Sacrifices Have To Be Made….

…. and so, despite the promise of sunshine, the temperature clawing its way up into double figures and a slap-up trough to boot, I declined an invitation to go on last Sunday’s Valentine’s run. I had the seats, the bits to fabricate the steering column and a few bits of strip wood to check the body line. I had to concentrate and not be distracted. I checked the look of the car first.


It was a bit of a heave (thank goodness I’ve gone for 6 cylinders) pushing it up the yard and round the corner to the wall I used to photograph the Austin at a similar stage in its creation about 5 years ago…

Austin 7 Special

Then, when turning the car around for the other side to be snapped, I was reminded of its rubbish turning circle – I must remember to see if I can’t shave a swire off the stops without causing a problem with the drag link.


And following the photo-opportunity, I got down to business with the steering column. After taking the plunge and disc-cutting the inner columns to length, the bottom half turned out quite neatly. Although this part is all Ford V8, surprisingly, the Hillman outer column tube was exactly the same diameter and wall-thickness as the Ford one. I think I mentioned that the top part of the column was going to be the original Hillman part because its got very useful control levers already fitted.

Ford bottom half

Then the universal joint from a Suzuki Jeep

Suzuki UJ

… and finally the original Hillman parts to make up the top.

Hillman column

The driving position is quite relaxed and my 6ft 1″ frame is well protected and comfortably out of the weather. The only thing which might be a bit awkward is the outside handbrake lever. At the moment I’d have to abseil down the side to get at it but I intend to insert a section from a spare lever (I deliberately left the cable long as I was suspicious of my measurements) to correct this shortcoming.

Driving position

One of the things that has come out of this mock-up; because of the nature of the strips of wood I used for the body outline, there’s the tiniest hint of the rear decking just kicking up in the last 6 inches. It’s very subtle and certainly isn’t noticeable in the heavily distorted photo’s above, but it’s there and it makes all the difference to the line. I flatter myself that this is the sort of thing that sets apart for instance, a genuine Bugatti body and a replica – you can’t put your finger on it but you know it aint right. Of course, Bugatti had the eye and could do it – he didn’t trip over a piece of bent wood and think, ‘Aha, c’est gentil, que je vais le garder’.

Three quarter front

Well, today marks the anniversary of the first entry to this blog. Exactly a year ago I began to explain to myself  – and one or two friends kind enough to indulge me – what it was I was doing. And, roughly 50,000 words later, I’m a bit wiser and a bit poorer – actually, quite a lot poorer but then, sacrifices and all that…


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