Can you introduce yourself briefly, what’s your name, where are you from, where do you live?
Hi, I’m Fred and I live in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. I have always had an interest in cars and promised myself that would I buy a classic when I retired. As it turned out I bought one and found myself getting a second one on the grounds of it being to good to miss! They give me pleasure to drive and attend shows, going to places I might not otherwise go.
What vehicle(s) do you drive/own these days?
I have a 1955 Austin A90 Westminster and a 1956 Austin A105. These are both 3 litre, six cylinder cars, both with column gear-change. My ‘modern’ car is a 2002 BMW 530D Touring, which does great service towing our caravan.
What does this or these vehicles mean to you?
Owning the Austins has meant joining two car clubs. This has introduced me to a whole new circle of friends. This means going to shows and actually having week long holidays with club members and touring different areas of the country.
I have always done my own maintenance, including welding. These skills have been very useful in keeping my cars on the road without breaking the bank.
I have been the Editor of the club magazine for one these clubs and am a sub-editor for the other, a role I enjoy very much.
What is the earliest automotive memory you have? How did your passion start?
Going for days out with our neighbours, because they had a car and we didn’t. I watched with interest how the gears were changed and loved to see under the bonnet. How could anyone understand and repair such complicated machinery?
Repairing my push-bike and later a small motorcycle gave me an introduction into the mechanical side of things. Helping my father work on our first family car, including a full engine rebuild, gave me the confidence to work on my own car when the time came. I found that the tinkering and fixing were as satisfying as the actual driving.
Where did you grow up? What’s your relationship with nature like?
Until the age of ten I grew up just outside Chesterfield, in what was then a very rural area. My friends and I would disappear for the whole day into the countryside and learning the names of common plants and trees was automatic and just what people did then.
Moving to the ‘big city’ was a real culture shock. This was the late fifties and Sheffield was at it’s height of steel production. Smoke and grime were an integral part of the landscape. Slum clearance schemes and the formation of more green spaces were the in thing. Sheffield has a great many lovely parks and woodland areas that strangers to the city wouldn’t know about. My rural upbringing gave me a head start in appreciating these areas. Currently, my wife and I have an allotment right next to where we live. This green oasis was very important to us during the Covid lock-down.
How do you today reconcile your passion for the automotive with your respect for nature?
I was very aware of the negative impact on the environment of becoming a classic car owner and doing mileage that was for no other reason than my pleasure. I joined Chrome Carbon when it first started and shortly afterwards I also joined Tree-V, another scheme to plant trees to offset my cars emissions. We walk whenever we can rather than use the car and go by bus when possible. Being ancient and having a bus-pass is very useful!
Do you have any tips to share with other enthusiasts in order to reduce our impact on nature?
The two biggest things you can do are, keep your mileage to a minimum. Join a car club and go to events where the company and chat are the important things. Join schemes like C C and Tree-V. They give you a legitimate argument for driving polluting old cars. Remember that keeping a car going for many, many years is less polluting than scrapping it and having a new one made. Something the manufacturers don’t like to mention in all their advertising blurb.
If a fellow enthusiast visited your region, what nature themed activities or exciting driving experiences would you recommend?
As said, join a car club. If it’s any good they will organise events and meets at places in the countryside, like parks and stately homes which give you an opportunity to walk the grounds and take in the sights and smells of nature. I’d be happy to talk to anyone about where our club gets to. I’m obviously biased, but I think it’s a great club and very nature friendly.