Sometimes we do not recognise the danger we have been in until it has long passed – and we can look back in amazement at what might have been. I got a feeling like this when I went to the Whiteman Park car show.
The back story is an old one. In the winter of ’83 my father died and I inherited his tools and metal lathe. It had been one of his indulgence purchases in the last 5 years of his life and was quite a piece of machinery. Mourning is not a good time for thinking, and I went through the classic stages of it – in one of them I felt I wanted to memorialise him and I imagined I was going to use his small shop and the lathe to do it.
The first wild hare idea was to get a small English sports car like a Spitfire or Sprite and do it up – he had owned a Spitfire in ’64 and I thought that they were still on the market for a cheap price. Hahahaha. There were a few of them and their successors on the market but they were the price of new motor cars – while being piles of refurbishment and rewelded chassis and body pans. One idea down.
Then it was to be a kit car – a Caterham Special or some other English kit that would arrive in a crate and be bolted together by me and driven singingly along the road. I read the prices, read the requirements for licencing, and realised that if I had put that much money out I would still be paying for an unfinished kit 32 years later…Idea two down.
Then I thought about a glass fibre buggy. And as I was searching about for what might be available heaven pushed me past the muzzle-loading gun club premises…I looked in…and the world went off on a new tangent.
All this came back when I saw this car at the show. It is a California sports buggy – probably on Volkswagen parts. It is not quite as Bolwell Ikara as it might be, but it serves as a stark reminder that things sketched out on the back of envelopes are not always the Gettysburg Address…I am sure it is loved, but then I have also seen pug dogs.
Had I not veered off into three-band Enfields and repro uniforms I might have purchased such a kit. The danger is past now – I spend my toy income on toys, and am satisfied. I can contemplate this car with equanimity, secure in the knowledge that it will drive home one way and I will drive home another.