Memories of vehicles from our past…

It’s been a while since we blogged but it’s a bit of a quiet time car wise, Mario is safely tucked away from the inclement weather and the new season’s events still seem a while away (although it is less 5 weeks to the Goodwood 73rd Members Meeting). Plus we have had most of our spare time taken up with organising the Haslemere Classic Car Show & Tour!

However while looking through some old photo’s I got to thinking about the cars from our past…

As a child my father was car-mad following formula one and rallying but with his own transport had rather dubious taste. He has been a ‘Ford’ man for his entire driving life (and while we’re about it always used Michelin Tyres and Shell Fuel) starting with a Ford Prefect before I was born. After I arrived he moved on to a Ford Anglia, this was crashed into and rolled when I was a baby – asleep in the back, I was handed out through the broken rear window into the arms of a passing woman who nearly dropped me as she thought I was dead! In fact I slept through the whole experience and have just a fleeting memory of a Doctor telling my Mother to keep me awake in the hospital. The Anglia was brought back from the insurance company and repaired but my Mum never liked it again and so it was passed on to my paternal Grandparents who kept it for years and I enjoyed many happy days out in the back.

My Dad progressed through a series of Fords – White Cortinas which I remember on holidays in Cornwall and the endless telling-off’s for filling them with sand and wildlife! He progressed to an Escort Ghia, pictured here in Wales in 1978 with a ‘glamorous’ 15 year old model. In a very 70’s bronze with a black vinyl roof, the personal numberplate came from the previous owner believed to be the actor Terence Rattigan.scan101Dad went on to have a Mid-life Crisis and owned a bright red Ford Capri before settling down to more mundane Orion (which was Stolen) and a Focus. With this rather restricted experience of cars one could wonder how my own love of cars developed but my Mother and maternal Grandfather, who lived with us, more than made up for Dad.

Grandad, who I adored had a very varied selection of what now would be considered ‘desirable’ everyday classics, a Wolsley, Morris Minor, Triumph Dolomite, a gorgeous primrose Yellow Triumph Herald, an Allegro, a Peugeot 104 and a Triumph 1300, which the steering wheel came off while driving down the A3!

My mother who, while I was small, transported me around on the back of her bicycle upgraded to an A30 when I started school, I have very fond memories of piling in the back with, what was probably an illegal number of friends and setting off for days at the seaside, having to park on the flat as the handbrake wasn’t very good. I also recall waking up one morning to find the A30 up on bricks as the wheels had been stolen, and no my parents lived in a ‘good area’. The A30 was upgraded to a white Mini Countryman ‘Snow White’ – room for more kids in the back and then an Anglia Estate, as we got bigger.

By the time I reached 17 I was desperate to learn to drive, I’d already been taught the basics on the old army camp up the road and on the morning of my 17th birthday proudly set off with my Mum in our Fiat 850 – called Tetley as it had 1000 little perforations, if you are old enough you will understand!old-scans085Poor Tetley’s perforations got the better of her and she didn’t last long and I took my test in a Ford Escort 1300GT, the shame of a two Ford family. By this time James and I were an item, he’d been car obsessed since he was born, amazing as his family only saw cars as transport and had to buy a Ladybird book to keep up with his interest. He started big with a Maserati 250F..IMG_4891…but by the time we were dating has ‘progressed to a Gilera Motorbike, this was incredibly noisy and I could hear him arriving from a mile away!IMG_1389

We both had a love of cars and used to visit shows and events. James’ first car was a Mini, this was followed up by an Avenger which he wrote off and a Ford Cortina with a Webasto sunroof and a brown fur interior – you would have thought this would have put me off but it was the early 80’s!

The roll call continued with a Fiesta and then a Renault 5 Gordini, this was a lovely car, fast – I drove at over 100mph for the first time! We took it on holiday to Europe.

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The Gordini was sold to fund the purchase of his first real classic, a 1961 3.8 Mark 2 Jaguar. Again we took it all over the place to lots of shows and it was a lovely car, although it did catch fire once on Hindhead Hill! Pre-mobile by the time somebody had driven to call the fire brigade James had put it out with a blanket, I of course was paranoid that it would blow up like all the cars in the Movies. The Jag was used as a wedding car for our oldest friends wedding in 1988, James as Best Man had to be at the church so he had to intrust the job of driving the bride to church to my Dad, I don’t know who was most relieved to see the car show up James or the groom!scan099

James continued with more Mini’s, some for the road and some for Racing and Sprinting and a 1275GT, rolled by his cousin on one memorable boxing day when they popped out for a ‘quick spin’ returning about three hours later on a tow truck. Plus of course he had numerous cars for rallying which I wrote about in the last post and another bike – a Triumph Bonneville.scan095Scan 13 Scan 19

