A MAN has discovered the car he stashed at the back of his garage covered in rubbish is the one of the oldest of its kind in the world.
Vintage car enthusiast Graham Wall, 72, bought the rare 1955/56 Morris Isis around 12 years ago for just £200 but stuck it at the back of his garage and promptly forgot all about it.
A year ago he re-discovered it covered in rubbish, and has spent the last 12 months restoring it to its former glory – only to be told by an expert that it’s the oldest model in the country and the second oldest in the world.
Most people would experience shock at news of this nature, perhaps looking to sell it on for a huge profit or pass it on to a car museum.
But instead the grandfather-of-four is not fazed by the revelation, planning to use the four-door 2.5-litre behemoth to tow his family caravan to the seaside later in the summer for a holiday with 70-year-old wife Betty, a retired cleaner.
Retired joiner and shop fitter Mr Wall, of Barnsley, said: “I bought the car around 12 years ago because my son, who is a mechanic, saw it and knew that I liked tinkering with old Morris cars, because I’ve done up a few over the years.
“I put it in the garage and just forgot about it really because I was working on other things, but then about a year ago I realised it was stuck at the back covered in rubbish, so I decided to get it out and start work.
“I’d joined a Morris club and asked one of the experts what it would be worth. He checked the vehicle number and when he came back and told me it was one of the oldest in the country I couldn’t believe it.
“I was really surprised when I was told it was so rare, and finding that out really spurred me on to get all the work finished, really.
“But I still don’t think I’d sell it because it is strong enough to tow the caravan to the seaside for a long weekend.
“I’ve done up a few Morris cars over the years, but they’ve never been strong enough for the job – because this one weighs over a ton and has a 2.5-litre engine, it’s up to it.
“I don’t know how much it’s worth but if I was to sell it, I don’t think I’d let it go for less than £12,000.”
Graham – who has nicknamed the car Sissy, a play on the model name ‘Isis’ – said: “I think I’ve spent about £3,000 doing it up, working on it about four hours a day.
“When I got it, it wouldn’t run at all and it was pretty battered – the bodywork and the inside all needed doing up.
“I pulled out all of the seats and re-sewed the upholstery, so it’s got the original leather inside.
“I got a specialist in Sheffield to look at the engine, they updated it so it will run on unleaded because it would have been running on leaded back in the 1950s. They replaced all the valves and did it up for me. It does 27 miles to the gallon.
“Then I had to replace the bottom of all four doors, as well as the seals which were rotten, and it needed a new boot lid.
“I made a lot of the parts myself because it would be hard to find something that was right – I made the panels for the doors, the boot and trims on the front of the car.
“I’ve been tinkering with cars for about 14 years so I’ve come to pick up all sorts of skills. My wife Betty is used to it, she likes going out in the cars when they’re all finished.
“It’s a good hobby to have and it gets me out from under the wife’s feet too.”
Mr Wall – whose “regular” vehicle of choice is a Ford Mondeo – still has not taken the car out for a spin as it needs a few additions.
However he has big plans for its future and plans to break it in when he takes it to show at the nearby Elsecar Car Show in March.
“Then this summer I think we’ll take it to the seaside with the caravan and see how it fares on the open road,” he added.
The car will form part of an increasing family of Morris vehicles in his collection, all of which he has given affectionate nicknames.
Also in his possession is a 1952 Morris Minor – nicknamed Kitten because of the way the engine sounded when it was repaired – and a 1969 Morris Traveller – nicknamed Blackbird after a friend who left it to Mr Wall.