About Electric bits

Unlike water troubles, electrical troubles may be harder to spot. An egress of water is pretty obvious, but the lack of electricity where there should be some is a mystery. At this point Our Man James advocates the summoning of an expert, who will arrive with various probes and meters, suck his teeth and tell you its going to be expensive.

Basically the older the car, the simpler the electrics. You might have a magneto, which produces a spark and dispenses it to the plugs, or you might have a coil, which bungs a charge at the distributor for onward transmission to the plugs.

Then there are the ancillaries, lights, wipers, horn etc, which will run via a system of wires, known as the loom and take power either from the battery or if the engine is running via a dynamo or alternator. The wires were originally colour coded, so that you can trace an individual circuit in attempt to find a fault.

For those of a more practical nature, fixing an electrical fault is no more difficult than solving the odd murder, you narrow down the suspects until you find the culprit. Trouble is, just as it is possible for a murder suspect to inflict harm on a pursuer, so it is possible to for an electrical fault to inflict a good measure of pain and distress on the investigator. Shocks, burns and fire damage are not unheard of.

If you are unsure about your wiring , you may like to make contact with an enthusiastic family firm, who are producing large scale wiring diagrams for the popular classic cars. Currently they can cater for over 100 makes and models, so it is worth giving them a try. The wiring diagrams are printed on magnetic paper, so you can simply attach them to a metal bonnet whilst you work. They also produce an easy reference manual, containing a detachable wiring diagram plus lots of useful information about the servicing needs of your vehicle.Have a look at    www,framebook.co.uk

Our Man James would welcome input and advice about electrical problems. A simple discourse on Magnetos, Dynamos etc would be useful. Likewise if you have an electrical problem, someone might spark up with the answer.

About Registering your Classic Vehicle

Normally when you purchase a vehicle, it should be accompanied by a registration document (V5C), showing that its details are recorded at D.V.L.A. in Swansea. You are obliged to notify Swansea if you change anything to do with the vehicle, ownership, colour, engine etc. Watch out for new rules for scrapping a vehicle, although hopefully this will not apply to Classic Vehicles.

Where a vehicle is imported from abroad and is to be used on British Roads, it will need to be registered.

Where a vehicle has been ‘discovered’ often without paperwork, it will be necessary to make contact with Swansea to obtain a registration number and it is important to ask for a registration number which relates to the age of the vehicle.

In both of the above cases you will find that there is a Local Vehicle Registration Office near you and it is worth a visit. You should be furnished with the appropriate set of forms, which you complete and hand in. It is likely that you will be required to present your vehicle for inspection at some stage and this is best done by trailering it to the requisite location. Driving it there may well be illegal and will not be popular in most cases.

Some people are better at dealing with paperwork than others and for those who become distressed by the sight of an official looking form, then worry not help is at hand. There is a man who appears to have made a lifetime study of matters D.V.L.A and can cope with the myriad of officialdom with consummate ease.His knowledge of elderly vehicles is legendary, so Our Man James recommends that you contact Michael Worthington-Williams at   worthycomments@btconnect.com .


About Lubricants, wet and greasy stuff for ClassicVehicles

Rather like acquiring a new pet, you need to know quite quickly just what is good for it and what will upset it.

So it is with your Classic Vehicle, it will thrive on the right lubricants and may become expensive on the wrong ones. Our Man James takes a look at those available and gives heed to advice gained over the years.

Environmental Note; You already have a vehicle which was constructed prior to the global warming issue becoming so important. You may therefore feel obliged to use the eco -friendly fuels and oils, to make amends for your social transgression in acquiring such a device in the first place. Our Man James is sympathetic to the green issues but would rather not see the roadsides littered with broken Classic Vehicles, thereby adding further abuse to the environment.

Since the latter part of the last millennium, cars have acquired cats, not the type which regularly find warmth under the bonnet of vehicles in the Motor House and have to be ejected therefrom, but things that reduce the harmful emissions from the engine by means way beyond the writer’s expertise. ( cue for a boring blog perhaps). Using a special high tech oil suitable for cats, in an old engine can be a mistake.

Thoughts on making the right choice.

Firstly, if in the excitement of acquiring your Classic you can remember, ask the vendor what oils he has used and where. This will save time and give you a clue as to whether or not he/she has maintained the car in a sensible manner.

Secondly look in the Instruction book or better still, the Workshop manual, if the car comes with one. If not contact the owner’s club and find out if you can obtain one. If none available, ask the Club’s technical expert. Don’t be shy, he should know.

