About Car Clubs

The large Motoring organisations have their place in the complex world of unfixable -by-the -roadside vehicles, in which we travel nowadays. Their scope of operations is impressive, with special vans for draining fuel tanks inadvertently filled with incorrect fluid and even the normal patrol vans are amazingly well kitted out. Having dropped Mrs Our Man James’s Ford Fiesta into a giant pothole, whilst trying to avoid white van man, who was taking up more than his fair share of usable tarmac, a call to one of these Motoring Organisations was essential as one wheel was totally buckled and the tyre thereon destroyed.
Excitement at the prospect of trying the special ap on the mobile telephone was quickly quashed when contact could not be achieved, but a call to the telephone number on the back of the card was more successful, until the operative on the other end was unable to locate us. Being about 2 miles from the centre of Winchester we were declared untraceable, but after pleading to be put in touch with the local patrol man direct, we soon had him by our side. What happened next was amazing. We had already established that our near new Ford Fiesta carried no spare as it was thought that a can of foam would be adequate to solve most flat tyres. So our hero produced from the back of his van, some equipment with which a replacement wheel and tyre were conjured up, not something that you could use normally, but perfectly adequate to reach the nearest Tyre Specialist. Being closed at the time, said hero followed us 15 miles to said Tyre place, removed his temporary wheel and replaced our bent one, ready for rectification the following morning. Bravo we thought apart from the bill for £600 odd the following morning to fix the problem including new wheel and tyre plus a proper get you home spare wheel, in case this happened again.

Anyway this just demonstrates that it pays to be a member of such a motoring organisation. When living with a Classic Car, there can be restrictions from these organisations on the age of the vehicle they are prepared to help. Worth checking on renewal of your subscription, particularly if the car is over 15 years old.

Owners of these older vehicles are thus advised to join the Club that caters for their particular vehicle. This will provide technical help and spares where possible and attending their meetings will greatly improve one’s social life.

Besides these One Make Clubs are other great Clubs such as The Vintage Sports Car Club, which offer help for a myriad of vehicles and run superb events throughout the year for certain vehicles.Even older vehicles can join the Veteran car Club and for the racers there are a number of specialist Clubs available.

Our man James has been a founder member of his local Club, which met once a month at a local pub. There are many such Clubs dotted about the Country, but this one is special. This Club actually was disbanded some years ago, as no one could replace its esteemed Chairman. There was no Secretary, no Committee and no subscription, but it worked really well. each month someone would produce a quiz, organise a Road Run, or there might be a Speaker and there was an annual Barbecue. As most of the Membership were somewhat past their ‘Use By’ date, it is not always possible for them to remember the Club had been disbanded, so every first Wednesday they meet at the same pub and chat about all things Motoring.

So, do try and join some Car Club. It will give you confidence to really enjoy your Classic Car.

About vehicles our man James currently enjoys.

Having just spent a happy two and a half years with Beech Hill Garage
dealing with all matters concerning M.G.’s, buying, selling, fixing and repairing them, Our Man James has learnt a lot and formed quite an attachment to the marque.
Clearly, due mainly to the great age of Our Man James, preference is for the pre war and fifties style, particularly the TA, TB, TC’s and TDs. If you want a reasonably simple sporting car, these take a lot of beating and Beech Hill Gargage know them well and can provide parts and expertise to support them.
For lovers of later models, particularly the MGBs, again, Beech Hill know their stuff and usually have a good selection. Their man Anthony will bore you to death with the merits of the MGC but for practical help, the mechanics, will get you out of trouble.
Now there is a certain amount of hesitation when it comes to owning one of the later MGF’s and TF’s. They are great fun and providing you buy wisely and maintain them correctly, you will enjoy them. Again Our Mann James recommends a call to Beech Hill Garage, for their own cars come with a decent warranty and will have had the dreaded head gasket and/or cambelt change done or carefully checked for wear.If you need one fixed.
Our Man James has parted company with the Firm on very amicable terms and they have all become great friends. Good quality MGs For sale and Wanted- Give Alex or Will a ring on 01189884774, or see the website www.beechhillgarage.com

Meanwhile what is in the Our Man Jamesgarage at home near Andover? Again, being an elderly person, comfort and reliability come first so it has to be a 1933 Austin Light 12/4 Harley Saloon.

