Why do I do it?

Well, because I'm an engineer & fiddling with bits of metal comes naturally to me & I like to improve things. I come from a family of Engineers, My Dad used to design production lines for Ford, my Brother crashed trains (he was in London Transport's test dep't) & I've always been in Aerospace, so between us we have the "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" thing covered.

I was apprenticed at Hawker's factory in Kingston as an aircraft fitter & actually worked for two years on the Harrier I production line before I realised I really wasn't very good at it & I got a job in the the design office instead. Around this time I got married - it wasn't to last, though we had a son together & I am now good friends with my first wife. While in Design at Kingston I spent a year working on EFA, or Typhoon as it would become known - hated it, really really dull. So, back on Harrier & after a few years I got married again - that lasted longer, but still not as long as I would've liked. We bought a house in Guildford, which I rewired, re-plumbed & re-decorated & when Kingston closed in the early '90s I moved to Dunsfold to do design liaison on the first Harrier II+, that's the radar variant.

After a while Someone decided I was wasted at Dunsfold & I was told to report to Farnborough - briefly, after about four months the whole team was moved ...... back to Dunsfold. This was without doubt one of the best periods of my working life, with a small team, close contact with the customer, production line & minimal management interference, we shipped aircraft & mod packages like shelling peas & all with the wonderful Dunsfold atmosphere.

Like the marriages, it couldn't last.

By this time I'd become a father to two very intelligent attractive blond, blue-eyed girls & bought a kit car. Not because I wanted a kit car as such, but I did want something with four seats, rear wheel drive & preferably a soft top. Only the Rickman Ranger fitted the bill.

Then a bit of a bombshell. After some political shenanigans, British Aerospace merged with Marconi & a bunch of sites had to close, so Dunsfold was BAE's sacrificial lamb & in 2000, we all trooped back to Farnborough, while the AV-8B production line went north to Brough.

Things stayed more or less like that until late 2003 when after I'd come home from the kit car show at Stoneliegh, my wife looked at my dejected little face & said if building a car meant that much to me I should do it. Almost immediately after that she decided we needed more space, I countered that what we actually needed was less stuff, but it didn't cut much ice. So at about the time the chassis of the car I'd always dreamt of building arrived, so did the builders to add 6 rooms to the side of my house & make it much much more difficult for me to build (or afford) the car. The donor Sierra I'd bought for parts came with a 2.0 litre engine that was really to big & heavy for the Fury, so I put that in the Ranger & the Ranger's 1600 Crossflow in the Fury - much better - if a lot more work.

Building the Fury was slow, however build it I did & in February 2009 it passed the dreaded SVA test first time, the examiner protesting that there was nothing for him to complain about. The only things wrong were the speedo calibration & the headlight aim - both impossible to set up in advance & corrected on the spot. On the 1st April it became street legal & I loved it for the next ten years.

I was never very happy with the Pinto in the Ranger, so I dumped the Carburettor in favour of fuel injection. It improved the car, but I still wasn't happy with the way it ran, so in 2010 I pulled that out & fitted an 1800 Zetec - fully computer controlled with the standard fuel injection system, after that it went much better & used a lot less fuel. It's days were numbered though, my wife wanted a "more interesting" car, so the Ranger went to a new home & I got her old Zafira.

By 2011 I was the Lead Design Engineer working on the US Marine Corps' AV-8Bs, but as the UK Gov't saw fit to scrap their Harriers & BAE Systems never really seemed to understand that the UK fleet only accounted for about 1/4 of the world's Harriers, I was made redundant. Next I worked for an Indian Co. called QuEST mostly subcontracted to Airbus, though there was also an interesting spell with Saab in Sweden - but after three years I was made redundant again & moved to designing bits for aircraft being tested by QinetiQ, 65 miles from my home. Well that didn't last either, a round of redundancies was announced, I looked round & found a job with more pay, better conditions & only a mile & a half away from home at Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. That lasted less than two years as well.

But back at the fist redundancy - the upside to the loss of my job & the Rickman "Flying Fridge" was having the money to make the Fury into how I'd always envisioned it - with more power. The redundancy money pot was raided & it got new brakes, a new Zetec, new long first gear ratio gearbox & a new Omex computer to run it. 300BHP per tonne - niiiiice.

I continued to tinker with it, making it more reliable & nicer to drive. It went to five different countries (if you include England, Scotland & Wales as three of them) & - I think -  every county in Britain - yes including Rutland & the Isle of Wight.

In short, it proved to be exactly what I set out to build.

But 2019 dawned cold - by which I mean that the wife I'd adored for 30 years decided she didn't feel the same. in fairness all the redundancies & the stress of trying to fund my family's hobbies on an uncertain income had taken it's toll on my mental health, but I was taking the drugs & attending the counselling, she just gave up on me. But that wasn't all. I was made redundant for a forth time & this time struggled to find work, the house eventually sold for £100,000 less that initially valued, I was at last properly diagnosed with mental health problems - and - I wrecked the Fury. A "double dip" in a road near Camber threw the back of the car into the air at 60mph, it hit a stone milepost on the othr side of the road while still airborne & spun around . People say "I got out without a scratch", well thanks to Jeremy Phillips excellent design (which I had noticed while building the car) the chassis crumpled as it was designed to do & I stumbled out of the wreck without so much as a bruise. But I had now lost my wife, home, car etc.

There were two good things from 2019, I started working as a contractor at a small Aerospace Co, & I met up with my son & his wife & they have more than made up for the loss of what I'd thought of as my family.

Fast forward a couple of years - because you really don't want to know the details - & I'd bought a house with a nice large garage & something to put in it in the form of a Quantum 2+2. An excellent design, but I never could come to terms with the front wheel drive. I did another Zetec swap this time from 1.4 CVH to 1.8 Silvertop which transformed the car, but sadly it was still front wheel drive. At this stage the work dried up & I decided to start taking my pension (the bit my soon-to-be-ex hadn't taken), so I had a lump sum, just as an SSC (Sylva) Stylus appeared for sale. I got stuck into refurbishing it & joy of joys, just as I finished it (ish) the work came back!

So I'm back in a Jeremy Phillips car & loving it.