In this photo, just one of these vehicles is road-ready. I think that is a signal I have a problem. Photo by Kyle Smith

How to know if you are an automotive masochist

Kyle Smith, Hagerty on 30 June 2020

Masochist: a person who enjoys an activity that appears to be painful or tedious.

After shutting off the little blue roadster’s ignition and walking into the house, the problem became cemented in my consciousness. My two-and-a-half-car garage was already holding two cars unfit to venture beyond my mailbox, along with three motorcycles that weren’t faring much better. (My daily driver, a trusty Chevy pickup, was naturally relegated to the driveway.) Yet I was about to add one more car. Previously, any suspicion that I had a problem snoozed quietly in my subconscious. Suddenly, it sped to the front of my mind like a NHRA dragster.

I am an automotive masochist. Apparently, it took my most recent acquisition to confirm my self-diagnosis.

Some backstory is required. Years ago, I saw a co-worker toodling around in a 1969 Austin-Healey Sprite. It wasn’t perfect, but oh boy did it look fun. Recently I dropped by his desk to ask about the car, and I ended the conversation with one of the most dangerous phrases in the automotive world: “When you want to sell that, give me a call.” He’d owned the car for more than a decade; I didn’t think he would be calling any time soon.

I was wrong. When he called, my first response was: “I don’t think I have the money right now to make you a real offer.” “I bet you do,” he returned. Dangerous, right?

Let’s make one thing clear here. It was not a problem that I bought another car. I am still within my humble means to own another car or two. No, the problem here was that I was excited to purchase this Austin-Healey because it was broken.

The owner drove it over for me to inspect and immediately explained that the clutch would not fully disengage. Driving it was an exercise in futility; despite having synchronizers on most of the gears, the Healey gave new meaning to the term “crash box.” There was also enough clutch drag when the engine was hot to stall it out when coming to a stop. Embarking on a trip required starting the engine in gear, because there was no way to engage the non-synchro first gear with the engine running.

The brakes weren’t the strongest, the carpet was tatty, and the gauge cluster was as accurate as a broken clock. Yet, sitting in my garage and staring at the blue roadster, I didn’t see a slightly rusty project car lubricating my floor with 20W-50; I saw an opportunity to create something awesome. The car’s potential was intoxicating. I spent time rolling around on the garage floor looking at the clutch system and brainstorming solutions.

Then came the conversation with my significant other. The discussion went quickly. “What’s wrong with it?” she asked immediately. How could she know this cute little Brit was a project car? She quickly cut through my feigned surprise: “You never buy anything that needs nothing.”

She’s right, too. Any car or motorcycle being added to my stable requires some amount of work or attention. Every time. No exceptions. How this had not dawned on me over the last 15 years of playing with cars and motorcycles was a mystery that kept me up that night.

I know I’m not alone, though. As I chased my B.S. degree in automotive restoration at McPherson College, the pace at which project cars took up residence in dormitory parking lots was matched only by the flow of oil and other fluids leaking from them. If automotive masochism is an addiction, my fellow students were the opposite of a support group. Just a cadre of enablers egging each other on in (often pretended) attempts to rescue or revive cars that had been written off by so many other enthusiasts.

The tedious task of fiddling with a greasy bearing or adjusting a sloppy linkage is where I am at my happiest. The problem-solving process is just so rewarding. I relish the high of finishing a project while wiping down the tools and drinking a cold one as the lightning bugs flickered into the garage. It’s a feeling unlike any other. It’s possibly a sickness unlike any other, too; luckily, it’s not terminal.

Do you buy your project cars from the parts section of Craigslist? Click to the next page when you read “runs good”? Maybe you look at a project and, even before you buy it, are mentally setting out the necessary tools in your garage. Know that you are not alone — some of us are just slower to realize our vice than others.

Maybe we should start a support group. We could meet in the garage … but I think we would all be too distracted.



Do we need 'em?

Many people are increasingly intrigued by electric or even hybrid cars. As long as I can remember, people have been fixated by fuel prices and stinky fumes. let's be honest; who bought a Jaguar or a Daimler to save money or the planet?

The superficial lure of the electric car and such-like technologies attract us like a medieval alchemist to the promise of turning lead into gold. But surely the issue of cheap pollution-reduced transport depends largely on getting the question right in the first place? Can the misuse of the planet's resources be measured by peering into an exhaust pipe or is the damage done elsewhere?

