It was a dark and stormy night and we had just solved two murders…
…at a murder mystery dinner in Wadenhoe. The rain pelted down as we ran to Kitty, our 1958 Trafalgar Blue Morris Minor. It was her first big outing since we brought her home in mid September. She got us safely all the way to Bletchley Park for a 1940s day and then to Wadenhoe for the dinner. The old girl is in really great condition, being cared for by the same family since the 1960s. Her interior is in pristine condition and after Tim fixed and upgraded her brakes, she was running like a champ.
With the tiny windshield wipers doing all they could and our “high” beams struggling to cut through the misty country night, we set off home. As we puttered along the country roads, I read Google maps, letting Tim know when bends in the road were coming. The last thing we wanted to do was take the old girl off roading into some poor farmer’s field.
About half an hour into the journey and only a mile from our village, and two from our house, she started to sputter. The lights seemed to get dimmer and dimmer but I wasn’t sure if that was just the darkness creeping in or the headlights truly giving up. It was still raining when my fears were realized. She gave up completely in the middle of the road. Tim effortlessly steered her to the shoulder and jumped out of the car into the pitch-black night. Prepared for this possibility, we had a portable emergency battery jumper in the trunk. Braving the pelting rain his 1940s attire, Tim jumped Kitty back to life. Off we went again, praying that she would make it just two more miles home. We didn’t. Her alternator died.
For those of you who don’t know, the alternator of your car uses engine power to recharge the battery and keep the car going. Things like your windshield wipers, headlights, and heater all run off battery power. The alternators, or “dynamos” as they were called, in the 1950s weren’t really made with enough power to run headlights, windshield wipers and heaters all at once. So, this dark and stormy night was the death knell of Kitty’s dynamo.
But, ever the engineer, my genius husband was not swayed. ‘I just have to keep the portable battery on the engine’ he said. Making it sound like the easiest thing in the world. Mom and I sat amazed as he hooked up the battery to the car and closed the hood as best he could. Rolling down the windows, we stuck our heads out and drove slowly and cautiously. Thank goodness we were on a country road we knew and it was late. No other cars were around. Just over the bridge from the next village over, we neared our own. Not five minutes into the drive, the hood flew up making it harder to drive. But Tim was determined. We were so close to home. Seconds later, a tow truck flagged us down and we pulled over. Tim explained to him what was happening and though he was patrolling on call and couldn’t tow us home, he suggested kindly that Tim strap down the hood with some sort of rope. Not having anything on hand, Tim took off his suspenders and looped them over the hood.
All sorted, we were off. The tow truck stayed behind us until we got to the turn off for our farm, using his brighter lights to help us navigate the dark, winding streets of the village.
Over an hour into what should have been a quick 30 minute drive, we made it home safe and sound, thus ending Kitty’s first big adventure. We look forward to many more adventures is our fun new to us car. But hopefully, none as scary as the first.