Body Work Adventures – Part 3, Paint!

The Next episode from Julie and Tony….

We left the Stag last time having made it to the spray booth, and just because it it now one of our favourite photo’s here it is again.


Now we wait for the updates each day from Iain to show how the next stage is progressing.

First we have the masking stage, keeping the paint to the places we want it and not where we don’t.

Next came the first spray action (nice suit!!!)


Primer then flattened ready for colour

We had by this time arranged collection of the car, so we knew that paint was going on the next day. At the end of the day we checked to see if any new photos had come through from Iain. We were collecting the car the next day so we were not sure if there would be pictures…

There was a message – “How much do you want to see?”

Now Tony said to send pictures through so he could tease Julie, as I had been (Julie’s writing this 🙂 ) a little excited each day as the photos had arrived.

So our first glimpse


And then…..

How beautiful!!!

The next day arrived and after the windscreen had been fitted – a wonderful and very satisfying job by all accounts – NOT we were to arrive to see the car and take her home.

Thanks to the windscreen fitter – Russell at Ultimate Windscreens, who did a fantastic job of refitting the glass and chrome trim.

We arrived to find the car waiting for us outside the workshop.

The bonnet and boot were to follow on in a couple of days but it didn’t take away from just how stunning she looks!!

We chatted with Iain about the final look, and it is just as we wanted. The car retains its character, this is our car, it will take us to work, go shopping as well as days out and classic rallys.

Now transport arrives – Thanks Steve for both taking the car to the workshop and safely home (Steve is also taking the car to and from the NEC for the Restoration show too)

and safely home


A few days later Iain arrived with the bonnet and boot, and very carefully – with only a few heart stopping moments they are fitted back to the car.

To get to this point the car we have spent around 150 hours stripping down, sanding and cleaning. There was then a further 90 hours with Iain at iKustoms

We still have to put the bumpers, lights, carpets, badges, grill etc back on the car – there is a nice long list.


All ready for the NEC Restoration show. See you there March 5th and 6th – come and see the car on the Stag Owners Club stand Hall 6 Stand 340.

Body Work Adventure – Part 2, The Professionals

Tony and Julie’s story continues…

So the car was delivered to Iain and we also dropped of all the not so shiny bits to Northampton & Midland Plating for re-chroming.

Thanks now go to Iain at iKustoms for taking pictures as he was working so we could see how the car was coming along.

The horrible previous repair that had been done to the rear nearside wing just wasn’t recoverable so Iain sourced a new panel to repair the worst of the rear wing.

From Frankenstein to a very lovely curvy rear end!

One of the holes in the nearside front wing was also give the new panel treatment

She also had a new panel on the front above the lights, work on the nearside door opening, lots of dents dealt with and all in all a dam good going over.

We were so pleased with the work that Iain did and all along we had photo updates – even when we were living it up on the beautiful French alps (our annual snowboarding pilgrimage).

The one evening the photos came through that showed she had made it to the spray booth, these are fantastic shots showing just how little filler was needed once all the repairs had been done – and right this time!


IMG_0146 (1)

Its now getting very exciting!!!

Meanwhile in a quite street in Northampton the not so shiny bits have been stripped, re-chromed and polished to perfection.

Credit here to the guys at Northampton & Midland plating for the shots they took too.

Well almost perfection, we didn’t want to make our car perfect, so a small hole in the front bumper was left un-repaired (its underneath so you never see it!!) and the small crease in the rear bumper where one of the couple (to remain nameless!!) reversed very gently into a street light remains also – well it keeps it “our car”!!

Its like Christmas Day when you get all your chrome home and you unwrap it from its protection to see your face in every last bit!!!

Next time…. Paint……



Body Work Adventure – Part 1, The Great Strip

Tony and Julie tell there story of their Stag strip down and re-paint….