I draw your attention to, of all unlikely erudite sources, Youtube. Yes, that's right. Not exactly a reference I would quote in my PhD thesis but nevertheless probably as reliable as a glib public relations release or something from Greta Thunderberg's mum. "Harry's Garage" is produced by a wisened fossil of my age who has a very eclectic taste in cars. A farmer, motoring journalist, car collector, self made multi- millionaire and publisher. In all, he seems to be a good egg. He even likes to drive Teslas, and Jaguar i-Paces, but would not buy one.

Instead, the day to day cars which he and his wife drive are an old Range Rover and a Fiat Panda. In a world progressively more intolerant of any view that does not coincide with received opinion, it is rather refreshing to consider another reasoned opinion.

In summary, actual facts and figures are used to support the opinion that the real misuse of the earth's resources occurs when cars are replaced, far too often, by newly manufactured vehicles; be they internal combustion. electric, hybrid or any combination of the above.

They are foisted on gullible consumers who are convinced they need a new car every three years. Thankfully, the members of the NMJDA cannot be accused of this. We keep 'em running.

"Harry's garage" is here:

William Quigley

Wiring on old Jaguars is there to protect the fuses

A spare light holder with marginally younger sleeeves

A variety of interesting looking bits


Parts pics by Jim Ward

No doubt some sharp-eyed member will already be rushing to his or her laptop, to point out that this is a borrowed title from a much-loved monthly page in the Thoroughbred and Classic car magazine of days gone by, but it so well suits my experience I believe it warrants plagiarising.

The task was a simple one. Some pleasant routine maintenance. Renew those pesky little bushes at top and bottom of the steering column on the Mark 2, to finally get rid of the occasional bad-mannered clonking over bumps in the road. It had run happily on home-made leather inserts for the past ten years, but the correct new spares were staring at me hopefully from the garage shelf, inducing feelings of guilt and laziness, and now was the time. The car had been washed and polished and was now awaiting my attention. The day had come.

As some of you may know, there are approximately 86 miscellaneous components that make up the steering/horn push/indicator/ flash switch on an old Jaguar, and some of these are spring-loaded. Cunningly held captive by microscopic nylon nuts (little known Iberian standard pipe thread) they eagerly await release. There is also a bewildering collection of different length set screws. To add to this, with the ignition on, the entire assembly becomes live, with momentary short circuits punished instantly by sounding of the horn. Undeterred, as I had previously changed the entire indicator switch successfully and without any lasting injury, I began to disassemble the steering column (my first hideous mistake).

Within minutes the entire floor of the car was covered in a variety of interesting looking bits, springs, washers, spacers, and mysteriously shaped things that look as if they belong in a food mixer. The little rubber sleeves that hold the indicator warning lamps in place behind the Bakelite overdrive warning light cover were thoroughly perished from age and heat, as fragile as an Egyptian mummy. They were at that special point in their little 40 year lives when they would permit the bulb to be withdrawn once, but then crumble into useless fragments the moment one attempted to push the same bulb holder back into the same rubber sleeve.

This soon meant that I was attempting to glue together minute fragments and crumbs of said sleeves, but I soon gave this up and raided my boxes to find a spare light holder with marginally younger sleeves. This was to be the least of my problems.

After eventually stripping the column down to the point where the spare bushes could be fitted around the column, I found that the UK sourced spares were too large anyway, and had to be persuaded with enormous force, abrasion and much abuse before even thinking about going into the concentric space they were going to inhabit. I overcame this problem with some tedious fettling and began rapidly reassembling the steering column and switchgear in gathering gloom, with strong winds warning that a rainstorm was brewing.

My toolboxes and power tools lay about me like a coral reef, all open to the elements, and rain was imminent. In haste I screwed the myriad grouping of tiny components back together and replaced the large black steering wheel.

Tragically I had neglected the electrical Lucifer: Joseph Lucas, Prince of Darkness, who had yet to play his final hand. A simple task on any vehicle made in Japan was about to turn into several days’ work on a Jaguar.

As soon as I had the temerity to turn on the ignition, the horn began to blow joyfully, a pack of local dogs began to bark, and my beloved called me in for supper. Just then the first drops of rain began to fall. Thinking to silence the blaring horn, I tugged desperately at the adjustable steering column, a trick that has silenced the misbehaving horn on other occasions. This action helped, in that it converted the deafening blast of the twin horns into an unusual warbling sound, a musical bleating finely synchronised with the beat of the engine.

