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    CAR OLDSMOBILE TORONADO
    RUN BY Martin Buckley
    OWNED SINCE November 2017
    PREVIOUS REPORT Sept ’18

    / #1967-Oldsmobile-Toronado / #Oldsmobile / #Oldsmobile-Toronado / #Oldsmobile-Toronado-MkI / #1967

    I’ve probably been meaning to go to the Pre 50 American Auto Club Rally of the Giants for 30 years, but Only made it in July in the Toronado. I seem to recall it was always held at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, but Blenheim Palace has apparently been the location for some years now. Handily, that’s less than an hour from my house. At 10 mpg these things become important, but having said that I never resent any of the fuel that goes into this car because it’s always an event in itself to take out and use.

    Talking of fuel, and probably as a knee-jerk response to all this talk of electric cars, on an outing the other week I parked the Toronado in front of a charging bay at a local cafe to see what the response would be. Within minutes a burly man in a high-vis jacket was making an approach; it turned out he owned a late-’60s Cadillac and was coming over to have a perv!

    Nick Kisch came down the day before Rally of the Giants and talked me out of fitting a ‘GB’ badge on the back (I did it when he went home). He also helped me with the tail-lights, where I have been struggling to get the indicator and stop bulbs working on the offside. This was only a partial success: the reproduction bulb holders are rubbish, but I have a feeling I have the original type in the spares hoard. This is too technical for me and will require the input of Gus Meyer, who has every intention of finishing the carburettor tune-up and fitting the radio aerial but has not quite got around to it yet – he is a man in demand. To be honest, apart from the tickover being too slow – and a long-winded cold-start procedure/ slow warm up – none of this affects the driving of the car, although, as former Riviera man Graham Millard pointed out when he drove the Toronado a few months ago, I should really get the wheels balanced to get the full effect of the car’s smoothness on the road.

    On the Sunday of the event we went five-up; Nick and me in the front, and Mia and her friends Neil and Georgie in the back. This slightly compromised the rear ground clearance, resulting in the occasional exhaust grounding. I sometimes think it looks as though it has settled a little on its rear springs slightly anyway.

    Exposure to previous American car events had prepared me for a day of Confederate flags and lots of rebel yell-type shenanigans, but ROTG was as civilised as a vicar’s tea party with lots of well-informed people and great cars. My favourite was a beautiful Continental II that looked almost ethereal in silver-grey, but I was disappointed to see that there were no Corvairs or Studebaker Avantis. Mine was the only Toronado, and I got the impression a lot of people had not seen one of them before.

    Wafting through the Cotswolds, the extra weight had very little effect on the performance and it’s a nice car to drive in the summer with all the windows lowered; it’s cool but without too much wind noise, so you can chat normally. It would be nice to reinstate the air-conditioning some time but I don’t especially feel the need for it as much as I do in some other cars, the NSU in particular.

    A phone sat-nav revealed that my speedo is wildly optimistic: 100mph is a true 75mph. This makes me think I’m running the wrong size tyres (smaller diameter?), but I almost don’t want to know because I will then feel compelled to invest money I don’t have. The tyres that are on the car have loads of life left in them. Sometimes even semi-ignorance is bliss – and cheaper.

    THANKS TO
    1 Nick Kisch
    2 Pre 50 American Auto Club
    3 Gus Meyer

    Toronado was unique at the Pre 50 American Auto Club Rally of the Giants, and the ideal car for Buckley’s maiden and decades-overdue trip. Toronado attracted attention, with working rear light and indicators – but no GB badge, yet.
    Ruby continues to enjoy the Toronado. Modern tech has shown the speedo’s wrong. Rally of the Giants attracted great variety Full load of passengers had its pitfalls.
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    / #Fiat-130-Coupe / #Fiat-130 / #Fiat

    I got the call in June to take the Fiat over to Mark Devany at Dino Twenty Four Hundred for new struts. That happened fairly quickly, but no word on improvement yet because Mark is also sorting the handbrake, rear flexi hoses and pads. Meanwhile, I’ve ordered a set of engine hoses and I’m looking forward to getting it back any day now.
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    CAR #NSU-Ro80 / #NSU
    RUN BY Martin Buckley
    OWNED SINCE 2009
    PREVIOUS REPORT August 2018

    Itching to use a ‘proper’ car after months of reliable but somewhat dreary Mercedes W124 estate winter motoring, I exhumed the NSU from the shed late in March for two trips to London. Actually, this wasn’t its first 2019 outing because I took FAR 666K out on a sunny Sunday in February to photograph it near Colesbourne in the Cotswolds. Rather than the usual half-hearted snap with a tree growing out of the roof (or the back end obscured by a wheelie bin), I took a bit of time over these. Happily they are good enough to be reproduced here (below).