The car was restored in 1977 and following a reliable trip to The Le Mans Classic, was put into dry storage for some 30 odd years. Retrieved a few years ago and re-commissioned, it eventually found its way to Our Man James, where it has been carefully checked over and has been seen out and about at local runs and Rallies, including the Bean Car Club Daffodil Run. It seems in great fettle mechanically and bodywork is sound. The paint is getting old but looks authentic and the interior boasts original looking leather in the back, although the front seats have been refreshed. Headlining and carpets are all good. Currently on offer in Car and Classic website or call 07768 630969 for details.Might swap for early MG with cash adjustment.
WARNING: tell your friends you own a Harley and they expect you to turn up in leathers with bushy whiskers etc.

For the longer run or Grand Tour even, the 1939 Rover 14 sports saloon is a must, particularly for those that cannot quite stretch to the £50,000 needed for a Derby Bentley. The six cylinder engine of just under 2 litres, pulls well through a 4 speed manual gearbox with the added Freewheel device. This when engaged, removes any form of engine braking, so taking your foot off at a dire moment, leaves you with no alternative but to ram whatever has blocked your progress. That apart, with sunshine roof, the smell of old leather, wood and oilyness, this is a delightful Gentleperson’s conveyance.

Then of course, every Classic Collection needs a Commercial so Our Man James was delighted to acquire this little gem:
The Dansk Oversoisk Motor Industrie imported Morris Cowley commercial chassis cabs in the 1950’s and fitted their own coachbuilt bodies. These originally had the split screen front end and scuttle of the MO series, but it appears that in later years Morris Minor chassis were also used, lengthened to take the DOMI body.
The vans were popular with the Scandinavian Post Office and it is thought that a lone Minor may survive.
Offered here is a 1969 Morris Minor Van, with chassis suitably lengthened, on to which has been grafted coachwork from an original Domi grp mould. A 1275cc BMC engine is fitted, coupled to a Ford Sierra five speed gearbox and disc brakes are fitted to the front with servo.
The cockpit is standard Morris 1000 but with a good quality wood rimmed steering wheel.
The vehicle is thus rare, yet highly usable and enormous fun. A definite head turner enhanced further by the period Morris sun visor.

As we move into 2018 the above three vehicles have been lured away to new homes. Current replacements:-

1991 MAZDA MX5 EUNOS, a cute little roadster with hard and soft tops, rollover bars, nicely presented in green with smart tan trim. The automatic gearbox is a great boon to a mildly damaged Our Man James. It seems to have done about 75000miles and has clearly been well loved.

1952 STANDARD VANGUARD PHASE 1A, just the thing for comfy cruising for 5/6 people. Remarkably good condition following careful rebuild by John Alexander, chief mechanic at Beech hill garage. These are really rare now and a lovely example of 1950’s motoring.

Due in in the New Year is a very pretty Austin Ten Sherborne, which is being partexchanged against our dear old !2/4 Harley.

As June approaches the Mazda is coming into its own with open top motoring between the showers. The Sherborne and vanguard having moved on, the search was on for a prewar sporting car M.G. or similar. What came along has been a complete surprise and fits the bill admirably. Not as expensive to run as some vehicles of this era yet extremely rare is a 1936 Austin Ten Ripley Sports. This little 4 seat tourer was delivered new to Derbyshire Constabulary with 5 others, to take up patrol duties around Belper. Being a police car, the engine featured a high lift camshaft and a downdraught carb, making 65 mph possible against the standard 55! The car was restored by its previous owner in about 1997 and still looks great. A trip by train and boat to the Isle of Wight, with young assistant and the car was collected, driven across to Yarmouth, then home via Lymington, in the rain, but otherwise no problem. Truly a great find, very sporty yet with Austin Ten running costs we hope!

Just goes to show you never know what you can find.

