In common with all enthusiastic ‘nerds’ who want to get to know all about their new hobby I decided that membership of a motoring club would be helpful in getting better acquainted with ‘Bertie’ our new (well, new to us) Austin 12/4. As it happens there are several extremely good clubs catering for Austin owners, but as the Vintage Austin Register claims to cater mainly for ‘vintage’ cars it seemed sensible to give them a try.
As it happens the club’s annual ‘my car’s shinier that yours’ rally took place near Bromsgrove at the end of June, so the weeks leading up to the event were spent in preparing Bertie for our first major expedition. Although the car is generally in really good condition, its clear that its done little or no mileage for the past few years and that some routine maintenance had lapsed. Finding grease nipples in inaccessible places, adjusting the brakes and changing the oils was a good starting point, but the real work came when we realised that the fuel tank was full of rust and a horrible sort of gum residue that results for leaving old petrol in the tank for years on end.
Removing the tank was simple enough, but getting the rubbish out and then cleaning and re-sealing the internal surfaces was a very different matter. In the end I bought some specialist products and gave it as good a clean as possible before fitting the fuel line with an in-line filter which will hopefully prevent the worst of what remains from clogging up the carburettor in future. Time will tell.
Anyway, the momentous day arrived and we set off at ‘sparrows’ leaving ourselves plenty of time to cover the 55 miles to the rally without having to hurry. In point of fact the words ‘hurry’ and ‘Austin 12’ should probably never be used in the same sentence as the maximum speed that we were brave enough to reach was only 40 mph. You know, its amazing just how little traffic you find in front of you when you’re travelling at that speed – though whether the dozens of frustrated motorists behind us found it quite such an enjoyable experience is another matter altogether.
Whilst I’d love to be able to tell you that we came away with armfuls of trophies the reality is that some of the cars were very, very shiny and a credit to the countless hours of hard work put in by their owners – so there were no prizes for Bertie on his first outing. That said, we certainly weren’t put to shame and I spent several profitable hours looking at the competition and working out what improvements need to be done over the coming months to bring him up to standard. All very enjoyable and made even more so by meeting some very nice fellow enthusiasts – most of whom, oddly enough, weren’t nerds at all!
Oh yes ………..and we got home in one piece too!