    The first London trip in the Ro80 was with my dog Ruby to meet up with Nick Kisch for a VW show. I’m not massively into Beetles (although I’m intrigued by 411s and Type 3s), but it was an excuse to get out of the house, the wife having disappeared to Majorca for a three-week ‘working’ holiday. Our plans were thwarted by the fact that they don’t let dogs into Sandown Park, so we had a quick scoot around the car park and moved on to Brooklands Mini Day.

    Once again, no dogs. So I left Nick to it and visited Jason Yorke-Edgell to look at his rusty Monteverdis, which was probably more fun. My second London visit was really to Longcross for David’s memorial lunch; the ‘Ro’ was his favourite of my cars. The blue Husky Ro80 model he gave me is still on my mantelpiece.

    On the way home I left the slow moving M4 at junction 14 and took the B4000 cross-country along the Lambourn Downs, pausing to run a business card through the points – it only takes a speck of dirt to make the engine falter when it should be singing. It worked and I pressed on, frightening myself somewhere on the B4001. Braking late for a bend, the back end uncharacteristically locked up and unsettled the car’s (and my) composure. I must check the brake proportioning valve.

    The NSU fitted the bill again when I was invited to Paul Blofield’s 60th-birthday bash. Paul is a VW man to the hilt – he owns probably the oldest Beetle in the UK and an amazing Porsche-engined split-screen – so I reckoned the Ro80 was our best bet to join the selection of tastefully patinated ‘Splittie’ campers and ’50s/’60s saloons. I wasn’t the only non-Beetle: there was a very rat-look Jensen-Healey and a bumperless Alfa Romeo 750 Spider that belongs to Chris Mann and his wife. It was Easter Sunday and we were blessed with probably the warmest weather of the year.
    The Ro had been having cold start problems the day before, put down to plugs, but a good thrash over to Slad up the A419 seemed to clear them. I was pleased to see that Mia could do her mascara in the vanity mirror at 90mph [Ahem, not on a public road of course… Ed].

    A weird thing happened the day before. I spotted a familiar car – and a familiar face – conked out at the side of the road: Fredrik Folkestad and his (up to now totally reliable) #NSU-Wankel Spider.

    If he and I had a tow rope between us, you would be looking at a unique picture of a Ro80 tugging a Wankel Spider up the road. By the time I’d run Fredrik back home for the rope, the Spyder had righted itself and sprung back into life. Even so, not a sight you are going to see every day.

    Good weather over Easter led the NSU to join its VW cousins at Paul Blofield’s birthday gathering, among patinated cars aplenty. The NSU Ro80’s first outing of the year: to Colesbourne to be papped by Buckley.
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    THE MARKETPLACE

    / #Mercedes-Benz-600-W100 / #Mercedes-Benz-W100 / #Mercedes-Benz-600-Pullman / #Mercedes-Benz-600-Pullman-W100

    Buckley’s market matters

    I nearly struck a deal with a man in Birmingham on two #Mercedes-Benz 600s a couple of months back, both of which were right-hooker 1960s examples with royal or presidential connections. The first disappointment on arrival was to find out that they were limousines rather than long-wheel-base #Pullmans ; the short-wheel-base cars are relatively plentiful and not huge money for what they are.

    The next downer was that the car said to have 1000 miles on it was the shed of the two, and way beyond any economical repair. But then again, what 600 is economically repairable? The story was that the blue car (the aformentioned shed) had given its first owner problems early on, been parked up and left to deteriorate, having been quickly replaced by a second 600.

