Sunday, May 29, 2011

A pair of hairy hogs

Berry - Ford Prefect

Berry Rally May 2011

Berry Rally May 2011

I was invited down to Berry by the Shoalhaven historical car group to display my Humber Sceptre at a rally at Berry Showground. The car went well and it was a pleasant drive to Berry. They had a great variety of vehicles from vintage trucks to classic bike, with some fairly unique vehicles. I spotted an immaculate early Ford Prefect, which was the first car that I owned. I also saw a 1960's British campervan, similar to the one we had in England - can't believe it was so small - there is no way we could live in it now!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Merro Meadows Rally May 2011

We were invited to a small rally around Berry with a friend of ours who owns a Rover Coupe. We set off from the Anglican Church and slowly headed south. There were 2 Rovers, 2 Minis and a lovely black MGTF and my Humber Sceptre. I have just attached some car badges and old stickers and they look great. We headed to Don's farm at the back of Jasper's Brush through narrow roads set amongst emerald green valleys. The car went very well and cruised easily along the highway. I am thinking of getting sheepskin covers for the seats coming up to winter.

Merro Meadows Rally with new badges May 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kiama Jazz Festival

We took my Humber Sceptre to Kiama Jazz Festival for the weekend. For the first time all the music at the festival was free, so there were a lot more people around than normal. We had no problem driving there and I was able to park in a close and safe spot. It is always a worry when you have a classic car, wondering if someone will try and nick it, especially a unique one like ours.
However all we had was people coming up to have a look and see what type of car was it! We had a great time at the festival and heard some great jazz, especially from Adrian Cunnignham, who had some great support from his band. Got home late after finishing off with The Stingers - agreat blues band.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Humber Sceptre Article

Bruce Gibbs (a previous owner)wrote this article for the March edition of 'Just Cars' and I have reprinted it below.

In late 1965, the Rootes Group introduced the new Humber Sceptre Mark I sedan that they described as “a superbly equipped Sports Sedan”. Twelve months later, it was face-lifted and the Mark II version was introduced. Originally it is believed that Rootes were going to use this model as a new Sunbeam Rapier. The interior of the Sceptre supports this, as it is a modernised and stylised version of the 1965 Rapier Mark V wooden dashboard. Rootes Australia did not import the Sceptre, but a number of both Mark I and II models have reached our shores, (particularly Melbourne)as private imports and my Humber Sceptre is one of those. It is believed to have arrived there in the early 1970’s and was in daily use by two owners until it was taken off the road in 1986. Part of the 1986 registration label remains and I have a copy of the third party insurance for that year showing the owner’s name.

It sat in a shed unused until 2000 when a Rootes enthusiast in Sydney saw it for sale and bought it. In November 2001 Bruce bought the Humber Sceptre when the speedometer showed 60,000 miles.

It was originally Autumn Gold with black Ambla upholstery and white roof-lining. It was delivered with the standard 4 speed full synchromesh gearbox with electric overdrive on 3rd and 4th gears. A sticker on the Motorola radio says it was supplied and fitted by Gordon March Ltd, 1 Broomfield Rd, Coventry on 17th November 1966. It is powered by Rootes’ new “1725” alloy head 5 bearing motor that produces 91 Bhp (68kw) @5500rpm and 105.9 lb ft (144Nm) torque@ 3500rpm. This was a sporty engine for a small sedan in 1966 and it even compares well to the ‘149’ EH Holden 6 cylinder engine, which supplied 100bhp (75kw) at 4400rpm with torque of 145lb-ft (197Nm) at 2000rpm.

Despite its 20 years of continual use and then 14 years of storage, the car was well preserved. The paint had faded, but the interior remained in excellent condition. It had suffered a few knocks and featured more than five shades of ‘Autumn Gold’ paint. The first Sydney owner had the motor reconditioned by a well known Hillman (Rootes) mechanic in West Gosford. A new exhaust system was fitted, along with a new radiator, clutch and pressure plate. It also had the rear brakes cleaned and reconditioned and new alternator fitted. The car was soon running, registered and in almost daily use as a commuting vehicle on Sydney’s north shore.

