I just thought I’d introduce myself, I’m the new co-blogger, an wot Roly sez abart me beyin aybl ter spel an get granma rite is a miff….. I’m Bob or Bobbo to most who know me. “That’s odd, Bobbo?” Yeah, let me explain, I live in Italy, in a small town called Malcesine on the North Eastern shores of Lake Garda, I came here for the first time in 1990, met my present partner here, and as Maggie’s Britain didn’t have a lot to offer, I came here to work in 1991, and stayed.
Anyway, about the name, most Italian men’s names end in a vowel, and usually an “O”, Mario, Giorgio, Stefano, Alfonso etc, and Bob, which stops short, doesn’t gel with them and doesn’t slide off the tongue, so it got adapted to Bobbo, and the name stuck.
So, what’s my involvement with Morris and Wolseley cars? Roly too? Well, I’ll start with the story of my acquisition of a 1950 Morris Six, Series MS, which I acquired in 2004, my subsequent joining of the 6/80 & MO Club through which I “met” (via e-mail) fellow member Roly and his wife Caroline who is now the proud owner of a Wolseley 6/80, a vehicle which I also own, but more about that one in another tale.
So, I decided that I wanted to buy a classic car, and after getting permission from she who must be obeyed (She being Jeanie, my Danish partner) started looking on e-bay, originally searching for a Rover P4, in fact I’d still like one, one day..maybe never.
My eyes then fell upon a 1950 Morris Six in the September of 2004 and made several bids on it after ascertaining the reserve price. This I would not normally have asked, but living here in Italy I needed to know
what it was, A – to know if I could actually afford it and B- so that I wasted neither my, nor the vendors time.
He was kind enough to inform me (owing to the circumstances) that the reserve price was £1750,00, so I went to my bank manager and arranged a loan of up to about £2500,00 well, EU:5,000,00 actually as that’s all they’d give me, and then I started bidding and hoping. At today’s exchange rate, €5,000 would be about £4,700 but then it was as above, in fact it worked out at about £2,650 at the time.
I knew the price of a “condition 2” car to be about £1900.00. The car was claimed to be better than “condition 2” as the floors had been replaced and it was advertised as having no rust underneath, there were
just a few scabby bits where the water had got in under the wing piping to sort out and a general tidy up, a split seat seam etc. It certainly looked very nice in the photos, but they always do… Adding a dealer premium of about £350, I supposed that up to £2500.00 was sort of fair, providing the car was actually as good as it
As seen on e-bay in 2004
was claimed to be, so I bid up to my maximum and left it at that being able to do no more than wait for the end of the auction as I couldn’t really afford to go above my maximum bid.
Unfortunately, at the end of the auction I wasn’t able to be at my computer and was outbid by an American lady dealer by £250. A shame really, I thought, as I could possibly have raised another few quid from somewhere, but I lost. Damn. I had also lost out earlier in the week on a rather nice 1955 Rover P4, one careful Vicar owner, immaculate! So knowing how these things go, one moment lucky one moment not, I wasn’t too disappointed although I did think the Morris was an impressive looking beast. Ugly but in a nice friendly sort of way, a bit like Hattie Jaques, no oil painting but stately and matronly, very imposing.
Undeterred I bid on a 1939 Austin Big Seven, which I accidentally won by making a mistake on the e-bay bidding and instead of bidding a maximum of £2500.00 I accidentally bid a max of £25.000.00, so I won it for £2875.00. Well, the difference wasn’t a lot and I could raise the extra. I had previously e-mailed the seller, before bidding, and explained that should I win, it may be a couple of weeks before I could collect the car as I was unable to leave my business unattended until the end of the month, I run a busy bar here at Lake Garda with my partner Jeanie.
A sunset over the lake Feb 2006
This seemed not to present problems until I’d actually won the auction, then it suddenly became imperative to the seller that I paid up and collected immediately! I agreed that I would transfer the money immediately, well, a large deposit anyway, and then settle the rest in cash upon collection, I mean, fairs fair,
I hadn’t seen the car and to pay it all on spec, well, I wasn’t born yesterday. No deal! The car had to be collected within three days.
