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!

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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.

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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.

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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!!!!

 

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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.

 

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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

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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!!

 

My Stag History – A Proper Bird Puller!!

I bought my 1972 Triumph Stag in April 1983; the first MoT I obtained in July 83’ shows a genuine 32,370 miles. I bought it from a work colleague who in turn had bought the car about two years earlier as an investment, only to find that the Stag was fast becoming unloved by the public. He used it for around six months and then garaged it until finally coming to the conclusion that it must be moved on. I took it for a long test drive noting that the engine was rattling, the hood torn and faded, the exhausts rusted through and then…. ran out of petrol! However, it was a car I had loved from the day I saw Tony Soper driving one through the Scottish Highlands on one of his TV wildlife programs of the early seventies. Seeing one in the flesh and hearing the wonderfully laid back V8 burble only reinforced my desire to own one and so none of this put me off the purchase; my mind had been made up years ago.

I replaced the timing chains, exhaust (the stainless steel replacement is still on the car) and hood (subsequently writing up the hood replacement in 1985, for issue 66 of the SOC magazine) and had the paint refreshed by a local spray shop in Belper, Derbyshire. I also stripped off all the underseal and repainted the underside and wheel arch recesses with bitumen type paint, followed by waxoyl. Six months later I had the automatic box rebuilt by a Borg Warner specialist after the clutch plates started slipping. For the next two years the car ran very well, but I had noticed that the oil pressure was low, almost non-existent on tick over. In 1986 I had the luxury of a Nissen hut for a garage and so I removed the engine and rebuilt the bottom end, replacing the crankshaft with a Tuftrided version. After this the car ran until 2000 when, at 104,000 miles and over a two year period, I carried out a top end rebuild as one of the heads started to blow and so it was an ideal time to have hardened valve seats inserted in order to run on unleaded fuel. I also had the automatic gearbox rebuilt again, as it was always leaking fluid. In 2004/5 I had a back to bare metal re-spray after overhearing a conversation between two motorcyclists waiting behind me at a set of traffic lights in Bath. “Great car” one said to the other. “Yes, but s*** paintwork” replied his mate! Having attended to the exterior, I turned to the interior and re-veneered the instrument panels with burr walnut (recycled from my neighbour’s wardrobe doors) and fitted new wool carpets. The original front seats were replaced with black leather SAAB 93 seats, matching perfectly with the dash and centre consol which I had re-covered in black leather.

I also treated myself to a set of Minilite replica wheels taking the wheels up to 15inch diameter. Having run without a hood since 1996, I finally had the hood frame shot blasted and powder coated before re-assembling (with thanks to Colin Brookes for letting me use his car as a reference) and fitting a new mohair hood in 2014. The next major job will be to rebuild the hardtop which is badly rusted.

Between 1983 and 2000, I ran the car almost as a daily driver. However, winter would generally tend to see less frequent use and, after 1994 I began to use the car only at weekends and in fine weather, so annual mileage dropped to between 2k to 3k. Since the re-spray I have been very protective of the car and annual mileage is down to between 200 and 1000 miles. Over what is approaching thirty two years of ownership I have amassed many wonderful memories of spirited driving throughout the West Country and the Midlands. The photograph below was taken around 1987 and shows a nephew and niece in the car at Burrator Reservoir, S.Devon. In June 2014 we re-created this photograph showing the four of us in our current guise; I am the only one who seems to look worse for the passing years!

Throughout its time with me, the car has been a genuine ‘bird puller’, often used to transport my birds of prey. As from the late 90s onwards saw the car used without a hood or roof, the birds were on open display, either on a perch bolted in place of the front passenger seat, or on a cadge secured in the rear seat well. One of my peregrines used to particularly enjoy the ride; perched on the cadge in the rear, as I increased my speed she would stretch out her wings and, without any wing beats, ride the air currents. However, after several years I decided I should stop this after the driver and passenger of a car travelling alongside us on a busy dual carriageway were so distracted by the sight of the peregrine that they collided with the car in front.

