Around the turn of the millennium, a business connection of mine fulfilled a lifelong ambition by purchasing an early 1960s Jaguar E-Type from a client of his. During a fevered fifteen minutes on the telephone, he told me all about his dream car and what a brilliant coup he had pulled off in securing it. Apparently, the paintwork was in need of attention but the car was a real corker. It had cost him a bargain £20,000 to buy, and he had set aside a further £10,000 for its restoration.
Now, without wishing to appear wise after the event, it all sounded a trifle optimistic to me. Even I know that E-Types are notorious for being bottomless money pits, especially to the blinkered amateur. Unfortunately, Stuart was both blinkered and an amateur. He promised to show it to me when I saw him, which certainly added a bit of spice to the traditionally unexciting prospect of a business meeting.
Well, when I drove into his office car park in Glasgow a few weeks later, I was greeted by what can only be described as a heap of rotten metal with patches of faded yellow paint clinging desperately to it. Please understand that I am no expert where cars are concerned, but this one just didn’t look right. It seemed to be sloping in several different directions at once and it stood suspiciously lower to the ground than other E-Types I had seen. The stunning face of this once-proud Ferrari-basher appeared to be grimacing apologetically. I swear to this day that I could hear it rusting.
Sometimes it is impossible to direct your own face to present the expression you want it to: faces are very honest features that usually reveal one’s innermost thoughts. For example, try taking the Jolley Revolution seriously without laughing hysterically. My initial surprise that The Wreck of the Hesperus had managed to complete the rush-hour journey into Glasgow must have been visible because Stuart’s face fell almost as quickly as mine. At least it must have given the other commuters a good laugh. He refused to be daunted by my unexpected lack of enthusiasm, and opened the driver’s door with a flourish and an ominous creak.
I once read that the Milan refectory where da Vinci’s The Last Supper resides was used as stabling for donkeys in the eighteenth century. Well, I could only presume that a previous owner had found a similar use for his E-Type. Stuart invited me to have a sit inside, but I was by no means sure the suspension would take my weight. Besides, I had no desire to get donkey droppings all over my suit. The seats were shabby and surprisingly worn, suggesting that the 63,000 miles shown on the clock might have been less than genuine. The carpet was dirty and threadbare – animal hooves can do that to carpets – and I could have written my name in the coating of dust on top of the dashboard. It surprised me that any owner of such a graceful car could allow it to descend into such a poor state, and also that anyone would be stupid enough to come along and buy it. The previous owner is probably still doing cartwheels around his garden.
It did not augur well, and I hate to admit I was right. To begin with, the girls in Stuart’s office christened the urine-coloured rustbucket the Pee-Type, which proved to be a crushingly accurate description for a number of unsavoury reasons. When he started the restoration, there was not a single job that went as expected. The price of replacement parts was breathtaking, some of those parts were not fit for purpose, sometimes it was the wrong part, and sometimes it was fitted wrongly and had to be done again. Every layer they peeled back revealed even more work to be done, like an automotive Fabergé egg. One ‘restorer’ had evidently never seen an E-Type before, whilst others clapped their hands in glee at the prospect of almost unlimited work for untold years to come. In a surprisingly short space of time, Stuart’s budget became exhausted and he was faced with either retaining a wreck of a car that he could no longer afford to repair, or selling it on at a huge loss. He chose the latter option, and sold the lot for substantially less than he paid for it. His wife was not amused. Perhaps your dreams should remain exactly that: just dreams.
I have not thought about Stuart’s disaster area of a car for a very long time, but during my usual interminable wait at the dentist’s last week, I read an article in a motoring magazine that brought it all back. For many years the motoring world has been awash with classic car specialists, all offering a range of services designed mostly to part the hapless enthusiast from their money as quickly as possible. They differ wildly in standard of course, ranging from Concours d’Elegance winners right down to the gormless bloke with ten thumbs and a screwdriver employed by my friend Stuart. Unfortunately, the latter has been all too prevalent, as much a case of caveat emptor as the purchase of the car itself.
That particular game appears to have changed drastically with the launch of Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works in June 2017. One of the available facilities is called E-Type Reborn, which offers the well-heeled E-Type fantasist the opportunity to purchase an original car that has been restored by Jaguar themselves. Sourced and rebuilt to original Sixties specification, as much of the original car as possible is retained and all replacement parts are manufactured by Jaguar. Attention to detail even extends to recreating the correct type of spot-welding when fixing body panels. With a range of sensible modern upgrades also on offer, it is now possible to buy a Jaguar-restored E-Type that is better than it was when Jaguar first built it.
Prices start at £285,000. Get your order in now.
There is always a link to Lincoln City with these articles of course, so what is it this time? Quite simply, if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing properly. Rushing or trying to cut corners is a fatal mistake. A certain section of City supporters displayed undue anxiety during the summer transfer window over their perceived lack of activity in the player department. One genius even suggested Danny should pull his finger out and get some players signed before it was too late. Others expressed ill-considered beliefs that the squad was not big enough and that a small squad was responsible for our unsuccessful season last time. Well, if becoming the first League Two club for nine years to win the Football League Trophy and reaching the playoffs at the first attempt represents failure, I can only conclude that some people need to go and support Real Madrid instead. Or have a brain transplant, whichever is easier.
