Old car day No.2: Spectacular cars with a two-tone paint finish

A quarterly sales calendar booklet from Bonhams auctioneers will drop into our letterbox. The front cover of which is invariably of some treasure.

It’s prints and multiples that are of my interest – stuff that I might be able to afford. The cover of the latest sales calendar is of a drop-dead gorgeous 1931 Bugatti Type 57 Roadster.

The Bugatti is finished in black and cream two-tone finish, adding to its delightfulness. I’ve often thought how nice cars look in a two-tone colour. In an idle moment, between wrist excersises, I looked at the upcoming auctions of cars, and found a number of two-tone lovelies, which I present to you below.

Old car day No.1: Jersey Old Motor Club Boxing Day Cavalcade

I mightn’t have said much about our 10 days in Jersey over Christmas. This is the first of a number of reports.

Overall, the weather was reasonably kind to us, with fine weather on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, though a cold wind and showers accompanied the Boxing Day Cavalcade of the Jersey Old Motor Club.

The cavalcade of over 80 old motors gathered near our hotel – the splendid Pomme D’Or.  Bracing, is what you’d call the weather, and so we missed the start of the cavalcade preferring to continue with breakfast in the warmth of the hotel.

We met the return of the cars round the corner outside the Royal Yacht Hotel. We admired many a fine old motor. I like to think I’m not too bad at car recognition. There were a number that had me stumped. Not finding out until I had a close look at their badges. The grey two door sports car I thought might be an Allard. It turned out to be a Lea Francis. The main conundrum was the cream/yellow car which was an Alvis Duncan – of which only 30 were made, and only 12 are reputed to survive, so rare indeed.

Encountering another classic Bentley

Walking home from my heathland walk I passed a lovely classic Bentley. Can I see myself driving it, of course I can. Can I see myself being happy with the miles per gallon? of course not. Current models average 13.5 mpg. So, old one’s I imagine will struggle to reach double figures.

Watching robots build motor cars

Last week members of the Camberley & District Probus Club were guests of a Jaguar Experience manufacturing tour of the Jaguar production facility in Castle Bromwich.

It’s riveting to watch robots build a motor car, in this case a Jaguar F-Type sports car. I say riveting because that’s what some of the robots were engaged in doing, using rivets to join aluminium panels together. The process was quiet as was, suprisingly, the whole factory. The most noise that was heard came from the horns of the electric fork lift trucks warning us to get out otf their way while they were delivering parts to the production line.

My first two employers were Midlands-based ‘metal bashers’, hence my dodgy hearing. No such thing as ear defenders then while having a conversation on a factory floor next to 400 ton Press Brakes.

The Castle Bromwich factory was built in the late 1930’s and became the shadow manufacturing site for Spitfire aircraft, producing 12,000 of them during the war. Parts of the original factory remain, including the piers at the site entrance.

Memories of my motoring life in 1965

In spring cleaning some of our paper records I came across the invoices of my first motor cars.

Unlike today when teenagers get a motor car, I was in my early twenties before I could afford a car, and then it was a basic car. In June 1965 I bought a second-hand Ford Popular 103E for £30. The invoice doesn’t mention the year of manufacture or the mileage. The registration number was KRN 271.

Known at the time as a Ford Pop, it was basic motoring. Here’s the description of the car from Wikipedia.

The car was very basic. It was powered by a Ford Sidevalve 1172 cc, 30 bhp four-cylinder engine. It had a single vacuum-powered wiper, no heater, vinyl trim, and very little chrome; even the bumpers were painted. It had semaphore indicators, pull-wire starter, manual choke. No water pump, engine cooling by thermosyphon.

A car tested in 1954 recorded a top speed of 60.3 mph (97.0 km/h), accelerated from 0-50 mph (80 km/h) in 24.1 seconds, and had a fuel consumption of 36.4 miles per gallon.

I enjoyed using my car in the summer 1965, although the phrase I used to describe it was that “it couldn’t pull the skin of a rice pudding”. There is one experience with the car that’s burned into my memory.

In early autumn of 1965 I was on month-long non-residential training course at a college in Solihull, while at the time was living in southern Shropshire. It was an awkward railway journey  with two changes, though, on reflection it wasn’t that bad. I lived near a station and the college was near a station.

I’d got quite fond of my Ford Pop, and so thought it was worth doing the journey by car. The route, pre-motorway, was through the centre of Birmingham, and the very centre at that, through the traffic island at the Bull Ring Centre, pretty much the same sort of traffic intensity as Hyde Park Corner in London. Lots of roads leading into the island and lots of traffic.

