Saturday, 5 December 2009

Camp as a row of tents.

Tried this out recently, on short term loan from Nene Overland. The Ford Ranger was boring, but did the trick and the Camper that dropped into the back was most comfortable. The boys and I lit a fire and cooked up some grub. White wine and beers cooled in the stream and we had a jolly night round the camp fire while the rest of the Country watched something called ‘X Factor’, whatever that is. It was raining a tad, but who cares. Good clean fun.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The Goodwood Revival 2009.

My first visit to the Goodwood Revival Meeting and what a spectacle! About 90% of the capacity crowd were in costumes from 1940’s to 1960’s. Dressed in polite clothing, people were most polite! So many interesting cars one became rather dismissive of anything not mouth watering. My favourites in the car park were the two Messerschmitt’s and the Bedford Camper Van. I could go on and on. A great day thanks to a free tickets from my pal Rod, the Photoshop Guru.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

My other car's an old 4x4 too.

Always a thrill to get an MOT certificate. Dug out of it’s resting place of six months in my lock up, persuaded to start, tyres pumped up and £1.15 lavished on a new exhaust gasket, fitted after dinner one night. A pleasant trundle up to a remote garage in Derbyshire where the owner races classic bikes. A thorough test of the few things on an old Land Rover that apply in such tests and Bob’s your uncle! He even commented how good it was to drive. A new ‘Tax Exempt’ disk in the windscreen and away we go for another year. The bike in the picture is a stripped down CB 350. Very successful apparently.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Ashby Folville Sept 09.

An early departure from the City saw me parked, in the Jeep, on the hallowed turf of Ashby Folville Cricket Club at 5.45. 10 minutes later the field was full and others had to park in the field opposite. The usual eclectic mix of bikes and cars, but a delightful Messerschmitt took my fancy behind the pub. I had one of these in 1969 and made the colossal mistake of selling it, running and with an MOT, for fifteen quid! This one would be worth about £9,000 now. Mine, as any expert will see, was the earlier KR 175. That's a 16 year old me with eye wide shut snapped by my Dad on a new Polaroid camera. The big Yank Tank was built of steel that, even without paint, was so thick it will never rust. A group of us stayed until about 9.00 pm, by which time it was dark and a bit chilly. A brisk dash south on the B6047 was most rewarding. No screen, eyes streaming teeth full of flies from grinning too much, then overtaken by The Thunderbug which disappeared very quickly leaving nothing more than a whiff of Casrol ‘R’ diminishing roar of big V twin. Good fun!

Friday, 28 August 2009

On any Sunday.

The annual VSCC meeting at Mallory Park and a chance to see Edwardian racing cars, racing. Fantastic! I am always impressed by how these leviathans are kept in competitive running order. The 1907 Grand Prix Delage was quick by any standards topping the ton on the Stebbe Straight and lapping in 1 minute 12 seconds. The pits displayed a good selection of quality corduroy trousers too, as old chaps fettled old engines on a sunny August afternoon. The low mileage Renault 4 was for sale. We thought £3500 was a tad optimistic, but it was lovely. ‘Mick’ on 07711 218917 if you’re interested. I resisted, which felt odd.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Algarve classics.

Two rather quaint ‘i-spy’s’ whilst in The Algarve last week. In the late 60’s and early 70’s the Honda N360 and later N600 (This model) were the Japanese giant’s first attempt at a mass produced car and were in manufactured until 1972 along with the far sportier S600/800. This was a gem and appeared un-restored and in everyday use, though ‘enthusiast’ owned according to various badges in the screen. The climate would have helped maintain it, but a secret squeeze of its wheel arches revealed the use of quite thick steel (Engineers technical term). Some panels were plastic to save weight. Autocar’s test back in 1968 recorded a top speed of 77 mph, yet only 36 mpg. They were £589 on the road - £28 more than the Mini. That would have been a good week’s wages for a professional back then. The chap with the moped pitched up each day to flog his stuff, then pottered home again. Lovely little two stroke engine and beautiful sculptured cowling. It had the look of a one owner from new machine and I wanted it.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

A brace of Deaux Chevaux.

Fumbling around in the fields and farms that lurk slightly to the southeast of the Millau suspension bridge last week, I was trying to find the perfect spot for a photograph of Norman Foster’s masterpiece, when I stumbled across two of Andre Citroen’s masterpieces from five decades ago. Hard to believe that such barn finds still exist, but there before me on 27th July 2009 were an early 1950’s 2CV and a late 50’s - early 60’s example, ripe and ready to be discovered by some maniac who likes these things. I’ve owned two. Both endless trouble so you can keep ‘em for me. No. I didn’t ask the farmer if they were up for grabs. He never showed his visage, and no, I didn’t poke about underneath to see just how rotten they were. Google maps is lagging behind a bit as they don’t show the completed bridge, but I have marked with a bold 20 point arrow exactly where the barn is in the village of Issis. Good luck you brave enthusiasts. May the best man win!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

What a waste.

