Trouble with the Porsche.
My son, Will, borrowed the Skoda and left me with his Porsche. It broke leaving just the venerable 1948 Land Rover for daily use.
Running a fleet of ageing vehicles, as I’m sure many readers do, brings with it, it’s very own set of problems. The main one being, more things to go wrong. Thirty years ago I lived at the family pile. A crumbling farmhouse with numerous out buildings stuffed to the rafters with broken cars, motor bikes and a stable we enthusiastically called ‘the scrap shed’. To my brother Justin and I, this represented unequalled opportunities to acquire ‘bargains’. Fast forward thirty years and it is my son Will and I, that still try to hang on to a fleet, but within the confines of living in the city with limited storage space.
Running through the portfolio. And you may wish to cut this bit out and pin it up next to the loo for future reference. My own collection consists of my two Land Rovers. A 1970 Carawagon and a 1948, 80 inch. The latter the only survivor of the old farmhouse days. Squeezed into the garage are two motor bikes. A 750 Cagiva Elefant. This is a Desert Racer, essential for if I ever feel like racing across a Desert. Next to it is a, far more humble, Honda C90 Cub. I bought this on a whim last month with a view to shoving it in the back of the Carawagon to trundle around the lanes of Devon on weekend breaks with my girlfriend Jo, the Life Model. Fighting for space is Will’s collection. Will drives a Porsche 968 Club Sport, but has a defunct VW Golf GTi in bits in the garage and a ‘Frogeyed’ Sprite, restored, but currently SORN up in a lock up garage up the road. This list leaves out the one vehicle used and abused by all and the first choice for any journey, a Skoda Fabia diesel. Fast, comfortable, economical and warm. We queue up to use the Skud in preference to anything else.
So. With four cars and two bikes currently taxed, insured and MOT’d we should have no difficulty getting around. Right? Wrong. Two weeks ago Will borrowed the Skud to go skiing with his mates. Loaded up with gear he chucked me the Porsche keys with a cry of ‘help yourself’. This suited me as I had a photographic assignment, for that is my profession, down in Stroud and was taking my client, Hannah, a girl impressed by what car she’s seen in. All went well, though I was horrified at the amount of fuel used, but the next day the Porsche refused to start. Fearful of making the situation worse I left well alone and contemplated the rest of the fleet to deliver the photographs to Hannah. Too cold for the bikes and both were so jammed in the garage with the Golf they would take ages to extract. The Carawagon would be fine, but it is it the yard, behind big gates. These are difficult to open because an adjacent tree’s roots have pushed up the cobbles so as to make it a Herculean task to lift and open the biggest gate. There was nothing for it but to press the 58 year old 80 inch into daily service. It was parked on the road and I knew it would work. Donning the appropriate winter clothing I hopped in, turned the key to the reassuring ‘tick, tick’ tick’ of the SU fuel pump and the old girl fired up. Pulling away with a little wheel spin on the half litre of oil that had dripped from it in the last few weeks I roared into town and parked outside the Advertising Agency where Hannah works. Hannah and David, the MD and an old friend, came out to express polite interest in my form of transport, parked right next to his brand new BMW 645i, delivered that very morning. He looked at the 80 inch, splattered with mud and smelling of oil, petrol and exhaust fumes and was clearly worried about it’s proximity to his shiney new car. As if it might catch some hideous disease being within a metre or two. He looked relieved when I left. However, some small curse was transferred from mine to his, as when I spoke to him later he told me that when he came to go home that evening his new BMW refused to start and he had to call out the BMW emergency repair chappy who was baffled. It ended up going back to the garage to be electronically diagnosed and having a new flux capacitor flange sprocket fitted. The 80 inch never really goes wrong as there is so little to fail on it. If it does a few cable ties, some old wire and a bit of ingenuity usually has it up and running again.
The Church Farm fleet, 1974. 1953 2CV, my 80 inch and Justin’s Vauxhaul 14/6 outside outbuildings full of junk!
Hannah Elwell looking rather bemused outside her office at Unsworth Sugden Advertising.