Generally speaking prewar cars and some of those built in the fifties and sixties, will probably fare best on straight 30 grade oil in winter and 40 grade in summer. These are available from the likes of Castrol, Penrite, Millers, Morris etc. They will not necessarily be cheap in comparison to budget 20/50’s and sundry other multigrades, but engine rebuilds are not cheap either.

Remember the oil changes in those times were carried out every three thousand miles or so, unlike modern cars which seem to survive for 20,000 miles between services. Also be aware that cars of the older type, will be a mite incontinent and probably burn a bit, so it is important to check the oil level regularly, i.e. at least once a week.

Modern multigrades contain detergents amongst other things. Hence that bit of sludge you have minding its own business in one corner of the sump, can with a modern multigrade, be seized and flung into some more important part of the works, causing blockage or worse.

Careful how you use running- in oil on a newly rebuilt engine with white metal bearings as opposed to shells. It can have the effect of eating away at your nice new white metalling.

If you are not sure what oil is in the various parts of your new acquisition, it may be worth draining everything out, consult the manual/club expert, as to what should go where, note it down and put what you know is right where you know it should be.


Early cars ran on unleaded. It was not until 1933 that lead arrived in petrol. In those days however you had to de-carbonise your engine about every 10,000 miles. This involved removal of the cylinder head, carefully scraping the carbon deposits off the top of the pistons, removing the valves and likewise cleaning them and re grinding them into their seats. The seating of the valves ensured that nothing leaked past the valves and a perfect flush fit was everything. Lead lubricated the valves and seats and helped to extend the period needed between de-carbonising. Modern fuels made the process redundant.

Enter the Green Party and eco- warriors. Lead quickly became bad news and had to go.  Engines without hardened valve seats were most at risk, but many could continue to be used on the new unleaded fuel. There are firms which will convert a cylinder head to take unleaded fuel and there are various additives one can use to replace the lead. Again this is a good moment to ask your Technical expert of the Club for advice.

One of the biggest issues at this time is the government’s desire to increase the amount of ethanol in petrol. This environmentally friendly idea is causing problems with the older vehicle as this substance appears to attack certain rubber and other seals and it has been reported that it will eat through a motorcycle’s fibregalss fuel tank with disastrous results.

Certainly there appears to be an upsurge in fuel related problems in the classic car world.Where a rusty fuel tank has been treated with a sealant, it seems that the ethanol breaks down this sealant, blocking fuel lines, jets and so forth. There is an upsurge in the demand for new fuel tanks. The F.B.H.V.C.* is combating the use of ethanol on behalf of the classic car movement. Comments and updates welcomed.

Good News- Well done F.B.H.V.C.

Despite there being an E.U. directive to have a 10% target on biofuel use by 2020, the Department of Transport have deferred their plans to double the maximum amount of Ethanol in our petrol. It has been pointed out that some 4 million vehicles will be severely affected by the new E10 fuel. The F.B.H.V.C. is currently testing suitable additives to combat the use of Ethanol. Meanwhile it appears that if in doubt use petrol with a minimum octane of 97 RON or more as so far these are ethanol free.


The introduction of synthetic oils for hydraulic brakes and clutch systems throws up another question. How suitable are these in the older car? The earlier hydraulic systems were a bit prone to sticking pistons in the wheel cylinders, especially if the vehicle was left unused for a period. Apparently changing to a synthetic hydraulic oil can help. Our Man James welcomes further thoughts on this and all matters relating to lubricants, greases and so forth.


*Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs aka ‘FBHVC’


This is the organisation which represents our fancy with the Government’s various forms of legislation and administration. It runs a most informative and factual website wherein may be found data on such hot topics as Bio Fuel, and the addition of ethanol with the associated problems that this occasions.




It is worth half an hour’s browse at this address …..







About Transporting Your Classic Car

You have purchased your Classic Vehicle. How are you getting it home or do you need to move it from one place to another for repair or restoration?

