EVEN IN A CLASSIC car, air-conditioning is almost a necessity in Australia’s hot climate so when the air-con in my 1989 Holden Calais stopped working on one of the hottest days of summer I was devastated.
One minute it was working… the next, not.
Damn! I suspected something minor – an electrical glitch – as the problem was not one of no cold air (indicating a problem with the compressor, or a leak of the system’s gas) but of no air being blown at all: the Holden’s powerful heater/ demister/air-con blower fan wasn’t working.
I began troubleshooting by checking the Calais’ fuse-box under the dash and the problem was immediately obvious. The blower fan fuse had melted its terminals in the fuse box, causing an intermittent open-circuit.
Replacing the fuse-box was out of the question. Instead, the fix meant by-passing the melted fuse socket with a couple of short lengths of wire and two insulated terminals. It’s tight working in a foot-well, but I managed to solder the two lengths of wire for a permanent repair, even if it looks like a ‘bush-fix’!
Around the same time, there was another electrical glitch, too – the rear electric windows would sometimes jam in the down position that, as I’m sure you would agree, can be a little inconvenient! Investigation revealed a faulty electric window control module. Also installed under the dash’s drop-down electrical panel, it was replaced with a second-hand unit from the local Commodore wreckers.
With that fixed, my Calais performed flawlessly during a 2500km return trip to Holden’s Proving Ground at Lang Lang in Victoria for the Unique Cars/WHEELS magazines’ Holden photo shoot in 2017. My burning desire to attend – and my willingness to drive my low-kay Calais interstate to do so – was fuelled by my enthusiasm for Aussie-made cars and my continuing regret for not attending Holden’s 50th birthday celebrations (of the original 48-215 model) at the same venue in 1998.
The Victorian trip was also my time-warp Calais’s last journey for a while: I let the registration lapse and have stored it for 18 months until, being 30 years old, it is eligible for H-plates.
I reckon I’ll have it back on the road very soon after 9am on Wednesday, 2 January 2019!