Vernon Saldhana offers a familiar grab bag of arguments against collecting antique cars. Rust buckets come at obnoxiously jacked up prices. Experienced vintage car mechanics have dwindled. And the new ones don’t measure up to the oldies: if they do not cut corners, they end up over-restoring a car.
But Vernon’s passion for these machines breaks down his own arguments. He is looking for a Morris Eight Series ‘E’ tourer. And he seems determined to go to the ends of the earth to have this machine. Considering he is a pilot, that should not be a problem.
If – nay, when – he gets it, the Morris will be his second classic car. The interest in such cars started with a Ford Anglia E494A, in 2011. Vernon and his wife Joanne had decided to surround themselves with antique items. She scoured antique goods markets for oversized clocks, furniture and other indoor items wrapped in time and history. Vernon could think only of cars with ballooning fenders and blob-shaped headlights.
Before long, the Ford Anglia came along with worn-out tyres and rubber beadings. Except for these things, the car looked inviting. Its eye-catching twin-lobed radiator grille surely was a reason. On purchasing the grey car, Vernon had it painted black.
“Back in the days when this car was in production (1949-1953), black was seen as a Ford colour,” says the 46-year-old Vernon.
Vernon began to accumulate information specific to this model, which was a Ford made for the British market. At that time, he was serving an international carrier and was flying frequently into the United Kingdom. There, he found Small Ford Spares (SFS), which supplies spares for small Ford cars. Essentially an improvement on Ford 7Y, Anglia is one of the smaller Fords. Whatever he did not find at SFS, Vernon picked up on eBay. Glass lenses for the headlights and a carburetor .
In Britain of the early 1950s, the Ford Anglia E494A was considered a purse-friendly car. Its purchase cost little, and its maintenance lesser still. Easy maintenance was ascribed to the simplicity of its design.
As he has had some work done on this 933 cc car, Vernon knows for himself how devoid of frills it is. The pilot has upgraded the electrical system to a higher voltage for the sake of efficiency. And, the dashboard made of bakelite bears evidence of minor alterations: a petrol gauge and clock that do not belong to the car.
On the major points, the car stays true to original specifications, as proved by the results of an antique car judging in February 2012. Vernon walked away with the prize for the best restored car in the 1940-1960 category.