Rust in peace


Regular visitors to this blog will know that I’m always banging on about patina. To cut a long story short, I think shiny cars are boring. Give me rust and crust, dings and dents and a car with a story every time.

But the limits of even my adoration were tested last weekend at the Restoration Show. Feast your eyes on this.

It’s a Ford Consul Capri of unknown vintage (unsurprisingly, the DVLA have no available record of it) that was displayed on the Ford Classic & Capri Owners Club stand, as part of a before, during and after display of their restoration prowess. Although, you won’t be surprised to find out, this is way beyond saving, it provided an interesting juxtaposition with the lovingly restored cars on their stand.

I got chatting to the guys on the stand and they were telling me all about the car’s history. Apparently, all was well with the car until 1972, when it was booked into a local garage in Gloucestershire for some minor repairs and an MOT. For some unknown reason, the car was never collected and began its tenure at the rear of the garage. Over the course of the next 47 years, the car was – in no particular order – neglected, vandalised, raided for parts, orphaned, bequeathed and ultimately forgotten about until it surfaced on Facebook a couple of weeks ago.

Sensing an interesting talking point for their stand at the Restoration Show, the car was bought by the FCCOC and trailered – or should that be dragged – straight from its slumber into the bright lights of the National Exhibition Centre.

As you can imagine, everything on the car had seized, so it was slid from the trailer using half a can of WD40 to lubricate its pathway.

Over the course of the show’s three days, it became clear that the car was somewhat restless. Its footprint was increasing, the panel gaps were getting wider, and the pile of iron oxide dandruff beneath the car was growing deeper and deeper. The car was collapsing in on itself.

By the time you read this, the car will be history. Whatever was left of the car at the end of the show – and god only knows how they planned to get it back on the trailer – had a date with the oxyacetylene torch the following day.

But there is a (slightly) happy ending; the car will live on – or at least, some of it will. The brightwork will be straightened and re-chromed ready for a new life on someone else’s pride and joy. Those little bits of hard-to-find trim will be squirrelled away. Even the engine will be stripped and rebuilt. It would be lovely to think that, even after being abandoned for almost fifty years, the car’s heart is far from broken and will beat again at some point in the future.

Even at a show as full of rustbuckets as The Restoration Show, this was on another level. And for that reason, it proved to be very popular with every passer-by stopping to take it all in.

And as sad as I find the car’s demise, I think it’s fitting that after almost half a century of no-one loving it, it had one last glorious hurrah where it made everybody smile.