This seemed like a good chance to vigorously manoeuvre the old car back into the garage. Manfully, much like a helmsman of old bringing a clipper under full sail about and into the wind I began to heave on the steering wheel, lock to lock, to line the car up with the garage doors. It then began to rain heavily, and pressure wash all my tools…I needed to get the car back under shelter and tidy up quickly before the storm really hit.

As I began to straighten up and drive in, the first acrid-smelling tendrils of smoke began to waft through the demister vents. Within seconds, the slight smell of electrical burning had become overwhelming, rather than a hint, and the cab was definitely filling with reeking smoke. This, as signs go, was generally not the best thing to see at this point. ‘Fire in the old cockpit, Jerry on your tail and Bandits dead ahead. Time to bail out chaps!’

I leapt out of the car, flung open the bonnet and disconnected the battery. With rain falling even more rapidly, I then examined the fuses closely and sensed in one the warm afterglow of passion. The sacred glass 30A sarcophagus had been protected from damage by the instantaneous meltdown of the wiring to the indicators but had the decency to get slightly warm. Perhaps a direct million Volt lightning strike might have caused it to reluctantly fuse.

The disaster had been caused by a few errant wires somehow becoming entangled in the hefty lug that trips the indicator switch after turning. When I pulled out the steering wheel to silence the horn, something internal had been dislodged. The sawing at the wheel had then wound the wires around and around the column where they could merrily short out and become red hot, all the while being happily fed more and more current by the fuse box. The wiring on old Jaguars is seemingly there to protect the fuses, not vice versa.

Extremely wet, I removed the miscreant fuse and hurled it deep into the bamboo grove. To Rot. In Hell. I restarted the car without lights, then drove it (now wet and filthy) into the garage. I now had a steering wheel without free play, but the mess under the black steering column covers was only eclipsed by the melted insulation in the whole loom running to the indicators. I brought in my toolboxes and upended them on the floor to let the water drain out. Don’t we love our Jaguars! The lights are all sorted out now, but the shorting horn reminds me of a day that went badly.

Postscript – I wrote this article 16 years back when we still lived in Pietermaritzburg, and since then have modified the fuse box such that each separate circuit is protected by its own spade type fuse of varying ratings as in modern cars. The original Jaguar wiring had only two glass fuses. I have also mounted a fire extinguisher in the boot, just in case.

- Jim Ward

Reader Jim Ward and his Mark 2 have come a long way together.

Letter to the editor

Dear Readers,

I used with interest, a while back, the classic car valuations based on UK auctions, that is included in this magazine. I think it's fairly accurate and it also means that my '64 model, wire wheels, Mark 2 is probably somewhat under-insured. I found some of their criteria used to knock down values quite revealing:- 1) a daily driver is seen as a bad thing, why? 2) any and all modifications are viewed in a negative light and seen as a bad thing, which is not a view I necessarily agree with. I wish my car had an alternator, synchromesh, better seats and power steering, like the 340 that briefly followed it.

In regard to daily driving, the primary reason forcing me to use the Mark 2 only on select occasions here in Gauteng, is my cautious and prudent response to the psychopaths and criminally insane who masquerade as taxi drivers in our country, coupled to a lack of basic policing. It is not fearing wear and tear on a low mileage vehicle.

A second vivid red light for me is the irreplaceable nature of spares, those items readily available in Europe; a rear window, a door skin, chrome trim, the boot light plinth and virtually any of the complex, curved, lead soldered body panels that are all non-existent here. If they were imported, and if the post was not on strike, and if the bonded warehouse in Durban could ever locate my parcel under four months' of unsorted mail and if it ever got here, they would be prohibitively expensive.

In daily use, the steering is heavy, the gearbox needs double de-clutching in lower gears, and the demister is marginal.

Another hazard, by 2020 standards, is that my lovely little orange Lucas indicators are small, set low down and not the most visible in bright sunlight. A perfect recipe for getting wiped out by something as unspeakably vile as a Daewoo Nubira.

My tiny little slow-motion wipers dance prettily before coming to rest, but are more suited to brushing away light snowfalls and the odd autumn leaf or dandelion than dispersing three inches of intense rain in 30 minutes, and on the Highveld I also have to interrogate all clouds very carefully, watching them for the evil green-blue tinge of impending hailstorms.

