IT’S time to hit the road!
A classic car lovingly restored by two South Yorkshire enthusiasts is up and running again for the first time in more than 55 years - after passing its first ever MOT.
The vehicle – an Austin Heavy 12/4 – belongs to Ken Wyatt, councillor for Swinton in Rotherham, and his father-in-law Alan Pepper, who calls the car Constance Bertha after its one previous lady owner.
It was originally bought in 1934 from dealers Kennings of Sheffield for a then-princely sum of £295 by Joseph Bower - another Swinton councillor - for his daughter-in-law Constance Bertha Bower.
Later the car passed into the hands of Ken and Alan - and since then they have set about restoring the car to its former glory, preserving as many original features as possible.
“Other than essential items like the exhaust system and tyres the car is fully original,” said Ken.
“It even has the same carpets, seats and interior luxuries as the day it was bought.
“Under the bonnet is the original auto-vac, magneto and fuel tele-gauge.
“The car is quite an upmarket model and there are not many around in the world today.”
Ken said he regards the car as part of Swinton’s local heritage.
“It was bought by one of Swinton’s former councillors and is now owned by a current Swinton councillor,” he said.
“My father-in-law has invested a great deal of time in the restoration, demonstrating great patience and skill.”
Like any serious enthusiast, Ken is able to prove the authenticity of the car’s story, as he possesses all the original documentation including warranty, owner’s handbooks, price of parts, driver’s manual and service history.
“There’s even a receipt of the toll paid to pass through the Queensway Tunnel in Merseyside in 1934, the year the tunnel opened,” he said.
But Constance Bertha wasn’t able to hit the road again in the 21st century without passing her MOT, which was first introduced as a legal requirement in 1960, initially for cars more than 10 years old.
And after the veteran vehicle passed its test with flying colours, Ken said he and Alan now plan to show off the results of their hard work this summer. “I really hope we can use the car to raise funds for some local charities, visit schools and shows to share the story of Constance Bertha and how she links in to our local area,” he said.