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Homepage. This page: A ropey Jag gets replaced by a leaky Sunbeam
Uncle Joe's stories about cars and motoring

A Sunbeam sportscar with a leaky rad

"Uncle Joe", a name used to protect the innocent (and not-so-innocent,) has kindly volunteered his own motorcar and motorcycle memories. A series of stories will be featured here at oldclassiccar, all of which are true, based on the vehicles that Joe has owned, or worked on, over the years.

A 2.4 Jag makes way for a Sunbeam Alpine MkIV

If you have similar stories that you'd be willing to share with the world, I'd be happy to feature them here too, using an alias if you'd prefer!!

I've always enjoyed reading people's firsthand recollections of cars, and their foibles, in years gone by. Stories similar to this can be found on the main Motoring Memories Project page, which can be found here.

No-one at oldclassiccar necessarily agrees with, or condones, the events in these stories, and opinions given are not those of the site editor, but of the contributor!

The Radiator Leak - a clapped out Jaguar, and a steamy encounter with a Sunbeam Alpine

Many years ago, I paid £17 10s (£17.50p) for a Jaguar Mk II 2.4 litre described as a “good runner.” I had hoped to be able to repair it, and sell it for a modest profit. Good runner was exactly the right description for this car. The motor was perfect, but everything else, the brakes, suspension, exhaust was shot. Realising that repairing it was not an option, I decided to sell the Mk2 Jaguar.

Sunbeam Alpine sports car

A deal is done for a shiny Alpine !

A few miles away from where I lived, there was a secondhand car sales plot. The owner of which was universally known as “Burglar Bill.” Such was his reputation, I never heard anyone use his proper name. In fact, to this day, I still dont know what it was. Anyway, this dealer used to attract customers by offering a minimum payment of £250 for any car, as long as it could be driven to his plot. It didn´t even need to have tax or MoT. I guess that he never thought that other people could be as unscrupulous as he was. I used to have a good idea of the cars he had, and I knew that there was a nice MkIV Sunbeam Alpine there, pitched at £325. I had a chat to him, and for £75 and the Jaguar, the Sunbeam could be mine! Before he could change his mind, I had got home, and driven the Jaguar in to him.

I was quite pleased with the deal. Anybody would be. The Alpine had tax, a current MoT, and I had a Traders Policy. In other words, I was on the road with a nice little Sports Car! The only real problem that I had with it was a hole appeared on top of the radiator header tank. The day this appeared, I needed to repair it quickly, as I had a date the same night with a girl who lived just outside Manchester, which was about an hours drive from where I lived at the time. With not enough time to get another radiator, I pulled out the welding torch that I used for body soldering, and tried to attempt a repair. Tried was the operative word, as the only nozzle I had, whilst OK for body solder, was way to big for the thin metal of a radiator. So the hole just got bigger! Well, I wasn´t going to give up this date, so the hole was covered with Gaffer Tape, the radiator filled, and I set off. The date went well, but she was a nice girl, and I ended up driving her straight home after the Pub. As it was now quite late, and I was in a Sports Car, I decided to take the quickest way home, which happened to be along some country lanes.

Well, halfway along these country lanes, the inevitable happened. The temperature gauge shot into the red, and off the scale. Presumably, the pressure had blown off the gaffer tape long since, and the Alpine's radiator had boiled dry. Naturally, I had not bothered to take any spare water with me, so with no houses around, I was a bit stuck.

It was about now that the pub visit started to take its toll. But with me wanting to pass water, and the radiator wanting water, a possible solution appeared. Why not cure a leak with a leak? Now with most cars, this would be an easy solution, because they have bonnets hinged at the back. But as anyone who has owned this car knows, these bonnets are hinged at the front.

Not to be deterred, a precarious position was adopted, and filling the radiator began. Now as anyone knows, there is a certain group of people that are never there when you need them, but always there when you dont need them. And sure enough, halfway through, two turned up, in what we used to call a “jam butty.” It didn´t take long before they realised what I was doing, which brought out guffaws of laughter from them both. I suppose that I could have been charged with some offence, but to their eternal credit I wasn´t. In fact, they even helped me to get enough water to fill the Sunbeam's radiator so that I could get home. I had to fill the radiator myself though. I wonder if that would happen nowadays?

Needless to say, the next day, I bought a secondhand radiator for the Alpine. The girl? Never saw her again!

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