FNWL: North Rode Rally

Up until about Easter this year, I hadn’t driven in about six and a half years. Then, some time in the last year, I volunteered (was volunteered) to be a co-pilot on a 48-hour, 1500-mile drive around England in May. In my nearly half-century Triumph Herald.

So I had to relearn to drive. Which didn’t happen until about Easter, and the first car I drove happened to be the Herald. Around an empty Tesco carpark for half an hour. A month before the Drive.

And then I did the Drive, with a 2-hour stint in the early hours of the morning along an empty motorway (such a lovely time to be driving!), and I discovered another reason to add to the original for why I wanted a Triumph sports-car in the first place. The original reason was because they’re so pretty, particularly the Spitfires, Heralds and Vitesses. Now though, I’ve discovered I prefer driving the Herald to modern cars. The only thing I have to remember is the lack of synchromesh between first and second gear, which means you can only put it into first when at a complete standstill. Otherwise they grind horribly and Dad gets cross…

Anyway, having rediscovered my love for such pretty cars, I’ve been lusting after photos of them on eBay and wishing I had the money. Or at least the time and space for another restoration, although not such a complete strip-down and rebuild. Learnt my lesson from last time. Don’t mind stripping down for a respray, mostly because chances are I’ll want to change the colour anyway. But this is all by the by.


Mark is less keen on the beautiful Triumphs; he’s much more interested in American muscle-cars, which have their place, but I do have concerns with their ability to cope with windy English roads. Mind you, there was a quite fabulous Vauxhall Cresta at the rally, which probably has much the same problems.

But I still persuaded him that the North Rode Rally, advertising itself on Congleton high street with a Standard Vanguard, would be worth a trip. There would be military vehicles, which he rather likes, as well. Fortunately, he indulges me and my dreams of a Triumph of my own, and we duly set off.

Although it was quite a small rally, being just the one large field, it was an enjoyable few hours, wandering around and admiring some really beautiful cars. And not just the Triumphs (see above for the blue Vitesse and white Triumph TR2). Mark was stopped short by a Ford Mustang – the yellow and black above. And then by several of the military vehicles. And we were both amused by what appeared to be a Tractor Beauty Pageant, although only from a distance, so we’re not sure quite what was going on in the ring.

And there’s another rally in mid-September, so I’ve already marked it in my diary…


The NEC Restoration Show

Now that Authun has managed to return to his home in Iceland, I have need to find something else to fill my Wednesday posts.

While I think on it, though, let me tell you more about the car show.


It turned out less boring than I expected. I’m not really a car-expert. I only wanted a Herald because I really wanted a Spitfire. And I really only wanted one of them because I think they’re one of the prettiest designed cars. So elegant and gorgeous. I’m quite taken by Austin-Healey Frogeye Sprites for the same reason. That and the name. Likewise Riley Elfs. Or Elves, maybe… But the reason I didn’t get a Spitfire was, quite simply, economics. I was 16 and couldn’t find a cheap enough one.

Anyway, it was largely only the mornings when I was particularly invisible. As the days got busier, and my dad got more caught up with all those who wanted to talk to him about mechanics etc, the rest got left to me. So I wasn’t too bored.

Although sadly, and despite the many with fond memories of Heralds or with Herald projects, we didn’t win the coveted Golden Spanner for Restoration of the Year (and £2K of tools which none of us on the Restoration stand need, since we clearly already have what we need). You see, one of the other cars was probably the front-runner from the word go. It’s hard to beat a story like that of the Volvo P1800. It was the car originally driven by Roger Moore in the ’60s TV show The Saint. Apparently they’d really wanted a Jag, but Jaguar refused. So a Volvo it was!


The best part of the weekend, though, was the fact that the Herald managed the trip to and from Birmingham with almost no troubles. She hiccuped a little when the fuel started running low, but other than that, it was a very pleasant road-trip. And lovely weather too! On our way back, we thought it would be nice to take her back to her place of origin, since we were in Coventry.

Since Standard-Triumph is no more, the factory site is now a business-site, and all that remains is the workers’ club. But there are signs and monuments. And most of the roads are named after the Triumph cars.


From Zero to Hero

There’s something about classic cars that is just so glamorous. Probably the same kind of thing which makes the clothing so beautiful.

A love that went into the crafting, perhaps, or into the designing.

My dad’s owned a Spitfire for the better part of his life. It was fun all of us (my three siblings and me) squishing ourselves into it on sunny days to go to primary school.

Why do I tell you this? Well, some years ago, my dad and I got a Herald 1200. A project for restoring. It took a while. Mostly because I was supposed to be doing more of it than I did – I’m frankly better at taking things to pieces than I am at putting them back together – and my dad always had lots of other things to do.

Anyway, she went from this:


To this:


The blue and white one in the foreground. Photos both taken by my father.

And apparently for less than £1K. Not bad for a 40-year-old car that had spent the better art of twenty years rusting in a barn. Poor thing!

And now she’s up for Practical Classics’ Restorer of the Year at the NEC Restoration Show in April.

Such a pretty car! If I do say so myself (me being the one to choose the paints. My dad wanted to paint a Union flag on the roof, to go with the blue and white paint-job and the red leatherette upholstery).