on. The rest of the bits followed.

We took it initially to my boss’s house near Barming, as he had a nice wide garage, and the rear axle, steering and brakes and fixed glass were all fitted there. Helped at times by his large black Great Dane, Cleo, who did a Scooby Do impression and was under the car with me, licking my face while I tried to tighten the suspension. By now I had modified one of our Nissen huts to make a garage so it was time to get it home. Bob from work, who had helped collect it, drove a 2litre Cortina Estate which he used for towing a caravan, so we did no more than attach the Escort and tow it to Culverstone. I had no instruments so had no idea of speed and was a little surprised to be charging along the M20 passing many other cars, foot hovering over the brake pedal very close to the Cortina. Bob later admitted that for a short period he had forgotten that I was there, it weighed so little.

Eventually I admitted defeat. Whenever I had the time I didn’t have the money, and if I did have the money we were probably in the pub. I advertised it back in MN and got a huge response, the best being a guy from Hoo. I accepted his offer of his Mini Cooper S, with some spares, and cash. Only a few weeks later he turned up to show us the car. Nicely done, but not how I had wanted to do it.

The Mini was wonderful, quick enough and huge fun through the lanes that I used to get to work in Snodland. Part of the pile of spares was the original gearbox, the one in the car was from an unknown source, but used a standard mini final drive, which boosted acceleration at the cost of top speed. 80Mph on a motorway got you a noisy liver massage.

Returning home one night with my friend Mick (the one who used to live down the road and had the old Ford on L plates) we went through the kink on the Gravesend Road just before the Vigo pub, and had a huge slide as we hit some black ice. Keep the power on, do not lift off and most certainly don’t brake. Heart rate still high we crept up to the Vigo where there was a police car parked on the forecourt. I started to get out, but to my surprise, he stopped me. I said about the black ice up the road, to which he replied not to get out, as it was here as well. With that we headed off, hardly able to get traction until around the corner.

So impressed with this performance, Mick nagged me for weeks to let him buy the Mini, showing me ads for interesting cars. In the end he took me see a Triumph TR5, which he paid for, then we settled for a little more for the Mini and we went on our ways. The TR5 was a high speed lorry, huge chassis, and the fuel-injected straight six engine a dream. The previous owner had spent a lot getting the notorious Lucas injection system to work properly.

Unfortunately I tried to fit between a Peugeot and an oncoming Escort, which in doing so made a bit of a mess of all three. I got into a fair splash of hot water for that, and the TR5 was sold off to a workmate who put it in his garage and left it there.

A reasonably clean, white Morris 1000 saloon came my way, as Bob’s neighbour knew it had problems but was mechanically ignorant. The front suspension lower pivots (or trunnions) were worn and needed replacing, I knew the symptoms as mine on OMO 876 had failed, tucking the nearside front wheel up into the wheel arch. It was dark and wet (of course) when that happened, roughly by the Doddington & Newnham war memorial, I was doing alright, I thought I had it all under control as I held it into the bank to slow it down, and then one of the three young ladies in the car started screaming, very off-putting when you are trying to concentrate.

This new Morris served me well, and I got brave enough to try and teach my girlfriend (now wife) to drive. How to start an argument, or what. The usual example that I use is approaching Wrotham Heath traffic lights, London bound, I suggested that she should slow, no response, brake, no response, and with queuing traffic ahead I heaved on the handbrake. Minors can have excellent handbrakes and I had fettled this one with this job in mind. To my amazement, with the rear wheels locked, she calmly applied opposite lock as the rear stepped out on the slight bend, still not braking. We never tried that again, she was packed off to BSM.

The next door neighbours were an older couple, Eddie a plumber from South London, and she a very shy thing that we hardly ever saw. He made a point of finding me one day as his Rover was very sluggish. I opened the bonnet, and with it running there was a very pretty fireworks display from the ignition HT leads. These were the early suppressed ones that really did not last and I ended up replacing them with copper cored ones and suppressed caps. This was a Rover P5B, the fastback, V8 engined, heavyweight flagship of their range. The motor club had been to Solihull and I had seen these built, with an endearing memory of a very large gentleman with what looked like a simple bit of 4x2 wood using his strength to “Adjust” the fit of the doors. Ahh Leyland build quality…

Anyway I was asked to test drive it, which I did once I had reversed out of his horribly narrow drive between the house and our wall. What a beast, no doubt the memory is rose tinted, but I could love one of those today. Sadly so would a lot of other people and the prices reflect that.

One of our inmates came with a non-running TR3. He never touched it and when he moved on simply scrapped it.

Another resident was a New Zealander car salesman. After a while we came up with a moneymaking scheme. If someone wished to part exchange a suitable car, one that his employers would simply put out to the trade, he would suggest that to clinch the deal he could get a little more if they sold it direct to the trader – me. Pete would effectively negotiate the price, all I had to do was turn up and make sure that it was what it seemed, and pay for it. We usually stuck to Minis as they were easy to tart up, and quick to sell. A purple automatic was horrible to drive, constantly changing gear, but made good money. A 3litre Capri was such a handful in anything other than bone dry conditions, we got rid of that before we broke it.

