Harold the Barrel, YMD406H, was my first car.
I started doing the van up on a budget of nothing. Early in the cycle it looked like the first picture.
After a bit more welding and tatting about things were starting to look a bit more encouraging, as seen in the second picture.
The above picture was taken after the engine was complete. These are powerful memories, friends: in the garage, late at night, listening to The Dark Side Of The Moon and running the newly rebuilt gearbox through the ratios to test the Morris 1100 sourced selector extension which replaced the “magic wand” gear lever. The van by now had stainless steel hubcaps, sourced from the old van, but the windows weren’t in at this point. I still have that cantilever toolbox, but not the roll of carpet underlay I used to lie on – Andy covered it in ATF one day. And his head. Laura wouldn’t let him in bed that night :-)
Eventually the job was done, and Harry accompanied me to University. Rear windows had been added (my sisters and I had travelled in the back in enclosed gloom for most of our childhoods). In 1987 I met Felicity, and on February 19th she baked Harry a birthday cake. We had met shortly after my birthday (Jan 26). We were married in 1988, and I like to think that Harry had played a part in bringing us together. Her parents’ wedding gift to us was our first Volvo (visible in the pictures below), so Harry was sadly sidelined and eventually sold to Brian Rice of Eastleigh who had another Mini van – I stuck a note under his windscreen asking if he wanted to buy an old van with a rear seat conversion and side windows for parts. He did.
Here’s how Harry looked at the end – there was a lump in my throat as I prepared him for my brave but foolhardy friend Séamus to drive back to Southampton to a pre-arranged MoT appointment we had no intention of keeping (legal to drive without an MoT if going to a pre-booked appointment, y’see). Farewell Harry, bought 19 Feb 1970 for £405, written off by PCH Chidzhey to the profit of £300, sold for £150 in 1989 with 81,000 on the clock. The best value car I have ever known.