I Said I could make it within 7 days but that the money transfer would be at least five working days (which is quite normal). No deal! He was moving abroad to the Balearics, and the car had to be sorted out within 3 days. I suggested that he leave the car with a relative to whom I’d pay the balance. No deal! Well, if he’d told me at the start then I wouldn’t have bid on it. We mutually agreed to be positive with e-bay
feedback as it wasn’t my fault, and although disgruntled, I was sort of relieved as I hadn’t really desperately wanted the Seven and hadn’t expected to win it anyway. So, matter closed. Hope he didn’t sell it in the end. Pernickerty Git!
Feeling sorry for myself I e-mailed the seller of the Morris, Martin Howey of Martin Howey Classics, and asked him that should he come across a similarly large car, Rover P4-5, Austin Westy, 4litre R, Lanchester, Daimler Conquest etc, would he let me know as I was sad at having missed the Morris. Lo and behold… verily saith he thus…he immediately mailed me back saying that he still had it. His buyer was apparently notoriously unreliable (she had since been struck off from e-bay) and hadn’t yet contacted him regarding either payment or shipping instructions, and he said that if he didn’t hear from her within 7 days, as he’d e-mailed her many times, he’d either re-auction the car, or, he would be happy to sell it to me for my maximum bid.
I ummed and aaahed for a bit but all things considered, if he re-advertised it I could possibly win it for less than my maximum bid, but it was a chance I’d have to take and could just as easily lose again. £2,500.00 was probably a bit more than it was worth (little did I know how much more) but despite this I decided to go for it and hope that it really was as good as it was claimed to be. It’s certainly a rare and very unusual car and anyone who has met me will acknowledge my motives for buying it, I’m rare and unusual too, a very strange and totally eccentric lunatic and I felt that the car and I were of a kind. Big, weird, unusual and very much the odd one out! A true individual.
Seven days later, as Martin had heard nowt from his buyer, the deal was done. I made a substantial deposit via bank transfer and booked with Tryingair to fly over from a local airport, Verona/Brescia-Montechiari to Stanstead. Montechiari is about an hour and a half’s drive from where we live and the flight was a “Web fare” offer, EU:1.99 plus airport taxes, about EU:22.00 all told. At the time this equated to roughly £15.00. I then had to make my way to Thirsk to meet Martin Howey.
By far the cheapest way of doing this was by National Express. However, my flight was at 22.00 CET from Italy, arriving at 23.30 BST. The coach departed at 06.00 and arrived in Thirsk at 18.00. I didn’t fancy hanging around for 6 hours in the airport and then sitting another 12 hours on a coach! I have had many jobs
in the past, one of them being a Bus/Coach/Lorry driver as well as being an instructor for them, teaching instructors how to do the job as well, so sitting doing nothing for 12 hours on a coach would have driven me nuts (nuttier than usual that is..).
Easier and not much more expensive was to travel across London to Kings Cross and catch the York train which departed at around 05.30, getting to York at 09.10 and then the Thirsk train at 09.40 getting there at 10.15. I didn’t however fancy travelling in London and then hanging around Kings cross for a few hours
with a few thousand euros in my pocket. As big and evil as I can look, I’m a friendly pacifistic chap. I’m not at all nasty although I can look very menacing if I choose to do so. I used to be, amongst other things, a semi professional wrestler in the late seventies and through the eighties up until 1988 when knee problems
forced me to quit it. I’m big across the shoulders and am 6ft tall, weighing in at 21st. It’s not all fat but I do have a substantial amount of extra baggage.
Sometimes it’s useful and I can look a bit formidable when it suits me, but drunk or drugged up loonies looking for a victim to mug however don’t usually take this into account and these days, if they don’t have knives or guns, they often have an unpronounceable and incurable disease that you can catch from them just by cutting your knuckles on their teeth when you deck ‘em, so I decided against that too.
