Buckley spots the first Dart of Spring

| 21 Mar 2012

It feels like Spring has arrived and life seems to have fired up again, although not enough to put the choke all the way in as yet.

The weekend before last, the weather suddenly got better so it seemed like the right time to dig out the Daimler SP250 Dart from the corner of the mill next to the coffee facilities; it’s the only car I have that’s skinny enough to fit in this particular hole.

As usual, it started virtually straight away after months of sleep. The only snag was a clutch that was no longer doing much, but some pumping brought that to life and, once blinking in the sunlight with all its levels checked, it was ready to use.

I have had custody of this car for probably five years and in that time it has never changed in appearance, and the only time it let me down was when it had a big electrical burn out. With all that sorted it’s been on the button ever since.

Recent upgrades have been overdrive on third and top (brilliant), seatbelts and a new wooden steering wheel, which is less offensive than the hideous little thing it arrived with in 2007, but not as authentic as the big bus-like appendage I found for it at Beaulieu a couple of years ago.

We did the only thing you can do with an open car on a sunny weekend when it’s still slightly too chilly to drive around too much – go to the pub, which is where this picture was taken (The Lodge on Minchinhampton Common).

It hadn’t been a vintage week to be honest because I’d let both my 280TE and Jaguar 340 go for a lot less than I really wanted for them at Brightwells' auction the Wednesday before, so I was in no mood to allow my dad’s beautiful Mercedes 300B saloon to go the same way, having seen a much lesser example at H&H in December make almost as much as mine was bid to. What I think is the same car is now advertised for £75k! Actually I must go and collect the poor Merc from Leominster before I forget.

Talking of Mercedes, I sold my 200E saloon to my friend Claude the other week, and it was Claude who dug out the 39k-from-new 1966 300SE I have blogged about before. We were struggling to make it run on six and I eventually saw the wisdom of just sending cars to the people who know – in this case Roger Edwards Motors – who got the thing going quickly with a rebuilt distribution unit. The next jobs are brakes and the compensator spring on the back axle; then I can start to think about an MoT.

My local Aston guru Graham Millard has promised to come up soon and pass judgement on the future of the Lagonda Rapide’s engine, which I fear will need to come out and be taken apart before too long if the car can ever be put to any meaningful use.

Once I’ve paid to have the Fiat's ZF box refreshed, the conversion will commence. I'm looking forward to getting that car back. I have been tempted by a running mate for it in the form of a beautiful-looking manual 130 saloon in silver with wind-down windows (very odd on a 130 – they all had power windows here), which should encourage me to get my Paulo Martin interview sorted – both he and the car live in Turin.