The Jeep sits here under a fifteen quid Tesco gazebo and all it seems to do is rain. I drove it from Kibworth to Leicester last Friday and got soaked. The gazebo does a valiant job, but the sides of the top buckle with the weight of the water, so there is a permanent puddle in both foot wells. The canvas seats seem to do a marvellous job of deflecting the water and are not, by a miracle, soaked through. Mid July and I should be taking it for a spin in the country. Possibly picking up a few chums and partaking of a pint. Bloody English weather! Forecast is the same all week. Think I’ll go for a pint anyway. Timothy Taylor's beckons.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Way Ahead.

Last week I went to the DVD Show at Milbrook Proving Ground. Milbrook was conceived and built by Vauxhall in their heyday and is now used by most UK manufacturers (Do we still have any?). I haven’t a clue what DVD stands for, but will have to find out sharpish because I have to write a 1200 word commentary on it for 4x4 Magazine pronto. Anyway. This is the Jeeps Grandson and mighty impressive it is too. Built in Devon by Supacat it is powered by a 6.7 litre Cummins diesel engine - American. It is capable of 80 mph, off road and is an awesome piece of kit all round! You heard it here first, but when these are being flogged off at some Army Surplus sale, bag one. Hope I’ve not given too many secrets away. Who’s that at the door now?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Just for Ron.

There’s one left!! back in the seventies, Ron and I worked together and the company had a pool of dire seventies cars. One of which was a Hillman Avenger a bit like this. Others in the fleet comprised a pair of Austin 1300’s and an Austin Maxi - the one with the seats that folded down to make a bed. Quite useful when one was in one’s 20’s! Our challenge was to drive them as fast as possible and all would show over 100 mph on the clock (probably 75 in reality) None achieved more than 20 mpg, which always surprised the transport manager. I can confess now that I did have the Maxi airborne for a good two car lengths once, over the hump back bridge near Market Bosworth. Sorry.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

There's just a small bag round the back.....

Not quite the roll I had in mind for the Jeep, but after the Pick Everard ‘PE in the Park’ event held at Leicester Grammar School last Saturday, I seem to have volunteered to take away the rubbish. Fortunately it was well wrapped and nothing oozed out. The Jeep did make an excellent toy for small children to play in. At most stages of the day there were at least four kids in it pretending to conquer the World. Great fun on a hot afternoon.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

All you really need.

I photographed this back in January in the market square of Ben Ghardana, a dusty little shit hole in Tunisia, just before the Libyan border. Looking at it earlier today It represented such a simple and uncluttered life I was moved to print it out, frame it, and stick it up on the wall for all to see. It terms of fulfilling it’s role in life this bicycle represents total efficiency at minimum cost. It probably looked exactly like this ten years ago and will look exactly like it again in another ten years. Lovely.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

There is still hope.

A chilly evening yesterday with the wind coming direct from Siberia at a pace fast enough to prevent it picking up any north European warmth. This did not put three of us climbing into the Jeep, sans screen, to head off to Ashby Folville for the monthly gathering of the sane. Preparation included getting the front wheels balanced (big difference) and finishing the stencilled number plates for that original military, if it doesn’t move, paint it, look. A couple of stills here and a video of surely the coolest car there, Mark Walker’s 4.2 litre GN Thunderbug. I have seen this racing at a couple of VSCC events and believe me, it doesn’t hang about. Have sympathy with his passenger as she eases herself into the bottom shaped, hand beaten aluminium seat for the ride of her life!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Cheap thrills.

With freakish regularity, my Honda C90 has just passed it’s MOT again. Not even a ‘You may need a new flange sprocket next time mate’. Just a straight forward pass. At £29 that will be the most expensive annual expenditure on the ultra reliable Honda. Tax is £15 and insurance is £20, (tacked onto my ‘big’ bike insurance). The petrol tank holds just £3.50’s worth and that seems to last at least a month. As it’s a sunny morning I am about to fire it up and ride into town to deliver some work. I will be there and back on the bike faster than the there only journey in the car. Good fun.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Barn find Lamborghini.

A flight over to ‘Comboland’ last weekend promised a glorious walk in the hills of Piedmonte. ‘The views will be spectacular’ promised Ron. The walk, organised by the Club Alpino Italiano was a circular hop around five Medieval Towers at the villages of, Monastero, Scarampi, Olmo, Roccaverno and Vengore. A total of 32 kms for the real walkers and 18 km for us feeble, booze soaked Englishmen, who took a coach up to the first village, Scarampi. Sadly the weather was so foul that even at the foot of each tower we could barely make out it’s top, shrouded in mist and rain. The meal and copious quantities of red wine and the end more than made amends and I had the dubious honour of winning a generous hamper of local produce for travelling the furthest distance to compete. After the thrill of the ‘barn find’ Lamborghini, Ron and I suffered the humiliation of being overtaken by a 72 year old, who ran the full distance, gave advise on the route to the second oldest man on the walk, caped in red, who strode ahead at a brisk pace and finally, drowned in red my name appeared in lights at the end scrawled on an old cardboard box!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Viva Las Vagas.

