This page is a bit of a “my cars blog”. Hope it’s not too boring.
My first motorbike, a BSA Bantam D3? Registration 147 RF
First owned at 12 years old when living in a lock keepers Cottage where I used to ride it in local fields and down the towpath. Later the mudguards and lights were refitted (as in the picture) and I used it on the road as soon as I legally could. Best modification on this was the fitting of a 6 volt ignition coil to give a better more reliable spark.
Next along was this Vespa, registration 176 BSM, they said don’t get a scooter, they were right. It was ok, but when cornering the gearbox used to rub on the road, so much that a hole was worn into it and it leaked oil. I didn’t keep it long.
This was a James 175cc 2 stroke, not much power but it looked good. Fell off it once in the rain when going fishing, basket, rods, and all. Slid straight across a busy A road and only hit the kerb the other side! Trouble was the electrics shorted out and the bike was about to go up in smoke, so I ripped off the battery wires to stop it, and suffered burns across both hands. Hot wired it to get home and patch it up.
Then came a Triumph Cub, this was more like it, a 4 stroke British bike.
The picture isn’t my bike, I’m sure I have a pic somewhere and will add it when it surfaces. It was a great bike, fond memories of Jill and I going to Market Drayton to see Laurie Richards, it’s only a round trip of about 60 miles but it seemed further!
My first 4 wheels looked like this, although I have borrowed this photo (many thanks Rick) from www.oldclassiccar.co.uk
It’s an 850cc Morris Minor “split-screen” with semaphore indicators that swing out from the B pillar just behind the front doors, often they wouldn’t swing out and a bash with a clenched fist from inside was needed, disconcerting for passengers if you leant over and hit the car! I overhauled the engine on mine in 1967 for £17.00 which included a re-bore and crank grind! That was 2 weeks wages then.
My MKI Cortina. Originally a 1200cc pre-cross-flow. But later had a 1650cc cross-flow with twin Webber 40DCOE carbs. It was a flyer. Metal-flake paintwork, Cibie spots, Lotus bumpers, Lotus suspension. Same wheels that were on my Anglia.
Having Autocrossed and rallied ( see Motorsport page ) this MK I Escort Lotus Twin Cam, HRE 222K became my road car for a while. But I was getting married and needed all the cash available so sadly it had to go. Pictured here with my Best Man, Kevin Broadhurst. RIP Kev, who left us in 2017.The car was modelled on the Ford World Cup Rally Escorts of 1970, with the extra bars to the roof. It always gathered a crowd of rally enthusiasts wherever it went. Picture, Summer 1972.
This picture came to light of the MK I Cortina GT we had for a while. This picture was taken as we were moving into our first house in November 1972.
This was a bit slower than the Twin Cam! but still great fun. It’s a MKI Escort 1300cc GT. Bought it quite cheaply with a bad miss-fire which turned out to be no worse than a broken HT lead. The headlights were badly corroded and the joke was that the indicators were brighter than the headlamps. This also got Rallied a bit, even winning a Car Club night rally with it. Most remembered for being the car I picked Jill up from the Maternity Hospital in with our first Daughter, Jennifer, in 1977.
This was a much needed “works van” for the garage. Something that anyone could drive and fetch parts in from wherever. Jill used it on many occasions to fetch all sorts of spares from all over the midlands. She would have at least one of the girls with her in a carry-cot strapped to the front seat. Thanks Jill, it couldn’t have been easy.
My first accident damaged rebuild project, sadly the only photo that has surfaced so far. This was taken in Wales on our first outing in it. I sold it to a customer shortly afterwards. It’s obviously Wales because it’s raining! As I remember Jill had packed a picnic for us but it wasn’t ‘car rug in a field’ weather. Our dog Jodie was with us.
There was a Ford Corsair V4 around here at sometime, although I can’t find a picture of it, I borrowed this pic. I bought it at auction for £37.50 as it had been stored outside during a bad winter and the engine core plugs had blown. Also the Silver Fox paintwork had peeled badly and it looked terrible. But I knew it was good despite it’s looks. Re-sprayed and cleaned up it went really well. I remember selling it to a friend at Lloyds for £350.00 a year later.
MKII Escort Estate. This was an 1100cc ex Redifusion car. I repainted it and fitted an 1860cc cross-flow on 40s. My favourite Cibie Oscar spotlights, alloys etc. It was frighteningly fast for it’s day. Most useful were the removable signs that covered the long side windows. I had RPM on them. We kept this for a while when we moved to Devon.
Cortina MK II Savage 3000cc V6
We owned this for over 25 years between 1977 and 2003 covering all the time with RPM and for along time in Devon.
I rebuilt it a couple of times and it ended up with Turret shock absorbers at the rear with Bilstien shocks. Bilstien front shocks, rack and pinion steering, auto gearbox, Capri 3.0 rear axle, but it still looked ordinary which surprised motorists when we overtook them up-hill while towing a caravan or trailer. Came to me with the registration number AFF 900 which, as the car grew older looked out of place so I sold that and re-registered it with the correct G reg black plates. Both of our daughters grew up with it in the family and couldn’t believe it when I said it had to go. It was expensive to run as 22 mpg was about average, and although quite a fast car, modern small standard cars were just as fast. FEATURED IN RETROFORD MAGAZINE ISSUE 40 JULY 2009
My first re-shell in Devon. This plucky little 1100cc Fiesta MKII proved to be one of the most reliable cars yet. I sold it locally and carried on looking after it for the new owner even when it had been round the clock twice!
(Cortina in the background).
Next to be re-shelled was this 1.4 Escort MKIV. More room in this for the growing family. Great car, holidayed in Holand with it and realised when we got home that the rear number plate read 874 instead of 847, oops!
Originally black, this Orion 1.6 OHC was re-shelled because the front had been sliced off, in fact it was just the headlights, bumper and radiator that had been taken off from what looked like the sort of accident that occurs when easing out of a narrow street and a vehicle running across the front. It still ran ok and drove fine, so it was an easy repair.
This was nice, a 1.6 Escort Estate again re-shelled. None of the damaged cars I bought looked too bad but it was easier to re-shell than mess about getting chassis parts fitted, having to jig the shell etc. it also meant that I was able to add soundproofing, rust-proofing, extra lights etc.
The only hate on this car was that it came with an automatic gearbox which juddered like mad. So bad in fact that I took it to Ford and they fitted a new gearbox free. It was ok afterwards.
Next along was this MK6 1.8i Ghia Escort. It had only 1100 miles on the clock
when I bought it, and had been rolled over. All the glass was broken and the front suspension badly damaged. a new shell fully painted with doors and bonnet straight from Fords Body production line and it was good as new in no time. We kept this for too long really and sold it in 2005 after covering 120,000 miles. This came with us when we moved house and became a workhorse for a while as we were doing our Barn conversion which took 18 months before we could move in.
Our current car, a Focus 2.0 Zetec Ghia Estate. this was a re-shell, although it could possibly have been repaired, but it’s nice to know it’s perfectly straight. It’s a 2000 year car but had the face-lift headlights, bumpers and roof bars fitted during the rebuild. despite the engine size it’s very economical and so far totally reliable.
I’m keeping an eye open for my next project.
As well as the above private cars I’ve repaired since moving to Devon, I have re-shelled another half dozen or so for friends and relations. Normally there is a reasonable margin in doing them and if the right damaged car is bought there’s a couple of years before the normal deprecation in value kicks in.
Ok, so I like Fords!