I’ve just been replacing the roof lining in Ffloyd with something pink and flowery and it got me looking back to when i first owned Ffloyd, and the process of creating my mini “FAB1” … this is an article I wrote in the summer of 2003 for IMPressions Magazine
What do you do when you change job and you have to give back your car? Any ‘normal’ individual would probably replace it with a nearly new second-hand something or other.
Not me. Having been stung before I did not want to risk choosing another duffer and spending the next few months/years forking out for replacement, expensive this and that’s and paying someone else to fit them just because modern cars are so un-mechanic friendly. What with this and the ‘I told you so’ and ‘sodding car’ arguments that in the past had nearly destroyed an otherwise long and happy relationship, the thought of having to choose something began to bring on sleepless nights.
So the idea came about to look in the Imp Club magazines, ‘just to see’. Which I did and I did just see. But why would I want to see if I could see a Hillman? Well, for one, John is an avid Hillman fan. John owns an Imp (that yellow one without a roof, his ‘work in progress’); he smiles when things fail and he has to fix them! Johns two eldest sons own(ed) Imps. They too smile when they have to lie on the cold concrete, drop out the engine and replace every part. Again.
So I saw something in The Mag, a Husky, right model, right price, right condition, right timing. One week before the Imp Club Do of 2001, so an ideal opportunity to view it with the experts, John, David and Graham – my team of mechanics. Well all those ‘rights’ had to make it the right car. I saw it and had to have it. Obviously.
Bringing it home from Uxbridge to Southend a couple of weeks later was more than a minor challenge. I had never driven a Hillman anything before. John’s had a ‘technique’ that made him the only driver of his. So being a novice both to Hillmans and old cars in general I had never heard of or experienced the need for left foot braking. I stalled at every junction and roundabout. It was a very long journey. But by the time I got it home I too was smiling!
So here I was the proud owner of a dark navy Husky with light blue interior, UGW 617F. A middle-aged mum, working in a middle management job, a child in private school. Surely a 4×4 would have been more appropriate. Not content to be just different and not planning to set up a pet funeral service with my new mini hearse (as it was frequently described), I decided I needed a plan. And my plan was pink, but if it was to be pink it had to be PINK!
Well, you’ve all seen it and know I don’t do things by half!
Obviously, John was very happy to oblige. How could he resist such an opportunity to spend a huge amount of time playing with cars and compressors and not have me moaning about him being in the garage! John, indeed, was a man in his element, a pig in brown stuff, a child in a sweetie shop if you get my drift. He was so happy that he had the seats re-upholstered for my Christmas present in just the right shade of……. you guessed it… PINK.
The project took a long time, despite the enthusiasm. Children, building work, day jobs all attempted and managed to get in the way. Also knowing that I couldn’t make the 2002 event took the pressure off and delayed the work. However, Spring 2003 brought with it new vigour (or should I say mass panic!) The job had to be finished. The Wirral was calling. John took on the external duties, sanding, spraying, sanding, spraying, buffing, polishing as well as full service and rebuilds for both my engine and his in time for the long journey. Jason, our youngest, then 5 and I were in charge of interiors. All the metal was painted with little pots of ‘Hot Pink’. The door panels were recovered in black fleece. The carpet was replaced with a grey off-cut. Have any of you ever tried laying a carpet? In a confined space with no straight or flat edges? Not the easiest thing I’d ever done I can tell you. But I had Jason to kneel in the middle column or press his feet against one wheel arch whilst I pressed it down on another. He spread the glue, flattened the carpet and kept me entertained for 2 days inside the car! Then came the roof liner, cream fleece, the obvious choice(!) Ever tried it? Again a challenge, the width changes from front to back, it curves, its above your head! Again my secret weapon came to the rescue holding up one side with his head as I smoothed it across to the other. See, at five and three-quarters he has just the right height to stand with his head against the roof. I could not have done it without him.
The fun I have driving it. The people I’ve spoken to and the children and adults who delight in it. I love that everyone recognises me around the place. Mind you, I could never have an affair! Perhaps that’s why John agreed so readily?! Surely not!