THE old bloke had a bit of a problem. It was his wedding anniversary again, and he’d forgotten until the missus hit him with a not-so-gentle reminder. The daily-driver Fairmont GS was still in with his mate for auto transmission repairs, and there was no courtesy fill-in car, so he rang numberone son for a borrow of the much-loved XY GTHO. And got it with a bit of blackmail: “Remember you have to stay on the right side of your mother.” The car was delivered that arvo for a good night out, with a message: “Don’t bend it, Dad.”
So the local eatery was booked; Mum went dressed in her best with him in a flash suit, both ready to rage and rock on. Next morning, there was a phone call to 28-year-old numberone son: “What the hell do you get up to on Saturday nights with that car?”
“Ah, nothing, Dad. Why?”
“Every time we pulled up somewhere, some ratbag in a souped-up car wanted to dragrace us! And your mum kept shouting: ‘Go get ’em, Dad!’”
“Oh, well, it’s a bit like this...”
Speaking of top-gun muscle cars, I met a bloke who had been hunting for months for a first-model, V8-engined Mustang coupe. He wasn’t worried about the state of the interior or running gear; he just wanted a good, straight pony car with clean and tidy paint. Found one on the internet, got the seller out of bed real early and she told him yes, I still have the car and did you want to look at it. Is the Pope a Catholic? Blood oath!
So he went with her in her PJs and slippers to where the ’Stang sat under a car cover out back of the house away from a large tree. “We had to rent this house in a hurry, and didn’t know there are fruit bats up there. We don’t get much sleep, but we’re moving soon,” she said. “Can you give me a hand to take the cover off?”
It looked good. New iridescent emeraldgreen paint, original interior and plenty of good rubber. He knew it had to be his, so they talked cash money over wake-up coffee; seemed nothing was hidden so the paperwork was organised.
He drove the beaut ’Stang out of the yard four days later, put in four weeks’ polishing and went around town giving his mates a look-see.
Then the first blisters appeared. Evergrowing peeling patches in the emerald paint, showing grey underneath, but only on flat surfaces in apparent random hits. This paint eczema grew with each new morning, so still suffering new car shock and disbelief, he drove real quick to the girl’s place and hammered on the front door.
“You won’t get any luck there mate,” said a neighbour, leaning on a fence. “They left day before yesterday. You got a problem with the car?”
“It’s the paint. It’s got these peeling patches all over the bonnet, the roof, and even the boot has got it. Do you know anything about this?” “Yair, fruit bats. They left it out under that big tree without a cover for a couple of nights while they went away somewhere. And the fruit bats came, and pissed all over it. So they had to get a quick spray job. Mustn’t have got rid of all that acid before they blew the paint on.”
I got a local handy bloke in a few weeks back, to make changes and fix tiles in my bathroom, and his hobby is finding old cars. Goes to lots of country places to do odd jobs, and looks inside falling-down sheds, discovering old gems covered in dirt and often chook feathers and eggs.
His last find was a blue AP6 Valiant. It needed only fuel and a battery to light up the fires, and he drove it home. Gave the machine a thorough clean and checked out the big straight-six, but that had a problem. Damn thing would start and run okay, but after idling a while it would shudder and stop.
Screwed in new plugs – no difference. Tried new leads – no difference. Got his teenage daughter, who is handy with spanners, to rebuild the Rochester carby – no difference. Damn thing still refused to idle.
So between tiles, he asked me what thought, because he was sure the engine was running out of fuel. Should he replace the mechanical fuel pump?
“Mate,” I said, “those Rochester carbs were made with some sort of black synthetic material to form the float in the carburettor. And when it gets old, the stuff absorbs fuel. When that happens, the float gets too heavy and sinks. So it can’t shut off the needle and seat; the carby floods the engine and so it won’t idle.”
So Steve went out searching and found another carburettor. Bolted that on and now the old AP6 has become a proper street machine performer.