Friday 20 April
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We have a monthly meeting, on the 4th Monday of the month. These meetings are held at the Arreton Community Hall, Main Road, Arreton, 7.30 for 8.00 p.m. The usual format of the evening is that we listen to a speaker on some relevant topic, view videos, or have some form of quiz, as well as having a general 'noggin and natter'. Visitors to the Island are welcome to come along.
24 members were present to hear Nick Pointing talk about the building of a replica of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the subsequent trip that he and his wife made to Australia with it. His wife had seen the film many times and challenged him to build a replica for her. He agreed and was to spend every spare minute building his creation using the chassis of an old Land Rover. Nick taught himself how to weld and started work on the car in 2003. The project has dominated their lives ever since. Some period car parts were acquired at the Beaulieu Autojumble, provided that the price was right. Nick did find huge chassis from a 1920s Lea Francis, complete with chain drive which would have been ideal. The cost, on a small paper tag attached to the steering wheel was 20,000. 19,900 over his budget! He soon realised, that after looking at brass headlights at 2,000 a pair and an original snake’s head horn for 750, that financially the build would be out their league. The alternative was to improvise, which he did. The Land Rover chassis cost 100 and the body was built using a variety of materials from various sources. He was helped by a number of Island businesses, such as Lallows in Cowes, who supplied him with wood for the body and who showed him how to bend it. Old furniture was used and lamps from the M&S Homeware department, where he works, were used to make the headlights. He found a genuine 100-year-old, non-useable, spare wheel to fit to the side of the car. The car has a brass fuel tank and its windscreen comes from an MG sports car. To complete the look, Nick ordered a set of spoked wheels from Italy, costing 1,500, and spent hours in his garage crafting the 6ft red and yellow wings from aluminum. This was a real achievement for somebody not having an engineering background. Why not an Austin Seven Special for the next project?!
The car passed its MoT. At last ‘Chitty’, the name they gave the car, and the couple were ready for the trip of a lifetime. A 12,000 mile drive to Australia passing through 17 countries, no doubt traversing some of the route used by Austin Seven adventurers, such as Graham and Rankin who did a similar trip in 1969.
Their adventure started in 2007 when Nick and his wife took a career break from work, rented out their house and embarked on their grand adventure overland to Australia. In doing so, they raised money for Earl Mountbatten Hospice, Multiple Sclerosis Society and the World Wildlife Fund. Incredibly, they did not have one puncture throughout the trip! Just in case, they did take a liquid sealant repair kit with them.
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