If you are sufficiently confident in the vehicle and your journey is not too irksome, then by all means with the insurance, road fund tax and M.O.T. in place, drive it. Our Man James outlines a few thoughts on transporting your classic car:-

Remember the age of the car. It probably was not designed for the long, fast dash up the motorway. If an elderly engine is run at constantly high speed, something will break. At the very least remember to lift your foot off the throttle from time to time, to allow the oil to reach places which will become starved of lubrication. A surge of oil through the system will be very beneficial. If you are not really used to the period controls and behavior of an old car then it is sensible to have it transported, or if you have access to a good tow vehicle and trailer, then fetch it by all means. Again check with your insurance company that you are covered to tow a trailer. You will need to have suitable straps and be aware of legislation affecting the towing of a trailer. Check on the weight of the loaded trailer to make sure it does not exceed the recommended towing weight of the towing vehicle. Did you know that a trailer is not allowed in the outside lane of a motorway? Once the car is home you are on territory you know and you can bond with your car in familiar surroundings.

Alternatively there are plenty of reliable Transport firms and individuals who will move the car for you. Make sure they have the correct Goods in Transit insurance and obtain a quote for the job. It may be possible on the longer runs to negotiate on a ‘return load ‘ basis, wherein your vehicle is collected at a time when the Transport firm has a lorry going in the appropriate direction. For continental work there are firms who specialize in long haul work taking several vehicles at one time. Fuel costs are rising all the time so it is hard to predict how much you should pay.

Do make a point of checking that your chosen Transport Firm has a valid Goods in Transit Insurance Policy

Shipping a vehicle abroad or bringing one in needs help from specialist Shipping agents, When buying a car from Australia you need to build in shipping costs, including all relevant port dues, insurance and Customs Duty. To all  this needs to be added V.A.T., normally at the current 20%. Certain historic vehicles attract a lower rater of V.A.T. which does help.

Our Man James welcomes queries on vehicle movement, shipping etc and in time will seek to offer links to specialist Firms.

About fun on three wheels

Our Man James admits to a weakness for three wheeled vehicles and remembers a few which have passed through. Where are they now.?News and sitings would be welcomed. If you have a favorite, please tell all. (photos by kind permission of Pioneer Automobiles, whose archive is well worth a visit, as indeed is the Website    www.pioneer-automobiles.co.uk)

The Busy Bee,


built in 1919 as a single seater with lovely odeon style cockpit, this little gem was asdly in need of restoration when last seen . It may be in the west country and hopefully it has found the t.l.c. it deserved. It is said that it had covered some 250,000 miles before the outbreak of W.W.2.

The 1978 A.B.C. basically a mini with two wheels at the front and one at the rear. Last seen heading towards the U.S.A.

The 1970 A.F. Spyder Sport 

AF Spider Sports

Made in small numbers, this particular one built for F1 team boss Colin Crabbe with generous cockpit and with performance and handling way beyond its appearance. Tuned mini cooper engine and mostly marine ply. Last seen in the Wirrall.

Berkeley T60

Berkeley T60 rear

A handful of these powered by the Excelsior two stroke air cooled engines have been enjoyed. Strong following from home and abroad


Bond Minicar EstateBond Ranger 875TS

The Microcar of the 1960’s had a diminutive air cooled engine of 125c.c.No reverse gear

The later Ranger featured a detuned Hillman Imp engine of 875c.c. and is capable of 80 m.p.h.

B.S.A. great Morgan competitor. Excellent 1100c.c. air cooled V twin engine or later with  perhaps less appealing Ford sidevalve power.

Citroen Lomax;

Citroen Lomax 224 Sports engine

simple and sturdy fibreglass body with Citroen 2.c.v. air cooled twin up front

Hudson Free Spirit

                            Hudson Free Spirit

single seater of superb quality. Renault five power plant. Last seen en route to Sweden.

J.Z.R. happy memories of a Morgan look a like with Honda 500c.c. power.


Later ones had bigger engines. Excellent build quality and good performance.


Mochet Microcar

technically a four wheeler but with back wheels very close together. French with very small air cooled single cylinder engine. Last heard of in Herefordshire

Morgan. The best known in the sporting field. You can buy a new one if you have a spare £30,000.


Raleigh 3 wheeled van

Light delivery van built with motorcycle running gear. Actually had a steering wheel.


Reliant Truck

one of the best known British maker of three wheelers. See Dell- boy’s van but this is the Ant and rarer.

1930 Sandford 


1100c.c. french version of the Morgan, considered more sophisticated. Cockpit like a Tiger Moth.

There are many more three wheelers about  If you have one please tell us about it

About tales and tittle tattle at afternoon tea at The Motor House

In which Our Man James seeks to recover some of the lesser known Motoring stories, the accuracy of which are not totally guaranteed. They will probably not have appeared in the media, rather have just slipped out during a period of relaxation between polishing etc .

Feel free to add to these gems so that they are not lost .

