7 months ago

Motoring Miscellany part 1 - Pages 1 to 7

Motoring Miscellany Driving home after purchasing the 18/80. As past EMGS magazines have recorded the 18/80’s history and its subsequent restoration I have not repeated this detail. Suffice to say I still own PL 8282 - 55 years on! The AFN connection blossomed and the Newton Garage were appointed Midlands Porsche agents, continuing until Porsche began developing their brand into a larger UK presence. Nevertheless through my brother Chris, whose career was with the Newton Group, I was introduced to many of the new Porsche models launched in the Midlands, including the short lived 901 and 912 models. Porsche had to drop the 901 nomenclature pretty quickly as Peugeot had full rights of car models designated with a zero - that position exists today. The 912, a 4 cylinder model replacing the 356 series, whilst initially outselling the new 911 had a short production life. Porsche life in the Kettel family lasted for some 10 years with the 356A replaced by a red 356B. Both these cars I was lucky enough to drive and on occasions could impress Alyson with stylish and sporting outings. At Silverstone in 1977. 1960s motoring was still fun and the family cars were changed. Pop went up market replacing the ZB for an even more desirable brand – a blue Porsche 356A. Sadly the YB was also moved on and a Morris Minor 1000 appeared. The Porsche acquisition was influenced by Jack Newton. He was a friend of John Aldington of AFN from his Frazer Nash racing days, and Jack had a succession of Porsches, 356A, 356B and one of the early UK registered Carreras. I had a fantastic trip to Germany in 1959, with Jack in the Carrera which included a very fast lap around the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit – he was an excellent driver! In 1961 when 18, I thought it about time I should buy a car but it was difficult on an articled clerk salary of £5 per week - parental support was to “go ahead” if I could afford it but sadly no financial investment from them! I took the plunge buying a very tired 1930s Ford 10 for the princely sum of £5. It was barely road worthy but with Pop’s help safety was improved, before of course the advent of MoT legislation. Ownership did not last long as it became apparent too many repairs were required so I successfully sold it for £10 5shillings - 100% profit (before forgotten costs). I felt pretty chuffed. Sadly I have no photos of the car during my short but enjoyable ownership. After that experience I resorted to persuading Mother her Morris Minor 1000 should be used regularly by me as by then my brother Chris had already a succession of interesting cars. At that time I began to help Pop restore the 18/80 which was taken off the road in late 1963. I also thought I had better buckle down and get my chartered accountant qualification not least because romance was blossoming!

Motoring Miscellany After qualification and newly married in 1967, some sense of responsibilities prevailed but car ownership was not far away. “Our” first car, that is Alyson and me, was a second hand Morris 1100 in Harvest Gold - the in colour. It turned out the car was probably worth less than the number plate - LOX 300 which no doubt today would be even more valuable. The Morris got us through our Scottish honeymoon despite developing a serious water leak in heavy rain! An abiding memory is returning on the M6 in a downpour and seeing Alyson’s smart going away leather handbag float neatly into her foot well! We felt rapid action was required to move the car on so we bought from a reputable Midlands Triumph dealer (are there such people?), via a family connection, a Triumph Herald, which retrospectively today is considered an icon! Maybe not the most exciting car, with its funny suspension angles and the bonnet opening the wrong way, but nevertheless the Herald gave excellent service and with a newly enlarged family proved ideal for taking a child’s carry cot. More exciting motoring moments still existed as I occasionally found time to help with the continuing restoration of the 18/80. By 1970 my cousin Richard Newton, Jack’s elder son, had an HRG 1500 and together we did some production car trials as well as in my exchanged family car, an Austin 1300. The HRG was great fun but the front wheel drive 1300 proved more successful in obtaining an award in the Shenstone & District Car Club Fellows Trials. More successful in trials was the family’s new Austin 1300. Then in summer 1971 as a career development I was “sent” to work in Boston, USA with Alyson and our family, now 2 children, living near Walpole, outside Boston. Our car choice in the States was, to say the least, conservative - I bought a VW Beetle! Unexciting it may have been but it proved reliable transport for our family and I had the last laugh in the New England winter snows. The American cars had hopeless traction whilst the air cooled VW always started first time and simply drove off on the snowy roads! An amazing coincidence happened when I arrived in Boston ahead of Alyson and the family. At the docks collecting our trunks holding the limited possessions we had shipped out I got talking to a young American who announced he had come to collect a newly imported MG from England. Lo and behold he said the car was a model I may not be familiar with, an MG Mk1 18/80 Speed Model - MG 1011 and the new owner was Gerry Gougen of Abingdon Spares, Walpole. Rodney ‘trialling’ his cousin’s HRG 1500 – an early model with a Meadows engine. Gerry Gougen’s new acquisition – Rodney’s VW Beetle in the background. We obviously had a great conversation and as we were living nearby I speedily arranged to go and see and ride in the car. To be continued.

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