As a teenager he saw the car in his neighbourhood, often while riding the push bike that is in the auction. The car at that time was in good working order, and he admired it a lot. He followed the car as it passed from the owner of his youth, to one Jack Watts who bought in 1952. When Jack bought it, the car was in need of repairs, as the rear guard had been damaged by a Melbourne tram on a trip there by three uni students, who afterwards had removed the guard. Jack had intended to restore the Isotta and started to dismantle it bit by bit. He used it for a time to transport crates of veggies and apparently gas cylinders, but eventually stripped it down to a shell in his front yard. His kids used to play in it as a cubby house.
Dad followed the car through Jack, he moved house three times and in 1963 Ed made Jack an offer for the stripped down vehicle. The offer was accepted and Dad towed the chassis back to Rostrevor to begin the long restoration.
Dad’s partner Leila remembers almost countless trips back to Jack Watts house to see if Jack had needed Isotta parts.
Every time Jack would get them to stay and wait while he went into his shed and then return with the part. Dad collected every original part from Jack over a period of years, except the missing guard. So he made the rear guard himself, by building a wooden form and some steel dolly’s, that he shaped from the other guard. I remember him telling me that it took him a long time to replicate the missing guard, but he did. On a club run with the new guard fitted, he backed into a post putting a minor ding on his hard work.
Leila told me afterwards, he just let that go as he’s spent so much time on it, that he’d had enough and that he could live with it.
The car was in his possession for 59 years, he bought it back to a fully functioning, almost total original vehicle, Apart from the replaced guard he also replaced the weather damaged panelling in between the windscreen and bonnet, reupholstered the front seats and had a cover made for driving in bad weather.
I think that apart from minor restorations of two Delages and five bikes, the Isotta was his only full restoration and as you know he kept every receipt, every letter from fellow Isotta enthusiasts and collected everything else about Isottas that he could find in those 59 years. He and Leila went on many country runs with the car clubs and Ed always was willing to follow up a far flung lead to obtain anything Isotta. He compiled an amazingly comprehensive collection of his Isotta’s past life, I don’t think that anyone really knew about how much Ed had compiled on this car,apart from Leila, as other than club runs,the car was always kept under covers in the shed
The two Minervas were his next project, however after collecting so many parts as well as the chassis’s, he realised that it wasn’t realistic with his age that he could complete another full restoration on his own. He wanted me to give it a go and unfortunately I had to quietly decline. The massive amount of time and knowledge needed for the task, let’s not mention the cost as well, is out of my capability and dedication range, I simply don’t have his vast knowledge and passion for vintage cars, but I certainly respect his amazing skills and dedication to all things vintage car and bike.