Hi! I’m Eleanor. You may have seen me at the NEC late last year when I was lucky enough to be asked to be one of the promotional girls/models for the re-launch of Duckhams. As a classic car enthusiast I was really happy to represent such an iconic brand.
Since I can remember, I’ve always played the game of ‘name the car’ with my parents on long journeys and always won!However, my love of cars began when I was about 4 and my Dad bought a Mini City. It was just as a run around for a few months, the rustiest piece of junk going. Holes in the floor, you name it…but I fell in love with it. Everything about it I liked, the smell, the noise, the fact it felt like I was on a fairground ride. From then on I knew that was the car I was going to have.
Fifteen years later, I passed my driving test and was on the search for my first car. Of course, I got myself on good old eBay, and started looking for my future pride and joy. The first Mini I saw was a little Mayfair, the owners claimed it was a fair weather car and it was always kept under an awning. Well with a lift of the carpet, a pond in the foot well and lots of rust greeted me! We weren’t even able to take it for a test drive as it was missing its carburettor.
The next was a British open classic, which we actually managed to take for a test drive. However we soon found out the only way to stop was to pull the hand brake…not brilliant!
Third time lucky I thought as I went to look at the next, a bright yellow fella with black features, like a bumblebee. Sadly this little Mini was a rust bucket too and worse still with a bad looking body kit job.
Finally I went to view my little lady. It was on a pouring wet day. Not exactly a Mini’s best habitat! But her floor was solid, no leaks, the engine was all okay. Admittedly the cracked Union Jack decal on the roof, the electric tape steering wheel, rust bubbles and flakey alloys weren’t exactly pretty, but I knew they were all things I could make better at some point. I actually felt like I had a connection too, so an offer was made and accepted and she was mine!
Later, we found out on the papers that she was actually a Limited Edition in disguise too, a Racing Flame. Of course I had to name her, I wanted something that was traditional to suit her old lady charms. Something classy but also started with M to alliterate with Mini; and so she was duly named Martha! In honour of the Dr Seuss’ story, ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas’; her full name would be Martha May – and she to likes green.
Since having her she has had a make over. By having most of the front end replaced, a respray back to her limited edition colour(s) & decals, new brightwork, new bits of interior, a new exhaust system, countless improvements to the engine and new non-flakey alloys! Admittedly she isn’t exactly how an ‘89 Racing Flame should look, and purists wouldn’t be impressed. But she is exactly how I want her and I love her.
To maintain her I make sure I always am doing little jobs and not leaving them to fester. Some of the best memories with her have been the little things, like having people look at her and smile on a daily basis and complementing me on how nice she looks, even sometimes putting in offers to buy her in a car park! Then the time a little boy at a car show told his Mother, when he grows up he wants a car just like Martha, and then started kissing her front wing.
I’m also a horse owner and she also earns her keep by having hay bales on her roof rack, and horse rugs piled high on her boot lid.
I would love to encourage more girls and women to venture into the classic car scene. To try and encourage them, I have set up a car club for female classic car enthusiasts named The Piston Pinups. It is a club where as long as you have an interest in classics you can join. You don’t even need a car!
The Pinup part is after the girls who embraced themselves and their femininity during the 20th century, particularly the eras our cars were manufactured. I think Piston Pinups is an important club because it can be tricky to meet other female car enthusiasts and this can make attending classic car events quite daunting. It will also be a way to make friends with individuals that also share the interest.
Oh and just incase you were wondering…Martha the Mini runs on nothing else but Duckhams Q20w–50, originally designed to help withstand the high shear conditions of the Mini engine that shares oil with the gearbox back in the 1950s.