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Dear Chattie

Dear ChattieChattieSpitConingsby

I just want to say how wonderful it has been travelling with you on our 7,000-mile journey. 3,181 miles of that trip have been just you and me together, and on the back of the Mercedes Sprinter you have enjoyed at least another 4,000 miles of scenery. You have been on 60 airfields, stayed with friends, made new friends, including two Battle of Britain pilots who loved you at first sight, travelled in convoy with other Singers (including many Le Mans); you have been photographed like a celebrity, and waved and tooted at by children on the streets and cars on the road (remember that grey Ferrari on the way down from Scotland?); and you have have constantly brought close to mind my lovely Dad, as if had been sitting next to me and enjoying the ride with us both. Sometimes, once or twice, it seemed we were both driving you together.

You have been an absolute joy to drive. I confess that, at the beginning, there was a time when I thought we would not get on, and the whole thing would be a difficult and rather gruelling challenge, simply from the driving point of view. How wrong I was! Once Pin had shown me how your crash gear box worked, and he and Ground Control had taught me on the road, it all fell into place, and now one of my greatest pleasures is slipping into my seat behind the wheel, starting you up with that ‘whoomp’ of the engine, and taking you out on the road, double-dee-clutching like nobody’s business and loving those moments when, coming down from fourth to third, that little ‘vroom!’ in momentary neutral clicks your gears down smoothly to take us round the bends.

We have had our moments! As when, coming back through the Welsh mountains, I came all the way down the steep pass without understanding you needed me to hold your gear stick physically in gear down the hills – a hairy moment or two, there! But you never failed me. Well, only once, and the starter-motor cable was such a minor matter, and we managed it to the garage using a piece of string. Hardly worth mentioning. The flat tyre doesn’t count, as that could have happened to anyone.

You have been a delightful faithful companion on the road –  and a complete revelation to me. Chattie, what happens now? Ah, that is the question…

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Filed under Aviation history, motoring, RAF history

Meet Chattie’s brilliant engineer

Chattie’s engineer, Crispin Thetford, of Thetford Motor Engineering, near Malvern, will be with Chattie and me at Brightwell’s on the viewing day for the Spring classic vehicle auction, Tuesday 3rd March. He is extremely knowledgeable about vintage and classic vehicles and from my point of view it will be fantastic to have him on hand so that he can field all the technical questions that are bound to be asked.  Pin has been working on Chattie over the past few months, to prepare her for the tour ahead, so he knows her – literally – inside and out.

If you are planning to be there, do come over and say hello to one or other of us.  In Pin’s words, Chattie is now driving as she should; he’s the one who knows what lies behind that statement; I’m the one who will soon be finding out how great a driving experience that will give me over the next six months.

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Filed under classic cars, vintage cars