AN ESTATE – IN A STATE
Steve’s winter project quickly turns into a spring project
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…