The Stag is very popular with my nephew and nieces and has been used as transport to a school prom’ and a wedding car. Providing the weather is good, it is ideal as the couple can sit on the hood stowage cover and hold on to the ‘T’ bar as I drive the last few hundred meters.

I don’t visualise selling the car and with luck I might still be around in twenty seven years time and we can then recreate these photographs, however, I will probably be the passenger rather than the driver.

Thanks to Donald Peach for his story and wonderful pictures in this article.

Down the Pub with Fuzz

On Drive-it-Day this year I was told about a forthcoming Pub-Meet to be held at the Ten Tors Inn, Kingsteignton, Devon and hosted by non other than Fuzz Townshend of Car SOS fame. I subsequently registered my interest and received regular emails about the event, which was sponsored by Carole Nash insurance.

The evening of the event was fine and dry, so I left home in plenty of time to ensure that I got a parking space as it was sure to be a popular event and the pub car park wasn’t the largest! As it happened, mine was the second car to arrive. Already in the car park was a very rare Japanese car; a Mitsuoka Le-Seyde, the long white car visible in one of the photos. Fuzz wasted little time in walking over and introducing himself, and then spent ages poring over my Stag.

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He was particularly interested in my home-engineered ZF conversion, having converted a manual Stag to BW35 on one of their shows. Fuzz himself was an exceptionally approachable and friendly person. You hear so many tales of TV personalities who are rather pretentious, but he was extremely down-to-earth and seemed genuinely interested in all the cars that turned up. Mine was the only Stag, and there were a handful of other Triumphs among many ‘modern classics’, Rat Rods, VW vans/buses and Yanks. Devon Area Deputy Co-ordinator Sue, and hubby John, turned up in their MX5 as they were on their way home from a trip to the Big City (Exeter!).

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These Pub-Meets take place all over the country, and if you hear of one in your area, why not turn up? Not only is there Fuzz Townshend, a free raffle, a BBQ, and a great selection of cars, but the first drink is free!

Thanks to David Taylor for his article

Grampian Stag Gathering

Grampian Triumph Clubs gathered on a mid-July weekend to venture west from Aberdeenshire to Fort Augustus. Being mid-July we were all looking forward to some top down driving… no such luck!

Ten cars (20 brave souls) had committed to the weekend and duly arrived at Balmakewan for bacon butties and coffee to prepare ourselves for the day ahead. We set off toward Brechin and Kirriemuir then cross-country to Dunkeld and Aberfeldy – you may have seen the Alyth flash floods on the news – we passed within one mile of there…

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Luckily we all made it through but one puddle was particularly deep and a couple of hundred metres long. A video taken of our Stag braving the floods shows a trail of bubbles as the exhaust is almost submerged and the V8 burble becomes a muffled watery gurgle!

Click Here to watch the video (link will take you to YouTube)

From Dunkeld we headed for the Highland Chocolatier at Grandtully to recover from a very wet drive… after delicious lunches we took advantage of a break in the weather to have a quick tour of the nearby Cluny Gardens. A very informative guided tour of this hillside Himalayan garden was enjoyed by all, along with some close encounters with red squirrels.

As leaders of the pack Simon and I decided it was time to go topless! No-one followed our lead although they did join us for a fabulous (or tortuous depending on your point of view) single track route from Weem to Loch Tummel to Trinafour joining the A9 at Edendon Bridge. A brief interruption came from a non too bright young deer who took several minutes to figure out a way through the fence to the left of us – when there was no fence to the right! He did however provide an opportunity for a couple of SHB trucks to overtake – narrowly avoiding disaster for the Stag to be.

The group was scattered as we sped up the A9 and after a brief regroup stop at Dalwhinnie Distillery four of us set off for our final destination for the day… We were all reunited in time for tea at The Lock Inn – a traditional pub on the Caledonian Canal. A fun evening was had comparing notes on our choice of routes and sampling the local refreshments.

Saturday dawned and we peered out of the window to see that the rain continued to fall. Undaunted we set off after breakfast to drive down to Kinlochhourn – another stunning single track route – 23 miles to a sea loch. We like to think that the cloud and rain added to the drama of the landscape!

