Before Christmas, I stumbled upon a Youtube Channel called Classic Britain. First what attracted me was the content, the presenter, Sheldon was clearly a grade A Petrolhead and his scruffy Rover P6 (Kismet) is a really interesting car. After a little while, I also worked out they are based in West Cornwall.
Oddly we never get to see Sheldon, but we do get to see Lucas, his friend, and Mentor. Their friendship is clear to see, and infectious. Lucas, smart, funny and has lived a life. He gives no shit’s about what others think. Yet, and having met him and his charming wife, what is clear, they are both good people. Caring about those who are privileged to enter their world.
He also knows his stuff when it comes to old cars.
Man Behind the Camera.
Now I will admit that on air, Sheldon comes across as far older than he is. From his voice, I’d of said he was late 20’s or early 30’s… Right up until the point he got in Bel and I suddenly realised he was in his early 20’s. Sheldon is one of those characters who have a power to them, a good-natured force of nature. Others become attracted, his passion infectious. They start chatting, remembering times past. More than once, someone came up and spoke to us as we worked on Kismet, the Rover. In this way, he reminds me of my friend Jess, who at 20 decided that a 1957 Morris Minor was his ideal first car. They share a strange magnetism that makes others want to help, and perhaps remind us of who were or could be once more.
Sheldon and those around him have an old-fashioned sense of decency that is sadly passing into another time. Perhaps being based in West Cornwall, helps, for time does more slowly down here. We have a different culture and the rules that go along with it.
A couple of day’s earlier my friend rang me up with an issue with his 1957 Morris Minor. My gut instinct told me that it was either the points or the condenser. I heard my voice saying the best thing to do was to carry spares…Now those words had come back to haunt me…
One of the reasons I’d come up to the North East was for the MX5 owners club record attempt Elvington on the 28th of April… In the past, I have been too car club meetings and I will admit that they are generally not my thing. Yet… Once again MX5 owners are different. As I made my way down the A19 the number of MX5’s started to increase. Oddly a lot of owners seem happy to sit at exactly 70 mph. I remember a friend who had driven rally cars in the 60s and 70s saying that all cars have a natural cruising speed. Another dear friend who has had both 1.6 and 1.8 MX5’s saying that they like 80 mph… 85 and they get twitchy, 75 to 80 and they will run all day. I agree, when both you and your vehicle like a similar pace, driving becomes much more relaxing.
So there I was, going along at 80, roof down, overtaking the odd other MX5 until I joined the back of a long line of them. I only found when I and a few other fellow MX5 drivers followed them into a service station a few miles from the meet. They were from the Tyne Tees group… And a very nice gent in a red NB that had been following came up and said hello. I will admit leaving the service station and arriving a little earlier at Elvington. After following a car from Scotland in were lined up initially 3 across but due to the number of cars that turned up that became 4 across.
After registering, Bel receiving number 255… I met Sid GoPeform and his custodians. I then had an hour and a half to wait before the record attempt. One way to do this was to queue for the toilets. More than one person was heard to comment that this was another record they had decided to attempt to break. It was then a question of going back to where Bel was… Not as easy it would be normally when far as the eye could see there where was MX5’s.
I did wander about looking at the whole range of cars on the track. From scruffy NA’s and NB’s to the restored, immaculate early ones, daily drivers and pristine later cars. Oh and a few customised cars. Each car special to its owner. Oddly, Bel did stand out a little, her mismatched bonnet, gaffer tape on her rear quarter panels, rack and wearing her patches with pride. I chatted with Brett from Total MX5 about the joy of owning a scruffy everyday car. One that is reliable…Oh how that came back to bite me… Yet one that we can jump in and drive a few hundred miles.
It was then time for the record attempt. I’m not going to say much about with this post as I think it deserves a separate one with video.
I left after the record attempt and decided to drive across the North York Moors. Putting Saltburn into the satnav I set off. Soon the little number of MX5’s decreased until it was I was alone in following the instructions. I have a rough idea of the geography, but it is certainly not extensive. I pulled over at a couple of spots to take photographs and enjoy the scenery. As I pulled away the second time, her alternator belt started to slip…
This was then my words a few days ago came back to haunt me. A few seconds later her belt snapped. Now I was stuck, on the moors with no real idea of where I was.
If this was at home, I know enough people where I could leave Bel and get her fixed later. This is not the case. Sadly, if the alternator belt goes, the water pump stops working. You can limp a car home a few miles if you know how to drive gently. First thing I did was to switch off all unnecessary electrical equipment. I then switched the engine off going downhill and bumped started her at the bottom. With my heart racing and driving very carefully I made it back to Redcar. I pulled into a well-known tyre supplier a mile from my mother’s house and she refused to start after. Two passing boys helped me push Bel across the road and I rang my mother who came out with some jump leads. Half an hour later Bel and I were back safe. I started to strip her down hoping that her power steering belt would be the same size at her alternator one…With a choice words… It turned out that it wasn’t. Close, but not close enough… About 3 cm too small.
I had a spare belt it would have been easy, yes, my words had come back to
cover the belt change in another post, but there was a chance I had cooked Bel’s
engine. I’m pleased to say that I didn’t. As for MX5 meetings, this was my first, it won’t
be my last. But there will be a spare belt in Bel’s boot just in case.