We have owned our Stag for 5 years, it was bought as a car to be used and improved as we went along. With loads of help and support from Stag Owners Club members we have replaced the suspension all round, replaced the diff nose and refurbished the cylinder heads. With the knowledge from working with club members we have tackled on our own replacing the exhaust, changing the carburetors, rear brakes, water pump, replaced the front lights and re-veneered the dashboard. This winter we decided that we needed to find out just how good or bad the bodywork is as we had some cracking on the rear wing and rust coming through on the boot.

We found a recommended body shop just 5 mins from where we live, so towards the end of the summer we paid Iain at iKustoms a visit to look over the car and discuss the work. We wanted to play an active part in the restoration so as we have no welding, or any other bodywork skills we did the best job……. stripping off all the paint, and yes we were to go all the way to base metal!!

We started in October, I am not sure we knew just what it was we were taking on. It was a mammoth job, and quite scary as you really have no idea just what you are going to find when the paint and filler is eventually removed.


We started outside on the nearside back wing where there was a crack in the paintwork around 5″ in diameter, apart from the rust showing through on the boot lid that was the place we thought was going to be the worst.

IMG_1107Once we got through the top coat of paint you could see a large amount of filler, at first we carried on with the sanding, but when the filler started to “move” we changed tactics to a screwdriver and hammer to gently chisel the filler off.

A rather bad repair job was revealed under in some places 5mm of filler!!

From then on it was hard labour with many many sanding sheets and hours. As we started in November and chances are we were not going to get many dry weekends we decided to partition the garage with floor to ceiling plastic sheets – only took 2 of them and it would help keep the dust out of the other half of the garage (not all the dust but it would help!!)

We knew that our car had perhaps not been looked after that well previous to us buying it and so we were very surprised at how few holes we actually found. The nearside turned out to be the worst with a few bad repairs to the rear wing and 3 fairly small holes along the bottom edge where the panels meet the sills.

Under Iain’s instructions we etch primed each panel as it was rubbed down (after any rust treatment had been applied) to keep rust bug at bay until he took over.

We had put the hard top on the car while we were sanding to try and keep some of the dust out of the car. This did help, the hardtop was not being sprayed as it has sat in our garage for 3 years and not been used so this was its last task and would be sold on once the car goes to iKustoms for the work to begin.

Our bonnet and boot were not the best, the bonnet was quite easy to source as there are plenty out there. The boot however is another matter, we were very lucky to hear about a very good and solid boot lid that was for sale and so snapped that up. Once we finished sanding the main car and on a dry day just before Christmas we pushed her out of the garage so we could try on the new boot and bonnet but also start the other mammoth job of removing the dust from the garage!!

Oh yeah the hard top did a good job of keeping some of the dust out of the car but not all!!!


On 20th January the car was transported up to Iain’s workshop for the transformation to begin.

Now we wait for Iain to work his magic on the bodywork and the sad looking grey car that left will come back in all her glory ready for her debut at the NEC Restoration Show in March.

Next time – what happened at the body shop and chromers…….


NEC Classic Car Show – here we come!!!

Its less than 2 weeks to the biggest show of the year here in the UK, there are as we write clubs, cars, enthusiasts all polishing, preparing and getting right excited!!!

Us lot here the SOC are no exception, we have 2 fabulous cars for you to come and see over the 3 days.

First we have “Rally Stag” – that marvellous machine that lead the Trans American endurance rally for 16 days. We will have for all 3 days the 2 fantastic guys that took her across just over 5800 miles – Phil and Kieron. The guys will be giving 3 talks each day, at 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00 (times subject to change of course but we will post them on the stand) to give you insights into

  • Preparing our Stag for a 6,000 mile endurance rally across America
  • Navigation and rally competition on Trans America coast to coast rally
  • Trans America Rally route, highlights and challenges

Also on Sunday the guys will be joined by Mick and John from EJ Ward, the Stag specialist that helped get the car ready for her journey.

Come along to the stand and have your photo taken with the car and the guys and we will print it for you to take away as a momento.


