Time for the E-type to play catch up

Classic Cars (UK) - - Our Cars -

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

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