I fell in love with a 1300 Alfa Romeo Guilietta Sprint. A rather understated dark blue, I could forgive a few of its quirks, like interior releases for boot and fuel cap, but on the left hand side of the passenger seat. However, one wet night coming home I basically spent most of the descent of Star Hill in Rochester trying to get it to point down the road, not across it. It went.

I paid for a pristine Spitfire myself, meaning to keep it for a while. That was until I drove it. It was still on its original Dunlop Groundhog cross ply tyres, and the first serious corner I went around you could feel the swing arm rear suspension deciding whether or not to kill you today. No thanks. I sold it to another girlfriend who had fallen in love with it, and drove in a far more genteel way.

Pete also brought home other interesting cars, although officially he was meant to drive a “nappy brown” Allegro, which, unsurprisingly, he hated. An Ro80 saloon stands out, super to drive, once you get the hang of the semi-automatic gearbox with the clutch operated by touching the gear knob. An early, brand new XJS was a thrill, and a Triumph Dolomite Sprint was a superb mixture of smart interior, understated exterior and good performance.

Then our Rental Agents announced that our landlord, who worked for Royal Dutch Shell in Holland, had died, and his widow wanted her house back. I had accumulated about £1200 in my car fund, being torn between a BMW 2002 Tii, or maybe an old DB4 Aston Martin as I was increasingly interested in what were becoming known as classic cars. I found out later that the definition of an optimist is someone who thinks that they can just about afford to run an Aston. The alternative definition is of a Motorcycle Courier with a pension plan – I actually knew one!

So dreams of a decent car were put on hold and I used the money as a deposit to buy a house.

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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2017, 18:50:14 »
I have little knowledge of the rally scene in Kent at that time, but all manner of (often inappropriate) cars were used in the 50s and 60s. It was generally just about having fun rather than serious competition, that came later at this level.
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Offline conan

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2017, 00:38:25 »
Talking of rallies I seem to remember back in the 60s there was one called the Grasshopper rally that ran through Kent and Sussex.Is this just my memory playing tricks or did it exist?.I seem to remember a chum of mine entering a moggy 1000 in it and telling me he went through one checkpoint with all four wheels off the ground.
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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2017, 14:43:58 »
Cars Part 3

Actually this is more like Part 2 addendum, as I realise that I had omitted events and explanations, plus the next bit.

I should make it clear that the autogyro had never flown before. The pilot was therefore even more cautious than I had expected. The thing hanging in front of the shot taken from the air is a quick release toggle for the tow rope in case of emergency. It was also used once, successfully, to give a flight without the downward pull from the rope once up to speed and height, when confidence had been gained in the machine.

The venue for the flights was Long Marston. The edge of the runway was lined with the hulks of what I believe were DUKWs, which formed a useful fence between us and the cattle. Mind you we had to drive along them checking for gaps before we started, the last thing we needed was a cow wandering into our path.

By the way, the pilot’s name was John, the spotter in my passenger seat was John, and I’m also John. That got confusing at times. Too many Johns meant that for many years I was known by my middle name of Filmer, there’s not so many of us.

The pilot, John, was employed by Perkins Engines, and had obtained a Garrett turbocharger which he had fitted to his brother’s Series 2 (petrol) Land Rover. This had a manual waste gate to activate or by pass the turbocharger. On one occasion we went into the Lickey Hills and had a wonderful time with six of us experiencing off roading for the first time. When the turbocharger was engaged the exhaust was through the front nearside bodywork, where later diesel Land Rovers have their air intakes. John’s had an RAF “Caution Turbine Exhaust” triangular sticker around it. On the way home we had a drag off a set of lights with a Hillman Avenger Tiger – horrible car, even worse use of the Tiger name. John backed off at about 50mph and let the (very) disheartened Avenger driver pass as we turned left.

The turbine exhaust was very hot. We once stopped at a parade of shops for some supplies, and as we left had to pause for traffic. The turbo was hot, and as John eased his way forward he saw a gap, revved up to go, and at that time a child walked past clutching an ice cream, turbo exhaust versus ice cream… We left promptly, the screams faded quickly.

We returned to Long Marston in a different context to witness a very early Rallycross style meeting. I don’t think that it was open to the public, we probably got in under cover of one of the Motor Club members who worked as the B L Special Tuning technician for Patrick Motors.  A mini stood out as it had holes about 35mm punched out from all over the bodywork, the strength of which was, I presume, meant to have been replaced by a substantial full cage assembly. It had then been simply covered in masking tape and painted over – badly. I also think that a rally had been cancelled as many of the competitors were in some serious rally cars.

My flat mate Pete and I took his mini into the depths of north Wales to watch a couple of stages on the 1971 RAC Rally at Clocaenog. His father was a professional photographer and Pete could take a fair snap. He captured a Datsun 240Z pointing straight at him, a marvellous oncoming shot, except that it was actually travelling from right to left at a considerable pace on the forest track with the back of the car flirting with the considerable drop into the trees below. Roger Clark was equally impressive.

For a change of sport we went to Santa Pod Raceway to see a drag meeting. We were seriously impressed with the bravery of one guy hanging onto a supercharged 1000cc motor bike, and various trick cars. However the engineering of some of the lower orders was open to question. A Jaguar XK engine was fitted in a small dragster, the “fuel injection” to which appeared to consist of a pipe into each intake, which all teed together and were fed from a pressurised tank, controlled by a cable operated tap arrangement independent of the throttle linkage!

