Car collector James Warren is bringing four of his most prized possessions to feature in the Carole Nash Barn Find display at the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show, with Discovery – including what is likely to be the oldest car in the show.
Rare and utterly charming, James saw the 1914 Swift Cyclecar for sale by Christie’s back in 2005 and, having always fancied owning a car from this era, was only too happy to snap it up.
“It was part of a large collection of cars being auctioned and they had all come from the Sharpe family collection, so it was quite an event” says James. “I was actually looking for something earlier - perhaps something eligible for the London to Brighton run - but they were a bit too expensive for me, and then I found this. It looked really pretty and the estimate seemed right, so I couldn’t resist bidding”
Made by the Swift Motor Company in Coventry, this example is fitted with a twin-cylinder engine managing just 7hp and the minimal bodywork sits on a steel frame. Comfortably the oldest car in his collection James even managed to find a spare engine for it, the unit turning up at the hugely popular Beaulieu autojumble. “I keep it as a spare as I’m unlikely to find another, but although the original engine was seized I got it running. It’s a challenge to drive, but great fun and a car that really puts a smile on your face.”
Although the paintwork was a bit tired and a number of accessories, including the headlights, were missing the bodywork was sound which makes this a fascinating survivor of the long-lost marque. But as James himself says, he loves unearthing those difficult to find parts so it is all part of enjoying the ownership of such a unique vehicle.
Would he ever part with it? “I don’t think so. I’ve always been fascinated by cars from this period, so to own something more than 100 years old is very special.”
Special also can be used to describe his 1936 Austin 7 Opal Tourer. This lovely two-seater might be small but it is absolutely packed with charm. Already owning a boat-tail model, the Opal was the perfect addition to James’ collection.
A 1947 Triumph Roadster 1800 and a 1968 MGC Roadster complete the foursome on display and while the MGC hold special memories for James as he started his motoring career at an MG dealer, James isn’t sure what to do with the Triumph and may be tempted to part with it ...
“It came from a deceased estate,” he explains. “I was originally looking at some other cars in the same sale but they either needed too much work or were too expensive, and then my attention was drawn to the Triumph.
“I’ve always liked cars from this era,” says James. “The stylish lines of the Triumph certainly caught my attention so I knew I had to have it. And although I don’t always go looking for a particular model I seem to find them at the right time.”
See these and more barn finds on the Carole Nash Barn Find display at the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show, with Discovery, at Birmingham’s NEC from 22-24 March.