About the end of the Tax Disc.

From 1st october 2014, it will no longer be necessary to display the good old fasioned tax disc in your vehicle’s windscreen. Instead the police, having nothing better to do, can check each and every vehicle on the road by means of sophisticated computer wizardry, paid for by all motorists,to see that each vehicle is insured, has an M.O.T.’ where required, and has actually paid Road Fund Tax.
We the general public will not be able to tell at a glance if a vehicle presented to us for sale, or involved in an accident with us, is actually road legal.

There is a dedicated telephone line you can ring 0300 1234321. to buy Road Fund Tax when required or a website, >www.gov.uk/tax-disc, or you can still enjoy a trip to the Post Office and queue up in the usual way. No one will now give you a Tax disc, but, providing your vehicle is insured and has a current M.O.T. certificate, you will be permitted to use it on the public highway.

What happens when I sell a vehicle or if I buy one?

Notify change of ownership in the normal way, using the green slipV5C/2 if selling to a private individual or, if you are selling to a Trader V5C3, the yellow one.
DVLA will automatically refund any surplus Road Fund Tax, accruing to the Vendor, but it does of course mean that the vehicle is no longer taxed and can’t be driven away by the Purchaser. He/She must straight away, use the telephone number or website as above, or call at the nearest Post Office to re tax the vehicle. If you want to pay by monthly direct debit, this can only happen if you use the post Office.

How does this effect the Trade?

The Trader is going to have to reach for his Trade Plates. Once he has taken a car in part exchange, or purchased it, he can clearly not drive it anywhere as any tax which might have remained on the vehicle is void. He could register the vehicle in his company name and effectively pay for Road Fund Tax, but presumably he cannot pass the benefit on to a purchaser, as once again the tax disappears at point of sale. Current rules do not allow for a Trader to recover any unused Road Fund Tax on a vehicle as in the past, so does he lose any money he has spent having the car taxed whilst in his ownership?

So how does this effect Classic Cars, or Historics as DVLA call them ?

Currently there are thousands of Classic vehicles running about perfectly legally with no M.O.T. and being exempt from Road Fund Tax .However a Classic Vehicle does have to display a tax disc. Presumably when such a vehicle is pinged by a police camera, it will only show it as insured. The owner is up to 30th September, required to display a Tax disc, but on 1st October he is no longer required so to do.

So if you sell a Classic vehicle, you would send off the green or yellow slip in the usual way to DVLA. There is no Road Fund Duty to claim back, but the change of ownership is recorded. The Purchaser must ensure the vehicle is insured before driving it away, but presumably needs to take no further action, or does he/she need to telephone DVLA or go on line to the website to apply not to have Road fund tax? Is DVLA satisfied of the new ownership by virtue of the fact that the sale has been notified to them by receipt of the green/yellow V5C slip? It seems logical that the new owner of a Classic vehicle need do no more, but is that correct?

Likewise, is it also true that a Classic Car Trader need also do nothing, as there is no need to Tax the vehicle whilst in his ownership? DVLA will have been advised by the Vendor that the Trader has acquired the vehicle, it doesnt require a Road Fund Licence, so provided the Trader’s insurance is in order, he can go on using it without trade plates can he? Or is the Exempt Tax status lost on sale, just like the normal one, so that even the Trader will have to re apply for a Tax Exemption on the vehicle.

When the Trader sells the Classic vehicle on, provided the Purchaser has insured it, can it be driven away? The next few Classic Car Auctions will be interesting! In the good old days one could turn up at an Auction, bid on a vehicle, and if it had Road Fund Tax, you notified your Insurance Company and drove it home. For Traders with a Trade Policy it was dead easy. It rather sounds like a telephone call to DVLA or a visit to their website, may be required just to apply for No Road Fund Duty. There won’t be a Post Office anywhere to hand, especially at the weekend, so forget that angle. Hopefully this has been carefully thought about and someone will have a ruling.

Meanwhile keep calm and carry the can if you have got it wrong.

