Project Bluebird: Racing it home!

Life has been very busy of late, but things were improved. I sold the Daimler, though it has yet to be collected. However, I’ve received a deposit for it, and I looked forward to having a bit of space on the driveway once more.

Then, I put car things on hold, by going to visit my sister and my new nephew. Ah, a bit of family time. Surely no chance of accidentally buying a car here. I did the thing you’re meant to and held the baby. Awww. But, fond as I am of little Jack, he didn’t seem to do much but sleep. I was left holding a baby. Oh, look. I’ve got one hand free to just have a quick look on Facebook…

Seconds later, I appeared to have bought a Nissan Bluebird T72 saloon, a ‘plush’ 1.6LX. Possibly with head gasket failure. In London. Oh.

Oops. Another new motor…

That’s one of the fantastic* quality images that I carefully studied before making the purchase. I must concede, that emotion got the better of me on this one. The 1.6 saloon is a favourite of banger racers. I couldn’t run the risk of it becoming squashed on track. That’s my problem with banger racing – it’s inevitable that viable cars will be bought and raced, and lost forever. Not this one!

So, I ignored the horrendous logistical challenges of getting it home and bought it. Blind. As usual.

Then, I spent some of today plotting how to get it. If the head gasket has failed, then it’s not a good idea to try and drive it over 200 miles. So, a boring ‘collection with a truck’ idea seemed better. There’s even a company near home that could hire me one. Only, it turns out that it failed the MOT today. Bother.

So, I resorted to Shiply, the website where you put up details of your journey, and companies bid for the job. One quickly came in at £1 a mile, so not cheap as it’s over 200 miles. However, having done the job of vehicle delivery myself (before I realised it was a terrible job), I decided that would do nicely. So, I booked it.

The car is being collected at lunchtime tomorrow, which is, coincidentally, the time I’ll be leaving Devon tomorrow. The race is on! Who will get home first? Me or the Bluebird? And how knackered is it? Exciting times again!

Project Dirty Daimler: Failure point

Ok, it might be time to give up on Project Dirty Daimler. It doesn’t currently run. At all. There are various things it could be, but the reality is that I haven’t had much time for tinkering of late – and I’m not sure that’s going to change any time soon.

Broken cars, variously.

Which leaves me with a dead Daimler that I need shot of. It’s times like this that living in the middle of nowhere can be a major problem. I don’t much fancy breaking it for spares, even though that’s probably my best bet for recouping some of the outlay so far. But, selling it complete is quite tricky if it won’t actually run.

I could sell it for scrap, but I reckon I’d be lucky to get £50 for it by the time it’s been collected.

So, I’ve decided that the best thing to do is simply bury it in an old building somewhere, allow it to get covered in dust and straw, and then sell it in a few years for massive profits as OMG BARN FIND.

Or are any of you up for a challenge even bigger than my journey from Glasgow?

Incidentally, the 2CV was only slightly broken in that photo. It had dropped an exhaust clamp. A mere doddle to fix! Also incidentally, I was sitting in the back of the Daimler yesterday evening, trying to hide my tears by reading the workshop manual that came with the car. All of a sudden, there was a massive BANG, which made we wonder how it had managed to fail even when I was sitting in the back of it. Turns out a bird had flown into the side window – at quite some speed judging by the noise! I think it was being chased by an angry blackbird.

Anyway. If you’d like a very cheap Daimler, do get in touch…

Project Dirty Daimler: Flip-flopping

Having convinced myself that the best thing to do with the Daimler was wash my hands of it, I naturally changed my mind. This is only a quick post to say that I did some ferreting about, and got the horn working! Cleaning up relay contacts seemed to cure that. Windscreen washers are still an issue, but I have confirmed power from the stalk to the relay, so assume it’s the pump that is duff. I have some ingenious plans to try and deal with that. Or, rather, I did, because they it wouldn’t run.

It has become seriously, seriously rich for reasons unknow. I pulled the plugs and they looked like this.

Eesh! Mucky plugs dot com.

I’ve no idea what has gone wrong, as I’m pretty sure I’ve not touched anything that could cause this level of richness. Now, it could just be the fact that the car has barely moved since landing back from Glasgow, and it has a duff oxygen sensor. That means it has been running slightly rich the whole time. Several cold starts and barely any getting up to temperature could be enough to choke the engine up perhaps? I’ve no idea. I haven’t really got time to explore any more, because the next issue of Classic Jaguar magazine is not going to edit itself!

On that front, there’s some very interesting content coming your way, including full details of the Daimler collection caper! It might not be the project car I’d hoped, but this machine does still seem to be generating copy.

Project Dirty Daimler: Selling

Another seriously busy time means I haven’t had much chance to talk more about the XJ40, or do much with it at all. I still want to do a ‘closer look’ video, so you can see the true horror of it. Press deadlines are not being kind though, and the other cars on the fleet have been keeping me busy. Hopefully I can do an update on that soon.

