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Today is Drive it Day – a day with runs and rallies for classic car owners throughout the UK, all with the idea to keep those classics on the road. Remarkably, the Drive It Day’s organizers - the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FHBVC) - have put the spotlight on Albert Clarkson – who has to be their least enthusiastic participant ever. Clarkson, of Canvey Island, is the epitome of drive it not. He owns a Ford Capri that has covered just 582 miles since he drove (…) it out of the showroom in 1986. The majority of those miles were clocked up while driving it on and off the trailer to attend classic car shows. He told: “When I first got the car, the first new car I’ve ever bought, I thought it would have hardly any miles on it, but it had 60 miles on the clock from all the driving from the Ford car park, and onto and off the boat. I was a bit disappointed by that!” He continued: “It’s never been in the rain and it still smells inside of leather as if it were new. It’s like a nice piece of antique furniture – you can have it restored, but it’s not as good as an untouched original.”
So does he drive at all? He does. Mister Clarkson also owns a 1969 Ford Cortina 1600E, which he bought in 1970 when it was just seven months old. That car now shows some 117,000 miles on its odometer - the majority clocked up in the first 10 years. Oh – he uses that not as frequent anymore. He now has a Mk2 Escort for daily drives. We wonder how long he will manage to use that!
(Words Jeroen Booij, pictures courtesy FHBVC / Anthony Kirby)
Many answers on last week’s car puzzle and the majority of them was right, too. Very well. But still this was a tough one after all, or so it seems. We’ll explain. The car on the photograph was the Peerless GT. Most of you knew that. And most of you also knew it was closely related to the Warwick GT. So far so good. But then we asked about a third incarnation, and that’s when most of you went wrong: Michael Robinson, John Jarrett, Fried Stol, Paul Czajka, Bert Tressel, Tobias Wenzel, Steve Kupferman, John Krabbendam, Mark Dawber and Don Siemers: sorry - the Gordon GT prototype and later Gordon-Keeble production car were not the variants we were after. These really are cars on their own. And even the car that followed the Gordon-Keeble was not the one we meant, Don Siemers! Don wrote: “That makes three brands for the same car. But wait, there's more! In 1968 John De Bruyne attempted to revive the car. Two cars appeared at the 1968 New York Auto Show. One was powered and the other was static.” Douze points for that, but it’s still not what we needed here!
But fortunately there was 1 (one!) of you who did know exactly what we were talking about. Congratulations Celia Stevens, for cracking this tough to crack car puzzle. Celia wrote: “It is a 1959 Peerless GT Phase Two. There is also a Peerless GT Phase One (1958/59.) Made in Slough by Bernie Rodger and his crew. From that came the Warwick GT which was the 3rd variation after Peerless went bust. Indeed there was a 4th, a Warwick GT350 of which very few were made. (still not the one we meant but she’s getting there-Ed…) Then there were a couple of other variants after that, MFI (the furniture people) built about 10 when they bought old stock. And as late as 1964 Chris Lawrence built a few and there were some manufactured in Ireland. (Very few!).” Excellent, Celia. As a matter of fact we did not know about the MFI-variant and also not about the Irish built cars ourselves! However, we do know about the new old stock Chris Lawrence-built version, which came with a new tubular space frame chassis using a 4-inches shorter wheelbase and used the best bits of the Warwick and the Peerless to form a car named Peewick (Warless would have sounded just a bit too odd, we think). It’s good to learn something every day, isn’t it?
(Words and photographs Jeroen Booij)
Curious to the answers to last week’s car quiz? You’ll have to wait for another day. But to whethen your appetite already, we thought it would be nice to show you this special Friday Lady for now. She certainly ticks the boxes for mystery and imagination. Some of you may know more about her, but do you also know more about the delicate car she is leaning on? Two hints: you may notice something poking from below the front bumper, which does indeed point towards the silver screen. Secondly, we can give away that this picture was shot just about 50 years ago, when girl and car – and especially the combination of the two – were at the heights of their fame. We’ll explain later today, but for now we’d love to hear from you first!
UPDATE: You knew. It's the girl from U.N.C.L.E.: Stephanie Powers and the AMT Piranha
(Words editor, picture source announced later)
People sometimes say it’s better to buy a restored car than do it yourself, as restorations always turn out to become more difficult, time consuming and expensive than planned. We’re not too sure about this, as the actual job of restoring is more important than the result of the restoration for some of us. However, we think it may go well for this car. It’s a superb 1951 Ford Deluxe Coupe Utility that Mossgreen will be selling shortly. And it’s restoration could have easily put you down. The Aussie built Ford is in the hands of the current owner since 1981 and, according to himself, it was “delivered as a trailer load of rusted, twisted, dented pieces, many of which were unrecognisable, with every exterior panel either damaged and/or rusted, and seemingly irreparable.” Working from a Ford Spare Parts Catalogue it took him 18 years before the car was in the state you can see on the image above.
Don’t think he bought all the bits new though. Apart from the outer tail-gate panel, every body part on the Ute is original. And the same goes for just about all the other bits and pieces. Sometimes his ideas to keep things original were virtually impossible. The instrument panel, interior door and windshield moulding, for example, have a lovely wood grain effect, which needed reproduction. It was now painted instead of the original transfer that would have been applied at the factory in Geelong, which is of course no longer available. The only item not true to the original Ute specifications is the fitted carpet which was an option on the sedan model only but this was necessary as it was not possible to source the authentic rubber mat for a right hand drive vehicle…
It’s no surprise that the car’s restoration was awarded with trophies everywhere it went to car rallies and club events throughout New South Wales – it currently stands at a total of 23. See here for more details.
(Words editor, pictures courtesy Mossgreen)
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