Steve’s win­ter project quickly turns into a spring project

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Out & About - STEVE BERRY CON­TRIB­U­TOR

OWNED SINCE Fe­bru­ary 2016 MILEAGE SINCE PUR­CHASE 20 (be­hind a van) TO­TAL MILEAGE un­known LAT­EST COSTS £909.00 ’I bought 14 Es­sex V6 pushrods. Of course, they were all the wrong size’

‘B limey, this one’s been messed about with,’ said Derek. That’s not what he

ac­tu­ally said, but I think his colour­ful lan­guage would get

CCW re­moved from the shelves at Waitrose. Here was a car that had suf­fered rather than en­joyed its pre­vi­ous own­ers. The en­gine, wheels, seats, wiring loom, bat­tery, dash­board and ra­dio had all been butchered, bodged and gen­er­ally messed about with. But it was cheap, it was lo­cal and it was Fri­day. So it was that I found my­self the owner of an off-white Scim­i­tar SE5 with 3.0-litre V6 en­gine mated to a four-speed man­ual gear­box and a black in­te­rior with the orig­i­nal Co­bra bucket seats. I was chuffed to mint balls, as we say in these parts.

Derek is a long-suf­fer­ing pal who shares my predilec­tion for old Mercedes sa­loons, clas­sic Ital­ian mo­tor scoot­ers and Manch­ester United. He also owns a trailer which made him the ideal can­di­date for help­ing to re­trieve my in­no­va­tive, Tam­worth-built, GRP-bod­ied shoot­ing brake. The bloke who was sell­ing as­sured us that it was a run­ner but sadly couldn’t demon­strate the Es­sex lump’s rude health be­cause of a snapped throt­tle ca­ble. So, rather than nestling in the vee of the six cylin­ders, the grubby twin-choke We­ber carb was in the boot, along with a spare tail­gate, the bumpers – or rather ‘some bumpers’, as we’d dis­cover later, – and a Ra­diomo­bile eight-track of un­cer­tain prove­nance. The bloke sell­ing it had taken it off the hands of a teenager (un­likely, I know) who had im­prob­a­bly at­tempted a Max

Power- style makeover on what was al­ways Princess Anne’s pre­ferred means of per­sonal trans­port. We pushed it onto the trailer and dragged it the short dis­tance back to Bury.

That was a year ago. I know this be­cause Derek called me and asked me to guessti­mate the amount of time that my car had been tak­ing up valu­able space in his yard. So it seemed time to turn my at­ten­tion to what was I had in­tended, rather op­ti­misti­cally, to be a win­ter clas­sic. Af­ter Derek had re­worked the worst of the schiz­o­phrenic wiring, the Es­sex fired lustily into life – but only for a few very loud and ex­pen­sive-sound­ing sec­onds. A strip-down re­vealed that the dam­age was con­fined to just one bank of cylin­ders. Fairly straight­for­ward, you’d think – they made many hun­dreds of thou­sands of them. Well, no. There were plenty of cylin­der heads for sale but seem­ingly all in pairs, for around £250. I am leg­endary for be­ing ‘care­ful’ with my money, so I held out and even­tu­ally man­aged to bag a well-pre­served right-han­der for £40. Now all we needed were push rods – nice, straight ones prefer­ably. I rang a lo­cal old Fords spe­cial­ist. ‘Have you got any push rods for a three-litre Es­sex V6?’ I asked. The en­su­ing pause spoke vol­umes. Then he said, ‘Lad, I’ve got hun­dreds – lit­er­ally hun­dreds.’

I jumped in the Jag and com­pleted the 60-mile round trip in the man­ner of Nor­man Dewis de­liv­er­ing that E-type to the 1961 Geneva Show. I bought 14, just in case. Of course, they were all the wrong size.

I took them back and told the chap that he had per­haps made an er­ror and could I pos­si­bly ex­change the push rods with which he had sup­plied me for ones of suf­fi­cient length for the Ford V6 made at the Da­gen­ham Plant be­tween 1966-1988 and known col­lo­qui­ally as the Es­sex. Or words to that ef­fect. I think he knew I was tak­ing the mickey but he did give me what I was af­ter.

The Es­sex sprang to life once again, this time with­out the ter­ri­ble ca­coph­ony of metal-on-metal, but with lots of splut­ter­ing, stut­ter­ing and re­luc­tance in­stead. ‘I don’t think the car­bu­ret­tor is the right one for this car,’ said Derek, pa­tiently ex­plain­ing that the air fil­ter that came with it had ob­vi­ously been on it since new, yet the bon­net was a good two inches away from clos­ing.

I think what we’ve done is found a part in the boot of car and as­sumed that it must fit that car. A pre-loved We­ber 38DGAS car­bu­ret­tor is on its way as I write and I’m aim­ing to cut a dash in my sporty Scim­i­tar by Easter.

It’ll be fun in here when it’s fin­ished. A fresh bat­tery and imag­i­na­tive rewiring started the en­gine. Only for it to break. This was sup­posed to be a win­ter project – win­ter 2016, that is…

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