About acquiring your ‘Starter’ Classic

Eventually an itch will need to be scratched and an acquistion is due, but what to buy for that first foray into the world of Classic Vehicles? Our Man James has looked at some of the ways of making an actual purchase but what to buy?

It has long been a general rule to look at the potential cost of upkeep of a proposed purchase. You may be able to purchase an Aston or E type Jaguar but think about cost of upkeep. It was expensive when new so parts and specialist labour will make it just as expensive to maintain now , if not more.

On this note, it is important to know you have a ready access to spares and probably expertise, so look for good Club support and maybe a good local source of expertise, which will not deprive you of your shirt and limbs.

Decide upon the age of vehicle. This will be governed by the above factor but also by what you want to do with your Classic. Certain events cater for certain ages of vehicle, so if you want to get involved in pre-war events, you will need a pre-war vehicle clearly.There are lots of one make clubs so you may be attracted to their events.

Or Man James has had all manner of Classics through The Motor House and looks at some possibles for a starter Classic.

For the Prewar catagory, keep it simple. British is good as spares are likely to be easier to find. Actually having said that some of the American cars provide a very impressive spares backup. Ford are particularly good so Model A could be considered. Model T’s are also well catered for but see under ‘About driving your Classic’. Austins and Morris are probably the best for pre-war starter.

Looking at post-war Classics, the same general rule applies. Look at the Clubs available. Are they active and are spares plentiful?
Morris 1000s and Austin A30/35’s spring to mind but also consider the Triumph Herald/Vitesse, Ford Popular/Anglia and Prefect. If you want to be a little different the Citroen 2c.v. is a lot of fun.

Don’t be afraid to have a go. The experience will be uplifting.

About Classic Ignition Keys

Somebody mentioned the other day, whilst enjoying a mug of Motor House tea, that there was a lot of confusion regarding the various types or series of ignition keys.   This prompted a rummage amongst the many and various bits of paper accumulated on the garage pin board.   The following information is not vouchsafed as deadly accurate and is offered for just what you are paying for it!


 Profiles of some of the classic key series.


Austin Morris Rover


A four or five digit number

Prefix RO, VL, VV, VN, E, L, R or S followed by 4 digits (e.g. VN1546)

Prefix NSP followed by four or five digits (e.g. NSP7546)

Prefix BL followed by 4 digits, and possibly a suffix N (e.g. BL1546 or BL1562N)

Prefix FS followed by 2 or 3 digits (e.g. FS492)

Door Locks:

Prefix FS followed by 2 or 3 digits (e.g. FS63)

Prefix from BC to FT, FR, LF, CB, or V followed by 3 digits (e.g. BC328)

Prefix AK, TC, or TX followed by three or four digits

Prefix RO, VL, VV or VN, followed by 4 digits (e.g. VN1546, Austin Princess Only)

NP followed by a number from 1-1000 (e.g. NP0384)

Petrol Cap:

Prefix E, BC to FT, J, E, or W followed by 3 digits (e.g. J385)

Prefix AK, TC, TX, NP, NSP or K followed by 4 digits (e.g. K1836)


Ford Car Key

Prefix AK, TC or TX followed by four digits (e.g. TX0485)

Three digit number

Prefix A followed by 3 digits


Hillman Car Key

Prefix RM or RL followed by three digits (e.g. RM867)

Prefix FS followed by two or three digits (e.g. FS14)

Prefix VV, VL, VN, or RO followed by four digits (e.g. VL1546)


Humber Car Key

Prefix RM or RL followed by three digits (e.g. RM867)

Prefix FS followed by two or three digits (e.g. FS14)


MG Car Key

TC + early TD cars used MRN

Later T-series cars used FA, FP

MGA cars used FP

Early MGB, MGB-GT, Midget used FP

Mid range MGB, MGB-GT, Midget used FS

MGB 77-80 used RV

MGB doors and boot – very early cars FP but most FS

Cars with steering locks 69-72 used MG

Cars with steering locks 73-77 used AA, X51, X29, NE24


Morgan Car Key

There appears to be an MW series which may be specific to Morgan


Riley Car Key

A four digit number

Prefix FS followed by two or three digits (e.g. FS12)