While your with us why not decide on a name for “Rally Stag” – we are running a competition to give her a new name – pop your entry on one of the forms on the stand, at the end of the weekend Phil and Kieron will decide on their favourite.

So whats the second car I hear you say!! Well we have another treat for you. As “Rally Stag” was prepared especially for her amazing journey we have another Stag that has been lovingly finished just the way that her owners dreamed of. When you have a Stag you have a wonderful car, adding in you own personal touch then gives your car just that little bit more!!! Here’s a sneaky peak…..


Once you’ve done all of that there will still be time to visit Mike and Edd at the Wheeler Dealers stage, see Ant Anstead and Fuzz Townsend on the live stage, visit the hundreds of car clubs and feast on the wonderful cars and of course do a bit of shopping  – there is always something to buy for your classic!!

See you there – Hall 3 Stand 492.

I am looking forward to meeting Mart – from One Man And his Mustang – a blog that I have been following for as long as our little blog has been going. He may not have a Stag (will forgive him because he has a beautiful car!!) but I have learned quite a few things from reading his blog, and his last post let me know that his long-awaited project is almost complete and will be on show at the NEC!! I’m excited to see it!!

Da Da Daaaa – RALLY STAG!

Thanks to the guys at EJ Ward for telling their story……..

With the recent hubbub over a certain Blue Stag and its forthcoming appearance on the Stag Owners Club Stand at the NEC Classic Car Show – 13th to 15th November, we thought you might like to hear about how E J Ward Motor Engineers turned a run of the mill Stag (although some would say that a Stag is never run of the mill!) into a – Da Da Daaaa – RALLY STAG!

Rally car finish

We’ve known Phil Garratt and his Stag for many years.  We’ve also known for some time about Phil and his friend Kieron’s penchant for the adventurous sport of international classic rallying. We also knew they were pretty damn good at it, having won the Peking to Paris in their classic Chevy.  However, what we didn’t know, until they asked us to prepare the Stag for the 8000 mile, Nova Scotia to San Francisco, ERA TransAmerica Rally, was quite how far they were prepared to go to fulfill their Stag’s rallying ambitions.

I guess most logically, preparation started with the engine.  We completely rebuilt it to E J Ward spec with balanced components and a lightened flywheel, stainless valves, bronze guides with the addition of Phoenix Manifolds, coated by Zircotec in a silver thermal barrier coat to reduce the under bonnet temperatures.

Oct 15 1

It was then onto the carburetors which were rebuilt with richer needles to complement the improved breathing produced by the K & N free flow air filters and exhaust manifolds.  We then fitted an overhauled Distributor with electronic ignition system.

We completely overhauled the suspension using new Superflex bushes throughout, with 25% upgrade on front springs and 50% upgrade on rears.  The length of the springs was increased by 25mm to give improved ground clearance over gravel roads. The GAZ adjustable shox were fitted with limiting straps on the rear to prevent over extension over deep pot holes, or in the event it becomes air born.  How thrilling! (I’m thinking in the style of the General Lee in the Dukes of Hazard!) The front drag struts were reinforced on anti-roll bar brackets and track control arm mounting points.  And even with the inclusion of 6 ply van tyres to reduce the risk of a blowout the road handling was still very impressive, even at speed.

The bodyshell was strengthened at the load points and stitch seam welded throughout the sills, chassis legs, inner wings, bulkhead, rear arches and shocker mounts.  The seat belt anchorages were made for 3 point harnesses and the boot floor and rear wings gusseted to protect the fuel tank in the event of a side swipe to the rear. We also fitted a boot floor towing eye and tie down point.  The sills were fitted with tubular jacking points braced across inner to outer sills to facilitate the use of a light weight, quick lift jack. The exhaust, engine and gearbox were protected with an alloy sump guard skid plate, mounted from the front chassis rails and cross members.  On the body we then finally tidied up the paint work and gave it a bit of spit and polish.