Some miles in we met some highland cows – most photogenic! Unfortunately they were not camera-shy and gathered in numbers effectively blocking the progression of half our group. Some time later the lead group noticed we were lacking in numbers and waited a good 15 minutes before the rest caught up telling tales of cattle herding.

A section of the road was submerged to the halfway point with the water level rising fast as water poured from the hills – a brief thought as to whether the road was going to be underwater when we headed back was quickly dismissed in favour of making the most of the scenery to come.

All this drama meant we once again required sustenance and so gathered at the Kinlochhourn Café – a remote cottage at the end of the road – we crammed ourselves into the communal area and enjoyed smoked salmon sandwiches and cake by the heat of a glowing fire.

The weather lifted for the journey back – thankfully the potential flood had receded by the time we passed – surprisingly the water level in Loch Quoich was down by ten metres or more – one of the group suggesting this was because it was tidal…

We left in dribs and drabs to amuse ourselves for a few hours – some headed for Fort William – others back to base to explore Fort Augustus. We regrouped for a boat trip on Loch Ness – informative and fun – particularly waving to those that did not quite make it to the boat in time!

Dinner that night was in a restaurant with stunning views up Loch Ness (or was it Loch Linnhe?) Then a 10 minute stroll back to The Lock Inn for night caps and chat.

Sunday morning came and we bravely went topless all round. We set off along the B862/B851 stopping to enjoy the Suidhe viewpoint then taking a right turn on another single track road to Strathdearn. After a couple of miles we came across a closed gate – thankfully not locked so we carried on following the road up and over the hill to the river Findhorn and back once more to the A9.

On top of the hill we were watched over by a Red Kite – a stunning bird enjoyed on a dramatic road.

We followed the route from Tomatin to Carrbridge to Grantown on Spey then up the A95 to Ballindalloch and across to Glenlivet. Being slightly ahead of schedule for the first time this weekend we dropped in to The Glenlivet Distillery for a comfort break.

A few more miles and we enjoyed our final meal of the weekend at The Croft Inn at Shenval – satisfaction all round.

From here we went our separate ways (still topless) back home with some great memories of another fun weekend!

Roll on next year…

Thanks to Dawn Short for her article and fab video!

Stags Go Boating

SOC Northants Area Sunday day out at Stoke Bruerne.

We started out on a bit of a grey morning and met up with the rest of the crew in the car park of a well known burger joint.

Then it was a short drive to get to Stoke Bruerne, a pretty little village where we were hiring a canal boat for a few hours for a trip on the Grand Union Canal.

All here and lined up – nice few stags out today.

Picnics and cameras at the ready we all got together for the groupie (much better than a selfie!!)

Except for Dave – thinks he got away with it… but no we got him too

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Time to make our way to the boat for the start of the trip – herding up the troops – once you can get them out from under the bonnet!!

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All Aboard!!

It was a short hop to the beginning of the tunnel. The Blisworh Tunnel at 3,076 yards (2,813m) long it is the third-longest navigable canal tunnel on the UK canal network, (and the ninth-longest canal tunnel in the world). At its deepest point it is approximatly 143 feet (43m) below ground level. There was some major rebuilding of the tunnel in the 1980s, with sections lined with pre-cast concrete rings. It was also used to test out the materials that were later used on the Channel Tunnel. One of the unused rings is on display just outside the south portal.

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Once in the tunnel its a 20 minute or so trip, quite interesting when another boat comes along, there is just enough room for the two to pass but not sure I would like to be steering one of them!! Our captain did a wonderful job!!

and then the light at the end of the tunnel….

Once through we enjoyed the peaceful pace that only a trip down the river (well canal) can give.

Around lunchtime we arrived at the locks, seventeen of them as the canal descends to join the navigable River Nene. Here we stopped for a short break, stretch of legs before return journey – didn’t fancy the all those locks today….

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We did spot a heron that had been stood on the side of the canal, think we may have disturbed it as we strolled along the tow path.

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Dave being caught on camera again!!

Back on board for the return journey… time for picnics to come out, a little quieter on board for a time.

Sam kept a watchful eye out just in case anything was dropped, well got to keep the boat clean and tidy!!

