They don’t make cars like that any more

Yes, the old girl’s been in the family a long time. The Sage’s Pa bought it for him when he was still at school. It had already been off the road for some years, as it developed a fairly minor fault and the owner didn’t have it repaired but just left it in the garage, for over a decade. Eventually, he sold it to someone who put it right, and at that point Pa bought it for the Sprig*.

For a while, the Sage used it regularly; first when he lived and worked 9 miles from home and then, briefly, when he moved to London to learn to be an auctioneer. But he decided he’d need something less old. Pa advised him not to sell it. “Everyone wishes they’d kept their first car” and so it moved back here and was brought out occasionally. It took the Sage’s sister to church for her wedding in 1960. Sadly, something major went wrong about 10 years later on the outskirts of Norwich (I think it was the big end) and the Sage took the engine apart and took it to his friend Clarence, with whom he’d worked as an engineering apprentice. Now well in his 90s, Clarence is still working and knows more than most people have ever forgotten. When the Sage and I became engaged I was part-way through an evening class in motor maintenance – this was nothing to do with him (we’d only dated for 3 weeks before our engagement), I was going with my sister who had an elderly car herself. I think it was an Austin A40 – and we talked about putting the car together together.

Didn’t happen of course, we were far too busy a year later with our first baby, and it wasn’t for years that finally the Sage made friends with someone who was able to help him and the old car was restored. We lived here in Pa and Ma’s house, they having both died, by then, and we used to have most jolly outings, with our three children in the dickey seat. It’s a great pleasure to drive and surprisingly easy – you have to double-declutch of course, but it’s a beautiful engine and well-made. The clock still works accurately and it has a self-starter. The brakes and steering are not exactly the most responsive, but point it in the right direction and it gets there.

She’s a Rover 10, with a 25 horsepower engine. Top speed is 25-30; possibly more but one wouldn’t wish to press the old darling.

More pictures will probably be added later, or maybe tomorrow. The camera’s on the other side of the room and I’m far too lazy to fetch it.

*My husband didn’t achieve Sagacity until he married me

11 comments on “They don’t make cars like that any more

  1. Z

    Oh lord, you’re right, Dave. And I’m a fair woman, I’ll have to leave the mistake.

    The ‘it’ refers to the car, not to the clock, dear hearts.

    Maybe the Sage will take us for a spin one day as your reward, Dave?

  2. Z

    It’s surprisingly satisfying, in a small way, to do it right. Mind you, it took me years of modern cars (having driven a Morris Minor for a long time, and otherwise an automatic) to remember that I could go into first gear without stopping.

    We have Morris Minors too, of course. Equally of course, they haven’t been on the road for a while, even though they need very little doing to them.

  3. Sir Bruin

    I agree, it is very satisfying to get the double de-clutching right. It is also very noisy when you don’t! There is an old car rally in Felixstowe around mid May each year, can I encourage you to think about bringing the Rover aout for next year’s one?

  4. Z

    Okay. If you think about changing gear, it’s two different actions – coming out of one gear and into the next. If there is not synchronisation between the shaft being driven by the engine and the teeth on the gear you’re going into, you have to come out of gear, wait for a few seconds for them both to start going at the same speed, then go into gear again. If you don’t, it may be impossible and, at the least, you’ll crash the gears and make an embarrassing noise.

    We’d have to bring it to Felixstowe on a loader, Sir B – I don’t think I’d care to drive it that far!

  5. Z

    I ran my explanation past the Sage -“that’s about it, isn’t it?” I asked. “Well, yes, for someone who isn’t actually about to do it”, he answered.

    Fine idea, Sarah. You appreciate that my motor maintenance class is 36 years ago? – but I’m ever one to rise to a challenge…

    this sometimes gets me into hot water, by the way

  6. martina

    Oooh travelling along the English countryside in that car would really be fun. If you haven’t named her, may I suggest Esmeralda?


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