The Motor Club kept us busy, social events mixed with competitions. Treasure hunts were huge fun and designed to be navigator training with cryptic clues if you found the right place. I’m biased having been the Champion one year. Twelve car rallies were a step up, run at night, the limited numbers and distance kept us outside the main regulations for bigger events. Mind you they still took a lot of organising, and we frequently went a fair distance before they started. The old OS map 111 around Derbyshire was a favourite haunt.

One of our number, Andy, was doing really well in the Midland Area Autotest Championship. He tried, and failed, to teach me some of the more entertaining manoeuvres so I stuck to designing and running the tests.

We went en masse to see the Italian Job when it reappeared at Selly Oak fleapit. As we left Andy put on a display in his mini worthy of the film and he left the car park to applause, and not only from the club members.

Andy sold his mini and bought an Austin Healey Sprite (very inferior to an MG Midget), only to then be told that he had qualified for the finals of the autotest championship, in the front wheel drive class. He did no more than hire a mini, swop over the wheels and tyres and fettle the handbrake. All went well until the drive shaft constant velocity joint let go. Ooops! No worries, he changed the wheels back, got it towed out onto the M5, and phoned in a breakdown. Probably got compensation!

He had form with hire cars. Ford ran a challenge where motor clubs could enter a team to work on an Escort. Rear wheels had to be removed, various other bits, and then the distributor. Stop the clock. Engine is spun over with the starter, clock restarted, refit parts, start engine and move forward a couple of feet. Stop clock. None of us had an Escort, so Andy hired one, from the dealership putting on the event, and we practised. We knocked out a couple of other teams but in the last round got the distributor in 180degrees out and lost time sorting that out. Still it was a chance to look at the goodies in the showroom which had been supplemented by works rally cars and the new GT70, a very rare bird indeed.

We were heavily involved in the Castrol Quiz, University Challenge format, but motor clubs competing with wide ranging motoring questions. Our team, of which I was never a part, always did well and one year got to the final, question master was Raymond Baxter, and they won.

Fast forward 10-12years and I’m driving home late one evening. I happen upon a motoring quiz on the radio, apparently the final of a series like Mastermind that I had completely missed. That will do for the way home I thought, then on comes the next contestant, and its Andy, who goes on to win.

After Birmingham I went to stay with Martyn, an old school friend and my rally navigator, at Sonning, where he and other students still had a bit of lease left on their cottage. We were asked if we could restore for sale a Daimler DH19 limousine. This was over 18feet long, 6feet tall and over 6feet wide. Very upright and pre war in style. I have never found a reference to this model, but that is what the plate said on the car, and I suspect that it is a DH27 fitted with the smaller 19hp engine, which tallies as I recall that it was about 2500cc straight six, complete with a brass build plate on the side with the name of the person who assembled it. The rear compartment contained a twin seater sofa at the rear, with two fold up armchairs just behind the electrically operated glass partition. The small, arched, rear window had an electrically operated blind.

The front bench seat was leather, with a vast metal rimmed steering wheel, no power steering, a pre-selector gearbox and an imposing view down the long bonnet and huge headlamps. It carried two spare wheels in covers set into the rear of the front wings. The substantial scissor jacks were built onto the car. At the rear there was a drop down platform on which to strap your luggage. It was, of course, black.

A minor detail was that although we had an ignition key, there were no door keys. So initially the residents of Reading were treated to the sight of this huge car pulling up, and half a dozen students piling out of the windows. About the fourth locksmith that we tried made a couple of keys. These were like an old back door key, but had a shallower and more complicated business end.

The steering was appallingly stiff, and we traced that to the steering box. My first year project had been to redesign the power steering of the Jaguar XJ6, which was notoriously vague in the dead-ahead position. It was made by Adwest, who we had visited in the course of the project, and they were the other side of Reading. We went over to see them clutching the lower steering column and box and were really pleasantly surprised to find that the Daimler DC Ambulances made for the LCC and others in the 1950s used the same box, and yes they had one at the back of the stores. A £25 donation to their Christmas fund saw us walk away with it. It helped, but the steering was still ridiculously heavy.

Some re-trimming and a quick coat of paint (not by us) and it was done. The owner wanted it back for a week or so, then asked us to take it to Manchester to the shippers, as it was off to America. Now the owner was a slightly dodgy character in that he was known to be on the fringes of the drugs world, and we wondered if we had just delivered a “French Connection” car.

Part of our payment was a 998cc Mini Cooper, just two snags, it was in Richmond, and the cylinder head was in the boot. We were loaned an Austin Gypsy breakdown truck (think poor man’s Land Rover) and we ended up hanging on to it for a couple of weeks. It was a (crude) diesel, and had a missing tooth from the flywheel ring gear, so that if the engine stopped there the starter could not engage. Pop it in gear, rock it to and fro, try again, usually worked. It was a bit embarrassing with a car hanging on the back though…

We kept the Cooper for some time, Martyn eventually using it as his daily driver. He drove us home to Queenborough after Tony Young’s wedding in Sittingbourne, cutting through Milton, and as we went around a corner there was a bump. I accused him of hitting the kerb, which was vehemently denied. The next day his father suggested that we come out and look at the Mini. I expected some evidence of kerbing, but we both walked around it a couple of times and saw nothing. He then suggested that we get lower, and there was the battery sitting on the ground. The bump had been it escaping from its little cage under the boot. The base was completely worn away, probably by 2” or more at the front and a little less at the back. It was still connected, which why it was still there, the plates flattened together.