And so it was, on a busy Monday morning I merged into the traffic on the island, only to hear an awful graunching sound from the car. I took the car out of gear. No change, the graunching noise continued. Leaving the island the road went down hill, and so offered the opportunity to switch the engine off, while still running downhill. Still no change to the graunching noise.

Nothing for it but to seek the help of a garage. Not too far on I pulled into Bristol Street Motors, a big garage. Asking a mechanic to check out the fault, came back the reply.

It’s the rear differential that’s gone, and no, son, we can’t repair it, as we wouldn’t know where to start looking for the parts.

I left the car with them, saying I’d be back to see them later in the week, and then caught a bus to the college. At the end of the week I went back to the garage, and ended up buying a second-hand green, 1963 Austin Mini,. The registration was 621 KOK, how odd that it was so similar to the 621 AOK in the British Motor Museum  About the Mini, well, that’s another story.

Tucked away in Sunningdale shopping centre is a supercar showroom

Among the shops in the small shopping centre on Chobham Road in Sunningdale is a supercar showroom.

The showroom is easy to miss, as it’s small, and I mean really small as the it has room for only two cars. But what cars they are. Both are Koenigsegg supercars.

While on driving duty for my wife, which entailed a visit to one of the shops, I said to her, ‘Why don’t we take a peek into the supercar showroom’? Success. My present for being the driver.

Inside the showroom of SuperVettura were two Koenigsegg’s, one of which is a One:1 model, priced at more than a couple of million £’s.

A throughly enjoyable conversation ensued with the business principle, Tommy Wareham. A friendly, charming and knowledgeable man about all things motor car related. Would I have gone into the showroom if not accompanied by my dear wife, oddly, probably not. Did I ask to sit in one of the cars? No, I did not, as I could probably get in, but would surely struggle to get out.

Views on UK car manufacturing: 3 of 3

The concluding article of three on UK car manufacturing looks the the health of the industry, which currently looks buoyant.

On Thursday April 27th 2017, figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders [SMMT], showed exports continued to drive British car manufacturing in March, as demand rose 10.6% in the month. 170,691 cars were built in the UK in March, up 7.3%, with overseas buyers ordering more than 76% of output.

Overseas demand also helped push overall production to a 17-year high in Q1, to 471,695 units – an increase of 7.6%. This helped offset a decline at home, with demand down -4.3% in the quarter. Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

UK car manufacturing is accelerating thanks to billions of pounds of investment committed over the past few years. A large proportion are the latest low emission diesels and it’s essential for future growth and employment that we encourage these newer, cleaner diesels onto UK roads and avoid penalising consumers who choose diesel for its fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. Much of our output goes to Europe and it’s vital we maintain free trade between the UK and EU or we risk destroying this success story.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, also announced that March delivered an all-round high for engine manufacturing  in the UK, as Q1 output surpasses 700,000 for first time.

Some highlights for the UK car manufacturing industry are,

Views on UK car manufacturing: 1 of 3

Our household is considering getting a new car. Not a new new one. A pre-owned and pre-loved one – nicer terms than second hand, don’t you think.

Our current cars are both UK-made Honda’s. The least used one is 18 years old [see photo], and the other is now eight years old, on which we’ve been piling on the miles.

We both have had a variety of UK, French and German company and private cars over the years. Our current cars were bought because they were made in the UK, and it’s our money that paid for them. We’re not saying you shouldn’t buy a non-UK made car – your choice, your money. I noted that John Redwood MP attracted criticism for this recent tweet on buying a UK made car,

He replied to the criticism in The Guardian in THIS article on his blog, in which he says, “The Guardian seemed to muddle up cars made in UK factories with cars made by UK owned car makers.”

Photo of the week No.16: Overlooking Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, 1956 by David Boyer

There’s something ethereal about this photo – Overlooking Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, 1956 by David Boyer. I think it’s the, almost, lack of people that makes it so. Tantalising glimpses of people can be seen, in the hands of the car driver in the bottom right, and the head of the driver of the car in the centre. While people are mostly absent, it’s all about people, their cars, neat and tidy homes, and of course their location overlooking Golden Gate Bridge.

Surely the photograph was staged, otherwise what incredible luck to have the three vehicles in their positions. So, assuming it was staged, what was the objective? Was it to market the cars, or the houses? There’s so much to see in this photo, the bridge, the warship, the fire hydrant. Whatever, I’ve not been able to find out anything about this photo.

This photo means a bit more to me than other viewers. A close friend of my parents worked for an American company who often travelled to the States. For my brother and I he brought back postcards of American cars of the 1950’s. As young children we admired the bright two-tone colours of a Studebaker, or Chevrolet Bel Air. Wish I’d kept them. Ah, well, that’s the story of all our lives I guess. [Click on image to enlarge].

overlooking-golden-gate-bridge-san-francisco-1956-by-david-boyer