Have you seen Ron's radiator cap?

A CLASSIC car enthusiast in Kesgrave is today facing the prospect of never driving his favourite old vintage model again, after losing a vital part.

A CLASSIC car enthusiast in Kesgrave is today facing the prospect of never driving his favourite old vintage model again, after losing a vital part.

Ronald Whale was taking his beige-coloured 1929 Hillman 14 out for a spin up to north Suffolk when he noticed water pouring from the car about two weeks ago.

Realising something was wrong the 72-year-old of Main Road pulled up near to the roundabout where Suffolk police headquarters is based in Martlesham.

After a quick inspection he was devastated to discover he had lost a radiator cap. But it is no ordinary car part.

Mr Whale's Hillman 14, he nicknamed Big Charlie after an old school friend who died of cancer, is believed to be one of just 14 models in the world.

And now he is offering a reward of �100 to anyone who can return the item in a useable condition, helping him to realise his dream of getting his 80-year-old pride and joy back on the roads.

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He said: “It was completely my fault, I went to fill it up and took the radiator cap off and I left it on the wing. I filled it up with water and I must have forgotten to put it back on.

“As I drove up the road to the roundabout I noticed all the water flying out of the car and I thought 'oh my goodness I have forgotten to put the cap back on'.”

Desperate to find the vital part, Mr Whale turned his vintage vehicle around in a bid to hunt down the six-inch high cap.

But despite a good look around it was nowhere to be found.

After speaking to a friend, who he had seen driving his Rolls Royce in the opposite direction at the same time, Mr Whale discovered his friend had spotted the radiator cap on the roundabout, swerving to miss it.

Mr Whale, who also owns a Packard, a 1938 Rolls Royce and a Vauxhall 10, added: “It is very sad, it has made the car unusable at the moment, I can still look at it, but I have got my fingers crossed someone will know where it is.

“Big Charlie is my favourite, the one I usually take out, because it is very, very unusual to find an original one, most have been refurbished to look like new.”

The car producer Hillman, like Rover and Humber, originated in Coventry in the 1880s, originally as a bicycle building company.

In 1907, Hillman entered the entered the industry in style, launching the 24HP Hillman-Coatalen, named after its designer, which was entered into that year's Tourist Trophy. The car was put out the race by a crash, but it had made a splash.

It was not until 1926 and the launch of the 14HP that Hillman seemed to move forwards.

For 1928, Hillman previewed the enormously expensive 2.6-litre Straight Eight model.

It was new from the ground up, and pitched at the luxury end of the market. However, delays getting it into production resulted in its launch being put back to 1929 - just as the Great Depression had started.

In the depth of the Depression, the Rootes brothers bought out Hillman.

Very little information can be found about the Hillman 14 saloon model.

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