‘Would you believe I've been done for speeding in this?'
1936 Rover 14 P1 William and Anthony Hamer, Cumbria
How did you come by this old thing, William?
'I have a classic bus hire business, Cumbria Classic Coaches. With the wedding hire part of the business growing, I had a growing number of requests coming in for a vintage car, alongside the coaches. I love old Rovers. so having hankered after one for several years I was delighted when a 1936 Rover 14 came up on ebay at a price that seemed too good to be true. It was well described and had a good number of photographs on the listing but we weren’t able to go and view the car as it was a bit far away.'
How far away was it then?
'Err… in this case ‘far’ meant New Zealand, where it had been bought new by a farmer who had used it up until the Sixties. After that he left it to rot in a field. A farm-feed rep had seen the car while visiting the farm in the Seventies and bought it for the princely sum of £60 before restoring it over ten years to near concours condition. Sadly, he became unable to drive the car as his health deteriorated and that’s when he put it up for sale.'
How did you get it here?
'It cost a fair whack to transport the car over here in a container and get it registered for UK roads, but amazingly it was still cheaper than buying a similar car in the UK and I now I wouldn’t swap it for the world. When it arrived, I had the ignition system stripped down. Then I put it all back together after a thorough electrical service. We do it at the end of every wedding season. With the amount of weddings we do, we’re inherently aware that it’s not the done thing to break down on the way to the church, so it gives us the motivation to ensure all the vehicles – buses included – are impeccably maintained.'
What was it like when you got it back on the road?
'With everything reassembled, I took us for a spin in it, where it became clear that the car was quite a challenge to drive on the Cumbrian hills. With its crash gearbox and rather lacklustre engine, I had to work hard to get the best out of it, but the smile on my face was contagious – I call it proper driving. And would you believe I’ve been done for speeding in this? I went on a speed awareness course, but I think that really I should have been presented with a certificate of achievement…'
How did you start this all?
'We have now been running Cumbria Classic Coaches for 17 years. We started hiring the first bus out for weddings, and it was always a bit of a worry that we might not be able to deliver – what with classic vehicles having minds of their own – so it made sound business sense to expand the fleet to two buses. Then one thing led to another and the fleet is now up to six buses plus two coaches and, just for contrast, this 1936 Rover 14!'
TOP RIGHT Whoa – slow down, William! RIGHT A fittingly classy ride for any bride and groom. Rover 14 has joined the Hamer family bus fleet .