Monday, 3 October 2011

Porsche 908 – first jobs

In middle of March 1970, Ginger arrived home driving a blue and yellow (Swedish colours) Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 station wagon, towing a trailer with a Porsche 908-1 Spider on it under a cover. He parked up outside our house in Beavers Lane and informed us he was staying in England for a few of days, as the team were racing at Thruxton the coming weekend.
It was early evening after dinner when Ginger and I went down to see Nelson Ledger at AFN located in the London Road, Isleworth, Middlesex to see if we could take the Porsche 908 there to do some jobs on it. We knocked for Nell, as everyone called him, at his flat, which was part of the AFN buildings and Olive his wife answered the door. Nell came down the stairs and he told us that he was sure AFN would provide support, but it would be easier for us to use the double covered pit area at Harper’s Yard as it was not practical to get into the main AFN workshop as it was full of cars overnight.
We then went around to find Bill Bates at Harper’s Yard in South Street, Isleworth as Bill had a key for the main gates and let us in. Shortly after a catch up chat with Bill, we were offloading the Porsche 908 and we set to work.
I was working at Hawker Siddley as an apprentice engineer and so I called Bob Grafham, my work colleague and best friend to see if he would be interested in helping us out. Bob arrived at Harpers Yard a little later to worked with us throughout the night.
There was an enormous amount of mechanical and bodywork to get done and as usual in motor racing circles, no time to do it in, so we all worked away through the night. Bob and I helped Ginger change gear ratios and fit a new front spoiler to the Porsche 908. However, not being used to working such long hours, I fell asleep standing up on my own two feet! Bill Bates soon had strong mugs of coffee coming out of his office to freshen us up.
We eventually got home in the early hours, and literally grabbed a few hours’ sleep and then returned to pick the Porsche 908 up from Harper’s early morning.
I remember Harry Olrog getting upset that he had not been consulted but he deferred to Nelson Ledger once he was informed that Nell had given his approval. Harry knew Ginger quite well and Bill appeared in his dressing gown with coffee had said, “I was given the go ahead to let them in the previous evening.” Harry accepted that must be all right as Bill was well connected to the AFN senior management. It all sorted itself out later in the day when Lawrence Hardwicke came and spoke to Harry personally. 

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