When I’m sixty-four…1953 Austin A40
BY DR CLIVE FRASER
In 1958 Sir Paul McCartney was 16 years old when he wrote a song about ageing and relationships.
It had the title, When I’m Sixty-four.
The song was eventually released nine years later on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album and it is still one of my favourite Beatles songs.
It immediately came to my mind when a colleague told me about a car that he’d just bought.
It was a 1953 Austin A40 that had been languishing in a paddock under a tree near Warwick for thirty years.
It turns out that the car was under a tree because the tree had actually grown up through the car, and not the other way around.
When my colleague opened his garage door to show me the vehicle waves of nostalgia were flooding my mind as I recalled that this was the very same A40 model that had delivered myself and my three brothers home from hospital as infants.
Whilst childhood amnesia denies me any contemporaneous memory of the vehicle, there are two old family photos of our A40 which through the wonders of projective identification I can place myself in.
But, what about the 2017 A40.
For starters there was the need to negotiate the asking price of $900 down to an acceptable $750.
This was of course a pre-requisite for establishing a positive relationship with an object that was going to consume the best part of the next ten years of my colleague’s life and take up a considerable space in his garage.
Importantly the old A40 was complete with every nut and bolt still attached.
We stood there marvelling at the Mist Green paint job which even after 64 years could still be seen through the eroded layers.
The seats were stuffed with horse hair and covered with British cow hides and provided an important clue as to how many miles the vehicle had actually travelled.
For my colleague had neglected to check the odometer reading when he decided to buy the vehicle.
After all it was 64 years old and who would care if it had been around the clock, a few times.
Did it even have an odometer?
I scrambled inside the car and through the dusty glass I could see that the car had done 54,768 miles.
We then convened a meeting to discuss the possibilities.
There was no way that those front seats had supported 154,768 miles of buttocks (three times the mileage on the odometer.
The pedals and steering wheel weren’t worn either, so the actual mileage of this car was simply 54,768.
With such a low mileage on the odometer we thought that this might be a good predictor of longevity in the drive-train.
I then asked the bleeding obvious question: “Do you think the motor will turn over?”
Seems like the previous owner said that the A40 had been driven to the paddock, but I’ve always been wary when buying a second-hand car.
A rotating adjustable wrench on the crank-shaft proved that the motor was in fact still functional.
Could this be the start of another 64 years for the A40?
Doctor Clive Fraser
Published: 07 Dec 2017