Prefix BC, FT, LF, CB or FP followed by three digits (e.g. FT123)

Prefix RO, BL, VL, VV or VN followed by four digits (e.g. RO1534)


Singer Car Key

Prefix RM or RL followed by three digits (e.g. RM867)

Prefix FS followed by two or three digits (e.g. FS14)

Prefix VV, VL, VN, SL or RO followed by four digits (e.g. VL1546)

Prefix J followed by three digits


Sunbeam Car Key

Prefix RM or RL followed by three digits (e.g. RM867)

Prefix FS followed by two or three digits (e.g. FS14)

Prefix VV, VL, VN, SL or RO followed by four digits (e.g. VL1546)

Prefix J followed by three digits


Triumph Car Key

A four digit number

Prefix FS followed by two or three digits

Prefix BC to FT, LF, FA and CB followed by three digits

Prefix NG, FP, NH, FR, FZ or WR followed by four digits


Vauxhall and Opel Car Keys

A four digit number

Prefix A, B, C, E, F, G, H, J, or T followed by three digits (e.g. E493)

Prefix D, G, H, J, N, R, S, AB, BA, BB, EE, FF, WH, or WY followed by four digits (e.g. WH2458)


About the new M.O.T. regulations

Our Man James feels this is one of the most contentious issues to appear for a while. The Government propose that from November 2012, vehicles built before 1960 will not need an M.O.T.

Is this a license to abandon proper maintenance of elderly vehicles? Are the public at large about to lose confidence in the old car bearing down upon them? Will it stop or will something fall off,  perhaps  in the process,mowing down the proverbial bus queue?

Whilst the spirit of the Minister’s action is seemingly to recognise  that owners of elderly vehicles do in the main, look after their vehicles well, drive them sensibly and demonstrate great pride of ownership, even the most careful of us will miss something vital from time to time. We need our vehicles to be regularly monitored, even on a bi -annual basis. To abandon M.O.T.’s for good is in the view of Our Man James, quite foolhardy.

For the person about to purchase a pre -1960 vehicle, a really careful inspection will be needed. No longer will one  be able to skim through the car’s history and check past M.O.T. certificates with their advisory notes.

Apparently you will still be able to take a voluntary test and indeed if a purchase is contemplated it would be sensible to insist on an M.O.T. type inspection.

latest Developements

E.U.threatnes more mayhem.
The great and the good t’other side of the ditch now plan in about 10 years to ensure that all vehicles must be to original factory specifications. So no more putting 1275c.c. engines in Moggies and certainly you mustn’t fit better brakes to make them safer- oh no, simply will not do. When oh when are we going to rid ourselves of these idiots?

Our Man James welcomes your views

About studying Classic Car Auctions

Our Man James takes a tour of some of the Classic Car Auctions to look more at their individuality rather than their vehicles on offer at any particular time. Auction reports are freely available in the classic motoring press but little is said about the actual make up of the organisation and the atmosphere they generate.

For this purpose, under consideration, are the Auctions held outside the M25. The reason is that central London is so full of things that can fine you and remove your license that it seems safer to stay outside. An exception is;

Barons; www.barons-auctions.com or tel; 09454 306060.

operating out of the Surrey Hall at Sandown Park racecourse, Esher and founded in 1998, here is an attractive venue with plenty of parking for customer’s cars. Jaguars seem to be a firm favourite and plenty of knowledge seems available on the marque.

Meanwhile out in the Countryside beyond the M25:-

Anglia Car Auctions; www.angliacarauctions.co.uk  tel; 01553 771881

View Anglia Auct 001.jpg in slide show


In purpose built premises on outskirts of Kings Lynn. On site catering and toilets with customer’s car park. Large selection of vehicles and minimalist catalogue. Experienced Auctioneer. 5% buyer’s premium is attractive. Own transport and storage.

