Black Country Bugle
How I destroyed a historic vehicle
AT the age of 19 I left my first real job and returned to full time education. Having spent two years at evening class studying various general subjects, mainly relating to foundry work, I decided to make a serious commitment and enrolled on a C & G mechanical engineering technician’s course. At Wolverhampton Polytechnic I made new friends with similar interests – motor cars.
During one Saturday afternoon while cruising down Bilston High Street we called at a second hand car dealer. Hidden at the back of his bombsite sales area was an ancient orange sports car. On closer examination it turned out to be a hill climb special based on an old Ford. I was very interested in this and after some negotiation a deal was struck and the car was towed home the same afternoon. My yellow Ford Popular (100e) had now been relegated to street parking, the new acquisition taking its place in the lock up garage. This new purchase was the main topic of conversation in the pub that evening.
The next day we gave the car a thorough examination only to discover that every single part was rusty, broken or worn out, this was no surprise given the age of the vehicle. All the usual cleaning and checks were carried out and it was found that the starter motor had irreparable damage. There was a starting handle dog on the crankshaft pulley and the starting handle, but the non-standard radiator made it impossible to use. The only alternative was to push start it. The novelty of this soon wore off! The Ford Pop had its front bumper removed and a plank of wood attached to use as a pusher, many attempts were made to start the car but there was a problem with the magneto which had been fitted to replace the distributor. This was stripped into its component parts, cleaned and reassembled, the function of its many parts not being fully understood. Upon refitting and with the timing reset it started first time. It was remarkably lively having a lightweight aluminium body, but the brakes didn’t work and the radiator boiled over immediately so it needed to be stalled to stop the engine as no cut-out was provided.
It was at this point that the decision was made to upgrade the car and make it road legal. Many modifications and improvements were made to the running gear, including the fitting of hydraulic brakes, a reconditioned engine and a new radiator.
I had designed and started to make a new body as the original was totally unsuitable for road use. The old body was stood on its end in the back of the lock up garage, but space was very tight and one day while working in there it fell over and struck me. Within one hour the whole body was broken up and taken to the council tip. This was a big mistake. This historic vehicle was gone forever and not even a photograph to record its passing. I continued with the construction of the body but the process was slow. With exams pending, other interests and the need to earn some money the project was abandoned, eventually being sold for spare parts.
Some of the lessons learnt during this project:
1 Don’t make unilateral decisions, ask a more experienced person for guidance.
2 Don’t try to make/do every part yourself. It will take forever and disillusionment will set in.
3 Choose a project that can be accomplished in a sensible time frame (not like a bus).
The correct course of action with this vehicle was to leave it as original and repair every part. This could have been completed in a year and a wonderful sports car would still have been in existence.
This new purchase was the main topic of conversation in the pub that evening