MORE FROM THE BARNS
Now you are probably expecting some article on a recent “barn find” and something that I’m about to restore ….. well that of course would be wonderful and I would thoroughly enjoy it……. and perhaps
might happen in the not too distant future.
What I would like to get my hands on are some more SWM’s and a few Fantics. Everybody says the
Fantic was the bee’s knees and someday I would like to be able to confirm one way or the other
whether they were indeed a quantum jump forward.
Of course we currently don’t allow either machine on the Ahrma circuit but now might be the time to
start acquiring them ready for what I see as only a matter of time before they can be used again. The
quest will continue unless the readership offers some back yard wrecks up for renovation.
So from one barn to another the new found fun of driving a vast variety of buses may provide some
pocket money to search the country far and wide for a suitable machine. Back in the land of reality I’m
still enjoying the challenge of driving vintage school buses with all their quirks and mega variations.
Nearly managed to confuse myself yesterday when I took a newer Bluebird out for the homebound
run only to find my left foot and right hand were getting bored as it was an automatic!
Seems I’ve been driving a lot of manuals lately which takes me back to my youth when everything was
4 or 5 speed boxes. I can remember when I recieved my inheritance from my dear old Auntie Madge,
and when all other family members wants had been met, I decided I would have a NEW car and for
me this was going to be a FIRST ! Of course through the years I have had perhaps more than my fair
share of cars, some good, some bad and a splattering of ill advised purchases based on impulse
Going back to1987, at this particular stage of my life I’m faced with large scale weekly commuting. The “then” wife has a BMW 318i company car for all her travel and family needs and I’ve got a boy
racer Renault 5 Turbo which has electrifying performance, is fun to drive, but is shall we say small
and French !
After much research I decide my one and only NEW UK car will be a Toyota Supra in two tone blue. It
is duly ordered from a company in Nottingham, the Renault is given a fair price, and the deal is done.
I patiently wait for the phone call and about 2 weeks later I’m told I can take delivery on the Friday.
Much talk in the Officer’s Mess bar the night before so after flying is complete on Friday morning I
excuse myself from ground training and set off to collect the treasured object. As I drive from Lincoln
to Nottingham I’m thinking of what a real NEW car will smell like with all it’s virgin blue leather. I arrive
at the dealership, unload my bags and the Renault disappears into the cavenous bowels of their
workshops. Usual pleasanties from salesmen, and other automotive leeches and I’m escorted to my
NEW vehicle………. and there it is……. drop dead gorgeous in dark blue over pale blue, the new plates
of the year, and all I have to do is write them a cheque and I’m on my way.
A quick admiring once round for any blemishes and the boot is opened and my bags are in. Time to
get in, set up the seat and mirrors and drink in all the new car heady perfumes. Climb aboard while
still smiling and chatting to Toyota sages……… hand reaches out to check for neutral……. strange? no
lateral movement in left fist………. shit! no clutch pedal either …….,. FFFF#$%^&$%^ !!!!! ……… there now
follows a very heated discussion with the General Manager as I’ve already dismissed the salesman
as an incompetent bufoon.
The order form is presented, blue over blue, blue leather upholstery, NEW, FIVE speed MANUAL etc, etc ???? ……… all they could come up with was ” We couldn’t get one in manual and we didn’t think
you’d mind” much further heated comments….. “Look you morons, I WANT to DRIVE the bloody car…..
not be driven round by a hi-tech jap whizz kid computer who always wants to be in top gear!!!!”………….
“Don’t you think if I’d wanted a F#$%&*^ auto I’d have ordered one ?” This coversation was a bit like
the rendition given in the U-Tube “Wrong bike for Hitler” scene which is why I always find that piece so
“Well Sir, we are giving it to you at the same price as a Manual” ………… Some time later when I had
calmed down and further LARGE sums had been cut off the price I wrote them a cheque and left. Now, despite all my complaining this machine had a “sports” selection and also instanteous downshift
control….. hhhmmmm! very clever! It would actually out accelerate the manual version and would hold
in each gear until 6700 rpm with the sports mode selected.
Perhaps one of the best cars I have ever owned, a delight to drive, all modes, totally reliable, and in
the 7 years I owned it I only replaced one sidelight bulb and the exhaust system which of course
rotted through after about 4 years of UK winter driving.
…….and perhaps had I stayed in the UK after my return from Saudi Arabia I would have hunted down
a car that I always wanted to own……. the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton. I did have a drive in one of these
beasts and I was VERY impressed !
With all those treasured memories of the Super Supra my mind flashes over other vehicles I have
owned and I guess as I await the warmer weather and think of trials to come there will be time to
remember the Good, Bad and the Ugly of my motoring history.