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It was a lovely day, thanks to the Co-ordinators of the Northampton SOC for organising the day, we may not have had the sunshine we had hoped, and it may have been a little chilly…..

But the hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows from the cafe really helped to warm us up!!

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The Names Bond, James Bond (this years NEC Classic)

This years NEC classic show had a theme of TV and Movies, so what else could we do but pay homage to that wonderful few minutes (or was it seconds) where a gorgeous Stag was driven by the very handsome Sean Connery in Diamonds are Forever!!! Various shades of yellow Stags were found and willing owners agreed to display their cars, props purchased and costumes organised.

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Set up day – cars placed, cutout arranged – and tested of course!

So stand ready next we have the cast…..
Dauphin Lundi (aka Baron Samedi)
Burnt Valve Bloback (aka Ernst Stavro Blofeld)
Odd Bod (aka Odd Job)
M 25 (aka M)
Q Likely (aka Q)
Miss Spendapenny (aka Miss Moneypenny)
Coldfinger (aka Goldfinger)
Boozy Galore (aka Pussy Galore)
Commandeer Blond (aka Commander Bond)
Dr Yes Please (aka Dr No)
And various James Bonds ranging from Premium Bond to Shaken Not Stirred Bond

So highlights of the show…….
This year we expanded on the family friendly theme too and as well as the popular colouring in area we also had a racing game for children young and old to challenge there friends and family to the fastest lap in various classic cars (no Stag unfortunately!!)

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This also drew in a couple of familiar faces to the stand, first we were joined by Sir Stirling Moss on Saturday

And on Sunday Ant Anstead and his kids visited for a quick go…

Here’s the standings as the show closed Sunday evening

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One of the other popular parts of the stand were the cut outs – so many people enjoyed posing with them…

And one very special couple Robin Abbott and Gill Roberts

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Robin popped the question on our Stand on Sunday and Gill said Yes – Congratulations to you both.

We were also visited by Alex Riley

and Gordon Birtwistle –  Triumphs High Speed Test Engineer

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Over all we had a really busy show, we hope that all our visitors enjoyed our stand as much as we did, I for one laughed all weekend.

Till next year……

Stag Meets Stag – or OKY to On Tow

Here’s Pete Dennis to tell you all about his Stag….

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Like many other classic car enthusiasts the Triumph Stag is the car I had always wanted. Of course there were – indeed are – others such as the iconic E-Type, Lotus Elan, Austin Healey 3000 and Aston Martin DB6 to name but a few. However the Stag just seemed to embody that combination of flair, style and power in a slightly understated way very few cars had done before or since. Being launched in 1970 it was the year I became 17 and was learning to drive. There was also a Triumph dealership close to where I lived at that time and walking past it on a regular basis over the years I used to stare in and admire the beautiful, shiny examples in the showroom – Heralds, Dolomites, 2000s, Spitfires, TRs and then the Stag. What a beauty! The Italian styling with every curve and angle in the right place, the V8 engine, the wooden dash and smart instrumentation – and a four seater!

I owned several Triumphs in the 1970s and 1980s including Dollies and Spitfires and finally an Acclaim CD and was disappointed when the name finally disappeared somewhere in the BL ‘possibly pending file’ and I bought a Ford! I had enjoyed being a Triumph owner over all of those years. From the Dolomite’s hint of luxury with a sporty edge to the Spitfire’s sporty edge but very little luxury! I worked in various parts of the country and in Germany so drove tens of thousands of miles in the UK and across Europe at that time and all models proved (generally!) reliable. But I still really wanted a Stag…..

Fast forward some 35 years and various moderns later and more laterally a Mk IV Spitfire 1300 as my classic for 6 years, a friend told me about a Stag that had been off the road for several years and would I be interested in buying it? I went down to the New Forest, just to take a look of course, and it was inevitably love at first sight and I agreed to purchase ‘OKY’ (OKY 235 R), a 1977 model in Pimento Red, automatic and with original V8 there and then.