I saw this last week. How many of these can be left? The whole generation of seventies cars and vans seems to have become extinct. Not a great loss, but odd how earlier motors have hung around far longer. My mate Rich Dunnil had one like these in the late seventies. It was brush pained black, had a length of 4x2 timber as a bumper and front wings made from an old fridge. They looked rather Jeep like.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

They start them young these days.

Teddy, my oldest Grandson turned 12 earlier this month and was, at last, able to get a competition license to race with the Pennine Auto Grass Club in the 12 to 16 class. Much time had been spent preparing the blue Mini over the last few weeks building up to the BIG DAY last Sunday. I was delighted to be able to be stood shivering at the side of an oval of packed mud in a biting wind just south of Ashbourne to watch Ted in his first ever race. Nerves were soon swept to one side as young Ted, on only his second lap, overtook the Citroen AX of Shaun Nelson on the outside to leave him choking on blue smoke. Four races, four finishes, no mishaps. A great start.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Hors de combat.

The new rims I bought for the Jeep are called ‘Combat Rims’, presumably because splitting into two parts should make it easier to change tyres. Well. I’m jolly glad I wasn’t in the field of combat when I changed all five from the big 235-16’s to the recently purchased 205-16’s. Despite attempting this job in a state of tranquil calm, (cup of tea at the ready, good play on Radio 4), after half an hour sweating over the first one I was ready to surrender and wave the white flag. A second attempt the following evening with far more washing up liquid to lubricate the tyre/rim interface I got it down to about 20 minutes a wheel. just under two hours for the whole job. About the time it took Jerry to take a small village in Normandy! The end result was a far better ride and handling, if that is the correct term for hurling a Jeep around a bend. A run to Northamptonshire on Sunday, with son Will following in his car confirmed that the Jeep was cruising happily at about 55-60 and generally keeping up with the flow of traffic. The ‘new’ Hotchkiss engine purring sweetly under the bonnet, or ‘hood’ as the Yanks called it.

Monday, 2 March 2009

A colourful career in show business.

After buying a set of second hand tyres for my Land Rover some years ago, with disastrous consequences, I swore I’d never buy second hand tyres again. These are they! Ten quid from ‘Wet Paint’ Tony, they will replace the oversize tyres currently fitted to the Jeep. I was over in the land where time stands still (Swadlincote) last week removing these tyres form some Land Rover rims and chatting to Tony and a pal of his, Mick, who owns three tanks. Clank, clank, I’m a tank. They were discussing a Range Rover project Tony is working on for Mick and the fitting of a winch. The conversation went like this:
Tony: ‘You still got that winch?’
Mick: ‘No I lent it to Dave.... you know? Dave who’s in the porno films’
Tony: ‘Oh. Can’t you get it back off him?’
Mick: ‘No. He says it’s on his motor now and he can’t be arsed to remove it and I owed him one anyway.’
Tony: ‘Uh’
Mick: ‘ His missus is pregnant again. It’ll be the fifth.... Bit of a cock up at work’

All fall about laughing.

It was the delivery of the porno film line that amazed me. It was as if discussing someone who was an electrician, or worked in the green grocers. Dave, whoever he is, was in porno films! The tyres seem okay. I’ll fit them tomorrow.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Everything stops for tea.

A Christmas gift from Mr. Combo turned out to be far more useful that he probably ever imagined. The ‘Leicester Coffee Shop’ has enjoyed an unrivalled reputation for producing expresso coffee in far flung reaches of the Sahara for a number of years, but for 2009 the Coffee Shop was able to broaden the menu to include tea. This 1 pint Kelly Kettle boiled water in under five minutes thanks to a plentiful supply of dry twigs and a stiff prevailing wind. It’s design is similar to a Thermos flask, but with fire replacing hot water. The water jacket is around the centre, therefore getting most value from the fire within. With both gas rings covered by expresso machines this proved to be faster and easier and gave various people something to do. Mustafa, seen here transfixed by the machine wants to order 20 to sell in the Tripoli Scout Shop, that he runs. Thanks Ron.

Pictures show Steve Baker with the first brew up in Libya, Professor Mustafa Selem transfixed by the smoke, Dr Kevin White on the edge of Lake Gabrun and Ian Reeds stoking the fire heading North in Tunisia.