A little bit of history
Having been brought up as the son of a mechanic / engineer, I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t around garages or vehicles. There were always old cars and busses to drool over and to this day the smell of oil, petrol & diesel still evokes those memories.
I got my chance to own a classic in 1995, not long after I was married. We had passed Mercury Classics in Lundin Links whilst touring Scotland on holiday and had seen a Mk3 Triumph Spitfire with a sold tag on it. It was a South African import and in great condition. I mentioned to my wife that a neighbour had a yellow 1500 when I was growing up and I’d always liked them. It came back up in conversation once we had returned home and the notion that we might get one of our own was born.
I scoured the adverts in the local press and found one in the ‘Yellow Paper’ (Scottish SuperMart) not too far from us but at £1,500 it was more than this pair of recently wed dreamers were willing to stretch to.
The same car popped up a couple of weeks later with a ‘£1,000 ono’ tag and we decided to go for a look.
I knew a little bit about the Spitfire and could see it was on the wrong wheels and that the sidelights were wrong but it still looked great to my untrained eye. It had been restored enthusiastically by its seller and would be a solid base, we decided, for me to turn into a rather nice example. Dad took it for a test drive and reported that the rear transverse spring needed replaced, the electrics were a bit suspect and the overdrive kept dropping in and out. He suggested £750 which was grudgingly agreed by the seller and we set off back home from Mearnskirk with me driving the Spit.
I swear I had £750 of fun on the way back….
I ran about everywhere in her and did the ‘small jobs’ that kept her running before our attention turned to making her a bit more respectable. Sourcing the correct wheels and refinishing the hardtop (which had been painted in black undersea to mimic vinyl) was my job – all were duly stripped back and filled / repainted as necessary. It became obvious that any further painting would be best left to a professional….
The colour was chosen as was the garage and after a fortnight of waiting, Sandy Wallace called to say she was ready. Resplendent in her new green coat, we ran her home via Stewarton to show Eileen’s Mum (Where she promptly broke down in a garage forecourt (flat battery!) and Galston to show my Mum & Dad (where we left her running for fear of the same…) before getting to Darvel with grins as wide as the Clyde. She definitely turned heads!
I distinctly recall a conversation that night with a neighbour of Mum & Dad’s who came to see what was afoot and having regaled me with tales of his old GT6, asked me what was next?
I said carpets and seats whereupon he told me “You’ll never finish it”. I assured him I would.
She was a regular sight around Ayrshire until we decided to go to the Culzean Classic Car Show in her. We never made it – a sheared trunnion put paid to that and a good bit of the underside and bonnet.
The Spit was duly repaired by Dad and I but a lot of confidence in her was lost and our trips became a lot shorter. I resolved to restore her from the ground up. My wife however had other ideas for our money and a house was purchased instead. When we went to drive Spitty to the new place, we discovered that the clutch had seized and towed her there instead.
That was 1999 and she hasn’t been on a public road since……
Dad started working on her a few months before he died in 2012, saying it would be great to see her on the road again and I could do it with my boys just like we had. I didn’t have the heart to touch it again until recently.
She’s a 1968 Mk 3, deliberately chosen as she was built right between my wife’s birthday and my own. Apparently we all turn 50 this year, so we better make a go of getting her back on the road 😉
Back up to date with some actual restoration work next time!