That was 5 years ago now I have used her regularly throughout the year ever since. Sometimes just taking her to work or locally to visit friends and pubs. I have also attended numerous classic get togethers including those at Brooklands, Goodwood and Prescott as well as meetings and treasure hunts organised by the local Stag Owners Club. Despite some slight initial reservations about the Stag’s reliability and the usual comments about ‘I hope it’s got the Rover engine’ OKY has proved to be steadfast and trustworthy over the miles since ownership.

When my niece announced her wedding last year she asked if OKY could be the Bridesmaids car. Of course I was honoured and without any hesitation said ‘Yes’. Plans were put in place over the months and I received my brief to arrive at Oakley Court Hotel, near Windsor, on the Friday night and then to take the Bridesmaid, Maid of Honour and her mother to the Church and back afterwards on the Saturday.

Being the proud uncle that I am I spent several days making sure that OKY was all checked and checked over again – not that I had any doubt that she would let me down as it was only some 15 miles or so away. I cleaned her in and out and polished her and buffed up the chrome so she was glowing and gleaming. I hoovered the inside and cleaned the upholstery numerous times as I wanted to make sure new, smart dresses were not marked before the ceremony on the big day. The inside can get a little messy as Hattie, our Flatcoated Retriever, also loves going out in her! I measured ribbon to tie around the front and on to the wing mirrors and bows to make OKY look suitably festooned for the occasion.

One final check and I got my smart clothes on for a meal in the evening and suit and everything else packed and ready for the great occasion. The forecast was looking a little mixed for the Saturday, but I was hoping it would remain fine so we could arrive with the top down, slightly blown about but not too cramped on the inside! Despite it being a relatively mild evening on the Friday I put the hood up just to avoid getting any dust or leaves blown in on the way over.

On arrival at Oakley Court I noticed this amazing wooden sculpture of a Stag leaping. I parked directly outside the main entrance and jumped out of the car camera in hand and took several shots from various angles to capture that ‘Stag Meets Stag’ moment. Needless to say it caused quite a stir and numerous other guests came out – some also attending my niece’s wedding, others just curious to see what all the fuss was about. However, when they saw OKY there glistening in the evening sunshine next to the sculpture they also all rushed for their cameras and started to take snaps and asked me all about my Stag, with me responding in my usual proud way.

 

After several minutes I thought I’d better get parked up and checked in as I was one of the last to arrive. I turned the key and the Stag roared into action with that glorious burble form the V8. I gave a little wave to the crowd still mingling around the entrance when Tom, my nephew, called out, ‘Uncle Pete, did you know you’ve got an oil leak’!! I quickly jumped out of OKY and to my dismay on looking underneath, sure enough a steady spurt of oil was dripping onto the clean drive of Oakley Court. The cheery grin of the concierge soon turned to a scowl as he quickly waved me away into the main car park and he hurriedly got a bucket of sand and covered over the slippery slick of Millers Classic 20w50. Despite me being in my best casual attire I crawled underneath to see a steady drip coming down from the oil filter. I’d cleared the boot of my bag of tools and odd spares to make sure I had enough room for any wedding paraphernalia that might be needed, so no spares and no tools.

Over a hearty meal and several pints of ale I was ribbed mercilessly about my pride and joy breaking down on her big occasion. After a humble apology to the bride and her family we agreed not to try to make a quick fix ‘just in case’. I was also fairly sure Halfords in Maidenhead would no longer stock oil filters and seals for a Triumph Stag! A rapid change of plan and the ribbons that were going to adorn OKY were cut to shape to fit on to my brother in law’s Alfa Romeo – now who would ever have thought a modern Alfa would prove to be the car to replace a 37 year old Triumph Stag on such a special day?

The wedding went off without a (another!) hitch and apart from the disappointment of not being driven in Uncle Pete’s classic it was the most wonderful occasion. OKY was sadly and forlornly taken home on the back of a breakdown truck, so OKY became temporarily ON TOW! Fortunately it was just the seal that had ‘kinked’ causing the leak and she was soon back on the road and roaring around the roads of Berkshire once again.

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Note the flow of oil!!!