There is for instance the tale of the Butler of a Great House ( not Jeeves), who having had a disaster on the horses, ran off with the family jewels. He was quickly apprehended one morning and taken to the local police station. At tea time the Mistress of the house realized to her horror that there was no one to serve afternoon tea, so she hurried to the police station, withdrew all charges and brought the butler home. The butler in question served his mistress for over 60 years until her death. The jewels were never recovered and nothing more was said.

The Mistress was given a brand new Talbot 8/18 shortly after her wedding in1923. She had a problem with gear changing which remained with her throughout her life. It is said that her Morris 1000 never actually reached fourth gear and when challenged, the Mistress would say that she liked the sound of the engine best in third. At times the butler was employed as chauffeur to drive the Morris 1000. On a picnic one day in the Derbyshire Dales there is a fond memory of the Mistress and her guests, taking cucumber sandwiches in the car, whilst the butler/chauffeur stood dutifully outside until the meal was finished. Alas it can snow very hard in the Derbyshire Dales so the unfortunate man had turned to a snowman by this time. He brushed himself down and took the party home without a murmur of complaint.


"Perryman Platz"

- - - - -   An Austin Seven tale of skill, daring, and intrigue!  - - -
- -

Colin used to own an Austin Seven called 'Bunny'.   It was quite a rare
machine; a Gordon England Cup Model, manufactured in 1928.   Like all
Sevens it had the most direct steering ever invented, coupled with
practically no brakes at all.   Like a lot of small vehicles of the era
the hand-brake operated the front brakes only, whilst the foot brake
functioned purely on the rears.

About a month after I had passed my driving test, in 1954, Colin  rang
me up to enquire if  I was willing to put my new found skills to good
use.    The plan was to save him having to pay road fund tax for Bunny
to travel just the few miles from Sheen, where he then lived, to Slough
Farm.   The execution of this plan was to be that he should tow me with
the company Morris Minor, that he then drove.   (Company Morris Minor -
how things have changed.)    The object was to compete in a production
car trial.    Well you know how it is. Offer any young fellow a drive in
any vehicle at that stage of his driving career and he will jump at the

So it was, then, that the following Sunday lunch-time found us tying the
two vehicles together with the thickest piece of rope that ever moored a
battleship. "We won't go round the bypass" said Colin "it will be
quieter through Kingston."    We set off, with me trying desperately to
keep the rope tight, whilst steering a very erratic course in the wake
of the Minor.   All went fairly well  for a few miles.   I only got
within two and a half inches of the Minor's back bumper about six or
seven times, and all the while the brakes were getting warmer.   Brake
fade is not a term which you hear very often these days, and is an
experience to which those who have not driven an elderly vehicle will
ever have been subjected.    The brakes, when they got hot, were like
you did not have any!

As we got up Facett Road behind the 'Tech ( sorry - University now )
Colin had to stop fairly smartly.   I had as much chance of pulling up
behind him as the proverbial snowball in hell.   With quick thinking, or
more-probably with just blind terror, I pulled out , avoided his  bumper
and came to rest alongside him. The rope entwined round just about
anything that stuck out!    Colin, those of you who knew him will
remember, did not flap easily.    With great aplomb he wound down his
window, bid me a cheery good afternoon, and queried "What are you doing
there?"    So there we were, parked next to each other, and tied firmly
together like a pair of kippers.   We dismounted, untangled the rope,
realigned the vehicles, tied them back together, and continued the

There were a couple of other incidents, by comparison fairly minor, on
the remainder of the journey, and finally we arrived at Farmer Telling's
field.    The phrase 'mechanically if not mentally intact' comes to

It was my first visit to a Malden and District event, and thus was both
character building and habit forming.   I spent the afternoon as bouncer
and passenger in a TC MG belonging to Pip ( surname forgotten ).    The
event was organised  I think by Walter Ruskin, and the entry of about a
dozen or so vehicles included such luminaries as Bill Thrust, Robert
Barnstable, Eve Hawkings and Ian Bell.

Then it was time to return home. Tow rope was re-tied, lights were
switched on ( do you remember six volt lights? ) and we set of  as the
dusk came upon us.   It was always a necessary part of the plot to
attend the local hostelry prior to undertaking the return journey
proper. ( Oh! for the days before the breathalyser )   Finally we were
on the way.   Obviously the forward journey had taught us a lot, for the
return was completed practically without hitch.

