Now that Christmas and New Year are well and truly out of the way I return to the story of ADU 101. The registration number itself was a bit of a saga. Of the two ‘barn finds’ (wrecks) that I bought, the better of them, ADU, had no current logbook, although accompanying paperwork suggested that the number was being held following a request for it back in the 1970’s. So, I rang my local DVLA office – when there were such things – and was told by a very helpful young lady that all I had to do to claim the number and get a logbook was to send the old original buff logbook and the 1970’s DVLA letter to Swansea and all would be well. This I did and after a few weeks rang to enquire as to progress with the matter. After much shuffling of paper and much time spent on hold I was told – rather suspiciously – that someone would get back to me. This they did and a chap informed me that my request had been received and was being processed. Several more weeks, running into months, went by prompting a further telephone enquiry resulting in the news that DVLA had mislaid my original documents and despite an extensive search could not be located. To give the Swansea representative credit he did go on to admit that in his experience, the chances were that the documents had been lost, possibly destroyed. Of course I made my annoyance and disappointment very clear and was told that a full report would be forthcoming which indeed it was. A full apology from a senior manager did very little to assuage my anger but I am not so stupid as to think that jumping up and down in the face of a very clear situation would achieve very much. I had no choice but to just get on with the job in hand.
The shape of the car’s body would of course be defined by a frame made of Ash as is traditional. I am a carpenter by trade but had some experience of furniture making so the prospect of making this skeletal frame was not entirely terrifying, just mildly worrying. I did an internet search on the subject of course and was gratified to find a number of images of ash frames for the MG airline coupe, a remarkably similar shaped body, thought by some to have been designed by the same chap a Mr H W Allingham.
I spent some time measuring Dave Hanks’ car as, apart from the two models having different wings, I was confident that they were essentially the same body shape. I also pored over all and every period image of the early cars that I could find, printing them and then overlaying them with grids to be able to scale the shape and dimensions to full size. Having access to a CAD drawing system at work I then transferred all the data to electronic files and was able to print scale drawings of shapes and profiles for cutting of timber.
I did not have a clue where to start but eventually realised that I would need to begin with a known, fixed point and that this would need to be the steel bulkhead that came with the piles of bits in storage. I had pretty much all of the parts for two cars including two bulkheads and, both being in very good condition, just picked one and cleaned and painted it before bolting it to the chassis. Having completed this task and making a very thorough job of it I then realised that the bulkhead was about two inches narrower than the measurement I had from Dave’s car. I puzzled over this for a while before it dawned on me that as the Aero Minx was sold in chassis form, not all completed cars would necessarily be of identical dimensions and that it was highly likely that dimensions would be different between different body styles. This led me to measure my tourer which had the same width bulkhead as the one now bolted to my new chassis. Returning to the storage shed I dragged out the other old bulkhead and thankfully discovered that it was the required two inch wider version, It was duly restored and fitted.