For the sum of £200 I managed to buy my first car in 1979 – a blue Triumph Herald 1200 convertible, KJJ 178D. I then proceeded to tidy her up using copious amounts of chicken wire and filler and a re-spray with a garden sprayer. A couple of years later it failed the MOT due to “excessive chassis rust front to rear”. So in June 1981 I started a major body-off restoration. The aim of the rebuild was to use the 2 litre, 6 cylinder Triumph Vitesse engine and running gear while keeping the appearance of the 1200 Triumph Herald. While there is a number of ways of doing this I went for a fairly major but subtle re-working of the front end to fit the larger engine in. The first rebuild took over seven years to complete.
Some 20 years after the first restoration she was starting to get a bit “untidy”. No major rust other than the doors. The rest of the body was just suffering from surface rust in places. In August 2007 I finally took the plunge and decided to strip her down again, this second rebuild took 14 months to get her back on the road.
Obviously owning the same car for that many years gives you a lifetime of memories and a very special relationship between man and machine.
I wish I could say it’s never let me down but I’ve changed a rear UJ in a station car park before now and on its first major journey in the summer of ‘79 (Essex to Cornwall) it spent most of the two weeks holiday in a garage getting fixed for the journey home.
But I’ve had immense fun out of it. Doing the strip at Santa Pod (when the head gasket went a week later) charity race days at Snetterton, – Prescott Hillclimb to name but a few and more recently three trips to Europe including Luxembourg towing our matching caravan.