I’d like to say that this chapter brings to a close the Finding A New Partner miniseries but in essence this is the start of one of the major changes I went through. Hobby Passion Business all describe how the next few years went.
From Childhood The Seeds Are Sewn
I wouldn’t know where to being in trying to find a comparison or analogy to put across the connection I have with cars… I’m not even sure you can class it as an obsession. I just have an affinity with cars. I was a typical child with a fascination for everything automobile related… Boxes of Matchbox and Dinky cars… It was just me and my older sister who was/is six years my senior…so just me playing with cars. I had ‘The Observer Book of Automobiles’ which was small enough to fit in a pocket. It was a massive resource of information. Every page had a car and its general specifications on. I knew every make and model. Alfa Romeo to Aston Martin, Bedford to Bugatti and the list goes on.
As my bedroom faced the main road, before by-passes took away most of the traffic, I could hear the cars whistling by. It was comforting and also a source of entertainment as I would listen to the sounds and try to guess which cars were going by, obviously I didn’t always get it right but I managed to nail a few…especially Volvo’s, they really did ‘whistle’ by.
Not Just Cars
Actually, let’s digress… Now that I’m writing my brain is taking me back to those early years. Memories that can be recognised as being from the mid to late seventies…it wasn’t just cars I was into. I could ‘fix’ things even then. I remember going to, what was then known as a ‘Jumble Sale’…overtaken nowadays with the ‘car boot’ or ‘Garage/Yard’ sale…I bought two broken, old ‘bagatelle’ boards…out of the two I made a fully working one..not bad for a ten-year old… Then there was a ‘Grundig’ radio, one of those that had padding on the front. I was given it by a friend of the family who said it no longer worked and I was free to ‘play’ with it. So I ‘played’ with it by taking it apart, twiddling a few, what turned out to be ‘tuning’ screws and suddenly there was sound whence there had been none. Of course, I didn’t know what I was doing, it was luck. We all have to start somewhere.
So maybe that was where my taste for cars came from, stands a chance. Over my lifetime I think I must have owned close to one hundred cars. Sounds like a lot but when we were younger they were ten a penny as the saying goes. You buy one for £50 drove it until it broke, sell it and buy another one. Maybe a little bit of maintenance along the way.
It wasn’t until the early nineties that I found my favourite car…Favourite sounds a bit ‘wet’. I found a car that did more than get you from A to B… There’s a saying that some like to float about..not exactly word for word but as close as. ‘You set out in a car and arrive in a Jaguar’. It really is close to the mark. Back to the car.
For the princely sum of £100 I had bought a Jaguar SeriesTwo XJ6. It needed some work of course but nothing of any major consequence. I managed to persuade my friend to drive it back from the sellers house as I had no insurance on it. It wasn’t long before I was on the road. Two petrol tanks trying to keep up with the 4.2 litre engine. It was like driving on pillows whilst being sat in an armchair.
There it was, a bond never to be broken. To this day I have still not found a model of car that I like as much as the Jaguar. The XJ6 saloon style, in my opinion, is one of the best looking body shapes there is. Hey, that’s just me, we all have our own tastes.
‘Jojo’ was his name and I had him until work took me on a longer commute than was possible with such an uneconomic vehicle. I had a couple of others over the next twenty-five years but never for very long…just fleeting fancies that became available through chance.
A Long Awaited Reunion
So the passage of time, namely twenty four-ish years brings us to a point where I was able to turn a passion/hobby into something a bit more serious. In fact this was all my wifes idea…go her. Not sure how the conversation started but it went in just the right direction. We must have been talking about cars and maybe me looking to buy a jaguar as a daily drive. A twenty-year old XJ6 was not an expensive outlay. If the car of chooie had a few minor defects, then so much the better, even cheaper.
So I began searching the internet for something around the £500 price bracket, which was about as much as was available to spend at the time. I didn’t just run out and buy the first one, I did my ‘due diligence’. I found one about twenty miles away. Fully running and road legal with just a few minor issues, like the windows were a bit sluggish, going up and down. Anyway, the bodywork was pretty straight and the engine was silky smooth. Managed to haggle the price a little, which was very unlike me. Drove it home.
‘Jojo’ and I were spiritually reunited.
One Became Two Became Many.
That first one, although a baptism of fire in some respects, was the beginning of a venture into ‘specialising’…this was not based on my skill, moreover the adage of ‘repetition is the mother of skill’ There was only me. I did have some friends who owned a garage but if the minor stuff was doable then it made far more sense for me to do it, financially speaking. I changed a door as the ‘sticky’ window was due to corrosion, then found that the door wiring loom was different so had to change that over..swapped a wing mirror, which meant stripping the door down. I even resprayed all the wheels to match the bodywork, which did give it an individual touch.
So here’s the thing and you may be able to relate to it. That summer, or at least the first few months of it, I spent quite bit of time working on the car. When I had done as much as was needed to make it presentable and usable on a daily basis… I sort of lost interest…not the driving side, it was and still is an immense pleasure driving one of these beasts. The ‘challenge’ was complete I suppose is one way of looking at it. The car wasn’t a ‘shed’, as we like to term battered old cars, it had needed some finessing, little jobs doing to make the experience just that bit more refined. I could do those jobs, it was more time than skill or equipment…Now it was all done. It was twiddle thumbs time.
Then my wife did it again…why don’t you sell it and get another one, start treating your hobby/passion more like a business. After I’d picked my jaw off the floor I agreed. It made sense.
Looks like there’s another installment after all.
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment or ask any questions.