The manual gearbox overdrive and (although we didn’t know it as the time, what was eventually to be their nemesis) diff were entirely standard.  We rebuilt the gearbox with new bearings and the overdrive was bench tested.  The diff nose housing was also strengthened as this is a weak spot.

There was much discussion as to which driveshafts to use.  In the end we fitted the Proptech, Rilsan coated driveshafts with heavy duty UJ’s.  This eliminates the well know ‘Stag Twitch’.  A pair of Classic Driver Development splined hubs were also fitted as they are lighter weight, stronger hubs, with the advantage of better bearings.

On the cooling system we fitted a Kenlowe electric fan to the existing aluminium radiator, and also fitted one of our aluminium header tanks with a silicone T hose kit from Classic Silicone Hoses.

So that’s basically all you need to do to create a ‘Rally Stag’.  But actually all that gubbins is nothing if you haven’t got tenacity, the desire to win and a spirit of adventure.  Which luckily Phil and Kieron have in spades. We feel privileged to have been chosen to go on this journey with the guys and have enjoyed every bit of it.

You probably all know by now that Phil and Kieron lead the race for 16 days.  We all thought they were on for the win, but that was until the ‘standard’ diff expired.

Rally Car Idaho

Although they gallantly made it to the finish line they’d lost too much time during the diff replacement to make a good finishing position.  Damn and blast that diff!   However, by the time you read this we’ll have carried out our forensic examination of the offending item (and probably kicked and sworn at it a few times too) and discussed the new diff to be fitted.  Because not to be put off by a little thing like a failing diff, it’s looking very likely that this is just the first of many adventures for – Da, Da, Daaaa – ‘Rally Stag’!

Come along and meet John and Mick from EJ Ward at the NEC Classic Car Show on Sunday 15th November.

The Stag Owners Club Stand in Hall 3 Stand 492 will have the Rally Stag on their stand for the 3 days of the show. This is what we have in store for you at the show –

Meet Phil and Kieron, have your photo taken with the car and we will print and frame it for you as a memento of your visit.

Name the Car – Rally Stag needs a name, so come along and enter our name the Stag competition.

And finally saving the best to last – on all 3 days the guys will be giving talks about their fantastic achievement, so come along to the stand to hear about the preparation of the car and the rally. There will be 3 talks each day – check our Facebook page or the stand for times.

See you there!!!!


Fastback Stag Restoration

Hi, Firstly may I introduce myself. My name is Alan Wickes and back in the very early 1980s I ran a small body repair shop, accident repairs, resprays etc, and through one of my customers I was introduced to Alan Hart. His real enthusiasm at that time was for Triumph motor cars but had just purchased a Porsche 911rs lightweight which I went on to restore for him and our friendship grew from that.

Probably around twelve months later he told me of an opportunity he had of purchasing a Stag fastback that may require a little work! Well he couldn’t resist and duly brought it round for me to assess. Alan was such a nice guy I did not want to let him down. I worked as a one man band and had other work on the go so we agreed it would be on an ‘as and when’ basis. I explained to Alan that to make a proper assessment the paint must be removed to expose what was lurking beneath. He agreed and the paint was removed…… and what a can of worms!…..was I out of my depth here.?…poor me …what had I let myself in for. Little did I know that three years of anguish lay ahead. From then on piece by piece, panel by panel was cut away until a stripped out shell sat forlornly on axle stands in the corner of my workshop. I have to admit that without Alan’s undying enthusiasm and support I do not think I could have seen it through to the end.


Accident repair work was my passion at that time, I always gained great satisfaction from looking at the end result knowing that you could not tell if it had ever been damaged, and all in a relatively short time. Now I was out of my comfort zone. Cutting away rust to find more rust just did not do it for me. I had made a deal with Alan and was determined to stick with it. Progress was painfully slow and I still had other obligations. Back on the Stag again and time to start on the doors. Having previously stripped all the paint off it was plain to see that both door lower corners had rotted clean through. Normal circumstances would dictate new door skins, but here again we wanted to keep to the original as much as possible. I cut triangular sections from both corners, fabricated matching pieces and with the help of my newly acquired state of the art flange tool  welded them in. Success, I was gaining in confidence by this time.

