The Ton-Up Glass

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The recent rains in Perth have brought up a fine crop of English sports cars – here is a bunch of them grouped in a ring in the field at Whiteman Park. I believe it is something to do with the humidity and the spores – though old folk used to say that it was due to faeries. That may have been true at one time around Oxford, Cambridge, and British Military Intelligence establishments but this is Western Australia and we prefer to put it down to sports car enthusiasts or spores. Much less worrisome.

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Well, this crop of Austin Healy cars was in fine form and as we wandered around looking at the interiors we noted a rather odd thing on the front fender of the cars – a sort of chrome socket set into the wing line. Didn’t pay too much attention to it until we came to the silver car with the tonneau cover closed. Then the mechanics of it all became clear – the socket received the bottom of the windscreen pillar and a hinge mechanism allowed a coil spring to pull the pillar in tighter. There was a rubber gasket at the bottom of the screen that sealed it to the body in the upright position and then to a certain extent when it was forward.

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What for? For going over 100 miles per hour, apparently. One of the owners explained it and as he said it we could see the basic sense of it – there is a lot of pressure on a screen at those speeds and a lot of wind drag is generated – what a marvellous way to make the screen lower to dodge this. It beats by far the silly little semi-circular racing screens that appeared on other British marques at the time.

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I am not certain if it would provide all the protection you might want if you encountered a swarm of killer bees at that speed – or, as I recall from a trip to the eastern states a couple of decades ago, if you were stuck behind a cattle train at a lower speed and the beasts decided to have a wee…but it looks cool enough to justify a lot of inconvenience.

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Final note – look at the glorious white piping on the A/H seats. They might have been small and uncomfortable but they had style. Note also the ” map pockets ” and ” quick release ” cord in the doors. These are code words for not enough elbow room. The ” offset shift lever ” is code for not enough leg room. If this becomes a problem there is space enough in the boot for a leg.


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