Imagine a 56 year old car like this beaten to death by hailstones the size of squash balls while stuck on the N1 North with nowhere to go.

So I proceed with caution and having proper insurance has not changed my attitude to risk by one iota. I cross all intersections with my headlights on full beam, happily accepting the middle fingers, horn-blowing and abuse hurled at me by morons allowed out for the day in their sports cars and SUVs. At least it means that they have seen me, enough to swear at my presence.

In my mind the risk vs benefit calculation keeps my car in its lock up garage, which is a great shame, as do I love driving it. It generates interest among any car lovers, and at every filling station where the technical experts always explain to me that it has survived and is still perfect because it is so strong.

There are also the hundreds of people who invariably come up and tell me that their dad/uncle/brother-in-law/priest/stepfather/girlfriend's father used to have one of them, often in Brakpan, but it gave trouble/broke down/got old/was crashed and so they sold it. And that is precisely it.

They used to have one but now they don't. Therein lies the difference. I put up with the troubles and the challenges of a car getting old and I fixed it.

What cannot be measured or valued is how much of my own blood, sweat, tears and money is built into that car after an intimate relationship that has lasted 36 years, but I still believe it is one of the prettiest 56 year old ladies I have ever known or met.

Lastly, (I risk great hostility and the wrath of many fanatics now) in all humility, truth and honesty, I know that the reduced braking distances and ABS/EBS/EBD low profile tyres, active braking, lighter body weight and modern suspensions mean that most cars are able to outbrake the Mark 2 today, so if they apply emergency brakes, while we are both travelling at 65 - 70mph, with me following them too closely (no doubt running in mortal fear from a homicidal lunatic in a HiAce) I am liable to proceed through the rear of their hatchback and eventually come to rest somewhere in the back seat.

Their hideous scrap will only be fit for recycling and all its airbags will have exploded, rendering the interior into a form of plastic and leather entropy with lots of wire. My car will not (be fit for recycyling), but the front bumper might be scratched quite deeply. Possibly some buffing required.

So, having digressed, I just wondered if any other old car owners had gone through the simple valuation process on the website and arrived at their estimated values, albeit UK-based and in sterling. One tends to forget, living here in Mzansi, that the UK has itself suffered quite serious inflation over the past few years - anyone who has visited recently and bought food, beer or a meal will appreciate this. We tend to feel that we are the only people suffering from this plague but we most certainly are not.

This meant that the old figure I had in my head as an estimate Rand value had become many years out of date. I would not pretend that my car is a condition 1 vehicle, but think it lies between 1 and 2, probably veering toward condition 2.  I don't care a fig. To me it is as lovely as the day it was born, and still the embodiment of the motor car it was the week it was driven out of Coventry in 1964 and carefully loaded onto a ship for export to Southern Rhodesia.

So finally - stop waffling and tell us about the value! Well I will not tell you, you can guess, but I will share this:

Economists, charge your calculators at this point please.

It has appreciated by about eighty eight thousand, seven hundred and fifty percent in the 36 years I have owned it. Increased in value at around 2,465 percent per annum by straight line appreciation. If I take what I bought it for, and multiply that amount by a princely 8 750 percent, I arrive at what it is worth, right now, in the UK.

So as I stagger naively into a new period of erratic income and post-60 age myself, would I consider selling it?

I would rather sell my spleen.

Cheers, Jim

The iconic Jaguar E-type will be commemorating its 60th birthday in 2021. Pic by Ben Wood

Save the date: E-type 60th Anniversary, 12 - 13 June 2021

Release date: 31 January 2020

In 2021 the iconic Jaguar E-type will be commemorating its 60th birthday. Not surprisingly, the E-type Club is planning an exciting weekend of celebrations and is keen that owners and enthusiasts everywhere save the date. The venue, where there will be plenty of track action, is Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb in The Midlands. The E-type Hall of Fame will include 9600 HP, the original Geneva launch press car, heading up an array of amazing E-types from around the world. The theme is Swinging Sixties — cars, music and fashion.


Jaguar E-type The Jaguar E-type was launched in March 1961 at the Geneva Motor Show. Owners included George Harrison, Mick Jagger, George Best, Frank Sinatra, Sir Jackie Stewart, Bruce McLaren, The Duke of Kent, Charlton Heston, Peter Sellers, Tony Curtis, Princess Grace and Johnny Hallyday. Production totalled 72,520, of which 83% were exported. The E-type was a 150mph sports car for a fraction of the price (£2,097) of Ferraris and Aston Martins. The XK engine powered Jaguar to five Le Mans wins in the '50s. Enzo Ferrari described it as 'the most beautiful car in the world'.

