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President Mike opened the meeting by inquiring of the assembled members if they knew the meaning of the word ‘ rogitate’. He must have had a premonition, for the repeated question he was asked was, when can we meet again face to face? It was also coincidental that we were informed that Blairgowrie Rotary in conjunction with St Andrews Rotary, are due to display a collection of Classic Cars on the West Sands this coming Sunday and the talk by Kyffin Roberts was on Kyffin’s classic cars.
Kyffin has always had a passion for both two wheels and four. Born in Gwernaffield, Flintshire, he was riding a BSA 250 cc before he was 16 and progressed to an Ariel Colt when he turned 16. There was no legal requirement to wear a crash helmet until 1973. Kyffin would seldom wear one, especially heading for dances. Luckily he was wearing a helmet when a car and he had an altercation which left him with an ankle in plaster and suffering from concussion.
It was to be cars from then on. A Hillman Husky was followed by a Hillman Minx and then moving up to an Austin A40 Devon. It certainly helped that he was working for an Austin garage and was able to keep the cars on the road. The MOT didn’t come in until 1961 and then it was very basic, breaks, lights and steering. A move to a new garage saw a new car ,the ever popular Ford Popular.
Most of those assembled could identify with his Morris Minor and Morris 1000 into which he put a larger engine. Another larger engine went into a Mini emulating the success of Paddy Hopkirk in the Monte Carlo Rally with his Mini Cooper S. Paddy might have carried snow tyres on his roof rack but Kyffin’s was for baby equipment.
In 1971 Kyffin and family drove from Wales to Kent in his newly acquired Austin Cambridge to take up a job on the Channel Tunnel , a project which was eventually cancelled at that time, but not before Kyffin had changed to a Ford Escort estate. Having to sell up and move to Kilwinning , there was enough cash left over for a MK3 Cortina, but an ever growing family necessitated a Morris Marina Estate followed By a Rover2200.
A move to Kandy Sri Lanka produced a Project car, a Datsun Estate. These cars came into the country associated with various projects and were supposed to leave on completion, but never did. It was a pass me down car for foreigners. Its eventual fate was to be crushed by a coconut tree, felled in a storm.
Kyffin stopped at that point having touched on the cars that many of us have owned and loved in the past. Modern cars are certainly more reliable and comfortable but not as much fun ( if you know what you are doing! ) When asked about his favourite old car, it was to be the Rover 501 which he bought on his return from Sri Lanka.
It is also thanks to Kyffin’s skill that the Rio Grande at Craigtoun was able to remain on the rails through some difficult years.
Carol Morris, a survivor of a mini ride from London to Scotland in the back of her father’s Mini, gave the vote of thanks.
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