Choosing and buying the car
I found the car up in Lincolnshire, advertised on the Net through a site called Autohunter (now Fish4Cars). Its then owners hadn’t been really aware that it was on the internet – they just put a classified in their local paper. However, the paper was part of a syndicate that puts its classifieds online, which is where I came in. I travelled up one weekend, test-drove it with the hood down in freezing winter evening gloom, decided at once that I wanted it, put down £50 on the spot, and went home to raise the rest of the finance.
From there, things got complicated. I got the AA to inspect it. I figured that way I’d know the absolute worst, the things the seller didn’t know about and so couldn’t tell me. The results were interesting, to say the least. It’s fair to say that the AA’s view was that if it had been a dog, it should have been shot.
I had already e-mailed the Triumph Sports Six Club for advice, and they advised contacting the Classic Sports Car Workshop in Southgate, North London. I gave them a call and discussed the report with Dave, the owner. He didn’t seem too concerned about most of what the report said, although he wanted a look at the engine.
Reassured by Dave, I handed over my £1,250 and brought the car down to my parents in Hertfordshire, where it sat in their garage for a fortnight until I could sort out the tax and the insurance. I then took it to Dave at his workshop.
Re-reading that paragraph, it sounds so easy. In fact, it wasn’t: one or two things conspired to make it a challenge.
- We transported it down from Lincolnshire in a removal van, which did not come with its own ramps. Ever tried to drive a Spitfire up two planks? No? Don’t.
- Insurance turned out to be literally ten times as expensive for me as the previous owner. It had a lot to do with the difference between a Lincolnshire hospital manager with a full no claims bonus using it for a limited number of miles and for personal use only, and a London journalist with no bonus due to an accident, wanting to use it for work.
- With no insurance, the tax had to wait too
- The starter motor decided to conk out – although so far that’s turned out to be a one-off fault (touch wood).
- We discovered the hard way that bringing the bonnet down runs the risk of knocking away one end of the fuel line. As we reversed from the garage, my Mum called “Andrew, Lisa, there’s something coming from underneath”. Ever the experts, we replied “Yes, we know, there’s an oil leak.” In fact, it was half the contents of the petrol tank.
Still, we survived. I had a smallish shopping list for Dave and a budget of £1,000 to pay for the work. Both got overtaken by events when he found a long – but surprisingly unfrightening – list of work that needed tackling.