To many people, cars are more than vehicles. They are a labour of love that can help to strengthen the bond between a family. An MGA was at the centre of a bond between John Rodgers and his father Billy, as the two of them were going to restore it together when John came back from his honeymoon. Unfortunately, it never happened, as John and his wife Lynette drowned while swimming off the coast of South Africa.
In the heartbreak that followed, the family could have easily fallen apart. Yet Billy acted as the glue that held his loved ones together. Two years after the tragedy, his daughter Kathryn reached out to Carole Nash ambassador and Car SOS mechanic Fuzz Townshend to give Billy his moment of recognition. Kathryn told them “I want to see the smile on my dad’s face that I only ever saw when he worked on a car with John.”
Car SOS specialises in bringing classic cars back to life and Fuzz and his partner Tim Shaw were happy to help out. Fuzz said “fortunately we have been able to fulfil John’s promise. This is his promise – not ours. John set it up, we simply gave him a helping hand. When I went to recce the car, I saw that on normal financial grounds I would have to tell the channel, as I’m obliged to, that we couldn’t do it. It had had 10 years of useful life and then in the ‘60s someone had realised it was terribly rotten and filled with fibreglass. The car had reached the end of its road-going life, but I told the channel I really wanted to do it.”
The MGA had been sitting in storage for decades, though the result was the first properly new built one in 60 years. The Car SOS team put 800 hours into restoring the motor, working on it up until the point of handover. Fuzz and Tim were absolutely dedicated to making Billy’s dream a reality.
For the sixth season, the car was presented to Billy by actor James Nesbitt, who admitted to feeling nervous about his role. “This was the second anniversary of the darkest time in Billy’s life. So there was an enormous amount of sensitivity about it. As much as this is something that will give him a great life, it’s also very poignant that he was going to restore this car with his son John.”
Seeing the car was an emotional experience for Billy, with his reaction moving everyone. It goes to show the power of classic cars and the attachment that comes with them. Fuzz and his team did a wonderful job with helping to give a struggling family the peace of mind they needed.