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Together again: Bert reunites with beloved car after six decades

Bert Davidson, 83, will have one last drive in the 1929 Humber after its new owner got in touch.

Victory ride: Driver and car are to be reunited.
Victory ride: Driver and car are to be reunited. Northern Scot

It was love at first sight for motor mechanic Bert Davidson.

She was tucked away under a sheet in a coach builder's workshop in Elgin when he found her.

With engine work needed, the 1929 Humber saloon required a little bit of love but once back at his father's garage and dressed in burgundy, he knew her silver headlamps would gleam.

And so, Bert's time of courtship began. For two years, he popped into David Christopher's firm to see her.

"I would say how about selling me that car, Mr Christopher?" recalls Bert.

"He would reply, 'Oh, no, no, no laddie, I couldn't do that'."

Like a would-be suitor, Bert visited the object of his affection often, politely pestering David, until eventually he gave in.

"Alright laddie, you can have it," David agreed. "How much have you got in your pocket?"

The sale went through for £15.

An old photo of the Humber when Bert first drove it.
An old photo of the Humber when Bert first drove it. Bert Davidson

There were only 1000 of the Humber 9/28 classics manufactured between 1928 and 1930 and Bert had one of them.

Today, there are only around 12 left that have survived the years intact.

"She wasn't in bad condition at all being under a sheet for all those years," says Bert.

"I put a battery in and drove her straight home."

Bert worked on his beloved car until she shone. Her engine, he says, sounded reasonably quiet.

Which is why when a friend suggested he compete in the Kildrummy Rally - a newly launched vintage car road show - he jumped at the chance.

His burgundy lady didn't let him down.

In 1959, Bert Davidson drove to glory in his saloon, registration SO 3898, and took home first place in his class.

"It was a lovely day," he says fondly. "I was the only kilted competitor there."

A few years later though, the sale of his father's garage in Elgin forced an unwelcome separation.

"When my father sold the garage I had nowhere to keep the car and I sold it to someone from the RAF at Kinloss," says Bert.

Bert Davidson's beloved Humber.
Bert Davidson's beloved Humber. Robin Wills

It was a tough call to make. Over the next 60 years, Bert went one way and his beloved car went the other.

Marriage, children, work and retirement came to Bert.

Then a phone call from out of the blue brought back the past.

"A man called Rob in Durham rang me up," says Bert, now 83. "He told me he thought he had my old car. It was a bit of a shock."

That man was Robin Wills, the final in a line of several gentlemen who had cared for Bert's classy burgundy gal over her lifetime.

Bert with photos of his old car.
Bert with photos of his old car. Northern Scot

While Bert remained in Scotland, his car had crossed the Atlantic four times, spent time under the ownership of one of the principal designers of Lotus sports cars and made her movie debut in the 1976 film The Likely Lads.

Robin, whose father owned the car in the mid-1960s and early 1970s, was working on the vehicle when he noticed a badge inside from the rally of 1959.

"After searching the internet, I found a film of this rally on the Scottish Film Archives," he says.

"The film quite clearly shows our car and has an excellent shot at the end where its owner takes the cup for the best vintage vehicle. The entrant - Mr Bert Davidson."

Robin Wills and his family with the Humber they restored.
Robin Wills and his family with the Humber they restored. Robin Wills

Robin managed to track down Bert, who was described on the film as the only kilted competitor, to tell him his car lives on and to offer him one more chance to get behind the wheel once again.

"I'm intending to bring it up at Easter time to reunite it with him," says Robin.

"It will be quite a special moment when he sees it."

Over the last year, Robin and Bert have kept in touch. They share the same birthday, November 19, which Robin marked by sending Bert his old number plate from the car he loved as a 80th birthday present.

Although Bert last drove the car nearly 60 years ago, he can still remember its crash gearbox, the position of the gear lever, the bench seat in the front which made down into a bed, and, most importantly, how it felt to be behind its wheel.

Robin restored the car to her former glory.
Robin restored the car to her former glory. Robin Wills

"I was young and single back then," Bert laughs. ""It drove well, not like a modern car of course, it had a crash gear box you had cope with.

"It also only had breaks on the back wheels."

Bert says he was surprised but delighted to hear from Robin and cannot wait to see both his new friend and his old car when they travel up to Elgin this Easter.

"I have one or two photographs of the car from back then," says Bert.

"I didn't know I was in a video though until Rob told me. I'm very much looking forward to seeing her again." 

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