I say practically as there was a fairly major problem when we were only
about half a mile from Colin's home.   The problem was a dear old lady.
As we were waiting at the Black Horse to turn right into Upper Richmond
Road she appeared.   She hovered.   She dithered.   I by this time had
learned to keep the rope taught.   She stepped between the two cars,
tripped on the rope and went base-over-apex down onto the ground.   I
was out so quickly it was untrue in order to stop Colin pulling away -
which I achieved.   We picked her up and sat her on a nearby seat.   The
poor dear was complaining of her arm, which it later transpired she had
broken.    Colin went off and phoned for an ambulance  ( when did they
invent mobile phones? ), which I seem to remember took a long time to
arrive.    Pam comforted the old lady whilst Colin and I moved the
vehicles out of the way.

Whilst we waited for the ambulance, and the inevitable policeman  ( who
turned up on a push bike - and no he didn't cuff us round the ear with
his rolled up cape ) I made the tow rope belatedly more visible with my
handkerchief. Finally the ambulance arrived , the old lady received good
attention, and we all went home.

The ramifications of this incident were tremendous.    Colin's firm were
not too amused that he was even towing another vehicle with their car,
let alone having accidents with it!   Colin's firm's insurers were even
less impressed, and suggested that Bunny's insurers should become
involved!!   Then there was the untaxed status of Bunny - the policeman
on his bike was quite interested in this particular particular!!!
After many months it got sorted out and we put it all down to experience
- in my case the first experience of having to produce my new driving
licence.   So far as we know the old lady received an adequate payment
in compensation and her arm was completely healed.

Oh! yes.   Why the strange title to this little story?   Well, the lady
was named Miss Perryman.    Colin and I always referred to that corner
as Perryman Platz from that day forward.

Mike Whittome


Resource Management

Last October the Wall Street Journal published an article showcasing
 the most innovative and interesting uses of prison labour - restoring
 classic cars.
Outside Las Vegas, at Nevada's Southern Desert Correctiona Center,
medium security inmates are given the option of working in the prison
body shop, restoring old cars. At the time of writing the shop had 3
cars in various stages of restoration.
The prison body shop, known for the advertising motto 'we have the time
 to do it right', made the Nevada Department of Corrections some one
hundred and thirty thousand dollars last year, whilst teaching inmates
new skills and bringing old cars back to life.

Are you reading this Home Secretary?

About Disabled Drivers and Classic Vehicles

Having just been asked to assist a gentleman who had recently lost a leg, but was determined to carry on using his Austin 7 Chummy, which he had built and owned for some 28 years, Our Man James considers the plight of the disabled Classic Vehicle enthusiast, who is keen to continue his/her enjoyment of Classic Vehicles, but due to accident, injury or a medical problem, is in difficulties with not only driving a treasured vehicle, but in attending to even simple maintenance.

One hears of great schemes to help disabled folk to enjoy sailing and no doubt the forthcoming paralympics will raise awareness of just how much can be achieved through great courage and determination. However, in the Classic Vehicle Movement, are we looking after our fellow enthusiasts who deserve to enjoy their Classics as much as the rest of us, but are sadly handicapped?

In the case of the gentleman with the Austin Seven, a simple extension of the hand throttle, solved much of the actual driving problem, but it was clear that the simple tasks of checking oil, water and doing a battery charge, required outside help.

Our Man James can see the advantage of a simple exchange of information and advice through this site, perhaps building up to some form of registry, wherein someone needing help could find an enthusiast close at hand who may be willing to spare a little time to either help with maintenance or to accompany them on a drive out. Certain Car Clubs have such a registry, so that when a member suffers a breakdown in a strange area, he/she can look up the nearest source of help and hopefully find assistance.

About Mechanical Matters

Our Man James looks at the mechanical problems which can beset the Classic Vehicle owner. Nowadays when a modern car breaks down, there is little point in opening the bonnet. You will find a mass of pipes, wires, boxes and doofahs, none of which will mean anything. You can only pull out your Roadside Assistance Company’s card and summon help. The ‘very nice man’ will eventually arrive, plug in his computer, suck his teeth and be able to tell you in no time at all that you are in deep trouble and it is going to cost a lot of money to put it right.

Angus Sanderson engine

In the case of a Classic Vehicle, you may be more fortunate. There is no harm in opening the bonnet and having a look. With the earlier cars you may recognize plugs, points a carburetor or two and you may even be able to locate and fix the problem. If not a call to your Roadside Assistance Company is worth a try. The hint of incredulity in the voice of the telephone operator can be quite amusing and the look on the engineer’s face when he arrives, can vary from panic to sheer delight, depending upon his age.