Unfortunately, just as I was getting back into it again other work called me away and it would be several weeks before I would be back on it again. Anyone who has ever been involved in body and paint will know how labour intensive it all can be. I wanted to be sure that any patches I welded in would last a good few years so lead loading would be called for. Fortunately I had done a little before!

I was taught how to lead load from a skilled hand who worked at Jaguar cars lead loading E types all day! I never got to match his skill level but what I learned got me by. Putting it on was OK but filing it down and sanding to a reasonable finish seemed to take forever. In the meantime Alan was busy behind the scenes sourcing various parts. A major problem was that the windscreen had a large crack in it and that none of the large glass manufacturers had any drawings or records of it ever being made. Never one to shy away from a problem he managed to persuade one of them to haul it through their stock to see if they could find one that matched the profile of the fastback screen, Well they did! A VW Variant 412 if my memory serves me well. All that was needed was a bit of trimming from the corners and it was perfect. After another few weeks away I was back on and determined to get the bodyshell ready for paint but I decided for some reason to deviate from that and started chiseling away at the old paint under the front footwells…….disaster, parts of the footwell on both sides just crumbled away. Another week fashioning and welding in repair panels. Now it was ready for its first coat of paint. One coat of etch primer followed by four coats of high build primer and finishing with a guide coat. Boy did it look good after so long.! I treated myself to a cup of tea and something stronger later……..a milestone had been reached. This was a time before low bake ovens, two pack enamels and lacquer, so at least a few days were needed for it to settle and harden before any wet-flatting could be done. It took a whole day to wet-flat the body and apply two coats of light primer surfacer. I left it to stand for another day before a final nib and spirit wipe. Now after all this time it was ready for its final colour coats.


The paint I used back then was cellulose, ICI no less, the paint of the day. It took most of the day to apply three coats plus one final heavy coat giving a fairly nice gloss finish, nowhere near the finish you can get with basecoat and lacquers of today. You needed time between coats making it a lengthy process. All the mechanical parts Alan took away to be refurbished were, as if by magic, reappearing. Now was the time to get it back on its wheels. Everything was ready. All the parts had been shot blasted reconditioned and painted, it all looked new. The brand new stainless exhaust system looked stunning. After a few days it was  assembled and back standing on its wheels for the first time for over two years. A week or so later the engine that had been rebuilt by Geoff Poyner from Cheltenham was back and refitted over one weekend. I came back in on a Monday morning to find a note with some instructions asking me to finish off a few items and then fire it up!! Well with great trepidation I did. It sprang into life first time, it sounded wonderful. After it had warmed up there was just a small leak from a hose,this I duly tightened and that was it.  Alan was round in a flash and I am sure I saw a tear in his eye. Who could blame him!

Now I could see light at the end of the tunnel. Alan was now bringing parts back that I had not seen for over 18 months. He must have been storing them up and holding them back so as not to appear pushy. I am sure he sensed I had become a little stressed with it all. I remember the front and rear bumpers were in a sorry state, rusted through in places. He found someone to weld in plates and re-chrome them, they were just like new. Before I could rebuild with all the new and refurbished parts I had to de-nib the paint and polish using cutting paste and electric polisher with lambswool mop head. Cellulose paint requires a lot of work to attain a good gloss finish. A final wipe over with a damp cloth then a buff with a new lambswool mop to remove any swirl marks. This process took a whole day! One last determined effort was needed now to finish the job. No more interruptions, just press on. Fortunately during this period a lot of my other work dried up somewhat and so little by little it all started coming together. That windscreen by the way, fitted perfectly. I thought to myself, do not crack this one putting it in, but what a relief!


