“Tell me where all past years are” requested the poet John Donne, although the prefacing line which urges the reader to “Go and catch a falling star” suggests that no expectations beyond the rhetorical should be made.
I have managed to fill 32 past years working with vintage and classic cars and quite a few more years before that with a very pleasant childhood full of ancient cars. Classic motoring has changed over those years: Going back to the 1970’s the scarcity of replacement parts made running these cars harder. There were no batches of CNC machined parts made available by spares schemes and expensive “one off” replacements were often the order of the day. Despite this, many enthusiasts persevered with their cars and brought them up to reliable condition and then proceeded to use them extensively – many of my father’s customers in those days did not own a modern car and the vintage car was used for everything from fetching the shopping to motor sport events or continental touring. Buying a vintage or classic usually meant taking on vast amounts of work and expense and auction purchases were for the very brave who could afford all the nasty surprises afterwards.
Strangely those of us who use our old cars extensively now seem to be in the minority among enthusiasts although it has never been easier to keep the cars on the road and I am quite sure that the average condition of these cars is far better than it ever used to be years ago. It has just been my pleasure to fettle a 1935 Austin for a present day “Vintagent” who has taken the spirit of John Donne’s advice to , “Ride ten thousand days and nights” and has returned in the Austin some thousand miles and less than a week later.
The story also rather shows how much better it can be to purchase at auction in modern times: The little Austin was purchased unseen and required only a service. For safety’s sake we decided to fit better lights to the rear with LED bulbs.
Jiri Danquah, the proud new owner duly arrived with modern car and trailer to transport the car from the Malvern Hills to Stanstead where the tour was to begin and there the true test of mettle for both driver and car began: The Austin was too narrow to fit the modern transporter trailer and with true vintage spirit the modern car was abandoned and the drive commenced over night by 6 volt headlights to Stanstead airport where the rest of the party was to be collected. The remainder of the tour is best described by Messrs. google who thoughtfully
mapped the whole thing in real time, including a trip to spectate on the London to Brighton rally before another overnight drive back to Worcestershire.
On the right is a clear picture of how reliable old cars should be, the condition one would like to be able to purchase at auction and how true enthusiasts like to drive ancient motor vehicles. Splendid fun for all, although I suspect that the Austin may be due for another service….