If you want a laugh, go look at the 'NRE TV' section of the Nelson Racing Engines website. The 527 Impala is particularly choice.
Anyway, since I'm stupid and managed to leave the boot of the car open enough to drain the battery, but not open enough that it was obvious, today's being a right old bucket of fail. (And let's just avoid prodding that bit of my psyche until, oh, 2015)
The business of hauling out the battery and digging in the cupboard under the stairs for the Shonkomat-7 charger reminded me of this series
and that it was probably time I caught up with the onward march of MOT failures and embarrassed jabbering at the Regent Components parts counter.
During the skint and mad period, I mostly did without a vehicle; I was dole-scum, the pub was half-way down the village and I had always been the one with the car. It was a refreshing change. Eventually I was forced back into employment, though. For a while, I blagged a lift with someone else who worked there, but even being beholden to nice people made my teeth itch, so I started poking about for a not-entirely-hateful vehicle with a reasonably fresh MOT.
While piloting a 2CV through the back of Oxfordshire (and 2CV driving probably warrants a post of its own. Years ago, one of the long-haired freaks who wrote stuff in 'Bike' magazine went into great detail about the concept of 'momentumism', which is how you drive 2CVs, unmodified Series Land-Rovers and early iterations of the magestically shite Vauxhall Frontera. Basically wind whatever-it-is up as fast as you dare and then don't slow down.) I caught site of a silver VW Derby parked in the mud by the side of the road. It was being sold by some skinhead mouth-breather who allegedly worked at the local VW garage. He'd apparently 'lost' the V5, but since he lived with his parents in a nice house with an AGA, I took it on trust that he was a dimlo rather than a villain and handed over the cash.
Everyone I'd spoken to about the thing had gone on at length about the indestructibility and willing nature of Polo engines. This one sounded like a bag of hammers, wouldn't rev and overheated for a pastime. Eventually it blew a core plug while giving some smug-faced tossbag a lift through Cheltenham. When Pa & self (but as is the way of these things, mostly Pa) were chiselling out the buggered plug and hammering in a new one, I had the cover off the cambelt. This was when I discovered that the previous owner (who was a mechanic at a VW garage) had put the thing back together with the timing one tooth out.
It went much better after that.
Although I don't think I ever drove it when it was working right, because the next week I was handed a corporate car for the purposes of visiting the Nice Customers. It was a cooking-standard Carlton and came with a Motorola car-kit.
It was also another car that needed the application of momentumism
if one wasn't to end up with a queue of angry middle-managers in low end BMWs behind one on the motorway.
I disposed of that one in a field in entirely avoidable circumstances that went 'earth sky earth sky earth sky earth sky lowloader of shame'. (Which I should imagine is like 'the walk of shame' that people have told me about) It was very much like being in a tumble-dryer filled with screwdrivers and broken glass. It was the same night that someone handed me a tape called 'Pretty hate machine' and told me I'd like it lots. That tape vanished in the carnage. I have no idea what happened to the band.
A week earlier I'd stuffed a Golf GTI in similar manner. I am a stupid child, but learn eventually. With the benefit of some distance, I guess one could call it a particularly Ballardian form of self-harm.
Somehow I didn't lose that job, but I did end up with a Series II Landie, which was jolly nice and got me out of visiting customers for months.
It also had a broken half-shaft. After a few weeks of enforced front-wheel drive, I took the thing round to some chum of Small Brother who kept a scrapyard somewhere the other side of Cirencester and we fitted a new shaft while his scraggy scrapyard dogs circled just out of range of the floodlights. IIRC, he raced stock-cars for fun and did most of the work on Sb's V8 SIII conversion.
After I'd done my penance, I was allowed a proper car again. Well, I say 'penance'. I mean 'Because I can be personable when I want, I was quite good at going to site to deal with angry punters.' And when I say 'proper car', I mean 'worn out silver Carlton GSXZ-Yi-pet that had belonged to the sales mangler.'
It didn't go badly for a shed with a dodgy Irish plate. The lock on the passenger door froze up early on. Wannabe passengers either had to sit in the back like good children or crawl in the window like Bo (or Luke) Duke. Although Jes discovered a third option. There'd been a party somewhere or other, and the route to and from was somewhat muddy. Since most participants had been in the pub for the evening, there was a reasonable amount of falling over and swearing. Jes decided he was going to leave first and get a head-start on walking home, which seemed reasonable enough. Much later, I return to the Carlton to discover that Jes had fallen over in the mud some more, clambered into the car via the sunroof and was curled up asleep in the passenger footwell. On another occasion, Total Bureau (the band I was in then) had come back
trashed from a rehearsal, stared at the mountain of gear in the back of the car, gone 'bugger that for a game of soldiers' and left it all there overnight. When I emerged from the house in the morning, I discovered that the electrical system had gone bugfuck in the night and all the windows had wound down. Thankfully musical instrument thievery wasn't a big thing in Charlton Abbots at the time, and our guitars and drum machines were still there.