Our Classics’ reliability could be the victim of an editorial injustice, says Port.

| 15 Oct 2012

Several years ago, during lunch on the Three Castles Welsh Rally, I was rather taken aback at one reader’s observation that my then daily driver, a Porsche 912, was clearly nothing but trouble. Once I had got over the initial shock though, I delved deeper and eventually saw the chap’s point.

Before then, I had never really considered how the Our Classics pages of C&SC can come across and it didn’t take a lot to make me realise that to the reader, it can often appear as if we own and run the most troublesome and unreliable bunch of classics that we could possibly have bought!

“Last issue you had to rebuild the suspension, the issue before you had that ignition trouble, before that you rebuilt the engine, then there was the one when the brakes seized on…” and so the list went on.

What I had to point out was that, by default, the content of Our Classics revolves around work we have done to the cars – after all, there is little mileage in writing about what hasn’t happened.

The upshot of all this is that it is entirely possible that the reader gets a skewed impression of the cars we own, so perhaps it is time to redress the balance?

To put things into perspective, my dearly beloved (and not forgotten) Porsche 912 covered a vast mileage, several European jaunts and braved the seasons with aplomb.

Okay, so I rebuilt the engine because of a loss of compression on one cylinder, but I could have addressed that issue with small-scale replacement rather than go the whole hog. The brakes needed to be rebuilt, once, and I went through a couple of exhausts, but apart from that, the car did okay… up until it fell apart that is.

The Scimitar has so far covered 15,000 miles in my hands and for a name that, for some reason has a tarnished reputation for reliability, it has proved to be the opposite.

I don’t see the respray as being necessary as such, but apart from that it’s needed a new coil, a couple of sets of tyres, a steering column UJ and a back axle… and even that was down to me deciding to improve things rather than out of absolute necessity.

The Minis, MGBs and Land-Rover that have come before all had issues of course, and some of our cars have never even see the light of day, such as the rust-ridden Moggie that briefly inhabited the C&SC workshop. But once again, in the scheme of things and taking into account the level of use, they were all relatively trouble-free – more so than the pages of C&SC made out.

So what point am I trying to make? Well, I guess I’d like to reassure people that things aren’t sometimes as bad as they seem – it’s just that often we’re not very good at writing about the thousands of (relatively) trouble-free classic miles that many of us cover every year.

Occasionally we will though – if we go somewhere particularly epic or on a trip to a different continent, but even then we feel compelled to find an excuse to get the spanners and oily rags out, even if it was just to check the oil level or replace a blown bulb. Perhaps we should introduce a new category to our ‘running reports’: Miles covered without issue. A bit like those signs you see on building sites now – ‘days since last accident’. Maybe that would reassure people that classics are more than workshops on wheels.

PS: As if to prove the point, last week both group ed Elliott and myself took two of the Our Classics cars to our long-suffering local MoT station… and they both passed without major issue. Troublesome? Not always.

PPS: an earth issue on the Scimitar lights mean there is suddenly a rather odd disco-effect happening at the back of my car whenever I brake, indicate or reverse. I take everything back. That chap in Wales was right after all…