Island Life Magazine Ltd February/March 2007 - Page 90

life - MOTORING Ready Steady Bang Bang Renown for surprises Mrs Sue Bishop was born in Shanklin and was well accustomed to Island life, the gentle pace proved an idyllic childhood and has left a strong impression. The Isle of Wight certainly is uniqu e and has a fondness which tends to never leave where you are in the world, and for Mr and Mrs Ken and Sue Bishop Florida is now their overseas home. Having lived in the U.S. for over 10 years Ken and Sue have always recalled favourable memories of our little sunshine holiday Isle at the bottom of blight. Caulkheads, Cowes week, Newport and Nippers hold deep affection not to mention the proud feeling of owning a DL registered car. Leaving the Island in 1997, having spent 33 years running the Studio4 music centre in Ryde, Ken and Sue settled for a piece of American pie and uncle Sam treatingthemselves to a nostalgic night out in Florida watching the stage show of Faulty Towers. On leaving the show Mr and Mrs Bishop stepped out onto the pavement and had a surprisingly close encounter. 90 Before them neatly parked up was a 1951 Triumph Renown registered HDL 436, most of their American friends walked on by the car un-noticed, but for them it was a profound moment. Their genuine enthusiasm lead them to trace the owner and embark on a historical motoring journey. Soon it became apparent that the car had left the sleepy Island roads for the bright lights of a big city 22 years ago, and has subsequently had four U.S. owners. Fortunately the current owners another British couple living in Florida, still hold a copy of the original sales receipt confirming the purchase of one Triumph Renown. The car was purchased on the 7th April 1951 from Ryde garage in Victoria St, for a total price of £1,060. This was slightly more than a standard model as it included the luxury of a car heater. For Mr and Mrs Ken and Sue Bishop who recently visited the Isle of Wight, the classic Triumph Renown with its unique DL registration makes a little bit of Florida forever England. Ready steady go! Well not quite, four years ago a passion for cars, writing and an obsession with Ian Fleming creations has developed into a rather adventurous charity challenge with four wheels, a snake’s head horn and wings! The life of a motoring journalist is full of glamour, images moulded by successful Top Gear presenters has built an enviable perception of exciting opportunities. I wish! TV aside, ‘What Car’, Classic Car and just about any motoring magazines are written with creative flare, confidence and a deep rooted knowledge base. Trust is built on the reader’s ability to acknowledge the research and passion that goes into developing petrol headed articles. Presenters and journalists build on an interest that has spun off from either a career in engineering, buying and selling vehicles, dabbling in dealerships and the motor trade to grass track racing, go-karting or just a well founded obsession that gives validity to an opinion. With this in mind, it is about time I bared my motoring credentials, after all test driving and reviewing Island Life’s motoring section needs some creditability! Without going into too much detail, my passion for cars has manifested itself in a most unusual way. Personally I blame my wife! Long before I knew her, she was an avid ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ fan. Fortunately, this gave me an endless supply of Christmas and Birthday opportunities – I bought the DVD, original books written by James Bond author, Ian Fleming, and even took her to see the stage show staring Michael Ball at the London Palladium. One Sunday morning whilst sat up in bed, and over a freshly made cup of tea, my wife said ‘Do you think you could build me the car?’ Still half asleep, I said ‘Oh, all right then!’ That was four years ago, and although not quite finished, Chitty has been a complete adventure. We started in a very non committed fashion, questioning whether it was actually possible and whether we could actually deliver on our promise. Soon with a few trips to Beaulieu Auto Jumble under our belt, things really started to take shape. The car is based on a series 3 Land Rover, commissioned in 1973. After stripping it down to a chassis and engine, it stood for a long time whilst we tried to get our heads around it. We used a corgi die cast model and a few movie stills from the internet for reference. Quite literally, measuring in centimetres and scaling up to metres and holding the model car at arms length like an artist with a paint brush to see if it looked right. Of course it can never be an exact replica because the original has a bespoke chassis holding a 3 litre Ford engine, engineered by a team of craftsmen in fact it was the Allan Mann racing team, but I guess it is as close as we can ever make it. We started with the idea that we would use local engineering firms Island Life - www.isleofwight.net