Before we left Reading I started to look for a car, something different, but sporty. A Porsche 356 was dismissed as being a glorified Beetle, and eventually I found a Lotus Cortina Mk1 being advertised for £350 (1972 remember), and only a few miles away. The embarrassed owner didn’t have the car there, he had sent back to the garage where it had come from in London, because he couldn’t start it after a few weeks standing. This dragged on for a couple of weeks, then he contacted me and we arranged to pick it up.

When I got there it still was in London, so he put me up for the night and drove me to West London the next morning. It was still reluctant to start, but the mechanics eventually coaxed it into life. I paid him £320 in the end, and drove off through the middle of London on a Saturday morning, back to Kent.
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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2017, 20:59:39 »
I transferred the plate to the first SAAB, but could not sell it for a  hundred pounds. I also had no luck selling OMO 876 a couple of years earlier. Times change.
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Offline conan

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2017, 19:35:42 »
That MG reg would be worth a lot of money in this day and age
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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2017, 13:35:35 »
Next two
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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2017, 13:34:25 »
A quick check and the picture size had returned to its default setting. Now resized, I'll try again, but with two at a time.
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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2017, 13:20:58 »
Hmmm, the news paper picture displays correctly if I view it, but rotated in the thread. No idea!

Also I posted four photos of the autogyro, and that posting has simply disappeared - help!
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Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2017, 11:29:08 »
I found a couple of newspaper clippings that my mother inevitably took when ever we got in the local rag.
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Offline conan

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2017, 20:06:54 »
Once again brilliant.
  A mate of mine had a mini the floor well of which used to fill up with water when it rained ( it was a very old and very rusty mini) he cured it by drilling a couple of holes in the floor and plugging them with wooden pegs ,when the water got too deep out came the plugs, away drained the water, problem solved.
To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Offline JohnWalker

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2017, 19:48:17 »
Great stuff Filmer01 - keep it coming.

Offline filmer01

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2017, 18:49:28 »
Cars – part2

My newly acquired 1937 Austin Seven came with a packing case of spares, one of those large, basic, wooden crates with rope handles, used by people returning to UK after civilian service abroad. It fitted in my friends MiniVan and he followed me home to Newington from Leysdown. A learning experience, first time driving alone, a tired 1930’s gearbox needing double declutch changes up and down, hand signals only, I was exhausted but elated when we finally made it.

Much love was lavished on the car in the following weeks and months, the wheels were repainted silver rather than the dull red that matched the bodywork. This was with the assistance of my girlfriend, who in the style of 1968 had long hair, which she managed to catch in the electric drill. Nothing too major to resolve, but the drill (a Stanley Bridges one – what happened to them?) always smelled of burnt hair thereafter.

It did 55, mph and mpg and I enjoyed my freedom. It only had a drivers door probably in the vague hope of adding rigidity, which the feeble chassis certainly did not! The cable operated brakes were “amusing” there was a cross shaft to which the brake pedal was attached, with the cables for the front brakes in the middle of the car, and each rear brake from the appropriate end. Leaping on the pedal meant that the twist imparted to the shaft brought on the rear offside brake, then the fronts, roughly together, and then finally the nearside rear. Inevitably panic braking meant locking the offside rear wheel as they were only a small step up from push bike tyres with little grip. Great fun was had with old ladies on zebra crossings, especially the one at the bottom of Ufton Lane. The handbrake, a lever looking like it had escaped from a signal box, operated the same cross shaft, and being nearer the middle produced a different sequence and better braking.

Some friends and I went in convoy to investigate a scrap yard on the A20 near West Malling. The elderly owner, collar-less shirt, rolled up sleeves, waistcoat with watch chain, was greatly impressed with the Austin and I was invited in rather than being spoken to over the gate. A Nissen hut with three Triumph Roadsters, and a very early Austin Seven with a serious tree up through the floor and out of the roof, stick in the memory. He told us stories of his past, including, as a child, walking to Gravesend for the 1897 celebrations for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

One night, on my way home, having sat at Key Street traffic lights on the A2, I pulled away, noticed the oil pressure gauge flicker upwards and then knock, knock, bang and I coasted to a halt. Three mile walk home, and then back the next day with my sister, her mini and a tow rope. Many of you will be familiar with the instruction to “keep the rope tight”, basically by letting the towed vehicle do the braking. Down the other side of the hill we were travelling faster than it had ever gone under its own power, and with brakes that took three goes to get passed for the MoT. My sister didn’t understand my panic.

I removed the cylinder head, only to find three pistons at top dead centre, two is the right number. The lubrication of these engines was called “spit and hope” whereby oil was sprayed at the rotating crankshaft which caught it in depressions in the crankshaft casting and then it worked its way to the bearings. The jets spraying the oil could block, that would cause a jump in oil pressure from its usual 5-8psi, which is what I saw and without oil a big end bearing had failed. Actually the bolts had failed, one in halves the other bent double, the rest were showing serious stress, as they were almost certainly overtightened. I have one still today, glued to a piece of wood as a momento.

