My Limeflower Austin 1300 has had plenty of TLC this year – just in time for me to find it a happy new owner. I’ve loved my time with it, and the real joy for me hasn’t been so much the driving, but from the simplicity and comfort this car offers, and the sheer cleverness of the BMC 1100/1300 model range.
My enjoyment of it has also been through son number two, 23-year-old Michael. He’s a keen amateur mechanic and enthusiast, and what’s been lovely to see is how much he’s engaged with this car. He likes fixing things, so when his mental list of stuff to fix started to blossom following a ride in the 1300, he took over the car from me, wielded his toolkit and started putting things right.
He noticed the squealing fanbelt. I’d previously sprayed on some LiquiMoly, and the knackered belt was quietened down enough not to annoy me, but it wasn’t a cure. The first time the lights went on, the dynamo started squealing again. Thanks to a generous box of spares that came with the car, and which included a new fanbelt, the old one was removed and a new one fitted. He taught himself the method of patiently threading it around the fan no doubt cursing the layout.
New carpets lift the interior
Next to go was the dusty old flooring. The spares haul included a full carpet set, so that situation was easily rectified by Michael. He whipped the old ones out, and carefully replaced them – and, as you can imagine, that transformed the look of the interior. The dashboard illumination was on its way out, so he replaced that with LEDs, and I have to say that it looks a whole lot better.
Michael then turned his attention to the non-functioning heater control (I’d not even noticed it!) which refused to throw warm air into the car, thanks to a seized control cable. Lubricated and freed off, it’s now set for winter driving. Speaking of which, it now also has a functioning coolant temperature gauge – solved by the fitment of a new sender. Total cost – £5.
His usual cars are modern classic Audis and having something properly classic has been an utter revelation for him. ‘It’s so easy to work on. What fabulous access under the bonnet, and what amazing parts availability,’ he said.
Makes you think when one considers that back in the 1960s, dealers and mechanics complained vociferously about the Mini and 1100 being pigs to work on. Shows that not all progress in car design has been positive.
With those jobs done, he set about enjoying driving the car and discovering for the first time why cars from this era – good ones, anyway – are so appealing. Listening to him raving about the purity of its steering, responsive handling and how much fun it is to drive at moderate speeds is an absolute joy.
However, like all good things, my time with the Austin 1300 needed to come to an end. My problem is I have too many cars and, although I love the Austin 1300, there’s not enough room in my life for it. I offered it up for sale – half-heartedly it has to be said – but, after a couple of months, I received an email from Steph Holloway (below), she of the idriveaclassic YouTube channel.
She was interested in my car for a Trading Up project her employer Lancaster Insurance was running and wondered if I’d be interested in parting with it. Although I didn’t want to sell it, and would have loved to continue with it, a deal with Steph was done, and the car ended up starring at the recent NEC Classic Motor Show – but no longer as my car.
I can’t pretend I’m not sad that the Austin 1300 has parted for pastures new – I miss that car, and really feel there’s still a place in my life for a front-wheel-drive A-Series powered car from the BMC/British Leyland stable. Stay tuned for that one…
However, I really enjoyed seeing my son totally getting into the simple pleasures of classic car ownership and maintenance – after many unsatisfying workshop adventures with his 1999 Audi A6, I reckon he’s properly switched on to (as what Nick Larkin might call) proper classics, from a proper era.
This gives me hope for the future of the classic car scene – there’s so much there for young enthusiasts to get their teeth into.