    I was surprised to see that the other, much more together-looking brown car fired up happily, although it was not left running long enough to see if any life went back into the suspension airbags and the hydraulics. I couldn’t readily see any chassis plates on the cars but I could see lots and lots and lots of money to spend just to make the ‘good’ one of the pair a driving prospect.

    I’m not quite sure why, but I suggested a swap with my Mercedes-Benz 220SEW111 Coupé – probably because I knew the man wouldn’t bite. Luckily for me he didn’t. I suppose, deep down, I do sort of want a 600 – if only as a box-ticking exercise.

    I suspect the cars are still sitting where they were, although I have a feeling they will end up as donor vehicles. Prices and availability of 600 parts being what they are, if you have the time, the patience and the skill, it is probably the only way you would ever make commercial sense of these dinosaurs.

    I also went to Southend in Essex recently and was amazed by the number of old cars floating around. Within the space of 20 minutes’ driving I saw a fastback Sunbeam Rapier, a Vanden Plas Princess 4 Litre R, an HB Vauxhall Viva and a Hillman Minx. And just when I thought it was all over, an old boy trundled past in an immaculate L-registered Triumph Toledo.

    The prospective purchase of two Mercedes 600s (luckily) fell flat recently, thus leaving Buckley’s itch yet to be scratched.
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    Martin Buckley
    Martin Buckley joined the group Mercedes-Benz 600 W100
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    FIAT 130 COUPÉ

    / #Fiat-130-Coupe / #Fiat-130 / #Fiat /
    RUN BY Martin Buckley
    OWNED SINCE 2009
    PREVIOUS REPORT Nov 2018

    I want to make #2019 the year in which I get everything – and I mean everything – sorted on the 130. It is 90% there but, as usual, the final 10% is proving the hardest. The problem with getting a car up and together piecemeal and ‘on the hoof’, as it were, is that as soon as you get one item right it tends to highlight all the other issues. What seemed acceptable last year now irritates the hell out of you.

    Top of my list for quite a while has been the suspension; every time I drive the Coupé, my overriding impression is that it wallows like a pig if driven with anything even approaching enthusiasm. Standards have moved a long way in 40 years, but these cars were fairly highly rated for their cornering capability. Yes, they rolled – everything did in the ’70s – but not quite as dramatically as this.

    It can only be dampers, really, but the odd thing is that when you bounce the car on each corner it feels rock-hard. I have mentioned this to Mark Devaney at Dino 24 Hundred several times, but we have now decided to galvanise ourselves. Mark has found a set of donor 130 Coupé struts and sent them off to Gaz Shocks in Essex which, as the name implies, builds custom gas shock absorbers. These take about four weeks to do (they are busy), so hopefully by the time you read this I’ll have a 130 that doesn’t want to scrape its doorhandles on the floor.

    Depending on how successful this proves to be, Mark is talking in terms of a thicker front anti-roll bar as well. The dampers will be adjustable, so hopefully we’ll be able to tweak them to best advantage without losing the good ride quality.

    The brakes are pretty decent, other than the fact that the vacuum in the servo disappears overnight so you have a solid pedal for the first minute or so; maybe it’s time to look at the booster. I still like the idea of finding an alternative disc and/or caliper to future-proof the car a little, because certain parts are getting rare and pricey. The way forward here may lie in the realm of the Stratos replica, because the genuine cars used a variety of 130 bits, possibly including the hubs and wheel bearings.

    I spent some time at the end of last year cleaning the engine bay with fairly good results. It was just a matter of some laborious elbow grease in every corner, making good use of the Polti steam-cleaner and the Gunk, then going over it again until you either get bored or realise you can’t get it looking any better unless you want to take the engine out – which, to be honest, is probably the only real way of doing the job properly. But still, it looks better than it did.
    As for the rest of the car, visually the only things I find irksome are the tired and faded window channels. I now have some samples of possible replacements from trim specialist Woollies to look at.

    Ace mechanic Gus Meyer sorted the fan-switch issue that cropped up on the Le Mans Classic trip, but we still need to look at the wipers (there’s only one speed when there should be two), the driver’s-side door lock (it won’t unlock) and fit the correct Marelli air horns: the Fiat’s American Edelweiss ones really should be on my #Oldsmobile-Toronado .

