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    John Simister
    John Simister joined the group Peugeot 205
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    Bumper expense #1965 / #Aston-Martin-DB5 / #Aston-Martin / #1965-Aston-Martin-DB5 / Andrew English

    Citroën, that most French of car makers, used to have an ad for its Visa hatchback boasting of it having ‘a big boompear at the front and a big boompear at the back’. This piece of copywriter’s Franglais accurately describes in the negative the state of my two old jalopies, the Aston and the Triumph.

    Back in the day, taking the bumpers off was almost de rigueur if you wanted to do any sort of high-performance motoring: it reduced weight and made the car go faster and handle better. For some of us, it still is the done thing; witness Ian Callum’s recreated Jaguar Mk2, from which he removed the bumpers ‘because it looks better like that’.

    The dead hand of the FIA, however, dictates that however a car is adorned when it goes on track, for its technical passport it should be photographed from both ends, with boompears. So back to bumpers it is.

    This, however, is slightly easier said than done. I have the Aston’s originals but not the ’60 Triumph TR3A’s – and, more to the point, fitting any bumper is far from a simple bolt-on task. They might well have to be bent, reshaped, redressed, relieved and sometimes redrilled; even to make them fit the car from which they came.

    Mindful of what a big task this can be, David Reed at Davron encouraged me to take the Aston’s to Capital Chrome on London’s Old Kent Road. This is where, for 36 years, Mick Chamberlain, son Richard, foreman Micky McHahon and their team of time-served fettlers, titivators and polishers have been toiling at relics from the past. They even chrome-plated the whole of David Bowie’s old Mini.

    The place is so Dickensian, I half-expected to see Pip from Great Expectations drinking tea with Wilkins Micawber from David Copperfield. Ranks of bumpers hang from old deal brackets, timeserved polishing machines sit under layers of metal dust and, in the workshops’ sunken centre, sinister tanks of electroplating solution bubble, hiss and steam, some as gold as a desert dawn, others as emerald as a sequinned gown or as blue as anything ever imagined by Jacques Majorelle.

    Trivalent chrome is the last of three electroplate layers that go into the process, the first being copper, then nickel, and finally the chromium plate. ‘We use nickel sulphate and nickel chloride, plus boric acid and various brighteners and levellers,’ says McMahon. It’s all about the preparation, because any imperfections in the material before they start plating will be highly visible at the end – ‘Rubbish in, rubbish out,’ adds Richard.

    Unfortunately, only the Aston’s front bumper could be saved. The rear, although the right shape, is pitted with corrosion and would take too much time to prepare.

    I’ve already bought a stainlesssteel front bumper for the TR as it was a) on offer; b) a decent fit; and c) corrosion resistant. But it’s very vulnerable to scratches, which must be expensively polished out (Capital Chrome’s bill was £222) and, as Mick says, ‘They’re not the right colour.’ That’s true, but the economics are inescapable.

    Harrington, the British-owned firm that fabricates replacement stainless bumpers in Vietnam, will sell me beautifully finished DB5 stainless bumpers that can be teased into the individual shape at about half the cost of one repro plain steel bumper from Aston – and that’s before the extra expense of fitting and chromium plating. In other words, it’s originality versus my wallet – and at the moment my wallet is winning. I’ll report back on this one.

    Above and below: #Capital-Chrome is where these craftsmen work their plating magic; Andrew’s in two minds what to do about DB’s boompears.
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    Andrew English
    Andrew English joined the group Aston Martin DB5
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    Mark Dixon
    Mark Dixon joined the group Aston Martin DB5
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    Mark Dixon
    Mission accomplished #1968 / #Rally #Rover-2000TC / by Mark Dixon / #Rover-2000 / #Rover / #Rally-Rover-2000TC / #1968-Rover-2000TC / #Rover-P6

    Selling a car at auction can be a slightly scary experience. The thrill of watching bidders compete for something of yours is tempered by the anxiety that they may not value it nearly as highly as you do. And when the vehicle in question is a competition car – notoriously difficult to put a price on – then nerves really are set on edge. The Rover, of course, was not actually mine to sell. As described in, I built it as an endurance rally car in the early 1990s, had modest success and then sold it to a chap called Jan Pearce in 1999. Jan passed away two years ago, and I volunteered to help his widow, Jenny, dispose of the car at Silverstone Auctions’ sale at Race Retro.