A new learning experience then as I rebuilt the engine, and being 17 opened up the restrictive inlet and exhaust passageways within the engine to get more power. The damaged aluminium crankcase, where the con-rod had whacked it, was gently tapped back into shape, then body filler applied before a coat of shiny silver paint and it was as good as new(ish). Once reassembled we finally got it started by towing it down the road, and then I quickly sold it. £25 for the car and £10 for the spares – result.

Something with a real roof and a heater for the winter seemed a good idea and a black 1957 Morris Minor 1000, OMO 876, was bought cheaply. I drove this for over 18months, rebuilding and slightly enhancing that engine just before going to University in Birmingham to study Mechanical Engineering. Tony Young and I drove it to Scotland (to see my girlfriend) and back to run it in. Portable radio on the back parcel shelf fading in and out, and drifting further and further off Radio Luxembourg as we headed north up the M1 in the middle of the night.

I had learnt more about cars by practice, maintaining my sister’s Mini, and another couple for her friends. We discovered that her mini, 464 ML, had been re-imported from Jersey and was actually a very early 1959 car. Even so she taught me to do handbrake turns in it! I did clutch changes for friends parents and a few repairs on Ford 100Es that other friends had. The trouble I had with those was that reverse on their three-speed gearbox was where 1st gear was on the Morris – came close a couple of times at traffic lights.

Up to about age 13, I was good friends with a boy who lived two doors down, but we drifted apart, he off to Chatham Tech, me at Borden Grammar in Sittingbourne. One day we met outside as we came home from school, it was his 17th birthday that week and his father had found a Ford 100E for him as his birthday present. I had already passed my test and had the Austin for a couple of weeks, and with a full licence could supervise him with L plates. We drove miles and miles and while he learned were never stopped by the Police. When he broke his ankle I took over teaching his girlfriend to drive, rather scarily in her father’s Hillman Minx. This had a bench front seat, column gear change and the handbrake on the right hand side, so all I could do was panic. Couldn’t do that now, must be over 21 with 3 years experience to supervise.

One night we were woken by our neighbours tapping on our windows (bungalow by the way) as they had seen something going on by our garage, which was at the bottom of our long garden, facing Breach Lane to the side. Thieves had broken into the Tuck Inn opposite, stolen the safe, put it in a wheelbarrow that they found in the orchard behind the cafe, then wheeled it over the A2, down Breach Lane to our locked back gates. These they forced open, then broke into the garage and pulled my Morris out onto the drive. I never locked it when garaged, as I followed my father’s logic that if there were enough tools around to do damage, why tempt fate.

They had evidently got the safe into the front seat (2-door saloon) as it didn’t fit in the boot, then tried to start it. I had fitted a toggle switch on the dash, plain as day, and this interrupted the other side of the wiring to the ignition coil, not the switched side, so that “hot wiring” it would have no effect. The FP series ignition key could be turned with a screwdriver, as could most.

Probably annoyed at the delay they removed the safe, ripping the headlining in the process (never repaired, was the start of many jokes and curious looks). They then set about the safe with a handy pick axe that was in the garage, this woke the two neighbours to our left who turned up armed with pick handles. The thieves made off, the Police arrived with a dog unit, but he was unwilling to let the dog follow them as they had gone onto the railway embankment behind us, and third rails are not dog friendly. The Police borrowed the Morris for a couple of days then returned it covered in fingerprint powder. I actually had to wash it!

My sister’s new boyfriend was a mechanic who loaned her his car for some reason. This was a Ford Zodiac Mk2. Battleship grey, it sat low with wider wheels and had an understated look of speed. This was backed up by a modified engine (Raymond Mays head, unknown, non-standard camshaft, triple SU carburettors and a chromed rocker cover) The uprated brakes were servo assisted and inside it was re-trimmed with two bucket seats at the front rather than the bench seat and a floor change with overdrive. Raise the bonnet to check the oil in a garage and you had a crowd in no time. Unfortunately, before I could have a drive the boyfriend was replaced.

I was at University when my grandfather died. He left me some cash, and I was easily persuaded to invest some of it in a newer car, as the old Morris was not going to take being hammered up and down the M1, usually with the speedo right the way around to the fuel gauge, for much longer. I had joined Birmingham University Motor Club (an unfortunate set of initials) so something more sporty was ideal. A 3year old British Racing Green MG Midget Mk3. This remained standard apart from a Roll over bar. I didn’t compete in much motor sport, but did a fair bit of organising of autotests and 12car rallies, although my first marshalling effort found me needing a tow back from Wales (80+ miles) when a half shaft failed on the Morris.

My sister visited me early on in my time at Birmingham, but her long-suffering Mini got no further back than Coventry when she lost two gears. She limped it back to me then caught a train home. With it in the multi-storey car park at the Student’s Union a friend and I first disconnected the front subframe, then lifted the front of the car over the engine and front wheels and parked it neatly in the space behind. We then took the engine and gearbox out of the subframe, split the two and found that a small bolt had fallen out of a selector in the gearbox. A quick trip down into Selly Oak to Patrick Motors, new 9d bolt, and, as they say in the Haynes Manuals – reassembly is the reverse of dismantling (Note that you swear in different places!). This weekend activity attracted the security guys (called Vops by the students) who were actually very helpful.

