I ignored the advice and bought a T–Type. I bought TC7045 in 1990 in a wonderfully reassuring cloud of nostalgia, inexperience and enthusiasm from a dealer. No names, no pack drill – it was, after all, a 42 year old car even then and I was advised to go for the (considerably more expensive) restored car which was also available.
Lesson number one – research your car’s type and specifications before hunting for your purchase. In researching its history, a previous owner sent me photos – what I had not realised was that at some point it had been stripped of a number of original parts which would prove expensive to replace if I was going to be a stickler for originality.
Lesson number two (following on) – do not underestimate the cost of replacement of parts which are much sought after, now that originality is so important. Foglamp, Horn, Steering Wheel, Headlamps and a host of other parts, even for modern reproductions, have price tags which can make your eyes water. The reasons are simple – Supply and Demand. Because of the age of our cars, their parts now have to be either re-manufactured in small batches on special order or (increasingly rarely) found through diligent search of forgotten store shelves or dismantling of other cars and restoration. None of it comes cheap and each person involved has to make a mark-up. Get a Moss catalogue and read the prices.
Lesson number three – don’t go alone. You will persuade yourself to ignore many drawbacks because the cars are so inexplicably desirable that you will not be able to resist. Take someone with you who knows the model and already has one and been through all of the disasters which we all know too well – and preferably carry with them a bucket of cold water!
Lesson number four – Unless you really, really, …REALLY like working on old cars and have adequate practical skills, don’t buy a basket case and fondly think that a few weekends spent tinkering will put it straight. On the surface my car looked pretty good but the years had taken their toll in a myriad little (and big) ways under the surface, of which more anon. Remember, these essentially pre-war design cars were mostly driven hard by enthusiasts and went through a phase of being an old banger before being a classic.
All good stuff but of course I did not follow this advice myself.
I had wanted one since I was a child, when a neighbour owned one – it had an MoT, it ran well and I was utterly besotted, so I bought it.
Back to the marriage analogy – she has driven me to distraction, caused me no little heartache and cost me a fortune but boy have we had some good times. I still love her and we’ll be together for life.
For the setbacks on the way however…..that’s for another time!
Editor’s Note: Chris offers sound advice; the number of instances that have been relayed to me of people getting ‘caught’ beggars belief. There is one particularly bad example where a car was sold with a downright dangerous steering set-up and this could well be the subject of a future article.
Chris has offered to write a regular series of articles about the rebuild of his TC and I have gratefully accepted. You will find lots of photos at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mgtcdismantle2006/