View from the back door of our bar
I opted to go to the Europcar stand as I recognised an assistant there that I’ve dealt with a few times in the past. My partner and I run a social/working mens’ club here in Malcesine. Although we have a large membership of townsfolk, we don’t see a lot of them in the summertime as they are mostly hoteliers, shop
owners or restaurateurs etc and are busy running their own businesses, thus we are allowed to open to the public. Me being English and Jeanie, a Copenhagener and both having worked as tour guides and resort reps, we do a good trade with the summer visitors, having befriended most of the local tour guides who bring their
guests to us for English tea, cottage pie, bacon sandwiches etc.
Every now and then I make a round trip from here to Stanstead, hire a car, go to Bishops Stortford which is 11 miles from Stanstead, shop in the 24 hour Tesco’s and stock up on Tetley tea, cheese, sausages, and anything else I can carry within the weight limit for the airline baggage. Think about it, 240 T bags cost around £3.00. We sell a pot of T 4 2 for EU.4.00. The whole trip usually costs around £80 plus whatever I spend on the shopping and I get most of that back just by selling the first 240 T bags! You have to careful these days, it’s so easy to under if you don’t use your loaf.
I digress, sorry, I’m good at that. I have often dealt with either the Hertz people or Europcar, this time Europcar got the trade as they do “one way” hiring, allowing you to drive to your destination, or as near as possible, and leave the car at their nearest depository, which in this case was York station. Perfect. I was
soon on the M11 to Cambridge where I quickly found the A1. Stopping for sandwiches and coffee I made it to York by 04.00 so grabbed a couple of hours sleep. A Fiat Punto is not the most comfortable of cars to sleep on the back seat of but I managed it as I was very tired. At 07.00 I made my way into York centre, filled the car with petrol (very economical) bought some brekky at the buffet, usual British rail overpriced rubbish, and caught the 09.40 to Thirsk. I couldn’t get the earlier train as I had to wait for the Europcar office to open up at 08.00.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I speak to someone over the phone, I build up a mental picture of what they must look like. I’m not usually far wrong. Martin was as I’d pictured him, a little younger perhaps and a bit taller, but basically as I’d imagined. What a nice guy! I’m 47, he’s a couple of years younger
than me and a sports journalist, dealing in classic cars as a sideline. We soon hit it off and chatted as if we’d known each other for a long time. His pastime includes playing electric guitar in a band, which he’s done for 30 odd years, and one of my pastimes is making the things (guitars that is). I’ve done this for the past
30 odd years. I don’t play much, I’m a blues harmonica player, play percussion, washboard, sax clarinet, and am a very bad singer.
We went first to Thirsk market square in order for me to change up some Euros, and then on to Ripon where Martin’s mechanic friend Andy was storing the car. Before bidding on e-bay I’d, as you would, checked out Martin’s “feedback” reputation. Out of nearly 200 or so transactions, he’d only had two complaints and both of these were from sellers, not buyers. Check it out for yourself, look up “user name, ”rosedalerip”” and see for yourself. I felt I had enough reason to trust him to be straight.
When I first saw the car it was a bit of a letdown, but I think that was more to do with the impression I’d built up mentally of what it would be like. I’m not sure exactly what I expected really, maybe I was expecting a 54 year old car (in 2004) to be bright and shiny with gleaming chrome. Well, it was fairly shiny but on closer inspection, the roof guttering over the driver’s side rear passenger door was very corroded where it joined the roof, someone had painted the window frames with black bituminous paint on one side of the car and with silver paint on the other….weird, there was some bubbling of the paint near the offside headlamp and both wings were showing signs of rusting through near the doors. The interior was very dingy and dark and the front seat was split.
However, looking realistically, it was only split where the stitching had given way and after cleaning and feeding would probably re-stitch without problems. The window frames could be re-chromed (although I since found out I could get good second hand ones from the 6/80 club). The door cards, three of which were covered in red vinyl (yeuch!) could be re-covered by myself as I’d recently thrown out a brown leather sofa which my cat destroyed by scratching it to death, I cut out the good panels before throwing it out so I had a good supply
of nice soft tan coloured leather which would dye down to the right shade okay. The rust on the roof guttering could be ground out, as could the wings, and lead loaded, (I hate filler) and true to the advert, there really wasn’t any rust underneath.
