I wasn’t one of those kids who grew up with car posters stuck on their bedroom walls. As a nipper, I was more interested in machines in general and especially the farm machines I was able to hang around a lot. They were noisy, smelled of fuel and hot oil and were generally awesome. If you wanted to know about a 1960s Massey-Ferguson combine harvester, I was your man.

A book called The Red Car by Don Stanford that Mum found in the local library when I was 14 really got me into cars. It was about a kid in Colorado getting his hands on a wrecked MG TC and rebuilding it with the help of a mysterious local French mechanic who turned out to be a legendary ex-Bugatti racer. You couldn’t make it up, but somehow Stanford did.

TCs could be had for £50 then, which might as well have been £50,000, so I cut my teeth on a Mini called Tinkerbelle (don’t ask, I’ve no idea). Tink was a 1960 848cc Austin Seven and taught me a lot about working on and tuning cars, even as a 17-year-old schoolboy.

Before that, my dad had shown me the basics of decoking cylinder heads and I got the hang of balancing the SU carbs on his Triumph 1300TC with a piece of plastic tube part-filled with oil to measure the intake pressures. I also learned to use a Colortune, a transparent spark plug that let you see the combustion in real time to set the mixture. Orange flame rich, pale blue weak, royal blue just right.