ONCE or twice I have turned on the telly and caught the end of one of those programmes in which a hopeless old wreck of a car is turned into a gleaming mean machine. That may have been what was in my mind on Friday when I passed a house being renovated and saw an ancient motor in the garage.
This house has been a constant puzzle since we moved here seven or so years ago. It was built in the 60s but although someone has been living there it looks as if no maintenance has ever been done, to the extent that the wood-framed windows have collapsed on themselves, and the garden was a jungle. It has now been sold, no doubt to the huge relief of the neighbours, and work has started.
There were two lads clearing up in the garage so I asked them if I could take photos of the car. I had no idea what make it was but they told me it was a Bond, a name I vaguely remembered from long ago. They said it was very rare.
These are the pictures.
When I got home I looked up Bond cars, but all I could find was stuff about James Bond. Then my husband Alan remembered that the marque was Bond Equipe, and that did the trick. From details about pictures such as this
it looked to me as if the one in the garage was made around 1964, and to my surprise the factory was in Preston, only about 20 miles from us. (The plane is a Lightning, then and I believe still the fastest fighter in the world. The picture was taken at Samlesbury Aerodrome not far from us, now part of the massive BAE complex.) I found the Bond Owners’ Club online and emailed them with my pictures. Very soon I had a reply from David Miller of the club who said:
‘Thanks for contacting us about the Equipe. It’s a lovely GT2+2, the very early model. I’ll pass the pictures and information to our members and we’ll see if anyone’s interested.’
An hour or two later I had another email from Nick Wotherspoon, who lives between Preston and us. He told me he had two Bond 2+2s, one missing its bonnet. I gave him details of the location and he set out at once.
Later I had this email:
‘Spoke to the two lads working there who were very interested and let me look around the car whilst they called the owner to come over. He arrived and was also very interested in the history of the car, but knew just how far it was gone – it obviously hasn’t lain in the garage all that time and must have been outside for a long time before then. There is no floor left front or back and the door pillars and windscreen frame and scuttle have totally fallen apart – the windscreen has actually fallen out – he was under no illusions that it was beyond viable repair, so I was spared that conversation!
‘Anyway we have done a deal and I will be moving the car and the other parts associated with it to my home shortly, but I am afraid it will be a donor to provide parts for my other two project cars of the same model – but nothing will be wasted! We are just hoping it doesn’t break up when moved.’
He added: ‘I have always thought it was one of the best looking cars the company built – the styling was by Lawrie Bond himself, who like the cars was from Preston and of course built his first prototype Minicar in Longridge [near Preston].’
He said the car I told him about ‘was completed in August 1963 and the paint is its original colour and I think is called French Blue, apparently it was last on the road in 1987’.
Here is a picture he sent of a car in French Blue:
It turns out that Nick is a real Bond expert, having written the first history of the marque in 1993, Lawrie Bond: The Man and the Marque – The Illustrated History of Bond Cars. Since then he has rewritten and expanded it into a new history of Bond cars published in 2017, entitled Lawrie Bond Microcar Man.
He told me: ‘The car is built on a separate chassis based on that of a Triumph Herald and the running gear is Triumph Spitfire, so fairly easily dismantles into component parts – when new, the fibreglass body work was noted for its very high standard of finish, which the owner of Bond Cars Ltd attributed to their team of female workers responsible for the finishing of the bodyshells! Unfortunately Triumph supplied all the steel parts to Bond in primer spray paint only and not dipped in a rust inhibiting paint like the Triumph cars of the time which coated the inside surfaces as well. Bond did not have the facilities to do this, so Bond Equipes seem to have a habit of rusting from the inside outwards like the one you found has.’
I’m hoping that when work is complete Nick will take me for a spin in his car with its ‘new’ bonnet.
I read this week about an animal relocation scheme which seems to have backfired, as they nearly always do. Tasmanian devils are the largest carnivorous marsupials and as you can see from this video they are pretty fierce:
Over the last few decades 90 per cent have been wiped out by a contagious facial cancer, and a project was devised to breed an ‘insurance population’ from cancer-free stock on the tiny Maria Island off Tasmania. Twenty-eight devils were introduced in 2012 and since then have done well.
However according to BirdLife Tasmania the operation has come at the ‘catastrophic’ cost of 3,000 breeding pairs of the smallest penguins in the world, the imaginatively named little penguins (Eudyptula minor). I was lucky enough to see these penguins during a trip to Australia a few years ago when I went to Phillip Island, near Melbourne. You can watch, under closely supervised conditions, the nightly arrival of the birds from a day’s fishing, and here is a short video:
The implication by BirdLife Tasmania is that the devils have killed off the penguins. I wonder. The island is only two and half miles off the coast of Tasmania, which according to estimates is home to as many as 380,000 little penguins. The birds are capable of swimming more than 40 miles in search of fish. Is it not more likely that the Maria Island penguins simply decamped to join other colonies rather than waiting around to be eaten?
Just a thought.
Last week I mentioned wild roses. They are coming to the end of their flowering season but while there are still some left I thought it would be interesting to show the range of shades which I found within a few yards of each other yesterday. Note the hungry bee in the final picture.