This is Dave Thompson’s 1934 Le Mans. Dave tells us:
I’d been looking for an interesting old car to tinker with for some time – it had been at least 20 years since I had time to indulge in vintage motoring. Then I spotted a Le Mans for sale on E-bay. I’d always fancied one – more so since being a close neighbour of Reg Cleaver, who I’m sure many will remember. I’d let the opportunity to buy his slip by before it left the country for Switzerland some years ago. I spoke to Reg before viewing, and his first words were: “What do you want one of those for?” “Good for 70 mph aren’t they?” I said. “Might be if you can put up with the vibration,” was his reply! This was the last time I spoke to Reg before his tragic death. Undaunted, the next day I did the 340 mile round trip to view. As soon as I saw ANC 958 I knew she was to going to be mine.
The chap I bought her from had owned her for about 14 years, during which he’d spent a lot of money, mainly on the body and chrome work. Mechanically it was a different story. Nothing had been done in that time, although the previous owner (Walter Harris I believe?) had done some engine work.
The chassis, engine and gearbox looked sad. Oil pressure was low. The clutch rattled. There were the odd oil and water leaks. Lashed up floor, fitted scuttle area etc. But I wanted to tinker – a challenge perhaps – nothing concours, but usable in the true spirit of ’thirties motoring.
A deal well below the asking price was struck, and this included enough spares to fill the back of the Land Rover. The car was collected by trailer the following week.
Time now to really evaluate what I’d bought, tentatively doing a few fine local summer evening runs. Only running on one carburettor. Can’t hear myself think over the rattling clutch. Brakes pull violently to the nearside. Rev counter U/S. Same for temperature gauge. Oil pressure 10 psi. No charge showing. Draught from the floor boards wrapping the apology for a carpet around my legs. Suspect and discover leaking petrol tank. Despite all this love it to bits!
Many long cold winter days spent stripping and rebuilding engine, which was discovered to be good, with obvious new pistons, liners and camshaft. Fitted new rocker shaft, valves, oil relief, gaskets, and cleaned the years of accumulated crud out of the sump. All painted and polished to look the part.
With floor boards out, all accessible chassis cleaned and painted. Rear shockers refurbished.
How should the floor be? It was such a bodge, with the support rails cut short and split around the handbrake, so I decided to make new ones. There were no real clues, but the question put to John Horne of ASCO soon produced answers, along with some drawings to work from. Many thanks to him. Surprising also, the amount of infomation on the good old internet. A new tunnel from Dave Hardwick completed the job.
The next area to tackle was the scuttle and toe board, eventually getting the angles about right on the second, or was it the third, attempt! Fellow Le Mans owners who have done this will probably know what I mean. I’m a big believer in doing everything myself, but was a bit apprehensive about the new aluminium needed around the scuttle. How do you get a fold on a curve without a wheeling machine? But it’s done. Again not concours, but it’s all my own work.
Oil/Temp gauge sent to Speedy Cables for a quick and reliable refurb. The rev counter unfortunately sent to a man who thought he could do it, then deciding, when chased two months later, he couldn’t! Tried again with Speedograph-Richfield, quick return but unfortunately faulty. Now awaiting it’s return, hopefully sorted.
Indicators fitted to rear on plates attached to number plate (didn’t want to drill any holes) and front side lights converted to double filament for the flashers.
The big moment….turn it over. No oil pressure – should have primed the pump! Success now with good 25-30 psi, but leaking behind oil pump. Strip to rectify – not once but three times! Could do it in my sleep now!
Looking good now apart from the painted radiator surround and previous owners DIY seating, both jobs for some future date. Can’t wait for those summer evenings around the Shropshire lanes.
Whilst not perfect, its My Le Mans, and it gives me a certain satisfaction every time I look at it. Obviously I’d love to hear from anybody that remembers the car.