    It seems the 130 is going up in the world at last, because I’ve been contacted by two separate parties looking for parts for ground-up rebuilds; one the subject of a car restoration programme on the TV. This indicates that they are either climbing in value (they are, but only a bit and it’s never been about that with these cars for me) or, with the youngest now more than 40 years old, there just aren’t enough really nice ones to go around.

    This is true in the case of the right-hookers, but I seem to get offered left-hand-drive Coupés all of the time. Most are described as ‘rust-free but in need of recommissioning’ – an estate agent-style euphemism for ‘knackered’.

    THANKS TO
    Mark Devaney, Dino 24 Hundred: www.dinouk.com
    Gus Meyer

    Plenty of elbow grease has got the 130’s engine bay looking a whole lot more presentable.
    The Coupé looks good, but now Buckley wants to get it driving just as well; once rebuilt, the replacement dampers (right) should help.
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    CAR #Range-Rover / #Land-Rover / #Land-Rover-Range-Rover /

    RUN BY Martin Buckley
    OWNED SINCE March 2012
    PREVIOUS REPORT June 2018

    I decided to take pal Mark Cosovich up on his offer to detail the Range Rover, concentrating mainly on the engine bay. He doesn’t often stray far from Mercedes but he was keen to get his son Alex involved because he is saving up for a car, and thus able to do me one of his famous ‘super trade’ deals.

    RAY 606W cruised beautifully down the M4 to Swansea and Cosovich’s new W123 World workshop. An early G-Wagen was on the ramp; it’s hard to believe they still make these – it was an ugly pig of a thing, even in the ’70s. Not even Mark is a fan.

    Then again he’s not a fan of the Range Rover, either, reminding me of the old joke: ‘What are the two man-made things you can see from space? The Great Wall of China and Range Rover panel gaps…’

    A full interior valet started the work, with the carpet set removed and cleaned. The ‘teddy bear’ upholstery and trim were cleaned and the damaged plastic trim colour-washed. The scratched rear seat-back was painted, the spare wheel cleaned, painted and tyre-dressed. The whole vehicle was then pressure-washed and steam-cleaned, including the now-Waxoyled underbody. There is still a weird problem with the window-winder mechanisms in both doors, which occasionally refuse to wind all the way down. Somehow, opening the door releases them.

    The matt-black frames, bumpers and front grille were repainted in satin black and it was then time to move on to the engine bay. All of the ancillaries were removed, bead-blasted and new clips fitted. The inside of the bonnet was cleaned and repainted in Tuscan Blue, the inlet manifolds and air cleaner box restored, and the latter repainted and installed with new filters.

    The bodywork was then cleaned and orbitally polished, with special attention given to the paintwork on the arches and edges of the bonnet and tailgate. High-build polish was applied to all areas: “It came up from very dull to surprisingly good,” says Cosovich. “Maybe Leyland paint isn’t so bad after all?”

    Finally, the wheels were removed, orbitally sanded, primed and painted alloy silver and then lacquered. The wheel bolts were painted black and the tyres (described as ‘quite old’) were cleaned and dressed.

    The results are very pleasing indeed; so good, in fact, that while it was in Cosovich’s custody I was made a strong offer to sell the car. I thought about it for a few days and, on balance, reckoned it was the sort of bid that was hard to ignore.
    Trouble was, the man had no time to come and look so it was arranged that the Range Rover would be recovered down to his house for ‘approval’. By the time the car was finished the mystery buyer had evaporated and it was delivered back to my shed looking like a different vehicle.

    Secretly I wasn’t bothered because I had no particular plans to sell it; but, given how good the Range Rover is looking, perhaps now is a good time to let it go (for offers around £40,000).

    The matt black has been replaced by satin. Range Rover looks good enough to sell. Velour ‘teddy bear’ trim has been revived.
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    The Specialist. The increasingly collectible Jensen Interceptor has found a sympathetic home in Wiltshire. Words Martin Buckley. Photography James Mann.