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For those who don’t know Oakley Court was where they filmed many of the Hammer House of Horror movies and I think this was Dracula’s way of having a bit of wicked fun at my expense!!

Stag Adventure to Spain

Many thanks to Roy Smith for his Stag Tales in Spain….

I thought that I would start by sharing a picture of my wife’s Boobies. She took the picture in March 2012 on Ascension Island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (near the equator) when we were warming up on a break from my Civil Service job supporting the British Forces in the South Atlantic in the Falklands.

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It was later that day that – without any understanding of either the subsequent financial or social life changing consequences – she tossed me a 2008 copy of Classic Car magazine that she had found in the converted portakabin that we were staying in. As I browsed through, I came across an advert by Cherished Classics of Leicester who specialize in the Triumph Stag. I had admired the Stag since its launch – regrettably I am old enough to remember those days – but had never been in one or even had a close look. Heading for retirement, the following year I quite fancied the thought of something to enjoy after I left work and after discussing this with my wife Sandra we set about investigating the possibility of ownership then. Once a year, I was entitled to return to UK with my wife – the Ministry of Defence being all heart – and I wrote to Lee Court of Cherished Classics and explained that I would appreciate it if he would allow us to visit his showroom in May as he opened only “by appointment” on Saturdays – the day that the flight arrived at Brize Norton. I also explained that we were not in the market at the time but were interested. I am sure that he thought that we were just “time wasters” and initially put us off. I persevered and eventually he agreed to our visit. Sandra and I had done a little homework, looking at various websites and had concluded that we would particularly like a yellow or red Stag, one with solid rather than wire wheels as these are too difficult to keep clean. We didn’t want white.

Spain stag1

When the day came, after the 17 hours of flying we made our way to Leicester and Cherished Classics showroom. Lee pulled back the showroom door. There were maybe 6 cars in there but the very first, immediately behind the door was PKE 454L. White, wire wheels, love at first sight! Lee talked us through the cars in the show room and started two up. I still have the recording!!

We looked over the others but our hearts were set on the white one. She has been renovated – in 2006 but has covered – even now less than 5k miles. The interior is French blue leather with white piping. It’s funny, as we did not intend to buy for a year or so, we did not look in great detail at the condition of the body, although she looked immaculate but we did listen to what Lee told us about how to tell a good renovation.

Spain stag interior

She was priced at a figure more than we could afford so we thanked Lee and left. We watched Lee’s website and over a period of a month the asking price dropped by £2k. We offered a little less again and this was accepted! However, we were back in the Falklands winter by then and couldn’t arrange another flight for a month or so.

Our home is in Spain, near Gibraltar so we made all the arrangements, flights, ferry, hotels etc and arrived back in UK towards the end of July 2012. We rented a car from Brize Norton, drove up to Leicester and there she was, sitting outside the show room. Beautiful!

Lee ran through putting the hood up and re-stowing it, told us a story about another Stag owner and a problem he had had with the Torquatrol unit – the noise it makes when the bearings fail. He gave us a free pack of all the fluids and also the various “insurance” items that I had bought in preparation for our long journey to Spain – spare fuel and water pump, service kits (2), rear wheel cylinders, etc, etc, plus the right hand drive headlights as the car was now fitted for continental driving. It was at the front of my mind that neither Sandra nor I had ever driven any Stag before. Buying a car on the internet with no knowledge of this particular example, but with plenty of not so good press about reliability, overheating, mashing cam chains was a gamble and with the bookings made for our journey, we were committed.

We stayed with friends for 3 nights in Melksham before setting off on Tuesday morning for the Portsmouth – Santander Brittany ferry. All the time we had been in England, I had been praying that it would not rain. I just did not want to get the car wet. I did not know if it would leak, affect the electrics; stop us getting to the ferry…. The weather was fine.

The sea voyage to Spain was lovely and a chance to relax a bit but we had the thought of the next challenge – getting to Salamanca and the hotel – a 4 hour drive from the ferry. But the ferry did not dock until 1830 and by the time we got off and cleared customs….. Off we went, assisted by TomTom. The skies darkened and not because it was getting late, but because there was a thunderstorm ahead. The rain in Spain falls mainly on my Stag! Well, it did that evening.

