The day started very well. It was a day I had been looking for for some time as we were due to collect the keys to our new house. The plan was simple. Me and a mate were to tow two of my cars the 270 miles to the new house on trailers whilst Bernie, my girlfriend went ahead to collect the keys. I was using my red 910 Bluebird to tow my Datsun 1200 pickup on a trailer and my good friend Dave Walbrin towed my turbo 510 project behind his blue 910. Simple right? Er… not exactly. The day resulted in not one but two dead Bluebirds. Read on…
Accidents always happen when you least expect it by their very nature. If I was hitting 90mph with a trailer in tow it’d be highly irresponsible and most deserving of an accident yet it happens whilst I’m trundling along at 10mph. We been making good time and with about a third of the journey done we entered some roadworks and the road reduced to a single lane. It was here on a slight decline on a freshly laid surface that it happened. The sun had shone all morning and with about 1 minute of light rain the surface became suitable for the world figure skating championships. On the slight downhill slope even at only 10mph the 910 just would not stop. It would even slow, not a bit! Oh dear.
With nowhere to go and no method of halting my forward progress it seemed inevitable that the brand new Vauxhall Astra in front of me would provide me with my only means of stopping. And so it was. I figured that any contest between a datsun and a modern small hatch would result in things looking bad for the newer car but it seems I was wrong. The Astra recieved a crumpled plastic bumper and a bent tailgate but no real damage to the structure but the Bluebird looked very sad indeed. The right side was now about six inches shorter than the left and the fan had got intimate with the radiator as evidenced by the growing pool of steaming coolant on the road. As if it wasn’t bad enough, the weight of the trailer had buckled the back panel and rear valance as well. Suddenly, it began to look like an uneconomical repair for my car at least. Still, nobody was hurt which is what counts, right?.
As we still had around 190 miles to do there was nothing for it but to abandon my wrecked 910 by the roadside complete with trailer and continue with Dave in his Bluebird towing my 510. The plan now was to drop off the trailer and return in Daves car armed with some tools and a replacement radiator scavenged from the 510. This would allow us to get the crashed 910 drivable and we could hitch the trailer to Daves car. My wrecked would be a sure target for a tug by the traffic cops if I was spotted towing a big trailer, hence the reason for not trying to fix it there and then. The plan sounded great only things never quite seem to go as you plan.
We made it to the new place and dropped off the trailer, after which we all piled into Daves Bluey and headed back south. After about 100 miles Daves car momentarily lost power and produced a huge cloud of smoke. Uh oh. Not a good sign, which was confirmed as being a terminal sign only moments later when the engine let go with a crescendo of noise and considerable amounts of smoke. The temperature hit the red and it was time to pull over. Visual inspection revealed noting obvious so after letting it cool we refilled the radiator and fired it up. It didn’t sound good but at least it ran. After the 910 lost all of it’s water again straight away we determined that the radiator had split! Lucky we has the spare destined for my car so a quick bit of roadside thrashing saw the wrong rad strapped in place and we were rolling again, although not sounding to healthy. We pressed on and the 910 managed another 60 miles before it finally expired, at which point it was only firing on one cylinder and seemed to have no compression on two others. Unfortunately we were on the motorway which is strictly no stopping, so in the face of a huge towing bill we managed to drive the car on one cylinder, assisted by the starter motor about a mile to an exit ramp. We pushed it the last half mile uphill to a services. Fun. Not.
It was now around 10pm, we had two broken 910’s in different places, miles from home. We needed a new plan. So we removed the radiator from Daves deceased 910 and armed with a few tools, we bribed a guy to give us a lift some 40 miles to where my 910 had been abandoned. After tying the front of my car to something heavy and reversing a few times, we pulled the front out far enough to fit the radiator without it touching the fan. After some rudimentary headlight alignment we were ready to roll! So, under cover of darkness we set off, first to Daves car to collect our girls who had been patiently waiting in his car for our return and then home. We all finally reached the new house at 4am and cracked open a few beers as a consolation for having destroyed two fine Datsun 910s
The following morning we returned to collect the stricken car using mine plus trailer (we really had no choice now!) and hauled it back to my new house. It’s fortunate in a way that both cars were 910’s. At least we could pull my good engine and fit it to Daves car! My car however is toast. Goodbye CFB403V, it’s been good knowing you!