Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Roadworthy old wreck

    This morning a bloke in a tin shed on the edge of an English village spent half an hour poring over the Rusty Old Wreck before pronouncing it roadworthy and issuing it with an MOT test certificate. It is now legal to drive on the Queen's highway for the next year, given a quick trip with the certificate and its insurance details to the village post office for a tax disc which was free on account of the Wreck's historic vehicle status.
    Such are the minor annoyances of British automotive bureaucracy.
    It would have been the perfect start to the day, except that the Wreck's clutch is slipping. Fifty year old springs are not doing a very good job of keeping the plate pressed against the flywheel and it is very difficult to make the car go any faster than thirty miles per hour without a sudden burst of revs as it loses adhesion.
     How unfortunate. Luckily I know another bloke in a tin shed who can help, sometime soon I'll be off to the lair of someone who is a World Expert on Wrecks and who I am sure will be able to sort me out with the parts I need.
    Every branch of motor enthusiasm has a bloke in a tin shed somewhere catering for its adherents. Everyone I know with a Wreck has the World Expert on speed-dial, and similarly my motorcycles and the Turbocharged Rollerskate are tended by equivalent experts in their own fields working out of anonymous industrial units.
    There is a cosy certainty to a conversation within the fold of similarly afflicted petrolheads. In the world of the true enthusiast there is no room for hierarchy or snobbery, from the rustiest Wreck to the shiniest concours d'elegance winner they are all machines and thus fascinating to the born fettler. I can no more explain the attractions of a detailed conversation about the different clutch parts fitted to pre- and post-1963 cars as I can the attraction of a Little Black Dress to someone who looks like me, but strangely they both fulfill the same function: that of keeping the brain occupied. Which is important when you are trying to stop yourself going potty.
     It's been too long since I last drove the Wreck. I was worried I'd not rediscover the spark, but today has been a good one and the girl has not intruded too much. Something which given the experience of my last few weeks can only be a positive thing.


  1. At least your wreck is young enough not to be the subject of the annual joke that mine is the butt of. Every year the tester asks if he should be looking for woodworm rather than rust. Testers don't understand cars nearing 90 years old. One thing that I do like about my car is that the period advertising stated that it was especially suitable for ladies; how apropriate for me.

  2. Hooray for the wreck! Let's face it, there will always be something to fix; just like us! :D

  3. Let's hear it for the tin shed! I recall one in Rowlands Castle, within which lurked a lathe and bloke combination that looked competent to spin off an entire engine; and one in Portsmouth where a wheelwright plied his trade, and everything was low down because he didn't have any legs... and Bristol's Piston Broke, if only for the name...

  4. Hey at least you have a brain Jenny! Mine is but two molecules, one of which is asleep and the other is always pi**ed! At this moment they are both on holiday too! LOL. Remind me, what make of 'wreck' is the old jalopy? A photo? I suppose having an old wreck will help keep you off the streets though, in more ways than one!

    Shirley Anne xxx

  5. Thanks all, yes it's amazing to have it running. I took it out for a <30mph potter this afternoon, couldn't resist.

    It's kinda heartening to find that despite globalisation and mass production there are still tin sheds in which you can find anything or get anything made, if you know where to look. I did balk at one though a couple of years ago and fitted later headlights rather than getting a 1950s headlight expensively rechromed.

    Yes, I guess the 40 years between 1920 and 1960 saw the steepest automotive curve of the 20th century. For one thing, I still have a half-decent chance of a motor factor carrying parts for the Wreck.

    I keep a veil over the Wreck's identity because as the underpowered and unloved version 1 of a familiar 1950s/60s car your aunt or uncle probably had it's a surprisingly rare car. Thus it probably wouldn't be difficult for one versed in the world of Wrecks to put their finger on me. Email me if you really want a picture :)