“We all know that nostalgia plays a major role in later life,” declares Peter Cook, 70, from Derbyshire, as he begins to walk us through his extensive motoring history. Peter’s collection first caught our eye when he came to us to insure his V8 nitrous-equipped monster of a Morris Minor, but it seems this was only the tip of the iceberg.
From a ’62 Triumph TR4 and a brace of Sunbeam Tigers, right through to a BMW M3 CSL and a 2012 997 Porsche Turbo S, Peter’s garage is bursting at the seams with motoring treasures, each with a unique history and character. Always on the hunt for interesting stories to share with our customers, we got back in touch with Peter to delve into his automotive past.
A Classic Start To Motoring Life
Peter’s first experiences of motoring set him in good stead for a life curating an impressive car collection. With distinct memories of flying down the pre-motorway A1 in his brother’s Morris Minor and making family journeys in his father’s pre-war styled Austin 16, it’s no wonder these formative experiences led to a long obsession with motoring. Peter explains that the family used to make the 165-mile trip from Birmingham to Weymouth to visit relatives quite regularly, with his father ambitiously aiming for a door-to-door time of 3 hours and 45 minutes.
The Austin, complete with original running boards and rod brakes, was helped along on its mission by a 2.25litre overhead valve engine. Peter remembers how the pre-journey prep for the 16 consisted only of brake balancing, done by adjusting the rods, launching the car down the road, slamming on the brakes and hoping for the best. No health and safety back
The antique was ultimately replaced with only slightly more modern motors, including a Wolsey 6/110, a Humber Snipe and a Daimler; though none possessing the class of the ’30s Austin. The variety of cars was thanks to Peter’s father owning a garage jointly with Sid Wharton, the father of race driver Ken Wharton. Peter’s father helped to teach Ken to drive, and the pair remained close right up until Ken’s tragic death during a race in New Zealand in 1957. Peter still has a Christmas card that Ken had sent his family whilst staying in Australia, jokingly printed upside down.
“Cars Were In My Blood”
A few years ago, Peter and his wife bought a maroon Minor, affectionately named “Aunty May”. May is still almost entirely original, even now, with only modern disc breaks, a vacuum servo and remote hydraulic fluid reservoir setting her apart from her timeless siblings. Of the many classic cars that the couple own, Aunty May is the one that Peter suggests they will keep longest a comfortable ride, steady cruising speed and simple reliability have made her a favourite.
Peter also owns a modified Morris Minor which houses a 2litre Fiat Argenta Twin Cam, one of his favourite engines for Minors, providing around 110bhp, and is equipped with a five-speed gearbox and rear axle also borrowed from Fiats. Bought from a specialist electrician with a hot-rod fanatic father, the car is in undeniably fantastic condition, inside and out.
“The V8 Minor was certainly a senior moment,” concedes Peter; referring to one of his most recent and more outlandish purchases, his extensively modified, Gulf coloured Minor. Built on a Cosworth Ford undercarriage with independent suspension and disc brakes, and sitting 9 inches wider than a standard Minor, the motor was given up by its last owner in favour of a love of dragsters.
With an aging BMW gearbox coupled with a fierce Rover V8 engine, the Minor still holds its own on any drag strip. Converted to LPG, and fitted with a computerised nitrous oxide injector, an impressive 12.9 second record has been set on a standing quarter mile. With a dropped cylinder liner, the engine is sadly out of action at the moment and a replacement has been fitted but it is due to be repaired and put back on the road in the coming weeks.
Peter’s main efforts on the car include some much-needed TLC for the V8, as well as replacing worn parts, fuel lines and wiring. He plans to make the car a regular runaround once all the electrics are sorted, though he concedes that it won’t be seeing a racetrack any time soon.
Dragsters, Classics and Supercars
It’s not just Peter’s current fleet that stands out; he’s owned plenty of unusual cars in the past too. “I’ve got a modest reputation for a few whacky ventures throughout the years,” he says, presumably understating quite how many there have been.
From a one-off Ginetta V8 G16 racer to a Ford Twin Cam-fitted Lotus Seven MK2 that gave racers of the day a run for their money, through to a John Eales Rover V8 equipped Land Rover, he has been owning modified cars for his whole life.
Even now, Peter’s garage purrs with a range of exotic and unique vehicles, including a Mini Pickup with a 289 Ford V8 in the back and the 997 Porsche Turbo S modestly described as “a totally useable super car for daily commuting” if only.