WALLET SNIPER

LOOKING FOR A BARGAIN CLASSIC?

Guy Allen

FOR A MOMENT there I was tempted ask whether someone had left a digit off the dirty great price tag sitting on the dash.

Seriously.

Before we go too far let me give you a picture: we’re talking of a couple of tons of finest British engineering. A big six up front, auto trans, literally acres of leather, enough wood in the interior to start your own timberyard and space to seat four very large people. I mean well over six foot. In fact, you get the feeling that you climb aboard and walk to your seat.

All up it’s in solid condition, giving the distinct impression that all you’d need to do is slap a plate on it and enjoy.

We’re talking a 1965 Humber Super Snipe, the sort of car the moderately wealthy would have been happy to be seen belting down the M roads in on their weekend off.

For a moment there I figured there must be some ugly trap that I hadn’t spotted. Maybe they catch fire the moment you draw level with the letterbox, or perhaps the motor falls out, maybe they consist mostly of cardboard. So I turned to a slightly older and much wiser head, young Mr Blackbourn, one of our columnists down the other end of this fine family organ.

“You have quite eclectic automotive tastes, he responded.

“Nothing wrong with that.

“And nothing wrong with the old Rootes factory flagship either. At the time, in Melbourne at least, they were a bit viceregal and probably a car of choice for many young stockbrokers, lawyers etcetera who were on their way to a full partnership in the firm and then of course the then unobtainable-to-meremortals Jaguar or Mercedes. Also very Melbourne Cricket Club and Sandringham Yacht Club.

“The Snipe looked the goods and had decent grunt, in an understated home-counties way or course. The second string Hawk had way less performance and a shortened bonnet that spoiled the aesthetics of the design that works quite well as the Snipe (the Hawks took on the unattractive proportions of an Austin 1800). They tried to maximise glasshouse area and minimise pillar width to give it a poor-man’s pillarless look, and succeeded I think.

“As you say plenty of interior space.

“The auto is probably the ubiquitous and reliable Borg- Warner 35. I can’t recall any driveline reputational issues back in the day.

“I’ll watch this space then, shall I?”

Okay, so nothing scary in that lot. A good solid car that, for its time, has a fair bit of old world glam. And the price? $8500. Yep, a fraction of what many people spend on a decent paint job. In truth you couldn’t restore one for anywhere near that figure, and here you get a useable limo.

Dammit! There are already four cars and a gaggle of motorcycles at home and I really don’t have space for it. And no, I can’t sell one of the other ones – in some cases for perfectly legitimate reasons, such as I’d be gutted and used as a doormat by wife and offspring if I sold the Mighty Kingswood.

So it’s up to you lot. It’s at the Healey Factory in sunny Melb at the moment and there must be someone out there who wants to give it a home. Give us a drive if you buy it, will you?