On this page you can view various photos of my cars at different locations.
July 2006. Castlewellan Forest park with the Morne mountains in the back ground.
May 2006. Cultra museum outside Belfast.
The year was 1980 and I needed a job for a bit of money. My aunt got me a part time job delivering flowers for the shop she worked for. My mode of delivery was a Fiat 127 Sport. 3 months old and a little flying machine. I fell in love. Unfortunately like so many other people I missed out on the joy of owning one because then I knew little about any car that didn't say Ford on the front of it,"apart from Ferrari that is".
Now jump forward 25 years, "yes I am that old".
Better still I'll let my good friend Neil lead the story.
This all started over 2 yrs ago, when Stuart came over to buy an X1/9 from me for his dad. At that time I was restoring a 127 Sport, it was parked on my drive and as Stuart and his dad arrived at our house, his eyes fell on the this little Racing Orange car beside the garage. That was it, his fate was sealed, he had to have one. Stuart bought the X1/9 and we’ve kept in touch ever since, becoming good friends.
Cars, ideas for projects, parts and a lot of craic have relayed across the water during these two years. Both my present Fiats were due to Stuart (my missus still hasn’t fully forgiven him!), I bought the Panda 4x4 off him and while over there picking it up, he put me on to an 850 Sport in southern England which I bought, am running and thoroughly enjoying. I knew the time would come when I had to repay his kindness, hospitality and general "top blokeness" that he has in abundance. And so came the day, or the phone call to be precise.
It was a Sunday, I was down at Silverstone at a track day when the mobile rang and the words "Neil, how’s about you, how close are you to Manchester" came out. That could only mean one thing, I was either viewing a car for him or was it a car I knew about? It turned out it was a car I’d seen before. Anyhow the deal was done and a Racing Orange 127 Sport arrived on my drive 4 days later. That was the easy bit, now Stuart had to get it home. Several emails and phone calls later, the date was set, Easy Jet and Stenna were involved and my mate was coming to see me.
Things went Fiat engine smooth, I picked Stuart up at Liverpool airport 4.30pm, and we headed back to my house, had a meal and a couple of the car lads I hang around with landed at our house by 7.30. Plan was to go out, have a couple of pints and talk cars for a few hours. Our 2 children were very happy, Stuart had brought them a present each to say thanks for a nights bed+breakfast at ours. The day after my little lad asked, "is Stuart coming to our house tonight". Don’t you just love kids for their honesty!
All was going well until Stuart decides to fuel up the 127 ready for the journey home the following morning. Running down to the local petrol station, some nasty nasty grinding noises were coming from the back of the 127. We all decided it was mud-flaps catching rear tyres, due to the weight of all the spares, in the boot and across the back seats, that came with the car. It was dark; we needed to get to the pub so decided it was better fixed in the morning.
After a quick breakfast, it was trolley jack and wheel brace out and fix the 127 time. Where was the locking wheel nut key?? After a desperate search through the raft of spares, there she was. Up with the back end off with wheels and take the mud flaps off, wheels on, car down and test it, still a scraping noise and its 15 mins before Stuarts due to leave. The car had been lowered and the weight of the spares was pushing the rear arch into the tyre on one side. It had to be fixed, so jack her up again and off with the wheel
Quarter to eight in the morning and this mad Irishman’s leathering the living daylights out of the rear wheel arch with a lump hammer! . "I’m not upsetting your neighbours am I" he chirps up. Job done, test drive is good no scraping noises. Just time for a bacon butty and a cup of tea before setting off. I got Stuart to follow me to the main road that would take him to the motorway and pulled up in the nearest layby to check everything was ok. He didn’t need to say a word, the big beaming smile across his face said it all. Here was a lad who’d wound the clock back 25 years and found a car that took him back to his youth. Last I saw of him was blazing down the A59 road heading for Preston and the M6. Within half a mile I’d lost sight of him, that little 127 Sport was flying west… Now Stuarts got to finish the story off of the rest of the trip………………
Ok I guess the first thing I should do is apologise to Neil for waking up all his neighbours with the sound of the hammer. However that little car was for going home with me and nothing was going to stop that. Even though I knew it was going to be while before I see Neil and his lovely familly again, I honestly could not contain my smile as I drove away. It was indeed 1980 all over again. Even the radio was original and was only working on mw/lw. With the Lancia and the Ferrari I still stopped on the M6 for tea and a rest. This time was different however. I just wanted to keep on driving. Even on a boring old Motorway I was having fun. Stranrear came all to soon.
Litterally on the last 100 yard drive into the Boat terminal the engine decided to splutter and cough to a halt. Some sort of fuel starvation. I txt'd Neil to let him know I was at Stranrear and to tell him it looked like the 127 didn't like boats. It was only after that I figured out what had set the car off, close proximity to "salt water". Proof again that Italian cars do have a soul. We had a little pep talk about a new paint job and no more rusty bits while waiting in the que for the boat and everything was fine after that.
So back on home soil so to speak and onto the M1 home. Yup Still smilling. Stuck in traffic and the person in the car beside me winds his window down, "I haven't seen one of those for years", my smile just got bigger.
Arrived at my front door at 6.30pm, my wife and daughter there to greet me. Daughter (4) shouts "cool car Daddy" and my wife mumbles "Oh No it's orange" Now this must be a woman thing because if I remember rightly Neil got the same responce when he brought his orange 127 sport home for the first time.
2 days of ownership have now passed and the Evo and 308 remain in the garage, with the 127 proudly sitting at the front door. You know what, I still have that smile on my face.
"Thank you Neil for helping bring my memories back"