Problems do not always happen by the roadside, you can have a drama at home in the garage. A strange noise, a burning sensation, a sudden incontinent behavior resulting in an unexpected puddle under your vehicle. At this point you may need help. To whom can you turn?

Earlier on you were advised to join the Club which specializes in your choice of vehicle. Now is the time to either delve into the Club Magazine or get on to the appropriate website.

Our Man James is aware that there is a fantastic amount of information available. It would be helpful no doubt to be able to offer Links at this stage to the various Motor Club’s technical pages. Watch this space or if you are an appropriate Club Official, please do get in touch.

Meanwhile why not e mail Our Man James with your problem?

About Driving Your Classic Vehicle

You are now the proud owner of a Classic Vehicle. Do you know how to drive it?

Hudson Free Spirit

Do you understand what  the various controls, switches etc do?

Jaguar E Type

The modern Classic is probably quite straightforward and not too much different from its modern counterparts. It is unlikely to have sat nav, cruise control, anti lock brakes or air conditioning. It might possibly have power assisted steering and could have electric windows.

Our Man James now looks at the older vehicles and considers some of the equipment you may find in your new purchase.

MG VA Saloon

Looking at the instruments, you should find a speedometer and maybe a fuel gauge which will be familiar, temperature gauge too perhaps. There could be an ammeter showing if your dynamo is charging and an oil pressure gauge to tell you if the engine is healthy. This is an important item. You need to know what your particular vehicle should be showing, when cold and hot. An M.G.B. for instance should show 60-80 lbs per sq inch when started but a Morris Cowley of the 1920’s may have only 5-10lbs. A sudden drop in pressure indicates that there is a problem and you should stop the engine and investigate. A rise in pressure can mean a blocked oil way which is equally serious.

Switches will vary from car to car to control, lights, indicators, wipers etc.

Watch out for the pedals though. On some prewar vehicles you will find that the accelerator is the middle one and the brake is on the right. A Model T Ford needs a special paragraph and will be dealt with shortly.

Have you a manual gearbox, automatic or a pre-select one? Manual ones are simple enough but beware, some are the wrong way around. First being bottom right and top being where first is. 3 speed boxes often have reverse where first should be. All this makes life interesting if you are not concentrating. Certain cars have the gear lever on the right hand side. This often goes up the driver’s trouser leg on entering or exiting the car. Our Man James was filming on a Miss Marple set and was waiting for traffic lights to turn green. When they did he inadvertently selected reverse and ran into the hero’s car behind, all because the gear change was back to front.

The pre-select gearbox will be found on many Daimlers. Lanchesters and Rileys. Everything looks normal as regards the pedals and you will see a gearshift either on the steering column or maybe on the floor. There is no H pattern as the changes are linear. Starting a car fitted with such a box, produces a strange whining noise which is the fluid flywheel. Whilst the car is in Neutral you will see that the clutch pedal comes  only halfway up its normal travel. To engage gear move the lever to 1. Nothing will happen until you depress the clutch pedal and it is wise to put your right foot on the brake at this point. You must treat the clutch pedal as a switch, give it a sharp tap and let go. Do not attempt to slip the clutch and ease the power in, the fluid flywheel takes care of that.Although the car will now try and creep forward it is restrained by your foot on the brake pedal. Letting go will cause the car to move and a gentle touch of the throttle will send you on your way. Select the next gear and hit the clutch ‘switch’ and so on to the 3rd and 4th. At a T junction you will have selected 2 perhaps. Simply slow the car on the brake and when ready, move off by pushing the throttle pedal. You do not need to touch the clutch as you would in the case of a manual gearbox. Reversing is the same. Select R, tap the clutch pedal and off you go.

The Model T Ford deserves special mention. Our Man James would defer to Neil Tucker ( www.modeltford.co.uk ) as the acknowledged expert on this particular vehicle in the U.K. and it is believed that on purchasing a vehicle from him, he is prepared to offer driving instruction on his Buckinghamshire farm.

There are many versions of the Model T, saloon, tourer, Doctor’s Coupe and a host of commercials, but all share the same basic controls. A young gentleman from Birmingahm arrived one day in a shiny white Transit  to inspect a Model T van . It was love at first sight until he was offered a test drive. It was all too much for the poor chap and he returned home with a puzzled look on his face.

The apprentices at Ford’s Dagenham factory built a Model T tourer from scratch. It is a beautiful re creation but how many of them could actually drive it?