Brightwells.;  www.brightwells.com  tel:01568 611122

Excellent purpose built site with modern auction rooms, drive through hall etc. Cars usually displayed inside with large customer car park available. Good cafe and separate coffee stand. Duo of auctioneers maintain steady pace if a little lacking in humour. A good day out but a little more serious than others.


Dorset Vintage and Classic Auctions Ltd. www.dvca.co.uk   tel: 01963 363353

A firm favourite in the West Country. Run by the Chant family of husband, wife and daughter, with a few friends and helpers on sale days. Brian Chant is a former racer who competed strongly in his Alvis and knows the world of Classic Cars very well.. Four sales are held each year .at Athelhampton House,near Dorchester DT2 7LG. Here good humour mingles with enthusiasm and plenty of business is done under a fine old marquee. The nearby Restaurant provides some of the best snacks on the auction circuit. Auctioneer Fabian Hine combines rich humour with gentle finess. No wonder he is also used at Barons and Brooklands too. Far from the pressures of the City, this is a place to relax and enjoy buying or selling your Classic.

H & H: www.handh.co.uk  tel: 08458334455.

With a main office just outside Warrington, HndH are spreading their net beyond the main venue at The Pavilion in Buxton. This fine building is an impressive choice, with gardens and shops near at hand for the rest of the family to enjoy. The busy cafe is pleasant and the local ice cream particularly good. Cars are shown off very well in the elegant surroundings, with the better offerings in the Pavilion itself. Simon Hope is a keen motoring enthusiast, competing in races and on the last Peking Paris Rally. Knowledgeable and an Auctioneer, who manages to combine a business like approach with a neat injection of good humour. An enjoyable day out.Now spreading their wings with various fresh venues.

Herefordshire Vintage Auctions; www.hvauctions.com. tel: 01432 273373

Advertised as a sale for Enthusiasts run by Enthusiasts, at a venue which really should be visited. Set in the outbuildings of a magnificent Elizabethan country house,known as How Capel Court, with a mass of automobilia offered in what appears to be a modest Theatre, complete with stage and some scenery. Outside dotted around the yard, are the cars, mostly pre-war and interesting. Bacon butties and snacks are available on site and there is a wonderful atmosphere and certainly great enthusiasm as advertised. Strong Auctioneer who seems to be able to manage without much electrical assistance.

Matthewsons: www.matthewsons.co.uk.

Based on a village garage in Thornton -le -Dale in Yorkshire, with the actual sale in the Village Hall opposite, this is a relatively new auction Venue. To visit Thornton-le-Dale is a positive delight anyway, with a purpose built village car park and ample restaurants and tea rooms to provide refreshment for the weary punter. Cars are stacked around the garage premises with overspill around the village hall. Take care in crossing the road in between and you will have a pleasant day.


South West Vehicle Auctions; www.swva.co.uk. tel; 01202 745466


Known for its regular sales of modern cars, but with a Principal who is clearly a Classic Car Enthusiast, this is a well run operation not far from the picturesque Poole Harbour. Cars are driven through the Sale room and two Auctioneers keep up a good rate of sale. Cars are on view around the main building and can be stored in adjoining premises before or after a sale. Good canteen facilities and a business like air to the place.

Woodmans; www.woodmans-auctions.com  tel; 07766 811402

Very new to the Auction world with a sporty venue at Thruxton Circuit near Andover. Well presented cars in smart surroundings with well groomed young staff members. The Circuit cafe is on hand for refreshments

Sadly when Our Man Jam drove to Thruxton to view the second Woodmans auction, there was no sign of anyone or any vehicle. It would have been nice to know if it had been cancelled as precious fuel was used in the process.

Our Man James will try and sample more Auction Venues and if anyone has a particular favourite, do please tell.


About how can I have fun with my Classic Vehicle

Our Man James looks at ways you can enjoy motoring again in your Classic Vehicle. You have become used to the boring daily commute, school run or the weekend visits to in-laws, great aunts etc, but are you actually having fun along the way. No of course not, the car you are in is utterly reliable, you are often in heavy traffic or if the road is open, there are sneaky cameras about to stop you speeding or doing anything exciting.

