Anyone who likes classics will be used to this scenario. You may have stumbled across a half-finished project in a garage, beneath a tarpaulin tucked out of sight or in the undergrowth with weeds growing up through what was once the floor and the story is often the same: time, money, kids, jobs… they are all valid reasons for restorations going from a "it’ll be on the road next summer", to "yes, I think I’ve got one of those somewhere".
And I know first-hand about a project going from an all-encompassing labour of love, to something about which you make regular and quite frankly rubbish excuses for ignoring. Yes, I’m talking about the AC Buckland.
“It’s very cold in the workshop in the winter”
“I’m concentrating on sourcing engine parts right now”
“It’s too warm to be working on cars in the summer”
“Did you say lunch is ready? Be right there…”
They’ve all been trotted out and as much as I’ve hated them coming from my mouth, I feel that it’s time to admit my downfalls in the hope that, a la alcoholics anonymous, admitting my problem will be the first step in addressing it head on.
Okay, so my wife did have a baby which meant that last winter was credibly consumed with nappies and bottles, but even then I found time to maintain the other classics, and anyway, he is now 14 months old so I have no excuses any more, although my 10-year old does need ferrying around at the weekends. There I go again.
Frustratingly though, I am well aware of the real reason for my neglect. Put simply, I do not know where to start. I’ve pansied around for too long, cleaning up bits and bobs, gently letting new bits of wood in where once there was rotten material, but what I really need to do is bite the bullet and go for it.
So just how do you reignite the passion for a restoration project? Especially when an open chequebook would, in my case, mean a chequebook with DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT stamped across every page?
Well, fortunately I have it easy. Whenever I contemplate chucking in the towel and letting my long-suffering father-in-law have his garage back, I stop to browse the numerous photographs I have of PAR419. The only colour one is of Elizabeth Day at Brands Hatch in the early ‘50s and remains my favourite (which would explain why I trot it out at any excuse!), yet it is so soaked in period charm and atmosphere that it instantly has me drawing up ‘to do’ lists for the AC.
Yesterday, I spent two hours cleaning up a leaf spring shackle and getting a bit of movement back into the tired springs after which I had this revelation and vowed to do something more substantial the next time I am working on the car.
Next week therefore, I will be removing both axles and their related suspension components ready for overhaul, or perhaps I’ll just polish the clutch pedal and oil a door hinge.
Unless it’s raining of course; the damp plays havoc with my knees.