Jaguar E-type Club

The Jaguar E-type Club was formed in 2005 by author, publisher and E-type collector Philip Porter and his wife Julie. The Club has over 1,600 active members in more than 50 countries. Porter's 300,000-word book Jaguar E-type — The Definitive History was voted 'Motoring Book of the Year' and 'Motoring Book of the Decade'. His E-type Roadster, which appeared in the film The Italian Job, cost him just £600 in 1977.

Event Venue

Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb, Shelsley Walsh, Worcester, WR6 6RP

About Shelsley Walsh

Shelsley Walsh is the oldest motorsport venue in the world still using its original course. Since 12th August 1905 Shelsley Walsh has been attracting world famous drivers through the ages such as Campbell, Segrave, Caracciola, Bira, Collins, Stuck, carved their sporting careers hurtling up the 1,000 yard, 1 in 6 gradient track. In recent years John Surtees, Sir Stirling Moss, Andy Priaulx, Derek Bell and Hans-Joachim Stuck have driven the famous Shelsley Walsh tarmac, nestled amid one of Britain’s most quintessential countryside locations in the rolling hills of Worcestershire easily accessible to the M5.

Media images Link here:

For more information about E-type 60:

Contact Louise Gibbs

+44 (0) 1584 781588

Hortense was recently spotted outside the KZN Legislature

Local celebrity car supports the Arts

Fans of Hortense the 1958 Daimler 104 Auto will by now have seen her latest film, Breathe, also out on DVD (wot's that?), wherein she was made up as the car owned by a past British High Commissioner to Kenya.

Following up on that, then, Hortense was recently spotted outside the KZN Legislature in Pietermaritzburg where she was photographed by a keen fan armed with a 'phone. We have the main provincial legislation building, the old Post office building, the old fire station and the Tatham Art Gallery. Such is the natural habitat of Daimlers accustomed to Government and High Commissioners.

The occasion was organised by Durban VCC aided by the Natal Rover Club, Pietermaritzburg's VSCC and Hortense from the NMDJA. Phew. This intermingling of clubs for events seems to be the way forward.

Everyone gathered in the Legislature car park, as the MPPs are not in attendance on Sundays. Well-known Pietermaritzburg historian, Simon Haw, guided us around the CBD and pointed out many features such as the two old Stock exchanges and the cottage occupied by Widow Retief for many years. Fascinating, informative and entertaining but be warned; Simon is a fast walker.

Meanwhile, back at the Tatham, the less athletic - including me - were able to investigate the recently reorganised art gallery. My goodness, what a shock, it’s fabulous. The old favourites are still there but regrouped alongside some striking new exhibits. Check the comments on Trip Advisor.

Often a repository of whingeing, whining ninnies, people where genuinely astounded at the range and overall quality of the exhibits. Where else do you get Matisse, a Degas pastel, Irma Stern, Pierneef, Lalique glass and Limoges porcelain alongside contemporary work from artists such as Ntombi Nala, Musa Mtshali and Hussein Salim? Ever seen a real live Picasso line drawing? There's one in the Tatham.

Of course, there is a lot of grim, PC-orientated drivel that would not look out of place on the Baby Heffalumps nursery school fridge but move on, head for the carvings and recover.

Much later, we staggered into the cafe. The Gallery forbids the owners from serving chips and other stinky food, not because they are evangelising vegans but because fat in the air might affect the exhibits. The food is therefore imaginative and tasty. Swill it down with smooth coffee. Peaceful and relaxing, an ancient Sansui hi-fi from the early seventies played gentle jazz in the background. On vinyl! Bliss.

So unfolded an inspiring day that should be shared by all pessimists. Indeed we were pleased to note the Schreiner Gallery, which will in March host the Schreiner Collection of 32 pieces bequeathed by Else, mother of our very own Deneys Schreiner, a founder member of this fine association.

Perhaps we should go?



Posted: 4 January 2017 - The Association's first public outing: The RAS donated the use of a stand on the 2005 Garden Show. We brought six of our cars and Jaguar Umhlanga lent us a new X-Type.

We put up placards describing our cars, Keith produced a magnificent set of historic posters and we all chipped in to make our display more garden-like. It was a great success.