Time for the E-type to play catch up
After the E-type missed out on the first half of this summer’s events, I needed to get my fix and Kop Hill Climb offered the perfect opportunity. It’s a 75-minute cross-country rumble from home offering a skim across the top of the Chilterns, Mrs Bell was up for a day out with cars and it was a good opportunity to catch up with friends who organize the soap-box challenge there.
The need to get into the display parking before the event opened at 9am demanded an early Sunday start, but the payoff was blissfully quiet roads as I aimed the E-type west. We even managed to set off before the usual hordes of Lycra enthusiasts found pedalling along our local lanes. I was determined to savour the experience – every laboured change through the slow-witted Moss gearbox, every lunge of power to compensate for the wasted momentum – and not let thoughts of the latest job list nibble away at the moment. In any case, the leaking heater hose was holding up after I refitted it with a smear of Blue Hylomar on the metal pipe. And the misaligned steering wheel wasn’t actually upsetting anything other than my attention to detail. Despite all of the care I’d taken to centre the steering rack and column after removing it all to fit new rack mounts and track rod ends, the wheel spokes were sitting a few degrees out of level when the road wheels were in a straight heading. I was confident it would be easy enough to separate the column and rack and refit everything correctly, but the pragmatic part of my brain had told me to leave alone when I had an event day looming. I should listen to it more often.
The car even managed some self-healing on the journey – the heater valve has been ignoring the selector control this year, remaining fully on even when the lever was set to cold. In the hottest summer I’ve experienced in eight years with the E-type. Well, now it responds correctly to the control again, and no intervention of the Bell spanners has been necessary.
With the E-type abandoned in the general classic display area we were free to explore the event, and before I knew it Tricia had signed up for a charity passenger ride with one of the hill climb entrants – a freshly restored 1965 TVR Grantura 1800S with period competition history, hence the roll cage and ferocious-spec MG B-series engine. Watching her climb in past the cage wearing Sixties-themed dress and boots was a highlight of the day; that and the grin when she returned after the run.
A 1914 Stanley 607 steamer, 1970 9.8-litre Plymouth Superbird and 2018 Mclaren Senna give some flavour of the eccentric mix, but there’s a deliberately strong emphasis on the earlier machinery in line with the event’s origins. So there was an unusual cross-section of cars, and bikes, and a fire engine, to pore over while letting the gentle county fair atmosphere wash over us.
As we finally headed back to Bedfordshire while appreciating the Sunday evening sunset, I realized that the early-season frustrations with the E-type were well and truly behind me. That didn’t stop me hoping that one or two of the remaining items on the next winter job list would self-cure on the way home.
E-type is playing catch-up after a missed summer