Unfortunately, where the bolt on sill and outer floor panels had been replaced, they had been welded up so it would either be a case of stripping them off again or at least drilling holes underneath to let out trapped moisture and then treating with Waxoyl.
The more I looked at it the more I could begin to see the potential in the car, it was tatty but more or less complete and that at least counted for something. The exhaust was said to be new and sounded a bit tinny and the manifold was blowing a bit, not seriously, and it puffed quite a lot of oily smoke upon start up. Not unusual I’d heard- later to find I was very wrong about that, it’s not unusual for them to puff blue smoke on start up when the exhaust valve guides are worn, but I didn’t know that then.
Upon starting it was running on five cylinders and ran a bit lumpy but I put that down to electrics as it disappeared when the engine was revved. The column change was very sloppy but I’ve had loads of old Vauxhalls in the past, with column change and know virtually how to dismantle and re-bush things to tighten
them up. The more I looked at it, the more potential to make a nice car of it I could see, so I did what most classic car buyers do when confronted by a lonely old car that just needs to be loved. Did I walk away as I should have done? No, course not. I went all misty eyed and bought it! MUG!
The oil pressure seemed good, at 50psi, 35-40 at idle (I soon found out that’s not great and it should have been much higher) so I paid up, and after trying unsuccessfully to adjust the front seat, drove off. I was immediately amazed by the terrible steering lock! Absolutely abysmal! The Titanic could have turned a
sharper corner. Having driven trucks and buses, I was used to timing the corners and coming at them from a different than usual road position in order to get round without frightening the drivers of cars coming towards me along the road I’m turning into by swerving onto their side of the road, but at the first left hand corner I turned, I nearly took a tree down on the opposite verge! I soon got the idea though.
I ventured out into the countryside above Ripon in order to get acquainted with the old chap. The speedo wasn’t working but I wasn’t too worried about that. I could count the motorway markers to tell how fast I was going and anyway, I wanted it to get me to Italy, not just as far as Dover so I wasn’t intending to go
much faster than 55mph. Allow me to explain for those who haven’t done it before…motorway marker posts are 100metres apart. If you pass one every six seconds, do ten a minute, then you’re obviously doing 60kph, which is close enough to 38mph. Pass 15 a minute and you’re doing half the speed again, on top. 90kph, which is around 56mph. Easy huh?
I came to a steep hill and halfway up, it ran out of puff and although the fuel gauge was registering full I could hear the petrol pump sucking air and going at it like a machine gun. The engine was backfiring a lot too, especially if I tried to push it faster than what I estimated to be about 50mph. When you spend all day long driving trucks at 55mph you get to automatically settle at around the speed you’re used to travelling at, I drove the big 40 tonners for a couple of years so it’s sort of ingrained. Anyway, backfiring is a sure sign of fuel starvation and although the tank was low on fuel, it was probably also full of gunk, the filter was probably clogged (until I discovered there wasn’t one….) and/or someone had wound the carb jet right in to get it through the emissions test for the MOT. This was unlikely though as it would have cut out on tick over if this were the case.
Well, it seemed to be able to do 50-55mph quite comfortably which would get me steadily down the A1 and M11 to Bishops Stortford (Tescos) and then on to Dover in plenty of time for the midnight ferry (upon which I was booked) with time in hand to sort out a few things. It was after all only just after midday.
I joined the A1 at Scotch corner and filled her up at the services there. What with the fuel additive and the coffee it all came to £68.90! I’m not sure if it was the coffee that was expensive or if it just took a lot of petrol but he seemed to go a bit better after that but still coughed a bit up hills. I tried loosening the filler cap to see of it made a difference, in case the tank breather (assuming there was one) was a bit blocked but that didn’t make much difference. So, gingerly setting my foot in a comfortable position as we reached about 55mph, off we went.
After a bit it became possible to put my foot down a bit up the hills as the fuel pump was beginning to catch up and I was able to give it “a bit of welly”. All six cylinders were coming in quite nicely now and I was beginning to enjoy the torque of the 2.2ltr six, plus there was that delicious transmission whine that you only get from old cars as they accelerate, sounds like a tram.
