Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My cars: a short guide. Part II — a rustbucket Hillman Superminx and a slighly snazzier V4 Ford Corsair

I had the Triumph for a month before it rolled down the hill and out of my life. As I said, my insurance agent just happened to be passing, and he told me of a Hillman Superminx for sale at a garage in Newport. I think I went and bought it the same day, although that seems unlikely.
It, too, was in no great state as a car, but its defects were not immediately apparent. It was something of a tank of a car, ponderous and heavy to steer, but I can't remember any particular disasters or faults. However, I knew the time was approaching when I should get rid of it when my girlfriend and I drove to North Lincolnshire to visit her parents and her sister and brother-in-law who were also staying. Her brother-in-law was an Irishman and a mechanic with the RAF. He kindly said he would take a look at the car to see whether there was anything amiss. It was apparent that there was, that the whole chassis was more or less rust, when he tried to jack up the car. In stead of lifting the car bit by bit as it was designed to, the head of the jack simply disappeared into the chassis. I did get rid of the car, although I can't remember where or how.
My next car cost me, if I remember £295. It was a Ford Corsair with a 1700cc V4 engine and, although he was still almost a banger, was a huge step up from the junk I had so far been driving. It went like the clappers. The only cosmetic fault it had has a hole the size of a small apple at the bottom of the driver's
door. I did have one or two problems with it, however. One problem was simple though bizarre and took a while to diagnose. I was driving from South Wales to Staffordshire to see my girlfriend when the engine kept cutting out. It got to the point where I could only crawl along in fits and starts in second gear. I pulled into a petrol station, but it was after 5pm and the mechanics had shut up shop for the week. The women behind the counter, however, took pity on me and told me her husband was a keen amateur mechanic and he would take a look to see whether he couldn't sort out what was wrong. It took him several hours, but he succeeded. The problem was that the coil had somehow worked itself loose and kept banging against the engine block. This caused the engine to cut out. But when it cut out, the car stopped and the jerky movement banged the loose coil away from the engine block again, so the engine began firing again. This is what I had put up with for several miles before I stopped at the petrol station. He guy simply tightened up the coil again and the problem was solved. The only other problem I had was when the clutch cable went and I had to have a new clutch installed.
I had drove the Corsair (which is pictured above. Mine was the same colour, except that it had — a rather naff — black vinyl roof) for about 18 months before I got rid of it. By then it was getting rather ratty. The brakes were completely shot and so was the steering. I sold it for £80 to some guy up the road and felt guilty about that because it really was a death trap. My next car was another step up, an Austin 1300, more of which another time.

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