Some small items still needed doing mechanically when I bought it, so I took it to Rebel Restorations at West Gosford where Gary got the engine and electrics purring. Gary found some light rust in the inner sills and repaired them as well. Now it had grey sills as well as its many shades of Autumn Gold. The car was very driveable and stayed this way until 2005 when I took it to King Creek Smash Repairs where George had agreed to repaint it in ‘Rosso Red’, similar to the original red colour. In the sales information, the Humber Sceptre could be ordered in ‘Pippin Red’ with black upholstery. This sounded a good combination and very 60’s, especially with the lashings of chrome and stainless steel trim there is on my Humber Sceptre.
In the meantime, I had been busy on eBay and had obtained, from England, a new old stock left and right hand side grille set, as well as the centre, which arrived still in its original wrapping, all new and glistening! I also found new front and rear windscreen rubbers and Ralf Moore Glass found me a new windscreen. New ‘1725’ badges and name badges were also found in England. I was also lucky enough to get from England a used, but almost perfect seal that goes between the windscreen rubber and padded dashboard surface to replace the original that was well warped by the Australian sunshine. New hub caps and stainless steel wheel trims were found. Locally, I sourced new door, window, glass and boot seals and new window channels from Grippy Rubber.

With all the NOS and replacement parts ready to apply, George from King Creek set about stripping the Sceptre by removing all the trim, door panels and glass. The bonnet and the boot were taken off and repaired separately. Every blemish was marked and any old repairs were reworked and the crinkled left front frame was straightened. The body was then totally undercoated and rubbed backed before going to the spray booth for the finishing colour. The wheels were repainted white and new thin white wall tyres fitted, then set aside whilst the car was rubbed back and polished.

It was then off to the upholsterer, where all-new black carpet was fitted, including to the lower parts of the door trims. The boot, previously fitted with a carpet mat in the factory, was totally lined with carpet and black felt. Sound proofing was put under the bonnet to replace the rather tacky looking effort Rootes had put in around the engine back perimeter in an attempt to make the inside of the Humber whisper quiet like its bigger siblings, the Hawk and Super Snipe. Soundproofing was also applied to the boot lid.

Whilst all this was happening, parts were sent off for re-chroming. This included the front and rear bumper bars, bumper overriders (minus their rubber cushions), all four door handles and buttons, the boot handle and its cast surround, and finally, the cast locking petrol cap and assembly. At the same time, I got stuck in to polishing and cleaning all the stainless steel strips and fittings, and all the remaining chrome on the window frames and interior door handles.

The final product met all my expectations - the bright shiny red paintwork, the gleaming chrome and stainless steel, the white wall tyres – it all looked sensational. Since “completion” of the project, I replaced all the water hoses, along with the front brake pads and calipers. The brake and clutch master cylinders were also overhauled and new front brake hoses fitted.

My Humber Sceptre with new spray job

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wings Over Illawarra - Feb 2011

Wings Over Illawarra - Connie ready for takeoff

Wings Over Illawarra - Feb 2011

Greg and I took the Humber Sceptre to the ‘Wings Over Illawarra’ Day, which is a plane and car show at Illawarra Airport. A group of aviation enthusiasts have restored lots of old planes, including a Constellation called Connie and a lot of other planes flew in for the event. A number of car clubs assembled at Albion Park Showground and then went in convey to the airfield. There were about 400 cars lined up, mainly from Australia, Britain and America in a variety of shapes, condition and colours. My Humber Sceptre had many favourable comments again, as many people had not seen one before. Between looking at the other cars and watching the air show, we had a great day, but next time we will have to remember to bring our ear muffs! The only problem was at the end when all the old cars had to exit with the other cars onto the busy Princess Highway. We were stationary for about 30 minutes and took one and half hours to get home. The Humber took it in great stride and didn’t overheat, but a lot of the older cars had problems.

Wings Over Illawarra - Old Red with Noddie

Thursday, January 27, 2011

NRMA Motorfest

I was lucky enough to be invited to the NRMA Motorfest as part of Australia Day celebrations, so I drove it up to Sydney the day before. About 1,000 cars were assembled along Macquarie St - far too many to appreciate in one day. I meet Heather and the family in town and we walked along the street admiring the great variety of vehicles. There were too many cars to mention, so I have just posted some photos of red cars! The Sceptre had some positive comments from fellow club members, which was appreciated.