Ford Model T Van inside  It looks harmless enough. You see three pedals and a handbrake, what is hard about that?

Take the pedals. The left hand one , the clutch perhaps? No, depress it and the car moves forward in low gear, release it and you are in top, heading for the scenery at a fair rate of knots. Hit the middle one to slow up?-Mistake, it is reverse . The brake is on the right.

Where is the accelerator then?- its a lever on the steering column. When in doubt reach for the handbrake? Um no. There are three positions for the handbrake. Half way is a form of neutral and best marked in some way with a bit of chalk or paint along its track. Some say you should be in this position to start the car, others suggest you start with the lever right back. The fully forward position will release the car if it has not taken itself off already.

Some Model T’s have a self starter, others need to be wound over on the crank handle. It is important to know that the car is in neutral before winding the handle as it is quite possible that the car will eagerly leap forward with unfortunate consequences. If in doubt it is recommended that the rear wheels are jacked up off the ground prior to starting. It is easy to see if the car is in neutral and if it actually isn’t, no harm will be done.

Having said this, there is enormous pleasure to be had from mastering a Model T. It has respectable performance and attracts enormous interest at Shows and Rallies. There is also a feeling of reverence towards those that have learned to live with one. Don’t be put off and certainly add one to your wish list.

About Selling a Classic Vehicle

For any number of reasons the time has come to part with your Classic Vehicle. How best to go about it? There is no hard and fast rule. Time plays a big part in considering the options. Our Man James offers the following possibilities.

Austin A35

The Private Sale;

Nice work if you can manage it. You avoided various fees from Dealers, Brokers, Auctioneer’s and the like, but did you really get the best price? You researched the various Classic Vehicle Websites and Magazines, particularly looking at the myriad of Auction reports and comparing the offerings of fellow vendors. You have reached a decision on the right price to ask. The  time has come to decide on your advertising budget and commence marketing the vehicle. There are some magazines that offer free advertising  to private vendors and they seem to have a good measure of success as do the Classic Vehicle Websites.

The Adverts are running, the telephone starts ringing and e mails appear. Many will be wanting photos, so it pays to have a number on hand. At some stage a viewing is arranged, though these days it is not unusual for certain vehicles to sell without the purchaser coming to look. The World Wide Webb has opened the market up to such an extent that your treasured vehicle may be bound for some distant country. You will have to endure the pain of the ‘time waster’ the ‘tyre kicker’ and the ones that simply do not show up, not even bothering to let you know. A well respected dealer friend was very cross that he had waited all afternoon for a prospective purchaser to show up. So he set his alarm clock for 3 a.m. the following morning and rang the offender to see if he was still coming.

Your prospective purchaser arrives. Show the car off as best you can but try not to talk too much. Answer questions truthfully and if you do not know the answer, offer to find out or simply say you do not know. Fibbing or guessing is not an option. The Purchaser needs to feel you are trustworthy. Equally you need to make sure he/she is genuine. To ask for a sight of their driving license is sensible, especially if they are about to test drive your vehicle and please check your insurance covers a third party driver. Have as much paperwork about the vehicle to hand, history is important to the majority of purchasers.

How you arrive at the final sale price is just a matter of negotiation. There are no hard and fast rules. Our Man James was taught that the best way of negotiating is to say nothing and let the opther party make the running. The trouble is that if the other side has been taught the same thing, an eyrie silence will descend and nothing will happen.

A sale is agreed, now what? English Law requires that for a contract to be binding it needs Form and Consideration. Form can be a receipt for the deposit or invoice stating the heads of agreement for the transaction. Consideration is clearly the money. This might be a deposit or the full price dependent on what you may agree. Cash, cheque, Bank transfer or what? Golden rule is that the vehicle does not leave your custody until you have cleared funds in your bank preferably. Our Man James hears of many sad tales at this point. Of dud cheques, fake Bank Drafts, forged cash and so on. There is nothing safer than seeing the money in black and white on your account. Even then it is not unknown for the Bank to subsequently find that the cash is forged, the cheque/draft no good and the money is removed from your account. In these modern times a simple on line Bank transfer may be preferable. However some people are unwilling to divulge their bank account details to a stranger. Pity the poor chap who sold his M.G.A. late on a Friday evening, took a seemingly good Building Society cheque and let the car go. He was unable to ring the Building Society as it had closed and when he arrived at  their office on Monday morning, he was told that the cheque was a forgery. Car gone – no money. Insurance difficult as he handed the car over and it was probably out of the country by that time. Private sale can work but do be careful.

