Unexpected weekends part I.

A few weeks back I noticed a company was starting up in Aviemore by the name of Bygone Drives so I looked up the address and went to introduce myself. Isobel was in the process of putting together a classic car rental fleet, an MGB roadster lurking in the garage, a very pretty Mk2 Mazda Mx5 and a Range Rover sport on the driveway and a tidy silver XJS V12 up for sale to make way for a few more sensible and rentable motors (namely a Daimler 250 V8 and some form of Aston).

A good car chat ensued and a couple of days later I found myself heading for Edinburgh to collect an old English white 1953 split screen Morris Minor convertible, bought unseen. It turned out to be a really nice once, smooth engine, good brakes, nice ride, obviously much loved. Being early it has an Art Deco styled dash (in bronzey gold) and the interior of this one has been fully retrimmed in burgundy leather. Its meagre original seats have been binned in favour of comfy but not incongruous modern ones and it has a new hood, which, even though its designed like a vintage pram, kept most of the rain out as we parped our way into the city.

Its nearly 60 years old so you have to think, then wait, then ease your way through the gears. There’s not a lot of grip or go and 55 is flat out. Stopped in it people want to mother it, it makes them smile and wave and come to chat and everyone has a moggie story or some moggie trivia.

Then the weekend started to get odd. By 10.30 I was in Queensferry with a bottle of wine, 2 deckchairs, a chainsaw, 3 rolls of gaffer tape and 2 giant inflatable bananas. Myself and the Moggie had fallen in with the organising committee of – and been drafted in to compete in – the Edinburgh raft race. By midnight we had drunk the wine, chopped down a tree to make paddles and come to the conclusion we were seriously short on buoyancy, time, skills and materials.

Morning came, the sun was out and the moggie promptly broke down, top down, bananas proudly in the air. A clutch rod many million gearchanges old had snapped. Intrepid mariner engineers such as we were we whipped the rod off, failed to improvise another – first out of rope then out of heras fence, then found our mate Donald with a welder who stuck the old one back together and we made it to the canal with minutes to spare, whereupon a kindly stranger, seeing the moggie disgorge our raft ingredients, solved our buoyancy problem with 4 large water cooler bottles. We built a raft in the few remaining minutes, hit the canal, looked totally ridiculous and unstable but made the final.

The drive back to Aviemore was in pouring rain (a lot of it with the roof still down) but the Morris didn’t miss a beat. This is really its natural habitat, trundling the B roads round the highlands. It is certainly £120 odd per day worth of fun if you have the right excuse and, dare I say it, it’s my kind of wedding car.

Next up – Lewis.

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