Three of us shared a flat for the last two years of our course, one flat mate had started to build an autogyro as a school project. This was fully CAA checked and certificated as it was built, and just needed an engine, usually a modified VW Beetle engine was used. The owner was a member of the university air squadron and learnt to fly in Chipmunk trainers. He came from Gloucestershire and on his way to and from Birmingham had noticed a disused airfield with the runway still in fair condition. He got permission from the farmer to use it for an afternoon and we met him there with the autogyro on a trailer behind a borrowed Land Rover. A hand-held air speed indicator was taped to my car’s offside wing, and then the autogyro tied with a long rope to the roll over bar. We had a (very) primitive two-way cabled intercom, he using his RAF helmet. We had a great time, I had to drive at 50knots measured by a ball bouncing about in the indicator, while remaining straight, with another friend spotting from the passenger seat. It flew, actually it flew rather well, and once the car was in neutral he could actually slow me down and land with the rope tight.

The MG had an abnormal appetite for clutch release bearings, which were actually graphite rings, I changed three of them during my 15month ownership, and got quite good at driving without a clutch, and well practised at removing the engine, as the gearbox sits above the floor in a Midget.

My first summer was spent back home doing workshop training at Bowaters, Northfleet. The trainer was ex-RAF ground crew, and it came out that he had worked on the 617 Squadron Lancasters at Lossiemouth to prepare them for attacks on the Turpitz. Coincidentally my other flat mate’s father had been a navigator on those raids, and a teacher at my school was a Spitfire Photo Reconnaissance pilot for the same operation. Small world.

As with many students I was living beyond my means, so the MG had to go. I did a sort of reverse part exchange, and came away with a SAAB 96 and some money. This 1963 SAAB was the shape that Eric Carlsson had rallied successfully and had a very basic 850cc 3cylinder two stroke engine and many quirky and advanced features. The lever on the floor gave you freewheel – useful in slippery conditions with front wheel drive as when you lift off the power, the driven wheels regain grip. Seat belts were standard, through flow ventilation, aerodynamic bodywork with built-in roll over protection were just a few features, even if some unkind people thought that it looked like an upturned boat, and sounded like a washing machine/Lambretta. Unfortunately the drum brakes on this standard model were prone to fade when used hard, no wonder they did well on rallies, once they were rolling you couldn’t stop!

I bought another for spares, and in the pre-computer records age, would drive the one with the working engine, with the number plates from the one with the MoT and/or insurance. It was certainly water tight, as when stage marshalling a rally we got stuck in a ford that flowed in when the doors were opened, and we spent days getting the water out that was sloshing from side to side around corners.

I spent my second summer staying behind in Birmingham, this kept the flat occupied, but I needed an income. I went and started selling Encyclopedia Britannica, very badly. However I discovered that the other salespeople were generally mechanically incompetent and only too pleased to pay someone (me in this instance) to service and repair their cars. I also continued to put out huge numbers of leaflets using local kids. With Britannia at that time, you got 10% of the sale price and an extra £10 if you made your own lead. A good wage was £20 per week (well it was good to me!) and selling one set of books would nett this on commission, but by getting a good return on my leaflets, then giving them to proven salespeople in return for the £10 lead money, I was doing quite well.

The Australian manager at Britannia loved Jaguars. There was some arrangement whereby a person could take a car back to Oz as a personal import (I presume) once a year I seem to remember. So we went around auctions and scoured the small ads and bought him a 420, a beautiful blue Mk2 3.8, and an early fixed head E-Type. The latter two were taken off by his relatives. He then blew the head gasket on the 420, and I and another Britannia salesman went to Watford Gap services to rescue him and his family. We towed the Jag back with a hired van, I foolishly choosing to ride in the Jag – no power steering or servo assistance for the brakes, hard work. I replaced the head gasket, and had the cylinder head on the kitchen table in the flat to set up the valve clearances.

The non-flying flat mate had built himself a rally spec Mini Cooper S during the summer. With patches of filler and primer it looked a little shabby but was quite quick. A consistent handheld stopwatch time of about 7seconds to 60mph in 1972 was not bad going. I navigated him on a local rally around his home town of Grantham and we did quite well. With the mini given a coat of paint we entered a stage rally around Birmingham. Now all the timed bits were on private land so speeds were considerably up. We had great fun. I had duplicated the wiper, washer, horn and light switches into a panel in the passenger door pocket so Pete just had to drive. We broke the rear suspension, mended that outside a scrap yard, refitted the exhaust a couple of times, and nearly ran out of fuel. Doing 80+ along an old railway line, on the top of an embankment was an experience to remember.

One evening there was a knock at the door and standing there was a young lady who lived in a flat opposite, the owner of a pre-war Morris Eight convertible. She apologised for knocking but had seen various cars around, and was pleased to find that we were all final year engineering students, so could we tell her what was wrong with hers as it was “making a funny noise”. It had run its big end bearings and sounded like a machine gun in an echo chamber. I made a preliminary investigation and found that it had white metal bearings that needed to be cast in situ – prohibitively expensive at the time. However there was an interesting warehouse over at Aston selling all manner of bits and in there I found an almost complete side valve engine, brand new, which being in Birmingham had probably escaped from Longbridge twenty-odd years earlier. It was for an early Morris Minor and cheap, but a few scrapyard visits later we had a working engine. Mary was given the remains of the original engine and told that it must always go with the car.