    The Rover has done very few miles in recent years, so it was with slight trepidation that I set off to drive it up to Warwickshire from Jenny’s home in Bucks. The only practical route was via the M40 motorway – what could possibly go wrong? But I stuck to an easy 65mph and the Rover obliged by performing faultlessly. The engine held a constant 60psi oil pressure and the temperature needle stayed reassuringly just below the midpoint on the gauge.

    The Rover had been slated as Lot 1 in the auction, which wasn’t ideal; buyers often need a little time to warm up. But auctioneer Jonathan Humbert did a sterling job of chivvying them along, and the result was a satisfying £6000 hammer price. The buyer turned out to be a Scottish farmer who had flown down from Aberdeen specially to bid on the car. He used to rally a Rover P6 V8 in the 1970s and was looking to relive his youth – ‘and I have my own three-mile farm track “special stage” to practise on,’ he told me after the sale. It’s good to hear that the Rover will see a third generation of drivers take it rallying.

    All this sale action reminded me that it’s probably time to dispose of my 2001 Honda Insight. Much as I love it, I’ve hardly used it since I inherited my late father’s Volvo XC70. The Honda has 230,000 miles on the clock and a ding in the driver’s door – but it had a new battery at 189,000, runs like a Swiss watch and is as reliable as a Japanese one. I reckon it’s worth around two grand – so, ladies and gentlemen, what am I bid for this undoubted future classic?

    Clockwise from above Mark’s old Rover rally car makes £6000 at auction; Honda’s Back To The Future-style technology exposed during battery change; meeting a trio of VW XL1s three years ago.
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    Mark Dixon
    Mark Dixon joined the group Rover P6
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    On the home straight

    / #1968 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Saloon / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Saloon-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo /

    Mark Sommer / Photo by MASSIMO DELBÒ

    It’s not long now until Mark Dixon and I fly over to Italy to pick up the Giulia, but in the meantime there are a few things left to do before the Alfa Romeo is ready to collect.

    I recently sent a brand-new bootrubber set, original radio blanking plate and a few other small parts over to Italy. Most spares are easy to source thanks to specialists such as Classic Alfa and Alfaholics, who are both based in the UK, as well as many others. Drive-My’s ever-helpful Italian contributor, Massimo Delbò, visited the bodyshop and gave me an update on how the work was going. The guys there decided to fit the boot mat on top of a shaped section of hardboard to protect the fresh paint underneath – something that was not done originally, and meant that the rubber mat would often start to split above the floor pressings when luggage was placed on top.

    They had also unearthed a motorised screen-washer bag, but I’d bought a new manual foot pump and I think I’ll stick with this original for now – for the novelty value, if nothing else. Unfortunately my blanking plate was a little too small to conceal the cut-out made for the previous radio, but Fabio at the bodyshop is confident that he can create a matching lip to sit behind the plate. Meanwhile, the round mirrors that I bought for the car offer little visibility on the passenger side, so I have decided to go back to the original oval-style units, as they provide much better all-round vision. I had been struggling to find some stainless steel weather strips for my car. These sit at the bottom of the front and rear side windows, and mine are a little the worse for wear – but after contacting nearly every Alfa specialist in the UK, Europe, US and Canada, I had drawn a blank.

    I was beginning to despair, until I received an email from James Wheeler, the former Alfa Romeo specialist who was based at Black & White Garage. James has now sold the site and the business no longer exists, but he remains an Alfa devotee. He was extremely complimentary about my choice of classic, being the owner of a 1969 Giulia Super himself.

    He offered his advice and support should I need it, and his kind gesture couldn’t have come at a better time, because he thought he might have a near-complete set of weather strips left over from a former project. Sure enough, a week later he delivered them to the Drive-My office. The felt that sits inside the metal strips has been remanufactured, so was easy to source, and the result should be a big improvement on my existing set.
    Now, with our flights to Milan booked for the end of April, the next step for Mark and I is to work out the logistics of our trip and plan our route home. I think we will take our time and use the backroads wherever we can. One way or another, you’ll be able to read all about our adventure in an upcoming issue of Drive-My.

    Above. Looking good: the Alfa is on schedule to be collected from the Italian bodyshop in late April and driven back to the UK.
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    Mark Sommer

    Alfa-Romeo Giulia Type-105 Open Group

    Alfa-Romeo Giulia Type-105 1962 - 1978

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