    / #Jensen-Interceptor / #Jensen-FF / #Jensen / #West-Brom-Support / #Pale-Classics-Ltd

    Paul Lewis started #Pale-Classics in 2012, following a career in the RAF as a Flight Engineer on Hercules, 727s and Tristars. (The name ‘Pale’, in case you were wondering, is derived from the first two letters of the founder’s Christian and surnames.) The passion for old cars, however, came long before the aeroplanes. “I restored an MGB when I was 15,” says Lewis. “My dad had a sheet-metal business in Oldham and he let me use a corner of his workshop.”

    Today, as a former chairman of the Jensen Owners’ Club, Lewis is closely associated with Interceptors. At home, wife Lisa runs an Interceptor (and a Volvo Amazon), but Lewis sold his own III to focus on a rebuild of a MkI that, like the cobbler’s boots, has had to take a back seat to customer cars. There are seven or eight Jensens on site in the modern Chippenham workshop, including a four-wheel-drive FF, a ‘Six Pack’ SP and a glorious Interceptor III in Cerise, the end product of a £100,000 restoration that neatly illustrates the amount of detail work – and money – people are now willing to plough into these once-undervalued cars.

    While Lewis would have to accept that he is a Jensen specialist, in some ways he prefers to see Pale Classics, which is situated 10 mins from junction 17 of the M4, as a one-stop shop for all things 1960s and ’70s, but with an emphasis on big GT cars.

    The current seven-man team has worked on everything from Aston Martin DB7s (Pale offers an uprated rear subframe conversion) to Morris 8s and Facel Vegas, and they are as happy to change a light-bulb as they are to take on a full restoration.

    Dave Amor, Danny Williams and Pat Stuart tackle all things mechanical, while promising youngster Peter Griffin started with the firm as an apprentice and has recently been promoted to mechanic. Panel-beater/fabricator Dave Ward has his own purpose-built area set aside for welding and grinding an FF shell. As a general rule, bodywork and painting is farmed out (the choice of bodyshop depending on the customer’s budget) – although Ward can tackle the Interceptor’s notoriously rot-prone sills on site.

    Pale also has an in-house auto electrician who, when we visited, was retrofitting an 8-Track stereo unit upgraded to FM with a modern USB port. Lewis considers the big Jensens to be relatively easy to work on and the spares situation for them to be good, even the MkIs: “The only tricky panels are roofs – the tooling went missing years ago – and FF front wings. I could sell new FF wings for £5000 apiece.”

    Having taken voluntary redundancy from the RAF, Lewis took on the unit on Bumpers Farm Industrial Estate as a glorified ‘man cave’ at first, drifting into taking on jobs and hiring staff as a way of covering the rent. By then, Interceptors were already a way of life. When hunting for an E-type, Lewis rediscovered the Interceptor in one of its natural habitats – a Barons auction – and soon forgot about the Jaguar in favour of this quintessential Euro-American grand tourer, which had the rear seats he needed for his children.

    After that epiphany there was no turning back: before long, he and Lisa were both running IIIs as everyday cars.
    It sounds ruinous but, in a way, the logic is hard to fault: “I had recently bought a Lexus brand new and lost £16,000 on it after a couple of years’ motoring. I decided that it made more sense to run two 7-litre Jensens, on the basis that they were going to go up in value. Also, being collected from school in an Interceptor did wonders for the kids’ popularity.”

    Main: (l-r) Paul Lewis/Dave Amor with one Interceptor, while Peter Griffin polishes another and Andy Teare/ Danny Williams check SP’s wheel bearings. Below, l-r: Amor services V8; Griffin checks electrics; Dave Ward welds Jensen-FF inner wing.

    The knowledge
    Name Pale Classics Ltd
    Address Unit 9-10 Westpoint Business Park, Vincients Road, Bumpers Farm Industrial Estate, Chippenham, Wilts SN14 6RB
    Staff Seven Specialism All aspects of Jensen servicing, maintenance and restoration, with emphasis on the Interceptor and FF
    Price £50 per hour
    Tel 01249 657544
    Email info@paleclassics.co.uk
    Web www.paleclassics.co.uk
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    Martin Buckley
    Martin Buckley joined the group Jensen Interceptor and FF Club
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