There are plenty of ways of enjoying Classic Motoring. You just need to decide which is for you;

Local Natter and Noggin; there is bound to be a pub near you, at which a local car club will meet each month just to have a good chinwag and swap fibs.There will be a local branch of the Vintage Sports Car Club, an M.G. or Triumph Club and an Austin Seven Club for sure, and there will be others. The D.V.L.A. produced a list of Vehicle Owners Clubs V765/1. Is it still available?

The Classic Vehicle Show; There is bound to be one near you. It is hoped to list some soon but for now take a look in your local paper or Classic Car Magazine. Entry is often free but in many cases it is best to book in in advance. Arrive with car, picnic  gear and an open mind. Enjoy wandering amongst fellow enthusiasts and if you have joined a certain club, find their stand and have a chat. Some shows have an arena and you will be invited to drive your car around it for the enjoyment of the assembled company. You may make new friends, will not have parted with a lot of money and should return home with a smile. A favorite in the south is the Easter Monday gathering at Wyke Down near Andover or  the Bristol Classic Car Show at Shepton Mallet on 21/22nd could be for you.

If you like aeroplanes too, a visit to Popham near Basingstoke on 7th May, is a must.

The Rally or Road Run; this usually involves more effort on the part of your vehicle as you actually progress along a prescribed route, mostly made up of country lanes with nice things to look at, with perhaps a congenial stop for refreshment along the way. Some runs are more demanding than others. In the south maybe look at The  Bean Car Club Daffodil Run ( Maidenhead to Christchurch), passing through some lovely countryside including the New Forest. This year it is on April 22nd.

For those more confident there is Le Jog, a run from Lands End to John o Groats, you can try a Continental Tour, which is usually well organised with plenty of support along the way, too much to eat and drink, great company and wonderful scenery. The most ambitious will try the Peking to Paris three week run, but maybe not quite yet.

Competition. If you have the appropriate vehicle, a race meeting, sprint or hillclimb perhaps? Try a Track Day which will give you an idea of what is involved. Contact one of the racing circuits for details.

The Vintage Sports Car Club caters for all manner of competitive events, from racing to sporting trials. If you fancy a go at the latter and again have the right vehicle, these promise enormous enjoyment at rather less expense than out and out racing. The Midland Car Club has been running Trials for almost 100 years. Their three main events are well worth a look in Derbyshire and the West Country. At 3a.m. on a crisp Easter Sunday there is nothing quite like waiting on Beggar’s Roost for the first competitor to give it their all. The number of spectators who will arrive out of the mist , is quite extraordinary.

Our Man James  is happy to offer further help and advice on what is on and where. To make a complete list would be great but if you want to learn more just ask. Equally if you wish to promote an event, why not send details?



About can I make money from my Classic Vehicle?

Some of us may need an excuse for owning a Classic Vehicle, which will satisfy one’s beloved that there is a justification in having this additional member of the family, which may be consuming much of one’s time and not a little extra expense. Those with a more enthusiastic partner may be able to get away with a vague reference to the elderly devourer of garage space as simply being an ‘investment’ or a ‘pension fund’.

Our Man James has found that many would -be enthusiasts do indeed need to show some form of advantage in owning something which after all, is probably going to cause one’s partner a good measure of discomfort and distress in the course of ownership. It can become not so much a talking point, but a cause of fairly serious family discord.

Therefore it is prudent to try and demonstrate that ‘the old girl’ can produce a modest income to help defray expenses.So can we look at ways this might be achieved?

Wedding Hire;

Many good people have turned to this idea with mixed results. Our Man James suggests that not only are there too many cars chasing too few weddings, but the amount of work involved and actual capital tied up in vehicle(s), cleaning materials, fake flowers, ribbons etc, does not represent a reasonable return on energy and cash deployed.

