Saturday (I don't want to blog about politics) night.

The Underdog has a post up this evening that had me thinking about cars. Specifically the ones I've owned that have ended up on bricks in my backyard.

If there is one thing I enjoy, it's tinkering on old cars. The trouble is, I'm getting a reputation as the bloke who takes a perfectly good automobile, breaks it, leaves it in the backyard for ages and then flogs it for scrap on ebay.

I once bought a jag (It's on the sidebar) and sold it again 6 months later. I made a profit of £4.01. That's the only time I've ever made money on a car.

The first one that I turned into a scrapper, I actually bought off a scrapyard for £125. It was a 1985 Ford Capri 1.6 laser.

Both front wheel arches were shot and had to be replaced. Both rear arches were also shot but I managed to rebuild them with kellogs boxes and plenty of filler. The drivers side floor pan was non existent and my mate set fire to the trim while welding it up.

The head gasket went on my way home one day and filled the entire street with white smoke. When I pulled over, other cars were driving past me with their fog lights on. I tried to push it off the roadside into a back alley but I lost my grip on it and it rolled away. Fortunately there was a wheelie bin between it and a wall. It made a mess of somebody's bin but the car was fine. I rang the AA from my local pub but it was snowing and it took 3 hours for the recovery truck to arrive. By that time I was shitfaced but fortunately he had to tow the car home because it couldn't be fixed at the roadside.

I replaced that engine with a 1.8 out of a scrap Ford Sierra. It failed the next MOT because it was rotting faster than I could fix it. The car spent about 8 months parked on grass opposite my house.

Eventually the coppers told me I had to shift it or they would. They were having one of these 'tidy up the community' drives.

When I eventually got rid (£117 on ebay) there was a patch of dead grass where the car used to be that never recovered. At the time you could actually see the brown patch on Google earth.

Now the area has been landscaped and someone else has parked a caravan there.


That was at my old house. Sometime after that I bought an Audi Quattro from the auctions for £250. That was a solid car, no rust anywhere. It was mechanical problems that killed this one.

The starter motor went when I was at work. I had to get my dad to come in his car and tow me across the car park to get it started. I couldn't push the bugger as it weighed a ton and I have little or no muscles. Alright then, no muscles.

Starter motors are pretty simple to replace so I parked it in the backyard and bought a recon unit to fit. It turns out that on this model the starter is on the bottom of the engine, and being in the backyard I had no room to move.

Using a combination of a long pipe with a socket stuck on the end I managed to get two bolts out but I just couldn't shift the third.

I had a few goes at it over time but the car ended up staying in the yard for three months before I got my act together and sorted it.

I fitted the new motor, turned the key and nothing happened.

Another three months later I realised I had fitted the electrics to the new unit the wrong way round.

As my luck would have it, the alternator packed up once I got it running again. It was still charging ok but it was screaming like a bag of cats.

Also, not being moved for six months, one of the break cylinders had seized. I decided to cut my losses and bung it on ebay. The crazy bastard who bought it for £160 drove it back to Leeds with a seized break and a wailing alternator. I was just glad to be shut.

I bought the Jag next because I had a bit of disposable cash. This one also ended up straight in the backyard as it needed a new power steering pipe.

I tried to make my own with a bit of pipe and some jubilee clips but the pressure of the break fluid blew it straight off, spraying PS fluid all over me and all over the road.

The jag became the second of my engineering fails to be veiwable on Google earth.


Only just fits doesn't it.

Fortunately that was a fairly easy fix once I had the right part. The car didn't last too long though as it needed the rear breaks doing at a silly cost for the MOT.

Following that there was the Citroen BX with the leaky hydromatic suspension, the Rover with the blown head gasket, the Escort that blew a con rod straight through the sump, the Carlton that leaked a tank of fuel into the street, the Sierra 4x4 with more electrical problems than I could list in one evening and the Mondeo that wouldn't do more than 30mph (I never found out why).

All this motoring DIY fail began with my Fiesta XR2 that I had as a young lad. It was running a bit pants so I decided I was going to pull out the engine and give it a complete rebuild. At the time my mechanical skills went no further than basic maintenance.

I bought a Haynes manual and went ahead. Much to the surprise of everyone I know, myself included, the car didn't only work but I had it cruising at 120mph (Don't tell my mam, she'll skitz).

The memorable bit about re-doing that engine was the way in which we got it out of the car.

We disconnected it and dropped it onto a skateboard. Seriously. Of course it completely crushed the skateboard but the wheels were still functional enough to move it.

Once we had it out, my friends had to leave to move a washing machine or something. I was supposed to wait until they returned before moving the engine across the road and into the backyard but I decided to have a go myself.

I pushed and dragged the bugger over the road on the skateboard, but when I reached the kerb I couldn't get it any further. I tried lifting it but you can imaging how that went.

I was pondering what to do when the most random thing ever happened.

A huge Greek bloke with arms wider than my waist, who couldn't speak a word of English walked up. He took the heavy end and indicated me to take the other end. Together we lifted the engine and took it through to the back yard.

He smiled and walked off. I've never seen anything like it since.

13 Comments:

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