NO CAR Ė no matter how much youíve wanted one or for how long Ė is much good to you if you canít drive it. Right? Exactly.

So while ever it sits in the Melbourne Bloke Centre with no number plates on it, my RA40 Celica is about as useful as a knitted catch-tank. Now, the various club-permit rego schemes of this fine land are the solution and, because I live in Victoria, all I need for a set of club plates is a car that is unmodified and at least 25 years old. And has a roadworthy certificate. Ah...

Now, given that the old girl sat in the previous ownerís shed for something like 13 years, there are bound to be some issues with obtaining the magic RWC. But just how many issues, and of what severity is the real question. Finally, I bit the bullet, took it to a local inspection station and crossed my fingers. And, actually, the results werenít too bad.

The big ticket items were a worn idler-arm and rear brake-cylinders, but of course there was a list of other, diddly stuff that will take time (if not too many dollars) to sort. They start with the windscreen-wiper washerjets that are too anaemic for the inspectorís liking, a bung hazard-flasher switch, one parking light fritzed (which must have happened between the MBC and the inspection station, because I swear it was working) and a demister that wonít blow air on to the front screen for wintertime defogging. Oh, and I have to re-fit the door trims.

Interestingly, all the suspension and brake parts were available easily and for sensible money, so that stuff will get tackled pronto. Moving on from there, Iím still trying to sort the hazard-flashers (I might try to fit a new switch in a new location, which the inspector agreed would be okay). Iím hoping the wiper-washer jets just need a blow-out with compressed air. I also checked the demister and while the fan works, the lever that determines where the air blows around the cabin refused to be shifted to the screen position. But after pulling the dash apart, I found the problem and had a giggle at the cause. A wiring block left-over from the factory radio (now long gone) had managed to flop down between the edge of the dashboard and the jammed heater lever. I moved the offending plastic block out of the way and bingo, suddenly, thereís air on the screen. Crisis averted.


The other problem Iíve got isnít necessarily a roadworthy item but is just as effective at rendering the car useless to me. While the 18RC will initially start and run beautifully, after about two minutes, the engine just quits. Stops dead. When you remove the fuel filter and empty it, suddenly, away she goes again. But hereís the clue: When you unplug the fuel filter from the feed line from the tank, you can hear a little ssshluurrp of air as if youíve just broken the seal on a vacuum. Which I reckon is exactly whatís happening. My theory is that the pick-up inside the tank is clogged with 13-year-old rust and crap and is blocking the strainer. After a while, thereís enough flow through the strainer for the gunk to completely cover it, starving the pump of fuel. Then, when you remove the filter, the vacuum is broken, the gunk falls back into the tank and away she goes for another two minutes.

Iíll be giving the pick-up and its strainer a pull-though when the car is on the hoist for the idler-arm and brakecylinder replacement. Which Iím right in the middle of as I write this. Iíll let you know how I get on.