11 March 2007

baby you can drive my car pt (n+1)

This is the story of the mighty Land Crab, a tale of not so much woe as inconsequence. Guaranteed to appeal to about .005% of my reader. But, on the outside chance that you are intensely interested in why someone would buy a Mk1 Austin 1800, and what happened when he did...don't say you weren't warned, and read on!

Why did I buy it? Some months earlier I had attempted to demolish the block of flats across the road from my folks' place, which was where I was living at the time. A deadly cocktail of alcohol and unrequited love combined one night, resulting in a very bent Triumph 2000. So it got carted off for several months' straightening and I immediately bought a Yamaha RD250. Another story entirely, for another time. Although it sort of prompts me to see whether there are any models of that bike.

Anyway bikes are exciting but a bit of pain in some circumstances. So, one Saturday I was out with a mate who wanted to look at an EH Premier. It was a lovely car and he bought it. It served him very well and indeed I also benefited as it was the tow car when I brought the Triumph 2500 home after its water-ingesting incident, some years later. But I digress. While he was doing the deal on the Holden, I was wandering around the yard and up the back - they were always up the back - was an Austin 1800. A rush of blood, well something...to the brain occurred. I took it for a drive and decided I had to have it. I was skint at the time so the land crab became the only car I've ever bought on hire purchase. I got some cash a few months later and paid it off after only two payments, which seemed to result in me getting a bad credit record. I assume this had something to do with AGL not making enough interest on the deal, but who knows?

Those of you familiar with the 1800 will recall that it probably was the slowest car in the world. Powered (using 'power' in its loosest sense) by the B series motor in single carburettor 1800 cc form, it didn't so much accelerate as acquire momentum by osmosis. Dead bears decompose more quickly, I would think. On the credit side, it was probably one of the most comfortable cars ever built - with two bloody great armchairs up front, it was like sitting in someone's comfy lounge.

This one turned out mainly OK. It let me down badly only once. I took my old man back to Dubbo to collect a Morris Marina, bought from his old business when he decided to upgrade to a contemporary car from his 1958 Austin A95. As we were just crossing the bridge over the Macquarie River to commence the trip home (ie, we had done all of about 2 km), it jammed in second gear. Turns out this was a design fault that many Mk1's fell victim to - they used a cable gear change and the cables would stretch and twist. The Mk 2s adopted a rod change mechanism. So we had to turn around and leave the car with my uncle for repairs.

However that incident led to probably the funniest thing to happen with the land crab. When I came back to collect the car, I decided to go to Sydney for a few days. I was cruising down the Mitchell Highway when, just out of Bathurst, the cops pulled me over for (allegedly) speeding. Now the cops around Bathurst had a fearsome reputation at that time so I wasn't surprised to be stopped, except I was in the 1800. I simply didn't believe it was that fast and that's what I told them. And they in turn didn't believe me.

Eventually the Triumph 2000 was repaired and returned to me. I found someone equally loony to take the 1800 off my hands. Would I have another one? Hmm....probably not. Very comfortable seats, though. I recommend them.


GoodToBeWithYou said...

I seem to remember them as being reputed to have ( you have to be careful these post-burke days about making claims about anything) more leg-room room in the back than a rolls royce. This is the car they should re-jig as the world electric car, with the addition of layback seats in the front, perfect for crashing out in after getting pissed as at parties.

phil said...

Now there's an idea!

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