I scrapped both SAABs when I left Birmingham in a hired Cortina estate.
Illegitimus nil carborundum

Offline conan

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Re: Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2017, 20:26:27 »
Wonderful stuff filmer01,especially liked the budgie story :)
To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Offline filmer01

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Cars, Trains, Guns and things
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2017, 18:32:57 »
The title refers to my major interests over the years. Rather than tell an absolutely chronological story, I thought to frame it around various strands which may intersect as they unfold, and enable me to add or clarify as I go.

I was born at 23 Maidstone Road, Rainham in 1951, when cars were not that common. However my mother always said that I stood up in my pram (one of those proper Silver Cross types) and pointing to one, said my first word “Car” - much to her annoyance, “Mum” being far and away the preferred utterance.

The “Austin of England” badge on the side of an A70 Hereford usually parked in the then dead-end of Thames Avenue sticks in my memory as we played around it, me in my red pedal car. My sister and I walked up the Maidstone Road to school at the top of Bettescombe Road in an old army camp of wooden huts that I now know had been an anti-aircraft battery. Me fascinated by any cars that we found on the way, a black Ford Mk1 Consul sticks in my mind as well as the Headmaster’s Jowett Javelin.

I started to acquire a modest collection of Dinky toys. An early memory is listening to “The Yellow Rose of Texas” on the radio and wondering where these rows of yellow taxis were. My Dinky taxi (Austin FX3?) was yellow, which attracted me to the song, as I only ever saw black ones. I was given this toy to play with when my Aunt visited with her own elderly Aunt in an Austin 10 all the way from Cornwall. The old lady was blind and did not spend any money on the car which was a dull matt green by now and the rear doors were tied together with rope. My 4foot 10.5 tall Aunt had blocks on the pedals.

We moved to Hartlip Hill, on the corner of Breach Lane and the A2, opposite The Tuck Inn transport cafe on April 1st 1958 it was total chaos as befits the date. Who these days would send their children to the new house by bus with the budgie in its cage covered in a cloth?

I now went to school in Sittingbourne. One term at Ufton Lane school, very frustrating because, as was the custom I was put into the middle ability class where I was so far ahead of the rest, never mind the previous basic surroundings, my old teachers had really done well. I quickly started making the 4 mile bus journey alone and noticed a strange car while waiting for the bus home. It was often there, I looked it up, a Facel-Vega, very rare, I was seriously hooked.

Barrow Grove school followed, the Headmistress at the time, Miss Findlay(?) drove a white Morris 1000. An American Nash station wagon driven by the parents of a girl younger than me (they were from Washington D.C.) certainly caught my attention, it had indicators, but white at the front and red at the rear not orange as ours. They did the school run, most unusual then, especially as she lived right next to Gore Court Cricket ground, where the road now runs, and the bus journey was simple.

My father was a lorry driver for NAAFI. His driving licence (the old red one) simply said “All Groups”. He never took a test, learning to drive my grandfather’s Bull Nose Morris Oxford in an orchard when 16 years old. Among other things, he had been a delivery driver pre-war (for International Stores), I still have the instruction book for the Model T van. Although 30years old when war broke out he was called up into the Royal Signals and spent time as a driver for a senior officer for part of the war and at some point had done a PSV course which included taking a double decker bus out onto a skid pan, to his great delight.

I often went with Dad on a Saturday, his half day, being picked up about 5am at the top of Berengrave Lane. If I was canny there would be samples of the cream cakes from the trays in the lorry from the nice ladies at our various stops. There were many, probably on different routes but I mostly remember the coast runs, Dunkirk’s aerials, Canterbury at sunrise, passing Manston watching for planes, Old Park and Connaught Barracks, Walmer and the toll bridge at Sandwich. I remember having to stay in the cab on many occasions, watching a pipe band rehearse somewhere, looking at rows of sand coloured vehicles (ready for Suez?) and most importantly, us driving into Dover Castle through the main gate.

We stopped early one morning and looked in the showroom in Canterbury displaying the latest MG record holder. The difference between petrol and diesel engines was explained to me, and demonstrated by driving through large puddles on the road above Dover cliffs while my father sang “Great Balls of Fire”.

Highlight of the drive home would be a stop at the Welcome Cafe as we left Thanet, it even had a pinball machine.

Etched into my memory is coming down the hill from Judd’s Folly near Ospringe on the A2 on the way home, passing the Doddington turn, and Dad getting quite excited as a little red car came towards us. Our first encounter with a Mini.

However a lorry driver’s wage did not finance a car so he remained a motor bike rider, and when we moved had descended to a Norman Nippy as cheap transport to work. This Ashford built device was to counter the Honda 50s but failed. One of the sit-up-and-beg Fords would occasionally be hired from Greens Garage. Luckily, my grandfather, with whom we lived, felt that he needed better regular transport than the number 26 bus could provide and bought a car, Dad to be the driver.

This was a brand new 1959 Humber Hawk,617 FKP, and when first bought I was small enough that I could sit in the middle of the bench front seat with my feet on the transmission tunnel, a column change kept the gear lever out of my way. My mother called it “Harry” from the character in the song Widdecombe Fair.