Mostly, the Daimler has been sitting on the driveway awaiting further assessment. Problem is, every time I take a closer look, it gets a little bit worse. At first, I decided to wash it, just so it looked nice. From some angles, that trick worked.

Daim! Looks most pleasant from some angles.

It’s still a crusty mess though. I’d show you more pics, but I appear to have just reached capacity on this blog, so that’s something else I’ll have to sort out if I ever have any spare time again!

But, having uncovered rot beneath the windscreen, and had more dodgy electrical moments (an aftermarket immobiliser which I’ve now removed), I’ve decided it’s a step too far. This’ll never be a nice looking car without considerably more effort than I’ll ever be able to dedicate to it.

So, it’s for sale. Would be nice to think I could get back what I paid for it, though I am still partly tempted to just keep it anyway. After all, after that wash, it really is a very attractive vehicle. People pay a lot more than £350 for driveway ornaments too…


Project Dirty Daimler: Collection

I’ve edited three different magazines this year, but that’s about to change. Rolls-Royce and Bentley Driver will be passing to a new editor, because I’m busy enough with Classic Jaguar and Retro Japanese. Indeed, Classic Jaguar has been selling rather well, so we’re moving to six issues per year instead of four.

I already have the Honda S-MX (and to a lesser extent the Daihatsu-based Perodua Nippa) for Retro Japanese, but lacked a Classic Jaguar to call my own. So, I decided to do something about it, in the way only I know how. By rushing out and buying the worst one I could find. Not only that, but it was over 300 miles away in Glasgow. Oh, and it had a fuel leak. So, how did that pan out? A full report will be in the next issue of Classic Jaguar magazine (June/July 2017), but here’s my video of the day itself.

Elly goes to France: Part Trois

After landing back in the UK, the truth was that we we still had plenty of miles to cover. We’d clocked up around 300 miles getting to Dover, then another 200 in France itself. We still had another 300 odd miles to go. I couldn’t waste the opportunity of being in the South East, so our drive home would involved a couple of business meetings. The first was with this rather special Jaguar Mk1 for an upcoming feature in Classic Jaguar magazine. A thoroughly fascinating visit, and one which should make for a very interesting feature.

Elly seems somewhat daunted by this race-prepped Jaguar Mk1 – yes those are Lister colours.

Again, we broke up the journey home with an overnight stay in Sussex. I managed to distract my train-obsessed nephew enough for him to help me check over the car (oil level fine, lights all working).

All ok! The thumbs-up of approval.

In truth, all really was pretty much ok. There had been a build up of some sort of substance on the windscreen, either fumes from a leaky head joint or mist from a mild oil leak. Nothing I could do about these things now other than push on home.

I had another quick meeting with another editor in Shoreham, which meant when we finally started heading home, we were dangerously close to the south coast. I say dangerously, because we have previous experience of the horrors of the south coast – we’ve never been to Bournemouth again since experiencing absolute traffic chaos there (in the 2CV) in 2008. Sure enough, the roads were somewhat sticky, this being a bank holiday week. It seemed to take forever to reach a decent, open stretch of road. In fact, the A419 from Swindon to Cirencester was about the first time we managed to settle down to a cruise. Even then, there was still the horror of Air Balloon roundabout, where some old lady in a Honda Jazz was amusingly unfriendly at a traffic merge. The plus side of the 2CV is that I could simply  turn the engine off going downhill, as the brakes, brake lights and steering all work without it being on.

There was the usual frantic blat around Gloucester before the roads became rural once more. We had one stop for tea and cake, getting our foot through the door just before the restaurant closed at this garden centre.

Thanks Trioscape! Just in time for much-needed tea and cake.

Then it was the final push home, which had very little in the way of peril or jeopardy, unless you include my cornering style. I must have been pushing a bit as my unflappable wife actually made comment. Sure enough, the car that had been tailgating me uphill decided to hang back by some distance…

I’m surprised I had the energy for such antics, as hooning a 2CV is hard work. My shoulders and arms were certainly starting to ache, as were my fingers. Clearly, driving cars with power assisted steering has made me rather soft.

Eventually, we did make it home of course. I expressed some satisfaction with that – 900 miles in five days and no breakdowns. Others wondered what the fuss was about, and I guess that’s fair comment. I had no doubts the car would reach its next 3000-mile service interval, so what does it matter if some of those miles were done quite quickly, and in a different country?

But, I guess it was proof that Elly is functioning pretty much correctly again after a major rebuild, and that’s always nice. Sure, there’s a fair snagging list from the trip, but most of these minor gremlins existed before we set off. The kingpins do have a bit of play in them, the rear wheel bearings do seem to be a little noisy, the handbrake really does need adjusting properly (I think I’ve managed to make it worse in fact) and noise really is still an issue! I’m not sure what we can do about wind noise, which is a large part of it – especially when you need the windows open for ventilation!

Nonetheless, I was pleased to have encountered so few issues on so major a trip. Now, when’s the next adventure?

Elly back home again, after 900 miles in five days.