Practical Classics (UK)
“I would love to turn my hobby in to a career”
Meet Oliver Cliff, still at school and besotted with classics
Earliest classic memory? 'Visiting my dad’s 1963 Mini in a lock-up with my brother. I was three, and then driving it up and down the drive with no doors when I was seven.
I have always loved tinkering with things and built a race BMX with my dad. I first started working with him on the Mini at home. We got it running then stripped it down to a bare shell and put it on a spit we made from timber and scaffold poles.'
What keeps you motivated? 'I love being around classics: the sounds, smells and seeing them at shows or on the track. With my Herald, and involvement with Club Triumph, I have been able to volunteer at Goodwood and GRRC meets. This is my motivation for wanting to make a career out of working in the classic car resto field.'
So what about the Herald? 'My parents bought this 1967 Triumph Herald estate when I was 15 with the intention of it being my first car. I could
First car and a career path sorted.
often be found tinkering with it during lockdown. Now that I'm 17, I am learning to drive in it. In fact I had my first lesson at 12:01am on the day of my 17th with dad in the Herald.'
What have you done to it? 'Rebuilt the howling dynamo and sticky control box, upgraded the front disc brakes, callipers and alloy hubs, rebuilt the twin SU carburettors, fuel pump and rerouted dodgy fuel pipes, removed the gearbox to replace the clutch and release bearing. Stripped and rebuilt the gearbox and rewired the overdrive. There were holes in the footwell, which helped me learn to fabricate repair patches and to MIG weld, which as you probably know requires patience, a steady hand, and a good grinder!'
Amazing, what next?
'I'm gathering parts to build a fast road engine. Getting insurance at an affordable price for a modified classic at my age is the main issue at the moment. I would love to turn my hobby in to a career. I would love to have my own business restoring classics but need to finish my A-levels before applying for suitable apprenticeships.'
Champagne moment? 'Auto-solo at Goodwood in the Herald with my brother driving (I was too young). There was a mix of all sorts of cars, so we were not the slowest! We managed to snap an engine mounting. So, MIG welder out plus replace oil seals, timing chain and sprockets that had started to wear. Bonus!' ■