By Stephen George
Dave Hammond, my Ride-Along guest, with Eve.
One of the many high points of my 30 years in London's Met Police was being a Police Advanced Driver and piloting the Divisional Response and Pursuit Car or RT Car, as we knew them. Very much the visual 'glamour' face of the service in the 70s and 80s, RT Cars were, in suitable areas, often called upon to give potential recruits, politicians, members of the press, the judiciary and local dignitaries, the chance to sit in the back seat and experience “the sharp end” of policing. The practise came to be known as a “Ride-Along”.
Having retired in 2004 and not driven a uniformed Police Car for 9 years before that, it has been a long time since I was called upon to drive for a Ride-Along. Until that is, the end of July when I received an email from Vice-Chairman Phil Homer, who had been contacted by Club Member Dave Hammond asking if it would be possible for a fellow member to take him out in a 50s 8.
Dave lives in the same area as both Phil and myself, but whereas Phil has a 56 10 Super, I have my 55 8 Deluxe TPW514 or “Eve” and as Phil knows am always looking for an excuse to show Eve off. Sorry, I meant, promote the Club there. With my agreement, Phil passed my contact details to Dave and after a telephone call, we decided that the best day for his trip in Eve was Thursday the 12th of August.
The evening before, I collected Eve from her regular garage a few miles away and drove her home, stopping at a filling station en-route to top up the tank and parked her outside my garage for the night.
On Thursday morning I received two calls, one from Phil on Club business and one from Dave both complained about the weather and Dave asked if I wanted to change our plans because of the rain. I found this quite interesting as it was bright sunshine where I live but a quick check on Weather Radar showed a band of showers south of my address and moving away so I said “come on over.” Dave duly arrived in his Blue TR7 coupe and after introductions, I showed him around, Eve. In The Review some years ago, Peter Lockley described Eve as “near concourse” and although she has aged a little, she remains a very good example of the marque.
Certainly, Dave seemed to be pleased and impressed with her condition and we got on to discussing our interest in Standard 8s, which comes from very different directions. Where I had not even sat in an 8 before buying Eve, Dave had strong memories from his youth when his father had owned a Black 1957 8 Super. Dave has since researched his father's old car and has found that like many other cars from the post-Suez era, it appeared that production of their car at least started in November 1955, but it was subsequently registered new in 1957. Interestingly, my car was commissioned in June 1955 and registered on October 14 that year, so possibly, one of the last sales before Suez took effect?
Stories exchanged, Dave and I headed out onto the road in Eve. I had chosen a route through the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire borders that would give Dave a good indication of what using an 8 on modern roads is like. This included a section of fast A road, country lanes, town streets and even the dreaded “Speed Bumps” much beloved by North Herts Council. I think Dave was a little surprised at how well Eve drives, given her almost 66 years, although I did tell him about the recently rebuilt and modified 948cc engine and new Gaz front shock absorbers.
Coming towards the end of our trip, I was comfortable with Dave and the fact that he was clearly a genuine and sensible enthusiast and so I diverted slightly into a service area off the A1 where there is a large and relatively empty Lorry Park. Once there, I offered a slightly surprised Dave the opportunity of driving Eve - albeit only for a short while.
I have to say that he dealt with the heavy steering, long gear change and very good drum brakes extremely well, and was soon accomplishing smooth gear shifts and good progress around our makeshift test track. All too soon the park began to fill up with HGVs, so Dave and I swapped seats back and I returned to my original route to take us back to my home.
Dave stayed for coffee and a chat about cars and our recollections of the Barnet, Cheshunt and Enfield area during our younger days. As he was leaving, Dave very kindly offered to pay for the fuel we had used, which I declined. Dave then asked me to accept a substantial donation to the Club, which I, of course, accepted graciously.
All told an enjoyable few hours with a fellow member driving in and discussing the cars we are both so enthused with. Dave took several photos of Eve whilst we were out and I managed to get a picture of him with Eve after he had driven her.
Steve George - 8 & 10 Spares Co-ordinator.
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