As we left things in my previous post, Elly had been duffed up by a Mondeo back in late 2006. She was recovered, by the same company that caused the accident in the first place (but not the same truck, I checked!). I then shipped her off to the specialist I’d originally purchased her from in Birmingham to be sorted out. To be honest, the job ended up containing more filler than I would have ideally liked, but 2006 was the year I was clocked up a LOT of miles in that 2CV. I didn’t want her off the road for too long. The rear bodywork was in a dreadful state, and without chopping out and replacing a lot of it, he did the best he could. Replacement panels weren’t so readily available back then.
He also had to fit two pattern front wings. Pete Abbott had gone to great lengths to rebuild the original front wings, because pattern ones (certainly at the time) just didn’t fit. Sure enough, they didn’t really fit, but hey, she was soon back on my driveway.
Having become a motoring writer, money was now that much tighter. Hey, true and it rhymes. But the rot was soon setting back in. During 2008, I had to get one of the seatbelt mounts replaced, and the sills. 2009 saw a new bonnet hinge fitted.
The winter of 2008 also saw me carry out an engine swap. By then, Elly had clocked up 170,000 hard miles, including a 3500-mile trek all around the UK in 2008 in just two weeks. What fun that was. But I felt her original engine was down on compression and a bit smoky. So, I thought the obvious thing to do was drag an engine out of my aunt’s garage, where it had sat for a decade, and chuck it in.
Amazingly, it was a good engine! I didn’t do anything other than drop some oil down the bores, before gently winding it over on the handle and then just starting it. A year later, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I put the original engine back in, pictured above.
Perhaps it’s because I felt her original engine was better for roadtrips. Having covered the Eight Ball Rally with that engine, I then took her all the way to Switzerland in 2010 with her original engine back in. It can’t have been that bad can it? Other than a slight ignition fault and a leaky exhaust manifold, we had no trauma at all on that trip.
It was an amazing trip, and I broke my personal record on the way back – 660 miles in one 17-hour day. We filled up in France, Luxembourg, Belgium and England on that day. It was a bit of a blow out to be honest, because we fancied a change of lifestyle. One last hurrah before we had no money.
Then we moved to Wales, where we have been very happy. There’s been one problem. We don’t earn a vast income between us anymore, out of choice. Which meant the 2CV was getting more and more neglected. I did do another engine change, I’m still not sure why, but her spare engine is back in. But I was losing my battle to keep on top of the bodywork. Plus, daily use in wet Wales was not helping.
There was the highlight in May 2012 of clocking up my 100,000th mile in Elly, but as I was working from home, she was spending more and more time sitting around in the rain. She was now averaging just 3000 miles a year. I did consider putting her in the garage, but then got upset that she’d become a garage queen. But the rot was getting worse and worse and in April 2015, I conceded that she had to come off the road for a while.
Since then, I’ve been struggling to work out how to save her. This month, I decided the only sensible solution was to put her up for sale. Yet a lot of you responded very much to the contrary. In fact, people really wanted to help get Elly back on the road again, which is how this project began. I’m truly touched that people feel so strongly about this car that they’ve dug into their own pockets to contribute to her salvation. At the time of writing, £781 has been raised! Quite remarkable. I still can’t quite believe it.
So, the plan is to get her back into my own garage, strip her down and send the body off to Citwins in Bradford for assessment. We’ll then plot how we can best use the money to sort her out. GIven that Alan of Citwins reckoned the panel bill could easily be £600, this project still has some way to go!
Things may be a bit quiet for a day or two, as I’ve got other work and a short roadtrip in the Dyane to contend with (my other penniless restoration!). Mark my words though. Elly will be saved. The story will continue.