T Thoughts – Thomas Connor

In 1956, when I was 10 years old, my father, John Connor, purchased an old car from a gentleman who lived near Geesala, Co. Mayo.

My brother Patrick and I, were brought along, on what was then just an adventure for me, along with two mechanics who worked for my father – he clearly was a bit sceptical about his new purchase! For good measure, one of the mechanics drove the towing ambulance.

We arrived at the house and drove up the steep driveway , which had a shed on the left as we approached. The shed doors were opened to reveal a right ole “banger”, with no roof. We managed to manoeuvre it outside and hitched it onto the truck and off we went, but not before double checking the shed for any other parts, on the bosses instruction – it’s always worth a look around the wall plate – which was always a great hiding place for small parts.

We arrived in Crossmolina an unloaded the car and pushed it into a corner of the garage, where five nights later, a group of enthusiastic men decided to attempt to start the car. In the intervening days, the details of the car, registration IZ 1474, were drip fed into my young mind.

This was my first known introduction to a Ford Model T – this particular one being a 1926 Touring Car, which had been previously owned by an RIC Officer.

The mechanics got to work – clearing out the tank, plugs cleaned and four timber boxes from inside the cab of the car. I wasn’t certain why they had to jack up the car before starting it – this was a new trick to a young observer. Maybe when the 6 volt battery was attached, this could become a flying machine I thought. With a starting handle under the radiator, when turned, made a strange sound from the timber boxes.

When the handle was turned the next time, with a few adjustments, the flying machine came to life and decided it didn’t want us around anymore, so it blew lots of smoke around the garage. Some bright spark then decided it would be a good idea to take it for a drive.

As I watched and heard, the more fascinated I became. I had grown up in the garage business, had been a passenger in many cars and I knew it was wasn’t possible to drive a car without a gear handle. I always thought this was needed to make the car move.  I doubted the smoke alone would propel it very far. I was learning quickly from this machine though.

Some months later, the car got a bit of a facelift – a bit of a clean-up and touch-up. New paint, new seat covers – this machine was being reborn again. And most Sundays were spent motoring around County Mayo in this amazing car. It didn’t smoke any longer – maybe it got a nicotine patch, I’m not sure, but it worked.

After several years, the head cracked. I had heard of people going cracked, this was first car that I was told about its head being cracked. The car was parked up again for a long period before it was purchased by the Smithfield Motor Group for £100 – they hadn’t invented the Euro back then.

And so began a long love and fascination with Ford’s famous Model T. In 1988, the Connacht Veteran & Vintage Motor Club presented me with a chassis of a Model T .The labour of love eventually took 28 years to get motoring, and it still does today. Not much smoke though. Along the way, the passion continued, and lots of friends were made along the journey from dream to reality. All good memories in over 60 years.

Thomas Connor

20th May 2020

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