Salamanca

We made the Abba Hotel in Salamanca by 2300 that evening without incident with only a few drops of rain – which was pretty heavy at times, dripping through the firewall somewhere. The view from the hotel, of Salamanca at night was so wonderful that we went down to the front desk and booked a second night. The Stag was safely parked in the hotel garage as we explored the historic elements of the city and possibly exceeded our capacity for churches in the process. But I can thoroughly recommend the hotel and the city. The next day we set off bound for home, driving some of the excellent old “main” roads that have been replaced by the autovia’s funded by the EU.

Spain stag2

It was on one of these that the grinding began. Oh no! Cam chains!! In a bit of a flap, I phoned Lee Court and put the phone as close as I could to the front of the engine so that he could listen. “Oh, that’s the Torquatrol unit”, he said. “Get some oil on the bearing and it will be fine”. I don’t know if you have tried to drip oil onto the bearing here, on a hot engine but it is a bit inaccessible. Remembering a Bond movie where the villain dripped poison down a thread lowered from the ceiling into the victim’s mouth (Bond’s new wife I seem to recall), I used a small stick to drizzle the oil onto the bearing. It worked a treat. We had 300 miles to go but only had to do this once more before we arrived safely home in Los Barrios, Andalusia. Other than the minor problem that was nowhere near as bad as I had feared, the car had run perfectly. The car has a Kenlowe fan fitted and the temperature gauge never exceeded the 11 o’clock position. The outside temperatures had been up in the 30’s and all bar the thunderstorm had been done with the hood stowed. Many other motorists had peeped and given a friendly wave as they passed us or we passed them and it had been an adventure.

Spain stag3

We live only 13 miles from Gibraltar where our daughters live now so went over the border a few times but the queue of over 2hours (now sometimes exceeding 5 hours) made us decide not to risk sitting in traffic for such extended periods. When I got a chance to have a good look at the condition of the car in my garage, she is in better condition than I could have hoped. Great actually. I can recommend Cherished Classics of Leicester and Lee’s expertise. We flew back to UK and on to the Falklands a few days later.I retired at the end of last year and I have not yet managed to get the car back on the road due to Spanish red tape. But that is another story!

Gibraltar

 

Road Trip to France

Thanks to Jason and Michelle for sharing the tales of their family holiday….

Me. “I’m bored of Aeroplanes and Airports”

Michelle.   “Well, why don’t we look at taking the Stag to France? But I want to go to the South because the weather is better!”

Me “Err, OK, are you sure?”

So that’s how it all started. I didn’t think Michelle would go through with it but she kept “reminding” me to look at holiday places.

I had better introduce myself. My name is Jason (stagstan on the Forum) Michelle is my long suffering Wife, Luke is our eldest Boy (8) and Zak is our youngest (3) and “Staggy” is our Stag. (the boys named him that)

We settled on Port Grimaud, it has a nice little Marina, it’s close to St. Tropez (a place Michelle has always wanted to visit) and not too far from Monaco (where I’ve wanted to go for a long time) A route was planned- Home to Lille for our first overnight stop over, then, down to a town called Valence just south of Lyon, then onto Port Grimaud. Hotels booked for the trip down then it was just a case of waiting.

We decided on taking the Chunnel due to the ease of use. We also decided to have an extra stop over close to the tunnel because that’s nearly a 4 hour drive for us. So, July 23rd arrived, we collected Luke from school, a quick change and some tea then off to Kent, isn’t the M25 a wonderful Motor Way? On the drive down my speedo became quite erratic, so a phone call to Faversham Classics saw a spare one bought. We awoke to a damp day but that didn’t matter as it was now holiday time proper. The Chunnel terminal was busy but we were able to get an earlier crossing, but a point’s failure put us back 2 hours so we didn’t gain anything, and didn’t lose any time either! While waiting in the queue for the train a very nice German Gent came up to us to talk about my Stag, which he really liked. Turns out he was on his way home from the Aston Martin centenary and was in his 1978 V8 Volante!

Ready-for-the-off

At our Hotel ready for the off!

