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It is currently Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:08 pm

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 4:08 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:47 am
Posts: 2861
Location: Dog House
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A friend gave me a lift to a show in his 44 year old MGB. Apparently, they have something called 'character'.

I call it something else. After shoehorning myself in and pulling the door closed with all the subtlety of a farmers gate I sat there to survey my surroundings. Sitting inside it was how I imagined sitting inside a Soviet era tractor would be. None of the trim fitted properly, various bits didn't work and I was wondering which part of my anatomy would be punctured first in the event of a low speed collision. In a high speed collision I doubt they would find anything left.

We set off leaving the street filled with black smoke and all conversation was impossible above the din of the engine which increased at a far greater rate than the speed. In fact at 40mph it sounded like we were doing 80. They must have called this fun back in the 70's.

A couple of things I noticed. In order for my friend to see what was in his mirror he had to duck his head down to the level of his naval. Because of this he was totally unaware of things like bikes coming up behind him. He only noticed them once they had actually passed but he still swerved over to the left anyway. Through shock or just so he could say he moved out of the way for bikes I wasn't sure. I couldn't ask him anyway as he wouldn't have heard me.

And there was this funny stalk that came out of the steering column that he flicked when he got up to around 35mph. I was later told this was over-drive. We call it 5th gear these days. The pressing of the clutch is optional when using over-drive. If you use the clutch you lurch in your seat slightly less than without it.

The speedometer was demented. It happily waved backwards and forwards varying by around 10 mph either side of our true speed. But I judged we were either driving slowly or very slowly. Rather optimistically, it read up to 110 mph but that side of the dial was rusty having lost all hope of ever seeing the needle decades ago.

The smaller dials were impossible to read as the vibration was making my eyeballs wobble more than the speedometer.

Eventually, we arrived. He gave the engine a rev before switching off. This is something quaint that you do in old cars to leave some fuel in the carb (remember them?) for when you come to start the engine engine again. It also makes sure you have the aroma of neat petrol added to the smell of oil and carbon monoxide that are being held prisoner inside your nostrils.

We enjoy our day and several hours later we return to the old classic for the journey home. "Shall I get the starting handle out?" I quipped optimistically. My friend assured me she may be old but she was as reliable as the day she was made. This is what I was afraid of. He turned the key......


An hour later when the AA van arrived, smiling Mr Mohammed got out and looked at the old car with admiration. Let's say it was safe to say I wasn't looking at it in quite the same way. I told him it was electrical. I knew this because when my friend turned the key he may as well have been turning his finger in a pot of jam. To say it was dead would be like saying the sea was a bit wet. There was totally nothing. But the headlights worked so I knew there was juice in the battery. It didn't matter how much he tried turning the key and pumping the accelerator this baby wasn't going to start. "It never does this" my friend assured me which I thought was a bit contradictory to be honest but I didn't like to say because I wasn't sure if his his face was red with anger or the sunburn. Mr Mohammed said he would test the battery. Where was it? Of course, it was under the back seat. well I say back seat. It was more like a piece of felt lovingly gaffa taped around the edges by best craftsmen in Castle Bromwich or whichever hell-hole this piece of automotive history was banged together with a very large hammer.

After my friend had emptied most of the cars interior onto the field, Mr Mohammed was able to get to the battery. It was fine. He then proceeded to knock seven bells out of the starter motor whilst my friend turned the key and pumped the accelerator again. Still nothing.

I should add that during these proceedings several old men with beards came over to have a look at this item of motoring history and go all misty eyed with stories of various relatives who used to have one. Clearly none of the men with beards had actually owned one.

Eventually, Mr Mohammed fiddled with a wire and there was an eruption of smoke as the old girl burst into life. Hoorah! "It's your ignition switch" claimed Mr. Mohammed. I wondered how something so medieval as 2 pieces of wire connected by a key could go wrong. "Don't turn it off again until you get home" he added rather needlessly. If it was mine I would have left it over night with the bloody engine running than risk this again (and hope it was stolen by an old man with a beard....)

We waved goodbye to Mr Mohammed as we chugged off home again. My friend continued to shout that it never did that normally. I nodded sympathetically praying he wouldn't stall it as the prospect of being stranded again with this jewel of motoring would have sent me over the edge.

He finally dropped me off. I looked at my modern Japanese car and was very pleased "they don't make them like they used to".

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Lets be careful out there !


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 1:47 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:02 pm
Posts: 77
Cars had bags more character before they found out how to make them comfortable, aerodynamic and reliable.


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