When I was at college James brought me my first classic a 1950’s Austin A35 in Speedwell Blue, I loved it and we went all over the place on A35 club events. On the way back from Longleat we had severe overheating problems and the head gasket had failed, this resulted in us taking the car to Kent to use a friends garage and completely overhauling the engine. This was my introduction to being ‘Mechanics Mate’, being given all the dirty jobs and I still wasn’t put off.old-scans038old-scans190 scan090 scan091 scan092 scan093old-scans047-mid80s scan094I loved the A35 and it was great fun, however I eventually was given a company car and had a new shiny Peugeot 205. This was the first of a series of small Peugeots and I still have a, now rather old, 206GTI as an everyday car today.scan096The convenience of a new car and with our time taken up with houses and jobs the poor A35 was left at my parents and needed rather a lot of work to get it back up to scratch. So in 1994 when we decided to buy Regie a Renault 4CV convertible from the South of France we popped the A35 on the trailer and gave it to some friends in St Paul de Vence, it’s probably still in the garage we popped it into 20 years ago.scan097 scan098We took Regie home and restored him as per our previous post, then around 1996 James popped off mysteriously to France and came home with a Citroen H-van or ‘Grumpy’ truck. I’d been coveting one of these for years but it was a complete surprise when he turned up with one off the ferry at 6am. We had great fun with the truck putting upholstered bench seats in the back so large groups of us could go out and picnic at events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed. We also took the truck on one of the Footman James Retro Runs to Silverstone where we got to do a lap of the track – dressed as french farmers with a Pantomime cow in the back Silverstone had seen nothing like it and we won the C&SC Spirit of the Event award, I believe that the historic lap was captured on video, I’d love to see it if anyone has a copy.retrorun059Unfortunately the Grumpy Truck really needed too much work doing to it and we had neither the time or money so it was used as a ‘shed’ for a number of years until it was eventually sold for spares.

The next classic was  of course Mario followed by Nippy the Subaru 360, both of which are still in the family and have of course Regie and are all here to stay. So who knows what the future will bring, you’ll have to keep reading the blog…
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Summer continues… on the Thames, at Silverstone and Goodwood

This summer has been good, the sun has shone and there have been plenty of things to go to…

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to go to Henley to the Thames Traditional Boat Rally. This event is a huge display of traditionally built craft with the very finest examples of  boatbuilding skills on display. There are around 200 craft on the water from slipper stern launches like the one we were on, gentlemen’s day launches, steam launches, river steamers, sailing craft, vintage speedboats, skiffs, rowing boats, punts, unpowered and electric canoes, right through to vintage sea-going cruisers and many of the famous Dunkirk Little Ships.

The boats take it in turn to parade in classes along the rowing course. There are also pre-50’s cars on display and vintage bicycles. We had a lovely lunch on the boat and then went for a trip down through Henley and then up to Temple Island. It was a stunning day, hot and sunny with loads of beautiful boats with lots of gleaming teak and brass.

DSC01750 DSC01761 DSC01771 DSC01789 DSC01798 DSC01807 DSC01843 DSC01862 DSC01869 DSC01931 DSC01951 DSC01964 The following weekend we went to the Classic Festival at SIlverstone, again without Mario. This annual event is huge but personally I find it a bit low on atmosphere, Silverstone is so spread out and you have to get a bus between the national and international pits. For my personal choice the displays have far too many modern cars and although the actual racing is always good and very competitive it is difficult on a modern GP circuit to get a good vantage point. The cars racing included historic formula one and Group C endurance However we had gone to see a friend race his Lola in the Peter Gethin Trophy for F2 vs F5000, which meant that for one race as ‘Team members’ we could watch from the International Pit Wall. This gave us a great view and as you are so close to the cars as they come down the straight you get a real impression of the speed they are doing.DSC02001 DSC02016 DSC02018 DSC02046 DSC02060 DSC02089 This weekend Mario finally got an outing! It was Thoughbred Sunday at Goodwood Breakfast Club for pre 66 vehicles to get into the spirit of the Revival. We had a pass and so after a horribly early start on a Sunday got in easily and were parked in one of the paddocks. There were a lot of cars there and again it was a lovely sunny morning.

As soon as we stepped out of the car the normal crowd assembled around Mario, loads of people took cards so hopefully even more people will be reading this and liking him on Facebook

I felt rather guilty as I was rather busy on Saturday so Mario didn’t get the promised pre-event pamper. He looked rather grubby to me but his fans didn’t seem to notice! There are a few jobs and some tidying up we need to do before the Revival in September. We are getting excited about it already and there is a surprise afoot so watch this space…

After some sustenance (a bacon buttie) we had a good wander around, a good collection of cars including lots of Aston Martins celebrating their centenary. The theme did seem rather confusing though with quite a smattering of modern sports cars but what the hell everyone was having a good time and as always there were lots of friends to catch up with.
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