Meet Nathan, the 34-year-old owner of Grace. Grace is a 1957 Minor 1000. The second blog in our Meet The Owner series.
Nathan is a UK immigrant, having arrived in the country as a student and then as a refugee. He has lived in Edinburgh for the last couple of years. This is his story.
“I have been mad about classic cars since I was a young lad. I got my first classic aged 29. Since then I can’t stop buying them and doing them up” Nathan begins.
Nathan’s first classic was a 1974 VW bay window. It taught Nathan some ugly truths about the classic car scene and three years to sort out a whole lot of problems.
Nathan was fighting on two fronts “I was struggling to fight to fix my VW, which was in a friend’s garage, and fighting to stay in the UK.”
Yet it was in middle of these fights that Nathan spotted Grace.
“It was my last year as a refugee. When I saw Grace she was more or less in the same situation as me. She had been practically abandoned in a car park in an industrial area of Edinburgh. She looked sad. She was broken. I thought she needed rescuing.”
Nathan found the owner and, fortunately, he wanted to sell her off pretty quickly as he couldn’t afford to fix her. “I went to see the owner with a friend and made a reasonable offer for the car.”
“A few days later the owner contacted me and accepted my offer. He also informed me my so-called friend had returned again to see him behind my back and made a higher offer for the car, which the seller declined. I was shocked my ‘friend’ would do that to me. Needless to say that person is not a friend any more. I would say the car chose me.”
“I towed Grace back to the car park at my flat and she remained there under cover for a few months.” It was during this time the Home Office wrote to Nathan to confirm his status had been changed to give him indefinite leave to remain the UK.
“Grace then began to come to life. I started cleaning up the boot area and found a stack of paperwork. Old receipts, V5 and hand written notes. A lot of history. I discovered I was the third owner of the car. The first owner had Grace from her registration in 1957 until a few years ago. He is still alive and living in Cornwall, I made contact with him to update him on the car. The second owner was an Australian student, who had the car for a year.”
Having discovered the car’s history Nathan treated Grace to a full engine rebuild. He then drove the car home, sorted out his camper van and applied for permanent residence in the UK. A little Robin Reliant caught his eye at this time and Nathan’s car collection grew.
“I loved driving Grace around Edinburgh, but I’d never ventured out of the city because she is slow and has no seatbelts. I always receive positive reactions from people.”
“Just before lockdown in 2020 I became a UK citizen. I had intended to meet my family for the first time in over a decade, but then COVID and lockdown made it impossible. It was hard for everyone.”
To make matters worse a military coup then happened in Nathan’s homeland. Nathan received word that his only aunt had been released from hospital, suffering from cancer, and had sadly passed away.
“It hit me really hard. Especially being away from home for so many years and being unable to say goodbye. So I booked a weekend away in Fort William and decided to drive Grace there, to clear my head.”
It was Nathan’s first time taking Grace to 50mph and he admits to being a little nervous driving her so fast and so far. Mid-way to Fort William, while at Glencoe, more bad news arrived from home. “I received a phone call from my dad to say my grandmother had just passed away because of COVID. I walked hard for a while, losing myself in some woods. I then came to the decision to press on. I made it to Fort William and Grace caused me no problems.”
Nathan decided to extend his stay to a week’s camping, and then drove Grace to the Isle of Skye. “I climbed Ben Nevis and met some amazing people. People would chat to me because of Grace and I made friends. I guess an Asian bloke in shorts driving around in a Morris Minor is an unusual sight in Scotland. It really warmed my heart and energised me again.”
Nathan extended his trip again, driving around the Highlands before returning home via Glasgow.
“I stopped by to visit John, who I’d met through Glasgow Morris Minors on Instagram. We had coffee, an ice lolly and chatted Morris Minors and life for a few hours. We discussed making some new Morris Minor videos. It was a gloriously sunny day.”
Having driven hundreds of miles around Scotland in Grace with no problems Nathan then had a car park incident. Grace, parked up and under cover, was hit by a Volvo with a failed handbrake. Fortunately Grace escaped any damage.
Nathan reckons Grace has taught him to be a better driver. “I’ve met so many friendly people through her. You just don’t get that with a modern car.”
Nathan is now looking forward to being active with Glasgow Morris Minors and to making new friends in the group.
If you are interested in joining please get in touch.