Also it will be noted that whereas there was a tendency for a church service to precede a reception at a desirable venue, the owners of such desirable venues seem to have managed to acquire the necessary legal status, to conduct the wedding on site, thereby obviating the need for traditional transport from church to reception. Thus less classic vehicles are required to perform such a service. You might think that you could offer to take the newlyweds to an airport or suchlike, but beware, whilst both insurance companies and local authority private hire license officials will usually allow the trip from church to reception and indeed collection of bride from home to church, once you go beyond this , the rules change. You will need a private hire license and special insurance.

Then one must consider if the vehicle is actually reliable enough to perform correctly throughout the day, often in extremes of heat, wet etc. Our Man James has suffered the humiliation of having a bride and her father push start a reticent De Dion Bouton down the family driveway. On another occasion a magnificent Vauxhall Grosvenor Limousine had a puncture on leaving a country church. Fortunately the assembled company were strapping farmers and they lifted the car and replaced the wheel in a time which would have been awesome to a Formula One pit crew.

Then there is the physical effort involved. The car must be not only perfect mechanically but it must be immaculate inside and out. Nothing worse than a bride going up the aisle with a muddy patch on her expensive dress, or as in one case a blackened backside, where an operator had thoughtfully polished the leather seat with boot polish beforehand.

If you suffer from nerves, particularly stage fright, this is not for you. It is so important that nothing goes wrong that it usually does. Brides have appeared at a different church to their groom, bridesmaids and mothers of the bride have been stranded far from the target area and all manner of disasters have been known to occur.

Wedding Hire is thus not for the faint hearted and in any case is probably well catered for already by long established firms, with well trained staff and the all important backup cars.

AND NOW just when we thought this might be a good idea, we are told that there are plans afoot to regularise the Wedding Car Fleets. You will need a criminal record check amongst other things and pay a vast fee to be told what you already know- that you are perfectly capable of providing a safe and reliable wedding hire service. Lots of ‘Wedding’ cars expected on the market soon and we all need to think of another excuse to own our Classic Car

Filmwork then?

The world of films and T.V. sounds romantic and for a few moments of fame, anything seems worthwhile. The 6.30a.m. call to a set in the back of beyond, can lead to a day of total boredom, awaiting the cue for man and vehicle to take part, which may not happen for several hours. A scene is usually shot more than once and sometimes very many times, with a variety of earnest looking people being very polite but telling you to do something different each time. It is great to have your brief moment on camera, but much of your work will not make it to the final cut. Moneywise it can be quite rewarding, especially if you are producing the lead vehicle, to be driven by the hero/heroine.

There are firms that specialize in finding vehicles for film sets. Some will buy a car but more often they will rent it by the day. Good firms will collect your car, look after it and return it to you, usually in good order. Some come back covered in a special effects type gunge which can be hard to remove. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable firm with proper insurance.

Clearly there will be other ways of helping to justify the cost of your Classic Vehicle. Our  Man James welcomes any other ideas which might serve to keep a partner happy that the brute is not just a drain on resources.

About Insuring a Classic Vehicle

Generally Classic Car owners are treated kindly by insurance companies, probably on the grounds that they are going to look after their vehicle, cherish it and generally drive it in a sensible way so as to maintain its condition. Hence we see some very realistic premiums being quoted for cars that are 10 years old or older.

Certainly if you are needing a second car for a member of the family, it is well worth considering a Classic Vehicle. Indeed it is thought that this is one way a young driver can get started with his/her own car. A Morris 1000 or A35 is an extremely useable car and can be insured for less than £100 per annum for a normal driver. It is worth asking for a quote for a young driver for such a vehicle. It may prove cheaper than the favoured Vauxhall Corsa. O.K. junior’s street cred may suffer but it is ‘wheels’ and ‘wheels’ means freedom.

There are a number of Firms specialising in Classic Car Insurance and Our Man James has listed a few, leaving out those who will not accept drivers over 75 on the grounds of discrimination.

Adrian Flux                                  http://www.adrianflux.co.uk/classics

Carole Nash                                http://www.carolenash.com/other-insurance/classic-car

Classic Car Insurance                http://www.classicscarinsurance.co.uk/

Hagerty                                        http://www.hagertyinsurance.co.uk/

Heritage                                       http://www.heritage-quote.co.uk