The car was by now only just beginning to run out of steam near the tops of the gradients. I was just breasting a slight uphill gradient a short distance after Doncaster when the engine started to make a “tinkling” sound which then became a “pinging” then a “clattering”, then……silence. I coasted to a halt, fortunately I was at the beginning of a small slip road and there was a lane which led to a piece of waste ground onto which I was able to coast and avoid being stranded on the carriageway.
I swore a bit and guessed what had happened as the noise was identical to that which my old Lada (yes, a Lada Riva 1200, a great car, couldn’t break it!) and one of my XJ6’s had made when the timing chain had come adrift/snapped. I didn’t know at the time that the “Six- 6/80-4/50” engines have a shaft driven cam but, nevertheless, the result was the same, a valve and a piston had met in terminal coitus, resulting in the cessation of reciprocal motion! It was XXXXXXXXXXXXX’d!
I opened up the bonnet and took off the distributor cap, inserted the starting handle and gently turned the crank. It rotated about 270deg and then jammed. Slipping it into top gear I released the handbrake and gently (really really gently okay?) pushed the car backwards. The crank rotated the same amount, more or less, and then jammed again, indicating that a rod had jammed up somewhere; probably a piston had smashed and broken up, plus other things. I also noted that the distributor shaft was not turning thus confirming my thoughts that the timing chain had come off, although I found out later when I obtained the “back issue” of Practical Classics buyers guide on the Morris Six/Wolseley 6/80 from 1987 that the cam is shaft driven thus exploding my theory.
Malcesine from the castle tower
On a trip down to Italy in 1990, in a Mk2 Escort, a mechanic friend and I actually took the engine out and removed a piston and rod by the roadside, removed the pushrods for the corresponding valves, held the shell bearings in place with a radiator hose clip (Loctited in place) disconnected the spark plug lead from that cylinder and continued on three cylinders all the way from Luxembourg to Italy with no problems. We’d broken a piston ring and to have continued would have wrecked the bore, so we took it out. We bought some new piston rings from a Ford agent in Milan. No problem.
However, my mate Douggie, wasn’t with me, I didn’t have a big tool kit, and the Six engine is somewhat bigger and heavier than a 1300 Escort engine, which I could easily lift out single handed. In my younger years I single handedly took out and put back a 2ltr Vauxhall slant 4, without an engine crane or a rope
and that’s a heavy engine! (Big head) Can’t do it now though. Also, I think the Police would have taken a dim view of it. The French Police never bothered us but there again, I wasn’t in France. So, not knowing quite what to do, I phoned the vendor, Martin Howey.
I expected a fairly cool response (well, he’s a car trader…”Sold as seen mate”) but in fact he was most concerned and extremely apologetic, especially as I’d come all the way from Italy. He immediately offered me a full refund, which I suppose I should have accepted, but, I wanted to keep the car (mad bastard) so he immediately sent two chaps down the A1 with a low loader, to pick it up. Okay, maybe you’re thinking he was probably feeling guilty for having sold me a duff, but, having seen the quality of the restoration work that Andy, his mechanic was doing on some of the cars he had in the workshop, amongst them a Jaguar MKV11, a Triumph Stag (original engine) and an old Bentley from the Fifties, I was sufficiently impressed to believe that the sale of my car had been in genuine good faith.
Andy had said that he had replaced the cylinder head gasket and lapped the valves in and had also explained that these particular engines often had problems with exhaust valves burning out and to make sure I used additives as leaded fuel, although it does exist in Italy, is very difficult to find and there are literally only a handful of outlets in the entire country. He stressed that these engines need regular and careful maintenance so I really don’t think there was any hoodwinking going on at all. It just happened, and that was that.
Martin offered to accommodate me for a bit if I wanted to return to his place with the car but I’d already made plans to meet some friends from Nottingham in order to deliver a hand made resonator guitar that I’d made that summer and Bob (my mate) had seen on the wall of my bar (which is where I hang them) when he and his wife Susie paid us a short visit over a weekend. He’d fallen in love with it and although it wasn’t for sale at the time, I decided to offer it to him for a “substantial” discount, much less than the amount I would have asked for on ebay, (a mate’s a mate…) in order to regain some of my expenditure over the car loan. I’d bought the guitar with me and was due to meet Susie at a large shopping complex somewhere further south along the A1. A phone call later and she was whizzing up the A1 to my rescue. The low loader eventually arrived and I said goodbye to the old thing, ending our short lived acquaintance.
