Christmas humbug and New Year's resolutions

| 30 Dec 2011

So, Christmas has passed and with it the annual disappointment that my family are not psychic enough to know what classic-related presents I need... without ever being told. 

They love it when I add a new classic to my fleet (well the missus less so, but the ones that don't have to live with me) because that means Christmas is sorted, but this year I didn't buy anything so I have all the books and brochures I need. 

I therefore ended up with a small pile of clothes that I didn't think that I needed, but they know that I do (because of my apparent inability to put on the overalls that are hanging in the workshop before swimming in oil).

Not a 383 manifold gasket

And so we edge towards the New Year, which brings with it two more issues. 

The first is what has become fashionably (ie tediously) referred to as "first footing". Sure, I get the point of the phrase – and it's true that many classics will give a gift of a cloud of soot if not a lump of coal – but its use could be a little more sparing. 

Which is the opposite of what I would prescribe for many of the classics indulging in it. Having used a classic every day except one since the holiday season started, rather like my reservations with Drive it Day, I don't feel I have anything to prove by forcing the family into an old car for a trip to the shops just because it is New Year's Day. 

Obviously, a lot of people are going to organised meets or do use their cars daily, but for the others it seems a bit pointless. 

I am not passing judgement on them by any means, but the hobby itself creating such "special" (seldom) occasions when people can pat themselves on the back for using their classics, brings with it the danger of dissuading them from using the car the rest of the time. 

While I don't want to discourage people from using a classic on absolutely any occasion, my mission is for people to use classics on every occasion (if for no other reason than to stave off one of the major arguments for legislating limited usage: that they are barely used anyway). 

I genuinely fear creating a culture where people are told they are doing their bit (and need do no more) simply by "first-footing", popping to the newsagents on Drive it Day, plus perhaps a one-day jaunt down to Goodwood.

Of course, it is their car and their choice what to do with it, and certainly not my place to tell them. But then I have always been rather better at expecting people to do as I say rather than as I do. 

And that brings me on to the other issue with the New Year: my motoring resolutions. 

These are the annual spoken, then broken promises that no one could quite remember you making so you get away with it. Year after year after year.

This year, however, I am writing them down here and promising to report back in a year's time in the hope of emotionally blackmailing myself into actually seeing them through in 2012. 

Here are just a few of the big ones from the cast of thousands.

1. Sort my fleet out. My inability to cope with four demanding classics and a two demanding children is well documented (plus I have just had to SORN a classic for the first time, which was kind of devastating) so I vow that I will trim the classics to a number that I can keep on top of, and I will then keep them all roadworthy, or even improve them, rather than just about get by or watch them steadily deteriorate.

2. Sort out my garaging. For someone with a London postcode, I am incredibly fortunate. Not only do I have a one-car drive and free residents' parking (where I can stash at least one more without causing too much neighbourly opprobrium), but my house has an integral garage and I rent two more garages in easy walking distance. It's shameful, therefore, that only one of those garages currently has a car in it. The others are full of furniture, cardboard boxes, my record collection and all manner of other junk. Costing me a pretty penny, too, a pair of them are when my outgoings already massively outweigh my incomings. All my garages will be car habitable and one of the rentals will go completely in 2012.

3. Sort out the Triumph. This may sound like a broken record to some, but if that's the case, so far you have only heard the 7in single. Not only are there the gearbox and diff to do, but I dread to think how long ago it was that I crashed the Beast, removed the bent bumper, primered it and then haven't touched it since (above). Less well known is that when I was preparing the Interceptor for my marriage in France in August 2010, several bits of the Triumph were cannibalised and some of them still haven't been replaced or returned (below). Plus, the wiring loom is still precisely as we bodged it at Prescott to get me a single timed run on the Poors Boys' Tour. The Triumph will receive the attention it deserves this year.

4. Similar story with the Interceptor.  Last year's works need some tidying up and repair (already!), plus most of my temporary quick-fixes for problems 18 months ago are still in place. I was about to bin a cigarette packet I found in the centre console the other day when the packet started rattling. I (re)discovered that it contained the screws that hold on the passenger door trim that I had removed – so long ago that I could barely remember it – to access the window winder motor when it was playing up. And that is the tip of the iceberg. I will finish (and in some cases re-do) the job I set out to do on my Jensen.

5. I will NOT buy any more classics, well not without selling something at least. 

Personally, I reckon I will break number 5 first. 

What are you classic motoring resolutions for 2012 and which ones will you break first?