Tom has always been a brilliant mate. He had a couple of marquees that he hired to festivals and parties. Unlike, Brett, Tom is very professional. Whenever he needed an extra towing vehicle, he’d give me a shout. Tom’s always busy doing things. He never sits still. He was buying certain classic cars, doing them up and moving them on. I had been up and down the motorway a few times collecting cars with his trailer.
Tom asked me to go to a village in North Wales to pick up a rare classic 3-door Mk1 Range Rover. We agreed the details, etc. A girlfriend, April, came for the ride.
The job was doomed from the start. It was a nightmare journey. To start with, we left late. That was due to an appointment April needed to attend, running late. Then we hit every traffic jamb going. It took hours! We found a B&B. The next morning, we collected the Range Rover. It was parked on the gravel drive of a house in a country lane. It was also pinned in by other vehicles. Without thinking, I just dragged it out and straight onto the trailer. I say that because I should’ve stopped to think about what I was doing. The vehicle was facing forward, so was reversed onto the trailer. A very bad move! One should always load a front engined vehicle forwards onto a trailer as it is front heavy. Loading reversed unbalances the trailer as all the weight is pushing the rear of the trailer down, thereby lifting the front of the trailer and therefore the rear wheels of the towing vehicle, causing potential loss of traction. I can only put it down to thinking about being so late, but what I should have done is pull the Range Rover out into the lane having left the trailer ahead of the drive entrance. It would then have been a simple job to winch the Rangey onto the trailer, tie down and go. But no, I just strapped down and got going. Shortly after starting off, I realised my mistake. My Landy was handling like a bag of shit. I had to find somewhere to stop and turn the Range Rover around. We got onto the main road. I turned to April and explained what I was going to do. I said that I would stop at the first service area so that she could get refreshments while I was busy. We turned off a roundabout and was about to accelerate away. The whole vehicle suddenly bounced as a wheel dipped into a small hidden dip. I immediately lost traction, the weight of the trailer pushed hard on the rising rear of the Land Rover. It was impossible to correct. The weight simply pushed the Land Rover over onto it’s side. The trailer was launched as a result, landing upside-down, ‘flat-packing’ the rare 3-door classic Range Rover.
Fortunately, the lorry coming in the opposite direction had time to stop. We managed to climb out. April was in some discomfort, so was taken to a local hospital for a check over. She also managed to find her way to a railway station to get home. In the meantime, I telephoned the insurance company, who arranged the recovery, etc. I had to keep a close eye on the recovery service as I didn’t want any further damage to Tom’s trailer. I insisted on undoing the loading straps properly and lowering the old Rangey so as to not cause any unnecessary damage. In the UK, when a recovery service is in the duty of clearing the Queen’s Highway, it is not possible to claim for damages. I was blocking her highway.
While I was dealing with that, I was having to explain to Tom that his prized purchase had been redesigned somewhat. Not an easy thing to do!
Tom said he would be with me the next morning. I couldn’t find a vacant room in any B&B. I found a hotel.
Tom arrived around mid-morning. Jane, his equally brilliant partner, came with him to share the driving. We retrieved as much as we could from the Land Rover and hitched up the now empty trailer. Then headed home. Tom was brilliant he didn’t lose the plot with me, he went about things with a clear head. We got back to his place late, we put the trailer away. I ate with them and then was given a bed for the night with the intention of running me back to the ‘drove’ in the morning.
The next morning, after a cup of tea, Tom said that he had £200 left, he had scouted on the internet and found a couple of motors at that price. They were in the same place at Summercourt. Before I knew it, we were heading along the A30. The garage selling the two offerings said that they were on their last legs, but were still good. One was an old Vauxhall. The engine was showing signs of possible major failure at any point. The other was an old Citröen C15 van. A hunk of French junk, except that it had a Peugeot 1.9l diesel; one of those rare things in French engineering; a bulletproof engine. Of course, also, it’s a van! That means a means to earn. We knocked the price down to £180 and spent the £20 on fuel for the van.
When we got back to Tom’s place, we sat and had a brew while we worked out what the financial cost of it all was. There was the purchase price of the Range Rover, fuel used rescuing me, the release fee paid to retrieve Tom’s trailer and the van just bought. It was a lot!; £3,000. I stated very clearly that I would cover the whole lot. I had a van, I could earn and I had an insurance payout pending. I also arranged for the old Range Rover to complete it’s journey, so that Tom could salvage as much as he could from his prize purchase. He was on it the moment it turned up. He salvaged quite a bit.
Unfortunately, there was some damage done to the trailer. The winch casing was broken, probably by the recovery service when they flipped the trailer upright, and a wheel had been damaged. I pledged to cover the cost.
The bulk of the amount was covered in one hit as soon as I had the insurance payout. They gave me a good deal on the Land Rover; £1,800. That’s a lot more than I paid for it.
As for the rest, I had a van, I could earn, but doing what?
Photograph (generic/not actual vehicle) courtesy of www.landrovercentre.com