Susie took me back to Nottingham where I had a much needed bath and a beer or six, then, borrowing their computer for half an hour, booked a flight home on the internet. Here, in Italy, with Tryingair (plus a couple of other companies) if they have a spare seat and you turn up at the airport without having pre-booked,
you can usually wait until all the pre-booked passengers have passed through security and then they’ll normally sell the spare seats off cheaply just to fill them, like a fiver for example. Not so in the UK so it appeared. Last minute booking on a half full flight, £135.00 + taxes- thank you! All tickets to be booked on line, no sales at the airport! Kind of put a sting in the tail!
To add insult to injury, I had to travel all night, boarding the 22.35 National Express coach from Nottingham centre to Milton Keynes, (or was it Luton?) and from there to Stanstead on the 02.10. Fortunately at the halfway point there was an all-night café with a very good choice of fry-ups. Although I’m a big fat git I don’t actually eat much in the way of fried food but every now and then I make an exception.
Anyway, I needed comforting!
07.30 and we were in the air, usual Tryingair, okay when it’s cheap, but rip off when you’ve paid full price. Coffee £2.00! Come off it! An Italian asked for a Bacon and Egg sandwich. It came, nicely presented (cold mind) in a little box. £4.25! He pulled out a EU:50.00 note. The hostess asked “have you anything smaller sir?” “Yeah, the sandwich!” I called out. It didn’t go down well. The worst bit came when we were approaching Brescia. We couldn’t land because of heavy fog and were kept circling for over an hour. By then nearly everyone was bursting to use the toilets and the hostesses just kept bullying people back to their seats as we were supposed to have the seat belts on. Eventually three of us rebelled and went to the toilets in a convoy, me leading. The threat was, “either we get to use the toilet or we’ll piss here, on the floor!” we got to use it.
After this, it was decided to abort the landing and go on to Bergamo, 20 mins by plane, a good hour and a half by bus. When we finally arrived there, we were herded on to two shuttle coaches which were to take us to Brescia airport where the usual transport services would still be waiting. The coaches went nowhere however as the drivers were not allowed to depart without an airline representative on board. They, seeing that a plane from a different destination was landing, had all gone to lunch beforehand. Eventually, a fellow passenger and I decided to club together and take a taxi to the station and get the train. He had to
go to Verona for a trade fair and I just wanted to get off the stop before Verona, at Peschiera, which is one of Lake Garda’s southern most towns, one of three that has a railway station and where I could catch a bus back home.
Well, EU;15.00 was not expensive for the two of us and so we queued for tickets, only to miss the train we wanted by two minutes due to an idiot student who wanted to know the train times from Berlin to Paris, or something ridiculous. 45 minutes later we boarded a train for Brescia where we had to change to the Verona train, only to miss it as it had departed two minutes before ours arrived. It was at this depressing moment that I discovered I’d left my airport purchases (Softeners for the missus) on the coach and that my mobile phone had run out of power and I couldn’t phone my friend who is one of the local coach operators at Brescia airport in order for him to retrieve them for me.
Of course, when I arrived at Peschiera, I’d missed the bus by 2 minutes! Next one, two hours! I wasn’t going to cough out 100 euros for a taxi, that’s for sure so I retired to a local bar and ordered some sandwiches and a couple of beers, and waited, in a 38°C heat! I eventually arrived home to tumultuous verbal abuse from my old lady, especially as I’d left the liquorice allsorts on the coach.
I sat around and sulked for a few days, licking my wounds which were mostly to my pride and my wallet and then received an e-mail from Martin. He confirmed that a piston had indeed broken up as the engine had dropped an exhaust valve. The bore didn’t appear to be badly damaged and that a light hone would probably clear it. The head also appeared to be intact, just a bit chewed up around the valve seat which Andy reckoned he could put right however a closer inspection would reveal all as they’d only had a quick look. It was agreed that they would store the car for me and that the labour would be free (to a point mind) and I would pay for parts. Any money matters would be discussed later. The only difficulty would be sourcing the parts.
