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You will only ever need ten different tools when repairing your classic car – regardless of what, where, when, why or even how.

  1. Speed tape: Not just a tool, but a veritable Swiss knife in the form of stickiness and aluminium foil. Speed tape is capable of functions as diverse as safety wire, body material, radiator hose, seat cover, isolation, and push comes to shove even a sort of tow rope. Granted, there’s a rather well-developed prejudice for the material among the concours crowd, but out in the real world, speed tape is formidable for everything from Le Mans winning Porsches to Atlas rockets. Perhaps the only thing more helpful if you find yourself in a right pickle, would be a coin and a telephone box. 
  2. Gripex locking clamp: Just as clever as a wrench, a hammer and tongs all combined into one. The obvious solution for nuts that won’t budge, and fabulously functional as a “wriggle it until it comes lose” tool. Frankly, the heavy artillery in your toolbox. The Gripex locking clamp is simply the only solution for nuts and bolts which have become more round than hexagonal. 
  3. WD40: A significantly cheaper alternative to new locks, hinges, alternators, or basically anything which is suddenly found to be reluctant to do what it was originally designed to do. With a lower viscosity than grease, multiple applications of WD-40 will loosen even the biggest of fuselage bolts from the Titanic, to the point where they’ll come right off merely by hand. Bizarrely, an integrated part of these spray cans is the little red tube, which immediately rockets out of the nozzle, if you so much as look at it. This tube is invariably one of the ten worst tools in the world. 
  4. See-through plastic containers: If you spend a large portion of your time under the bonnet searching for a little thingamajig which slipped out of another thingamajig just as you managed to force the airfilter housing loose, then it’s clearly because you eat too much freshly prepared food. Real mechanics adjust their diet to include primarily pre-prepared food purchased in a variety of see-through plastic containers, which subsequently come in handy in the garage or workshop. Should you be really inventive, they can even come in handy when greasing bearings: simply place bearing in container, heat up grease and pour over said bearing. But most importantly, and in stark contrast to nuts, bolts, screws and washers, see-through plastic containers are not related to black holes to some parallel universe which absorbs any small object which ricochets its way down through your engine bay and on to the floor never to be seen again. 
  5. Large stone from the roadside: Wedge it under a wheel to prevent your car from rolling when the handbrake has given up, whack the corroded battery terminals, or even a temporary repair of a dent in the front wing causing the tyre to rub. Engineers and scientists around the world have failed miserably in developing a hammer capable of displaying the same momentum as granite. No doubt the only tool where a “Made in India” inscription doesn’t result in profound eye-rolling and a total loss of status when others are evaluating your kit. 
  6. Plastic strips: After 20 years plus of securing random hoses and electrical wires with old shoelaces, a true genius finally came up with an updated version of the shoelace – strips. As little as fifteen strips can convert some amateurs wiring chaos into a proper harness. The only downside being the unwritten but widely accepted rule, that when you’re inspecting a used car, every strip found under the bonnet equates to a 100 quid reduction of the sales price. 
  7. Ridiculously large screwdriver with lifetime warranty: Let’s just all agree. There’s simply nothing better for chiseling, lifting, dividing, breaking or sheer destruction than a huge, flat screwdriver. Even more so when it’s used with real commitment and an equally huge hammer (or roadside stone – see point 5). Also the only realistic solution for oil filters so idiotically placed in the engine compartment, that the only way to free them is by forcing a screwdriver in through one side, out through the other, and then twist. As for the lifetime warranty – well should you eventually manage to kill your large screwdriver – which you inevitably will – worry not, as a new one will appear. 
  8. Steel wire: Also affectionately known as “MG Exhaust Mounting Kit”. Steel wire will hold in place anything and everything which becomes too warm for either tape or string. Just like speed tape, it is not advisable to use on concours candidates, as it often performs so well, that you are unlikely to ever replace it by the correct mount or bracket. Steel wire has become a sentimental favourite in certain scenes – especially if you own a British classic. 
  9. We’re still waiting for this one to be invented….
  10. A coin and a telephone box: See point 1. 


5 Responses

  1. Anders Bilidt

    Hmmmm… personally I don’t do electrics, so rarely need wire cutters.
    I work on the theory that one should never touch what one can’t see! Electrics are off-limits. Cogs turning on the other hand – now that I can relate to.

  2. Ib Erik

    Great and fine list :-)

    Well, as cars tend to break down in the darkest and most desolate places, preferably in a blistering snowstorm, I find a headlamp to be essential.
    I always have my old trusty tactical headlamp in the car.


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