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Man keeps 40-year promise by restoring classic car to former glory

PUBLISHED: 06:30 11 July 2020

The vintage Riley car being driven in Carcassonne, France. Piucture: Raymond Root.

The vintage Riley car being driven in Carcassonne, France. Piucture: Raymond Root.

Archant

A car enthusiast is hoping to fulfil a 42-year-old promise after he finished restoring a piece of automobile history.

The vintage Riley car was brought in Fakenham in 1978. Picture: Raymond Root.The vintage Riley car was brought in Fakenham in 1978. Picture: Raymond Root.

When Raymond Root travelled up to Fakenham to buy a vintage Riley back in the 70s, he promised to keep its former owner, George Dalton up to date with the project.

In 2015 he finally finished the repair work.

Mr Root, 83, a former director of a computer company, lives in France now, but spent 13 years in East Anglia, living in Beccles and Norwich.

But with the project done, he now needs to track Mr Dalton or his family.

The vintage Riley car was brought by Raymond Root who spent also 40-years restoring the car. Picture: Raymond Root.The vintage Riley car was brought by Raymond Root who spent also 40-years restoring the car. Picture: Raymond Root.

It was Mr Dalton’s memory which encouraged him to never stop working on the car.

“George was such a lovely man I promised I would restore the car for him.

“I did promise I would keep him updated with the restoration but I didnt expect it to take so long.

“I expect he is no longer with us but I’m sure his family are and I want to get in contact.”

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The saga began when Mr Root placed an advertisement in the Exchange and Mart in 1978.

Mr Dalton, from Fakenham, answered the call, saying he had a car in his barn that he wanted to sell. He did have one condition - that whoever he sold it to was an enthusiast.

Mr Root said he had to “plead his case” over why he should be sold the car, which Mr Dalton agreed with.

He travelled up from Sussex to Fakenham but when he found the car, he said it was in a “sorry state”, with a damaged engine just the tip of the iceberg.

This started a 37-year repair job, as Mr Root moved home four times, changed jobs three times and moved countries.

“Just after I bought the car, I got a new job which entailed long hours and the Riley was put on the back burner”, he said.

“When we moved, every time, the house took precedent.”

In 2010, he and his wife, Veronica moved to Carcassonne in France.

The Riley has been a significant part of their 59-years of marriage, he said: “When we were courting, my wife and I were driving around in the Riley. It is a memorable thing for us.”

• Do you know the Dalton family? Email aaron.mcmillan@archant.co.uk


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