Life can be beautiful?
Sometimes life is full of amazing twists and turns and things happen when you least expect them (well, my life at least). Such an event happened to me in July 2013. When I was magazine editor, I occasionally ran a little feature called “Where are they now?”, and decided that I wanted to find out what had happened to my old 1951 Flatdash Consul. Shortly after that issue of the magazine came out I had a call from a fellow club member, not only telling me that he knew of the whereabouts of LYX, but that he was actually willing to sell her to me. I nearly fell over.
The picture on the right is me in around 1982, so long ago that the little car park where this was taken is now disused and grown over, Bostall Heath, Sarf East Landan for those interested. Was I really that slim then? Still got the hair though (for now).
So on a gloriously crisp July morning, paterfamilias and I set off into the countryside for the tearful reunion. Upon arrival the car was outside and pretty much as you see her in the two pictures here.
I hardly recognised her and I had a terrible sinking feeling when I first saw her, but also that somehow this car and I are inextricably linked, as if she has been waiting for me to return. Any road up, I restored her once I thought – I can do it again, only, much, much better this time round. I would like to say that Daddy shared my view, but as he was emitting phrases that rhymed with “clucking bell”, I left him to stew in our car while I went inside and did the deal.
When she arrived at home a few days later, she looked marginally better, with a bonnet, doors, boot and seats. Upon closer inspection though, the extent of the intended restoration became clear, and I think I understood why Dad was so vociferous in his protestations.
The reality was that there was practically nothing original left on the car; (I think she has been stripped as a donor car herself) there are quite a few rust holes, front inner wings, A posts, floor, boot floor, rear cross member, rear valance (all of which I think are easy enough), no jacking points (I know, I personally ground them off in 1981), no engine, gearbox, correct seats or panels, no screens, no interior to speak of, no ancillaries etc. I was lucky enough to get a few bits with her, rear lights, speedo (they are different from later models), nice pair of bumpers, front mudguards and some other odds and ends (albeit from later models). She has also acquired a sun visor which has been welded on. So what to do?
Well, by a curious quirk of fate, I managed to locate another Flatdash to act as the donor car for LYX. The result was then I had two dead cars on our drive, and as the needs of the few outweigh the many, I had the unenviable task of having to break a Flatdash – sacrilege I hear you say, maybe, but I see it that I am rescuing one good one for posterity and as a piece of motoring history.
However, to be fair, I did cut the dash out and hopefully one day will make it into a book cabinet to house all my Five Star magazines, we had to use a lot of the metalwork and mechanicals/parts anyway, so it wouldn’t have really been a viable project for anybody else to tackle. I agonised for ages about this decision, but it is done and I stand by it, thanks to XMY 485 for the ultimate sacrifice.
So the pictures below is how I got her ready for the first part of the restoration, correct 1951 panels (that need a fair bit of work), correct seats and door cards, correct drive train and I have practically all the right parts to finish her, plus she is now painted in red lead primer – and that boys and girls is where I came in over thirty years ago.
I have managed now to source the ever elusive dash switches and cables etc, namely Starter, Dash, Wiper, Side/Headlight and Blower switches, which of course differ from the later models, but if you do know of any, please drop me an email. I have been lucky enough to find a Choke cable and knob, a Vent knob and also a Dash knob from my good buddy Allan in NZ, and a Starter knob and cable from that Mk1 legend Andy T! Also Stevie Gasser found a NOS Wiper knob and let me have that, how rare is that beast?
I really didn’t expect to ever see this car again, and had to sell my beloved Zephyr to part fund the restoration work of this car, but this really was a once in a lifetime deal, so I had to go for it.
Work on the car will probably not really be started until early 2014, but I will keep you all updated on this site, and upload the photographs relating to the restoration. I would like to achieve all this before her 70th birthday, or mine, whichever comes first.
One time, a passer by stopped for a chat,telling me he used to own a Mk1, and he was dead keen to see how my restoration was going and then he asked me a very salient question – where is the rest of it?
So I showed him…
Work in Progress – Commencing January 2014
As you can see from the pictures below , work has begun in earnest, there is much more rust on the body that I had anticipated, so I think it will take a lot longer to complete the restoration, but there is no rush. As I am pants at welding and bodywork (and quite a lot more), the work has been farmed out to none other than that well known Mk1 stalwart, Emlyn Bowder.
He is doing a first class job and I hope the car will be better than new when it is finished.
Update – January 2018
All the rust has now been eradicated, and I will be writing an article for the magazine in Spring 2018 to report on progress, once it is published, I will update here accordingly.