Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Surely the answer is to buy a car that won't rust

I've experienced a love hate relationship with corrosion. After watching my first two cars descend from the smart, shiny examples I thought I'd bought into festering, bubbling, crusty messes, I decided to learn to weld so that I'd never be beaten by rust again. So the next thing that happened was that I discovered how easily welding up a rusty classic can take over your life.

Then inspiration - buy a car that won't rust. So I did, a TVR Taimar. Its glassfibre bodywork was as blemish-free as the day it was built in 1979, so I set off on a 12-month journey free of corrosion stress. Well that's what I believed until I was underneath it one day replacing the front disc brakes. Up in a dark recess of the tubular chassis was an extra-dark recess, one that I could poke a couple of fingers through. It was the start of a process that would eat up nine months of my spare time.

Since then I've learnt to accept a little rust here and there as an inevitable part of the classic-owning experience. After all, it has to be better than the alternative - hiding my cars away in the garage and only using them on the few reliably dry days we're granted each year on this soggy little island.

You can't fight oxidation, so embrace it

Rolling rust. That pretty much sums up classic cars. But don't take that the wrong way. Cars will always try to return to their natural state, so rather than fighting the process, psychologically or physically, it makes sense to embrace it. Then you can be free to enjoy your classic motoring without turning into a twitchy, paranoid wreck every time it rains or they put salt on the roads.