Torched car will rise from ashes

Greatham resident and parish councillor Sue Watson pictured with her fire damaged car.
Greatham resident and parish councillor Sue Watson pictured with her fire damaged car.

A PARISH councillor whose classic sports car was torched by arsonists has begun restoring the vehicle to its former glory.

Sue Watson, who represents Greatham Parish Council, was devastated when her 42-year-old Triumph Spitfire MK3 was set on fire by yobs in the early hours of the morning.

The red car, worth about £12,000 and nicknamed Nellie, was almost totally destroyed by the flames and looked destined for the scrap heap.

But Sue and her husband, Anthony, 51, were so attached to their motor and felt strongly about showing those responsible that they will not be beaten that they have set about rebuilding the car.

The pair are hoping to take Nellie’s engine out of her burned ruins and put it into a new shell, use parts from other cars to restore the engine, and replace interior and wooden panelling.

The total cost of the work could take from six months to a year, and will cost about £2,500.

Retired teacher Sue, 59, of West Row, Greatham, said the new car will be called Phoenix.

“We’re going to call the new car Phoenix, as in rising out of the ashes,” she said.

“At the minute we’re looking for some parts because all the insides were burned and as well as restoring the engine and getting the new shell ready, we’ll need to replace the carpets, seats, and wooden panelling and all the other bits and bobs inside.”

She added: “The reason this has happened so quickly is that my husband was so upset about it.

“He put so much time into the other car that he wants to show whoever did it how quickly we can get it back on the road.

“You can burn our car but this is how we’re responding. We’re both very excited about it and we can’t wait for the very first time she is fired up again. A big blow of smoke out the back and she’ll be away.

“Some people might think we’re nutty and say ‘it’s only a car’, but for us it’s more than that.”

Sue’s car was fireballed on Tuesday, April 24, around 4am, just 40 minutes after Greatham Community Centre chairwoman Dorothy Clark had her Ford Ka – which she used as a run-around to help her perform voluntary tasks in the village – torched by the arsonists and left in ruins.

Hartlepool Police are still appealing for information about the incidents and are urging people with any information to contact Pc Keith Robinson on the non-emergency number, 101, or to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.