The following four weeks were devoted entirely to  reassembly. Waxoil was sprayed in all the cavities before all the interior trims were fitted back. One more day of cleaning and a wax polish and for me it was over. I think we were both a little emotional the day he came to collect it . A friend of Alan came with him to take some pictures of the handover and I was presented with a bottle of bubbly. That was it, three years on and off to completion. The Stag Fastback was displayed at a classic car show at the N.E.C. and that was the last time I saw it in the flesh.



It must be thirty years now. Alan came to me from time to time with various much smaller projects but not long after I ceased trading and took up employment with Aston Martin. I am now retired and reflect more on my past work I never grasped the significance of what I had done with the Stag at the time ,but having related my story to a friend, he persuaded me to come out of the shadows and relate it to you. So I actually feel quite proud to have played a part in saving a British icon,

I take my hat off to all you Stag owners out there doing the same, I sort of know what you are going through! Well I hope my story will be of some interest to you. This is the first time I have ever done anything like this so you will have to let me know what you think.

If you have anything you wish to ask about any other aspect of the restoration please do not hesitate to ask – just post a question on this blog.

Thanks, Alan Wickes

Clackett Run and Brands Hatch Day

One of our main events of the year is the Clackett Run and Brands Hatch day, this is always popular, but it did bring a few fraught moments beforehand in organising the tickets etc. We had 43 Stags booked in for the run from Clackett Lane Services to Brands Hatch and the cars set off in a fairly organised convoy for once.

It is always interesting to see the faces of other motorists and you can virtually lip read what they are saying on seeing so many Stags in one place. The day itself was a blistering hot day, which was a result for us as we changed the day from our usual Sunday to the Saturday as the National Day in Kent was double booked with us and the Sunday was dull, overcast and raining all day. We had all the cars attending out on the parade laps, to which this year we had two laps of the long Grand Prix circuit.

They limit these laps to 50mph for safety reasons and normally only let 10 cars out at a time (also we were not paying) The reason is that it does not cause delay to the racing programme and helmets have to be worn over 50mph, but some say that they touched 70mph at times.

See Dave and Ruth’s view of the circuit (link will take you to our YouTube page)

Anyway everybody was pleased with the experience of driving on the circuit. There was some good racing there too, but my favourite is always the Historic Touring Car Championship, but many of us were also interested in seeing Paul Hollywood of the Great British Bake-off smoking his XJ120 Jag around in the Jaguar Heritage Challenge, he was also polite when Russ “Kryten” was talking to him about his bread dough recipes. Many happy faces at the end of the day and a lot of appreciation from those attending made it all worthwhile.

Thanks to Bob Heritage for the article, with some pictures from Dave Bower.

Laon Historique 2015

North YorksIMG_0034

I must have had too many shandy’s one night last year as I suggested to a couple of buddies that we should do the Laon Historique. I’ve read great reports on this event in this mag and elsewhere so it was booked with a MG Midget and Lotus Elan in mind as fellow tourists. Sadly the Elan hasn’t quite finished its rebuild but no matter we were booked and raring to go. I’d been to the Le Mans classic accompanied by Tim in his classic MG Midget a couple of years ago and really enjoyed the trip as much as the event so even though the prospect of a c800 mile round trip was daunting it was equally exciting. We did though consider having the odds stacked a little better in our favour and elected to travel from Hull to Zeebrugge overnight and cut out the long boring motorway miles in this country. This seemed a great idea and as the event drew closer it was made better by colleagues from Cleveland and Durham also doing this trip.

The initial journey over the Yorkshire Wolds was pleasant but with a couple of the bigger hills it was me who had to have the bonnet up first as MEF just wasn’t performing well uphill. A cursory inspection soon showed a plug lead off…so no dramas there. Plug Lead replaced we resumed our journey, thankfully on 8 cylinders rather than 7 !

