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!

Higham Ferrers Chichele Northants Classic Car Show

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What a glorious sunny Sunday we had today for the Rotary Club of Rushden Chichele Northants Classic Cars Show in Higham Ferrers. Its the first Sunday in quite a few weeks we have had a full day of great weather and it brought out the crowds!!

This years Classic Car Show was held to raise funds for Rotary Charities. There was a full turn out of Classic vehicles (generally pre 1990) on display to the general public at the towns Castle Fields.

We had a full stand of 7 Stags

Its quite a small show but very well organised with some lovely stalls to suit all tastes from hand made greeting cards, old toy cars and books, to car accessories (including classic car oils!!)

There were also plenty of stalls if you were a little peckish from the expected burger and chips to a very nice hog roast, with ice cream or cup cakes to finish you off!!

The stars of the show were the cars, wonderfully presented and such a wide array of classics some quite unusual to see out at an event like this.

My favourites of they day were these

Lovely MG V8 and rare to see Aston Martin DB5 (James Bond was not in need of it today!!)

And where ever you have classic cars you can always get some bonnet up action!!

IMG_0226And last but not least, a lovely XJS (with an admiring Stag owner – one day I would like one of these, perhaps put it on my Christmas List!!)

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Bromley Pageant of Motoring – 7th June 2015

We all had a fantastic day, with support from no fewer than 55 Stags from South East London, East & West Sussex, Kent, Surrey and as far afield as Bristol and of course not for getting Harry’s Darlek from the original Dr Who movie.

This was truly a Regional Event!

Now here’s the good news, considering that Bromley Pageant is billed as the largest one day Classic Car Show in the world, we managed to secure the top prize …….

Special Club Display ……. “WINNERS” …. Did I say winners, I certainly did, 2015.

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It was a true team effort from all that attend both in support for the Stag Owners Club and the efforts by everybody to promote both the Club and the fact that we are indeed  very SOCial Club.

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Martyn Smith passes on his thanks to all those who attended whom without, the winning of this award would not have been possible.  A special thanks also to Ian & Pat Saich (Deputy Co-ordinator South East London area), who were responsible for most of the planning/organisation of the day, Andy Potts, who on the day did such a great job in co-ordinating the stand and Russell Mortlake-Mees who gave endless technical advice to so many visitors to our stand.

Our area goes from strength to strength and we managed to secure several new members including some re-joins

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ESM 2015 – Netherlands

The Stag Club Netherlands hosted the 33rd European Stag Meeting.  They organised a very full programme with routes of between 70 and 100 miles per day for the 125 cars from Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

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The detailed routes guided us through country lanes, around pretty harbours,  over dykes alongside canals and lock systems and along North Sea beaches and even through the narrow base of the Heimolen, a windmill dating from 1866. We visited the beautiful Basilica of Ooudenbosch,  built between 1865 and 1892 as a scaled replica  of St Peters in Rome,  the old Town Hall in Bergen-op-Zoom, the Markiezenhof, the Marquises Palace built in 1485 in Bergen op Zoom, the oldest in the Netherlands, Watersnoodmuseum (the Great Flood Museum).  It was a fabulous weekend visiting places we would not have found on our own.

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A great big thanks to The Stag Club Netherlands!!!

 

 

 

For more pictures visit our Facebook Page

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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2014 in review – a really great year

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report our little blog.

Thank you to all our followers and a Happy and Prosperous 2015 to you all – Keep running on 8!!!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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!!