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Vehicular Jaunts, Part 1 — 6 Comments

  1. I failed my driving test in the UK maybe four or five times in a row. That was back when the GB driving test was drive round the city for half an hour and answer 3 verbal questions at the end. I moved to Germany -which had (and probably still has) the toughest driving test in Europe if not the world at the time and passed the 3 theory papers second time around and the practical -with all it’s Autobahn driving- first time. Go figure, I don’t understand myself most of the time.

    My first car: https://s26.postimg.org/zc6hwlpyx/jemma_baumfrosch1.jpg

    “Jemma Baumforsch” or “Jemma The Tree Frog”.

    Was a present from a mate. He was home on furlough from the Bundeswehr and was upgrading his car so he said I could have that for free. He brought it round to give me a test drive and I could barely get in it there was that much rubbish-pizza boxes, burger wrappings, cans, bottles, sweet wrappers, female undies…etc etc

    Then he explained to me how the choke worked- you had to pull on a clothes peg that hung out of the dash. I drove it to a woodland clearing and we emptied the car’s contents into 3 (in words THREE) black bin sacks! Went to drive back home and the car wouldn’t start. Fortunately my mate had some mechanical knowledge ( I had none at the time) and so he started to investigate under the hood. He soon found that the distributor finger had snapped so he burrowed through the sacks of rubbish and found some silver tin foil from a chocolate bar and used that to ‘repair’ the finger and it got us to the nearest VW garage where I ordered a new one.

    No amount of cleaning, no matter how hard I scrubbed, I never got the stains out of the seats. Driving that thing was an introduction to ‘real’ driving. No syncro on first, a clothes peg for a choke handle, bilux bulbs that even on main beams were about as much use as sticking my lighter out the window. But that car ran and ran.

    • Old cars really are the best. No computer systems to have a mental breakdown on you, no electric windows to stop working when they’re wide open in the middle of winter, no digital readouts with a backlight (that’s impossible to access unless you dismantle the whole dashboard) to pack up, no power steering systems to spring a leak, no complex fuel injection systems to go out of sync and no horrendously expensive catalytic converters to rust out. Just a simple, easy to access and easy to fix internal combustion engine with a distributor and a carburettor. And wind-up windows.

      I miss those simpler days of motoring, when you always carried a tool kit in the boot in case of breakdowns. There’s no point carrying tools nowadays. You need a diagnostics computer to plug into and an expert to analyse the readouts. And a fat wallet.

      • I agree which is why , after my 2nd ‘modern’ car died on the Autobahn last year, I got a Citroen ZX Aura ’94 -which sounds like a tractor on a cold morning and unfortunately has electric windows & an alarm system I still haven’t managed to comphrend and when the accelerator cable snapped on the way home from the city the other night I got us home with a length of cable I found in the boot (actually a phone charger)tied to the throttle. You think Norfolk is flat? Not when you’re nursing a poorly non-turbo diesel automatic home -people walking their dogs up the hill were shooting past us! *note to self-put some fishing twine in the glove box*

        Don’t think modern cars even have a throttle cable to replace these days.

  2. The Messerschmitt. Great wee buggy, except when it snows. Then you’ve got to keep the drive wheel in the cleared tracks, meaning half into the gutter, or too darned close to the centre line. Oh and the heater was crap.

    So I took me a shuftie of what they’re flogging for right now. Forget the replica (maroon one) and you’re talking £18,000 to £50,000!

    http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/list/81/

    (I’ll assume a head clap and an OMG ringing out of a wee property in Greece).

    • Crazy prices, eh? I think the one I had was bought for about twenty quid. I’ve owned a few cars that now sell for loadsamoney, and kick myself for not hanging on to them, but then where do you put them? If you don’t happen to own a warehouse, which I don’t, the options are limited. And of course, at the time they’re just cars that you happen to be driving. Hindsight is twenty twenty vision, as they say.

  3. Modern cars seem to be grossly over engineered. I used to keep all the doors locked except for the driver’s one. Partly for convenience but also for safety. As of 30 years ago, with central locking, the choice became all or none. I could also crack the window open without looking, with a small movement of the winder. Much more fiddly with electric windows.
    I will admit that modern cars are easier to start though.

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