ELEANOR – BACK TO LIFE
John likes his A60 so much that he’s given it a name. Now he’s vowed to restore it. Yet again...
OWNEDSINCE May 1984 MILEAGE SINCE LAST REPORT First report TOTAL MILEAGE 500k LATEST COSTS £1000
Iadd the stripe in Snowberry White, which was how the car was for most of my younger days until the restoration colour change.
Steve has already started work and reports that she is rustier than expected, but not beyond repair. As the pictures show, he’s well on with the rear arches. His next job is to strip the dashboard and tackle the bulkhead rust. This is a complex welding job which, if I were not so attached to the car, might have made her uneconomical to repair.
Meanwhile, if anyone has any good – or even new – A60 doors I’d be very interested in hearing from them.
After some prevarication, I’ve decided that I want to keep Eleanor and use her again so I’ve dispatched her, via the ever helpful Dave at JSD Classic Transport (0113 232 0048, www.classictransportuk.co.uk) to BMC expert Steve Turner to be sorted bodily and mechanically. The basic spec will be a rebuilt Marina 1800cc engine, taller back axle and brake servo. The MG Magnette interior (which has now been in there longer than the Cambridge original) will stay but the body will probably eventually revert to her original factory colour of Grampian Grey, although I will almost certainly at about 4am in Grantham services. Doing the same trip about six months later when the trees were bare, we parked up in the same space at about the same time only to see Eleanor’s ‘I wish I was in Greenall Whitley Land’ brass keyring glinting in the headlights under a nearby hedge. I still have it today.
I restored Eleanor in 1996-97 and changed the colour to BMC Orchid and Black –really an A55 MkII scheme – and carried on using her regularly. However, having not clouted any masonry since 1984, I managed to damage both doors on a low bollard at Pebble Mill one night in around 2009 and never had the time or money to fix them. I carried on using it with dented doors and ever increasing rust. On inspection more recently, however, getting a new MoT looked unlikely. The rear wings, bulkhead and doors had all rusted. She started on the button though and a change to silicon brake fluid years ago meant that the brakes weren’t seized on, either. of Live Aid underneath her, rust-proofing and listening to the event on the radio, then had to have my head shaved to remove all the gold Hammerite (it was cheaper than black) from my hair. She broke down at my Uncle Spen’s funeral and had to be push-started by undertakers in frock coats and top hats, and followed at least five RAC rallies around the UK, including one where, in a snowy dark forest, I reported her as stolen, only to spot her while being given a lift out of the stage by the marshals. While living in Ipswich I commuted in it – sometimes twice a week – to visit my first serious girlfriend in Durham, a 650-mile round trip. By that time Eleanor had an ex- Superstock 1750cc engine running a Weber and she slurped her way up the A1 rapidly but expensively. On one A1 trip, said girlfriend, Chris, lost the keys ’m ashamed to say that the only car I have with a name, Eleanor the A60 Cambridge, has languished unused since 2012 while I dealt with other issues. Although she’s been sitting in a dry garage, time and regular use have not been kind so I decided that it was time to restore her. Again. I bought Eleanor for £150 just before my 17th birthday to learn to drive in because dad had put me off buying a rusty but working Aston Martin DB5. Yes, really. Impractical, he said. Can’t insure it, he said. Hard to repair, he said. He was right of course, but I do sometimes wish I’d been a bit more of a wilful teenager.
The idea was to use the A60 to learn to drive in, then – ahem – probably banger-race it. It was cheap because the interior had been eaten by a large Alsatian, so I fitted the grey MG Magnette MkIV interior she still has from a scrapper and replaced the rusty passenger front wing with a glassfibre one – the first really big job I ever did on a car – about a month after my 17th birthday. Within two weeks I had clouted that same fibreglass wing on school friend’s gatepost and thus fitted my second fibreglass wing…
Eleanor and I bonded, however, and the car was my main transport until I got my first Opel Manta. She towed my racers, carried the kit for a mate’s band with all the seats removed, and once drove from Ipswich to Blackpool with a full-size Dalek on the roof. I spent the whole
Steve gets cracking with the welder.
John strips out the interior prior to the A60 being collected. friend, not the Mustang in Eleanor – named after a school – after her first restoration in 1997. Gone In 60 Seconds
BEFORE One of the rear wheelarches cut out. Naturally, the rust was worse than feared. AFTER The finished wheelarch section looks a lot better than the old corroded metal.