Once out of the port in Zeebrugge we’d somehow got split up so a few hurried phone calls and we had a rendezvous at the first petrol station…where else ! Resuming our journey it was fairly uneventful through the initial flatlands of Belgium until we came to a road closed and Tim indicated it was his turn for a problem. It seemed that his brakes and clutch were becoming very unresponsive and all fluid appeared to have escaped somewhere, but from where ? There were no obvious traces on the road but something wasn’t right. We eventually found a garage and tried to explain our predicament, but even though the fluid was topped up this didn’t solve the root cause of the problem. Unbelievably the garage mechanic explained he had a colleague who restored classic Triumph’s and MG’s and he was only 10km away !! Even though it was a Friday afternoon with many miles ahead of us we continued undeterred to get the problem fixed. The garage itself was superb, the garage owner clearly knew his stuff and getting the car on the ramps showed that the problem was a broken brake pipe where it entered into the slave cylinder. An hour later and we were fixed on rolling again. It did just give me enough time to look at the classic Austin Healey 3000’s that he had along with classic Jaguars and Triumphs.

Saturday dawned bright and clear and we met up with Ron Davey from SOC Herts who as well as being a real gentleman is a seasoned foreign traveller and was able to give us some top tips on the weekends activities. Vehicles at the Parc-Foche where we met at registration were superb – such a variety of cars from classic super cars like the De-Tomaso Pantera GTS to the 1914 14.5 litre

North YorksIMG_0094

Simplex chain driven car. Then we set off on the recommended tour. Being driver and navigator was not something I relished so we elected to follow 2 gentlemen of a certain age <ahem> who were driving a classic open top Bentley. Surely they would find their way around…..alas it was not to be – they turned into the Hotel car park, which meant car number 2 expressed his alarm over leading a group of classics on a 140 mile tour around !! Sure enough, we drove round and round until Tim pulled over and lead our little convoy which by this time was just 4 of us, the Midget, 2 Stags and a Lotus Elite Turbo. Soon we were making great headway and polling along quite nicely top down and seeing fantastic scenery and classic cars.

North YorksIMG_0357

Lunch was held at a beautiful chateau where everyone congregated before setting off for the return trip to their hotels. At designated stops along the way eager locals were happy to offer bottles of water and other gifts, sunglasses, newspapers, chargers, and even a bottle of delicious local cider. If a route turning wasn’t 100% clear there was usually a local who popped up indicating the route and on most roads in the countryside local children were usually on hand with cameras or mobile phones taking videos and pictures etc.

Saturday evening the three of us Roy, Tim and I returned into Laon for an evening meal with our colleagues from Cleveland and Durham SOC where we had a really pleasant meal and sampled a little of the local produce !

North YorksIMG_0338

Sunday morning wasn’t quite such good weather for the closed roads circuit of the town but the sheer spectacle of so many classic cars from simple 2CV’s to the more exotic and expensive was great to see and participate in. I must confess that after a couple of laps of the circuit though Tim and I elected to take a short tour to the old Reims motor racing circuit where en-route the weather seemed to clear up for us. Although Reims circuit hasn’t been used since the early 1970’s most of the buildings and grandstands are still there and for confirmed petrol heads like us it just had to be done ! Another fine evening was spent in good company with our friends in Laon sampling the fine wines and local produce (you can never be too careful !)

Sadly though all too soon the time came on Monday morning to head back North – we naturally elected to take a more scenic route staying off the motorways and whilst MEF was performing well, my overdrive noises suggested not all was happy down there. Eventually we reached Bruges and called in for an hour or so doing a quick tourist thing before heading back to Zeebrugge for the ferry home.

North YorksIMG_0364

We had an absolutely fab time and I’d be looking forward to doing it all again.

Thanks Andy Mathers for sharing your trip with us.

Stag Engines Reunited

I used to own a 1965 signal red TR4a. it was very pretty and very reliable but with the onset of children, not very practical without any rear seats!

My friend James, already a Stag owner, used to let me keep it in his farm workshop over the winter months and regularly told me that I really needed to buy a Stag.