Ebay is popular. You can either post an advert as per the other websites or you can offer your vehicle for on line auction, usually for a period of seven days. There is an option to offer a ‘buy it now’ facility, wherein the Purchaser presses the right button and is technically bound to buy the car. Our Man James tried it twice last year. In each case the buy it now button was pressed, Ebay withdrew the car from auction, charged its commission and the ‘buyer’ proved to be a man of straw. In fairness Ebay refunded the commission but the whole exercise was ruined. You need to stay on the ball for the seven days as e mails will arrive with questions needing a reply, people may try to view and so on. It pays to look at each bidder’s record as they bid. There is a system of marking the reliability of each player and generally less than 10 points on a bidder’s record may suggest he or she has not been at it long and may need careful treatment. From the other point of view if you are an honest bidder you need to do at least 10 good deals to get past the magic ‘reliability’ number. Ask a friend or e mail Our Man James if you need help. Look at the payment options if you do achieve a sale. Ebay offer Paypal but you may prefer another option.

The Dealer may be the best buyer if time is short. You need to clear a garage by a certain date or you may simply need to raise money quickly. Get a rough idea of what your vehicle is worth by checking adverts, auction results, ask a knowledgeable Club Member etc. You will not get the full retail price but you can tell if you are not getting a fair deal.At the end of the day you part with the car, collect the money and there will be no further comeback, unless of course you have seriously misdescribed the vehicle.

The Broker is relatively new to the Classic scene. Basically he should treat you as his client and look after your best interest throughout your relationship. He should be on your side where the Dealer is not. In this case you will pay a commission on sale of the vehicle, but he is bound to do his best to obtain a good market price for you. The law relating to Agency states that he should do his best for his client and not take a ‘secret profit’. You should come away with more than a Dealer would offer even after his fees have been deducted. On this point make sure you agree beforehand about any work carried out on your vehicle prior to sale and any extras he will expect you to pay, perhaps for collecting the vehicle at the outset. Equally you the Vendor must be careful to describe the vehicle accurately and if there is a fault it is best to disclose it. Check your paperwork is all in order and that there is a long M.O.T. certificate. On the question of commission,this is normally around 10% but a minimum fee may apply. V.A.T. is almost certainly payable on this.

What about an an Auction ? A good choice if again time is of the essence and you need funds by a certain date. If your vehicle is rare or sufficiently hard to value, placing it in an auction where several hundred people will see it at once, not to mention all those now with access to the Auctioneer’s website, you are surely going to arrive at a fair market valuation for your vehicle. It may not be quite what you hoped or conversely you may be delighted by the result, but it is a tried and trusted method in this case.

So how do you chose which Auction House to approach? You need one that has a track record of selling Classic Vehicles and there are a number of Auction Reports you can read to assess their performance. You may feel your vehicle warrants one of the large Auction Houses or your vehicle may fair well at one of the provincial ones. Horses for courses perhaps.Look carefully at the charges in each case. They do vary. Some will charge an entry fee, a cataloging  fee commission to both Vendor and Purchaser. Add storage and transport costs and it all mounts up. Having said that there are firms that charge only an entry fee and no vendor’s commission, preferring to charge a ‘buyer’s premium ‘ instead.

If you have time visit some auction sales. You will see that the Auctioneers differ, some staff are friendlier than others, you just need to feel comfortable that your best interests will be served in as professional manner as possible so that a satisfactory outcome is most likely.

Checkout the mathematics. Taking a car which sells for £10,000.

A typical Firm may charge a vendor’s commission of 5% and a buyer’s premium of 10% So the purchaser pays £10,000 plus £1,.000 buyer’s premium and V.A.T. & 20% on that making a total of £11,200. You the Vendor get £10,000 less 5% commission plus V.A.T. on that netting you £9,400. Hence the Auctioneer has taken £11,200 – £9,400 = £1800 including £300 V.A.T.  Further deductions may appear as before such as entry fee, transport, storage etc. Be aware so that you understand how the net figure is arrived at.It may seem dear but you have a  good chance of obtaining a sale on a known day if you have taken note of the Auctioneer’s advice as to reserve price etc.

Our Man James will be pleased to offer help and advice on all matters concerning the sale of your Classic Vehicle. As a former auctioneer, dealer and broker there is a fair amount of experience to call upon and if he does not know the answer he may well know a man who does.