Danny Cowley is widely renowned for his fastidious approach, and at the end of a great August, we are already reaping the benefits of his structured and uncompromising recruitment policy. We have a bench full of substitutes who would walk into the starting eleven of most other League Two clubs, and enjoy genuine competition for places throughout the team. Those summer signings have already begun to repay Danny’s faith in them: Bruno Andrade has impressed almost everyone with his pace and desire to attack, while John Akinde has shown an unnaturally cool head with penalties. Michael O’Connor oozes class if not match fitness, while Harry Toffolo’s enthusiasm is infectious. Grant Smith has stepped up to the number one position with few problems, and Jason Shackell’s Premier League pedigree is visible on and off the ball. You would never guess from their attitudes that Scott Wharton and Seamus McCartan are only on loan, and we haven’t even mentioned Joan Luque and his indomitable will to succeed as a professional footballer.
That makes nine, which represents a lot of new players to blend into any squad. The fact that the majority are already first-team regulars is no mean achievement. Danny sounded a warning last week that we are far from the finished article, and only the very blinkered would disagree. Our points haul of thirteen may even be a trifle fortunate, but you make your own luck in this game by being relentless in your approach and consistent in your delivery. It takes time for a new squad to integrate and find that consistency, but that can only be achieved if you have got your recruitment right in the first place. Just ask Gary Johnson and Kevin Nolan about that.
To be unbeaten and top of the table at the end of August is outstanding. As we have said before, these are exciting times, the sort that only come along once in a lifetime. Make the most of them, enjoy the ride and satisfy yourself that our future is in safe hands.
Above all, thank your lucky stars that my friend Stuart is not in charge of our player recruitment.
Who did our members consider to be August’s star players?
Player of the Month is JOSH VICKERS, whose score of 9.58 at Northampton was the highest individual rating we have seen since we started this feature. A real pity he was injured after three appearances, but thankfully his latest quadricep injury appears less serious than thought originally.
Second place goes to the resurgent TOM PETT, whose displays so far have been a revelation. His goal against Yeovil at the very end of last season gave an indication of what he may be capable of, and everyone can now see why Danny signed him for very good money in January. Almost like a new signing in August, some may say.
Third place goes to SCOTT WHARTON, another player who unfortunately missed several games through injury during the month. City have maintained a very tight defence during his absence, but have they missed his goal threat?
A number of special mentions this month: firstly for Bruno Andrade, who has made the step up to league football with no problems whatsoever; ditto Grant Smith, stepping confidently into Josh Vickers’ shoes; and to Joan Luque, whose first goal in professional football at Blackburn marked the end of a very tough journey. All three returned very promising scores at the end of their first month as Football League players.
The average team score of 6.56 sets a good standard despite some extremes within it. Eighteen of the twenty-two players reached at least the par score of 6.0.
1. Josh Vickers 7.33
2. Tom Pett 7.12
3. Scott Wharton 7.03
4. Michael Bostwick 6.84
5. Michael O’Connor 6.777
6. Lee Frecklington 6.771
7. Bruno Andrade 6.72
8. Grant Smith 6.64
9. Joan Luque 6.563
10. Jason Shackell 6.562
11. Harry Anderson 6.54
12. Shay McCartan 6.525
13. Matt Green 6.522
14. John Akinde 6.46
15. Harry Toffolo 6.43
16. Neal Eardley 6.21
17. Ellis Chapman 6.20
18. James Wilson 6.08
19. Luke Waterfall 5.58
20. Matt Rhead 5.57
21. Adam Crookes, Sam Slocombe 5.38
Individual ratings by match:
Northampton: Josh Vickers 9.58
Swindon: Michael Bostwick 7.86
Port Vale: Tom Pett 8.70
Grimsby: Michael Bostwick 6.83
Bury: Tom Pett 7.94
Notts County: Bruno Andrade 8.65
Blackburn: Michael O’Connor 6.81
So where does that leave us regarding the current player of the season standings?
No prizes for guessing this.
1. Josh Vickers 7.33
2. Tom Pett 7.12
3. Scott Wharton 7.03
Home Player of the Season
1. Scott Wharton 7.63
2. Bruno Andrade 7.46
3. Tom Pett 7.42
Away Player of the Season
1. Josh Vickers 7.75
2. Grant Smith 7.10
3. Michael Bostwick 6.60
Footnote: after spending several years wearing flip-flops because he could not afford a proper pair of shoes, my friend Stuart eventually saved up enough money to replace his Pee-Type with a TVR Cerbera. It broke down on his way home from the dealer.
Thank you to Graham Burrell and Lincoln City Football Club for the photograph!
— Vital Lincoln City (@VitalLincoln) September 4, 2018