My one disappointment with the TR4a had always been its lack of a throaty roar, so a couple of years ago, I bit the bullet and started searching.

I knew what I wanted so I only looked at a couple of cars before seeing an advert for one in the west of Scotland. I managed to tie a visit in with a business trip, and armed with cash from the sale of the TR, did a deal. The next challenge was to get my new Stag home to Kent which was solved when another friend recommended a local transportation company….money well spent!

So James and I lined up our Stags in his workshop and tinkered and fettled….as you do, until I looked at his commission plate. Despite his being purchased in Kent, and mine in the West of Scotland, they are only 9 cars apart. With a bit of research, I have discovered that they initially both headed to the West Country as the registration, WG is for Exeter and WV is for Bristol. Not so remarkable you might say until a couple of weeks ago when I was in the process of upgrading my ignition and coil.

With the coil out, I was able to read the engine number stamp and made a note of it – LE44741HE. Wondering what James’s engine number was, bearing in mind their close commission numbers, I peered into his engine bay with a torch. I couldn’t believe what I scribbled down – LE44742HE. Two cars sitting next to each other after 38 years with consecutive engine numbers. Why doesn’t that happen in the lottery?

Stag reunited1

So how were these cars built on the production line? Presumably, bodies on one and engines on the other. Were our engines built by the same person? If they were, he did a good job because they’ve both survived this far and have just returned from a 500 mile round trip thrashing down the French autoroutes to Laon.

Coincidentally my grandfather , CJ Peyton, was financial director at British Leyland having come across from Rover in the amalgamation. My mum remembers Spen King and Harry Webster who used to come to the house.

Stags Reunited2

I remember as a small boy travelling in various “test” models when we visited at weekends including the prototype Range Rover which we took to Holland. My dad discovered a fault on a pre production Dolomite Sprint when he couldn’t release the handbrake after we parked up for lunch and I have a vivid memory of a white Triumph 2.5 PI estate that even then seemed incredibly fast!

I was fascinated by the overdrive on top of the gear stick and think of him every time I get my foot down in the Stag and flick the switch!

Our thanks to Simon Lord for his article

Bluebell The Stag – Her European Tour

Having owned our stag for fourteen years and also owning a TR5 and TR8 we decided on a sensible day to cut down our car collection so sold the TR8 and the Stag  BIG Mistake  we wished we had kept them both.

However Helene really missed her Stag, funny how every time I turned on her computer it was left on “stags for sale” ? So in 2013 we bought bluebell a Tahiti blue auto Stag.



I am no mechanic but we like everything as it should be and tinker so all the lights work, doors click etc.

The only major thing we had done was a Tate and Lewis gear box, not cheap but wow it transforms the car to a wonderful long distance cruiser.

We usually do a European tour each year, but in the TR5, this year we did it in the Stag (Bluebell )

Always staying our first night in St Omer to get the feeling of France we travelled through the centre of France taking the scenic routes down to Orleans on to the Dordogne and Sarlat for the Saturday market.

Then on to Carrcasonne we crossed into Spain for for a night in Viella travelling along the Spanish Pyrenees, seemingly all to ourselves the roads were smooth and completely empty.

We took a rest in Birritz for a couple of nights then travelled up the coast to La Rochelle. It happened to be the National 2CV rally that weekend we joined them on a large roundabout lots of tooting , waving etc


2CVs may be small but boy they can make a lot of noise, Also by chance the Red Bull cliff diving challenge was in town diving off one of the harbour towers, the place was very much alive.

Then onto Dinan, Port Bessin, Honfleur and then home.

Now for the most important bit.

Bluebell ( The Stag )

Never missed a beat

Oil used – None

Water used – None

Smiles on faces – Lots

Waves by people – Lots

The only problem was we took several CDs to play but only listened to the wonderful sound of the Stag.

Thank you John & Helene Dennison for sharing your wonderful trip with us all!!