Dad subscribed to “Practical Motorist” and did all his own servicing, with my help, of course. I still have, and use, his ramps and Wanner grease gun.

The car was never used to ferry children about unless part of a family group, going to church on Sunday or to the coast. I was in the church choir, but choir practice and Scouts were either by bus or bike, a mile on the A2, pre M2, in the dark in winter. Should have been scary, but I enjoyed it, practising car recognition by lamp configuration, both from oncoming and as they passed me.

Because my father became unwell, he could no longer manage either a Thames Trader lorry, or the Humber so Granddad bought a Hillman Imp in 1963. It was very much the untested mark one with a notoriously weak clutch, hydraulic throttle linkage that would often mean pumping the throttle pedal and an automatic choke that stuck. His did not suffer from the intermixing of oil and water that many did, thankfully. These early ones had a Knock-kneed appearance from the front, as the front wheels were wider apart at the top than the bottom – positive camber. Allegedly this was because the headlamps were too low (there is a legal minimum) and jacking up the suspension gave the small difference needed.

My elder sister had followed her maths degree with a career in early computing, then got married when I was nine. She had dabbled with a scooter but after marriage they bought an early 50’s Hillman Minx. Just to be different, it was left hand drive, reimported from Belgium. Her husband spent many hours under it, even fitting a heater!! I enjoyed this car, because I could sit in the right hand front seat, and wave at other motorists, who saw an 11 year old without his hands on a steering wheel – huge fun to watch their reactions.

The younger of my two sisters started work for the school meals service as a trainee cook when she was 16. When she was 18 or 19 she bought an Austin A40 Somerset. Being in pale blue, it was christened Bluebell. I was allowed to shunt the Somerset to and fro on the drive and generally help with its upkeep. Her then boy friend had a Mini, which she eventually bought from him, and the prospective purchasers of the Somerset turned up earlier than arranged. So I sold them the car, for £25, Di had thought to only get £15, she was so pleased that we split the extra £10.

I had finally got properly mobile a couple of months after my 16th birthday with the purchase of an Ariel Arrow SS 250cc motor bike. My mother was suitably horrified but my father just jumped on it and disappeared for half an hour.

Unfortunately, in the middle of my O-Levels, I hit the rear of a Mini that pulled out of Church Lane in Newington right in front of me, and then stuttered almost to halt. I hit it square on and poked my helmeted head through the rear window, much to the surprise of the driver’s mother in law who was seated in the back. He got prosecuted for Due care and Attention, and I got a full pay out on the bike, and kept the wreck.

An Ariel Leader was found in Upchurch with a duff engine, and the two became one over the summer, a very ugly, half painted, hybrid. I built it in the shed, but then needed two burly guys to help me get it out on its rear wheel, as it had gone in in bits.

During that summer I worked on the pumps at Farthing Corner services. This was attendant service, so Sunday evening shift London bound there would be a dozen people serving and two supervisors taking turns on the till. Needing a light job Dad was working as a supervisor, and we occasionally worked together. What was most fun were the variety of cars and drivers. A quiet Sunday morning might bring the usual pre-war Bentley, whose driver dipped the tank with a carefully calibrated broom handle, then it would get busy with day trippers. You got very canny about Jaguars, those engines got seriously hot, and having “check oil daily” burned into your hand from the dipstick was not a good look, besides being painful. A Morris Isis stands out, a 6cylinder engine stuffed into a 1950’s Oxford, rare then, probably for the best,if the weight of that engine had the expected effect on the already soggy handling.

Hidden petrol fillers were popular, the spring loaded numberplate on a Mark2 Ford Consul being surely designed to remove fingers...

One quiet sunny midweek day, a little white convertible car pulled up, I went to serve it and saw large “NSU” labels on the doors. While I was filling the tank the driver popped the front bonnet to retrieve his coat and wallet, then opened the rear “engine cover” only for it to also be a boot. Hang on, I thought, where is the engine? So I asked, and it was under the rear luggage area, it was an experimental twin rotor Wankel engine, dwarfed by the usual ancillaries of dynamo, starter, carburettor etc. It was installed into the NSU Prinz Spider as a real life test bed for the larger engine to be used in the Ro80 Saloon. He gave me a load of literature about the single rotor usually used in the car, I was fascinated.

At Christmas Dad died. Within a couple of weeks Granddad had sold the Imp, to Green’s Garage along the road. I had to fiddle the automatic choke to get it to go before they came, and we all thought that was the last we would see of 3146 KP. Not so, a few weeks later and it was parked outside my school, one of my teachers had bought it. That was bit painful at the time.

However shortly after this I passed my bike test in Maidstone, and only a week or so later was 17. I had my first driving lesson in the dark that February evening, in a brand new Ford Escort, the first I had even seen, and six weeks later passed my test in Gillingham. The only traffic lights that I found in Gillingham at that time were at the junction outside the bus station, but they were still covered in sacking, and not yet working. The Canterbury Street/Watling Street junction was interesting, gave a whole new meaning to “the quick and the dead”!

Idly talking about it at school, I was offered an Austin Seven that the older brother of one of our class wanted to sell. £10 – how could I refuse? It was an open 2 seater “Special” looking a bit MGish, but it was a car – my car! 
Illegitimus nil carborundum

 

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