Eventually we boarded the train and set off, 45 minutes later we leaving the train and heading off for the motorway and to our first stop. Lille was about an hour’s drive. Hotel found (satnavs are great) showers taken, all of us fed and watered and day 1 of the holiday was over.

Day 2. This was going to be a long day. Lille to Valence is almost 500 miles. We took plenty of stops along the way and the Stag performed perfectly. At some point a UK registered Aston Martin DB9 Volante came past us, the driver hooting his horn and punching the air as a sign of respect. They know a stylish car when they see one these Aston owners!!

The Hotel in Valence was very welcome, the further south we were travelling the warmer the weather. As we’re all used to air conditioning in our modern cars driving in 30 plus heat all day is very tiring. Again, showers drinks and food was required. A quick check on the Stag shows it still had a very slight leak into the “vee” from around the water pump area. The water pump having been rebuilt about a month before, the leak looks to be coming from the gasket, as it was using hardly any water (header tank fitted) I wasn’t too worried. Day 2 over.

Luke-bored

Luke. Bored!

Day 3. This saw us having a leisurely cruise down to Port Grimaud, just 200 miles. To get to the Port you have to drive through Grimaud Village, which means driving up a hillside pass, a very twisty road which me and the Kids loved, however Michelle didn’t like it at all because of the drops off the side so no photos taken as she was too scared to take her hands off the seat!

Zak-enjoying-roof-off

Zak, enjoying sunny top down motoring.

Onto the Caravan site, not too big and a really nice Caravan complete with air con!

Well-earned-rest

Stags’ well-earned rest

I’ll not bore everyone with what we did on holiday, after all it’s about the car, but we did have a great time. One of the days saw us in St. Topez, which totally disappointed Michelle, she thought it was quite shabby and Torquay was better! I tried to park in the marina to get some photos of the Stag with boats in the background but the traffic was awful.

St-Tropez-Marina

St. Tropez Marina

The South of France is a very nice place to go for a Holiday, we loved it, a close town to Grimaud is St. Maxim, again another day spent there looking at the boats and just relaxing.

The day came to start our journey home, the route we planned was Monaco, Turin, Reims then home. We left Port Grimaud around 7am and set off for Monaco. 1 ½ hours later we were looking for somewhere to park. Never having been to Monanco before I didn’t know where to go so we settled on the first carpark we saw, Casino Square under gorund.

Now, Monaco is my kind of place, if only I was a millionaire!!

Having parked up we went looking for a coffee. Monaco doesn’t open until 10.00am!! Anyway, having found some breakfast we went and walked the F1 track. If any of you are familiar with the F1 track the hill from the pits is a lot steeper than it looks on T.V!

After having a little walk around we collected the car and drove the track (well, you have to don’t you?) We pulled up in Casino Square for some quick photos


Then, we made our way to Turin. The roads from Monaco to Turin are great, not a lot of traffic, lots of scenery.

Overnight stay in Turin then we make our way to Reims via the Mont Blanc Tunnel. Again great roads and great scenery. However, the Mont Blanc tunnel itself was like the blackwall tunnel only longer and cost 45 Euros to use!!

This photo is on the French side of the tunnel with the Alps in the background

As we got close to the middle of France the temperatures started to rise, however, the Stag temp needle stayed firmly in the middle of the gauge, cant say the same about the passengers though!

Jason-stag

Me and the Stag on one of our many stops

An overnight in Reims then off to Calais. About 40 miles from Calais we pulled in for fuel when we heard a noise from the engine, I (stupidly) put this down to the Viscous Coupling and decided to “nurse” the car home. The train was on time and a few hours later we were home. The next day I removed the right cam cover to find a very slack chain! The curved guide had worn through, if id have known this I wouldn’t ave driven home, live and learn. Anyway that was soon sorted.

We (well me) enjoyed the holiday so much we’re looking at doing the same next year but not to the south but more towards Switzerland, we’ll see.

If anyone is thinking of taking their Stag to France or anywhere in Europe, my advice is just do it. I took just a handful of spares, fuel pump, belts ect. And don’t forget your  breathallisers!