After a while, I joined the MO 6/80 club and started e-mail chatting with Dave Barker and Neville Holmes, both of whom told me that they could supply any parts necessary. I mailed Andy and Martin a few times but it wasn’t possible for either of them to strip the engine in order to tell me which parts were needed
as both of them were busy moving house (separately that is) so I wasn’t able to give Dave or Neville a list of things, pistons, rings, valves etc……. I was actually slightly concerned as to the total reliability of a rebuild by someone “in the trade” thus perhaps not 100% conversant with these engines. After all, a lot of mechanics, with all due respect to Andy, are often inclined to “fix things up” enough to get you there. I intend to use the car on a regular basis, not just for Sunday outings so I started toying with the idea of “dieseling it” or at least, putting a more modern and reliable engine in it which would be easier to source parts for. A Ford V6 perhaps, maybe a Rover V8 (tight squeeze between the chassis rails) a Jaguar XJ6 engine. If I were to diesel it that would have to be done here however.
Diesel engines are easily found here, BMW Mercedes, Volvo, you name it. As soon as a car gets to be a few years old, or gets tatty or dented, the Italians just get rid of them. They’re very “throw away” people. You’ll often find a decent Mercedes or Volvo being crushed for no other reason than the owner perhaps just got fed up with it and traded it in for a new one, the dealer being able to offer a big discount on end of line or last of “last years” models, as he will be able to claim a “cashback” grant from the government for de-registering it and crushing it, thus removing a potential pollution problem from the environment. It’s a similar thing to the system that was introduced a few years ago in the UK, here it’s called “Rottomazione”.
Very few scrap yards exist here for that very reason. As long as you know someone who works in the crusher plant, you can often get them to pull the engine of a good motor, together with the ancillaries out/off for you for a few quid. I could quite easily find a fairly low mileage 3ltre Merc or Volvo diesel or petrol engine and gearbox with alternator, down pipes and starter for around 100euros, no problem. I’d just have to go and get it, and keep my mouth shut.
Nev said that it seemed like an awful lot of work as far he was concerned, and that if I were able to get the original engine down to his place then he’d be able to rebuild it for me to a high level of reliability and not have to mess about with jigging bits together. So I enlisted the help of Dave Barker for that one and shortly after this he went to Pateley, where Andy had moved to, and picked up the car and engine (which had been taken out) and trailered it down to Neville Holmes, dropping the engine at his own home in order to strip and rebuild it.
So far I’ve had a long, enjoyable, and very eventful life and I’ve owned lot of cars. My first was a 1957 MG Magnette ZB. It was actually four months older than me. A Vauxhall Viva GT, loads of vans, Fords, XJ6’s, a Lada Riva 1200 which was a truly great car, I could take all the seats out-except the driver’s of course, and load it up at the brewery with crates and kegs, and it still did 80mph on the dual carriageway, furthermore, it always started and never broke down, I just couldn’t break it!
When it eventually did give up the ghost, mainly because the timing chain tensioner broke and the chain slipped, ending up with the familiar tinkle tinkle bang bang, DEAD! Of valves meeting pistons, the replacement valves were £5, 00 each. It went again after that but was never the same, and when it failed the MOT on a rusty spring hanger two years later, we gave it to the local fire brigade to practice getting accident victims out of, and they kept it for 6 months before it was rendered unusable anymore.
Various Fiats and a Renault followed. I’ve probably had about 25 or so different ones cars I and not any particular one a favourite, apart from the Viva GT which was very memorable for a lot of reasons. My daily runabout was a 1972 W115 Mercedes 220D diesel automatic for quite a few years, but this decided to blow its injector pump during a trip to Stuttgart, I got there, but had to return by train. I used the MS as my daily driver until Feb 2007, and then my daily driver became my 1951 Wolseley 6/80.
However… there’s another couple of episodes to the MS story, so bear with me and read on.