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    We’ve all worked on #MG s and #Triumph s, or maybe changed the occasional starter motor on a Mustang, These relatively simple backyard jobs give us a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment, especially when they turn out well. Does your car run better when you’ve washed it, waxed it and really cleaned the windscreen? I know it’s mostly psychological, but it does seem to be true.

    My first car was actually a truck. A #1934-Ford-pick-up with a flat-head V8. It was easy to change the plugs and adjust the carburettor. I remember opening the hood of a friend’s #1968 #Mustang at the time and thinking, oh my God, what a complicated mess this is. Compared with today’s vehicles, that ’ #1968-Ford-Mustang engine seems like a single-cylinder lawnmower.

    I have a friend with a late-model BMW . When the battery went dead, the dealer told him not to change it himself because it would negate all the codes on the car’s computer. So he had it towed to the dealer, they changed the battery and it cost $600. Had he known to run jumper cables to the positive and negative terminals to keep the computer codes alive, he could have done the job himself for a third of the price.

    The greatest gift to buy yourself if you have a modern car is a code-reader to plug into your onboard diagnostic (OBD) system. When I took my 2005 SLR Mercedes-McLaren to be smog-tested, the ‘check engine’ light was on. I listened politely as my dealer explained all the expensive parts that needed to be replaced. I thanked him, went back to my garage, plugged in my code-reader and got a reading of 442. That pertained to the EVAP system, which prevents petrol vapour from escaping from your fuel system into the atmosphere. It usually requires no maintenance but can turn your ‘check engine’ light on.

    Your fuel system up to the tank is pressurised, so a loose petrol cap can activate the light, but it wasn’t that. My next thought was the gasket on the gauge sender unit - after all, the car’s 15 years old - but after dismantling the rear of the SLR I found no dampness or weeping there.

    This was getting scary. How much more of this car do I have to dismantle? I decided to follow the fuel lines, and I came to a plastic T-fitting that had a hairline crack in it. Not enough to leak fuel, but perhaps enough to suck air? As I examined this fitting it broke in my hand. Could it be this simple? Never a fan of plastic fittings - after all, this one had lasted only 15 years - I got one made of brass, installed it, tightened all the fittings... and voila! The ‘check engine’ light was out.

    I plugged in my code reader, the code had cleared. I drove it to the smog station and passed the test, the cost, about three bucks. My little $30 code-reader had saved me thousands of dollars. I have to admit that accomplishing this little task was as much fun as actually driving the car. Rather than looking like a rich guy driving it around, I had actually fixed my automobile.

    Old cars are simple but faults can be hard to diagnose. New cars are very complex, but with code-readers you can find the problem quickly. Who’d have thought it?

    My second supercar problem concerned my #2005-Ford-GT . It ran fine but would not pass the California smog test. Once again, I plugged in my handy code-reader and it told me that all my codes were fine, except for the catalytic converter, The dealer told me how much a catalytic converter would cost and how complicated it was to install. ‘After all, Mr Leno, the car is 15 years old.’

    Could it be something else? I took the car for a long drive and noticed the temperature gauge was reading about 160°F. Most modern supercars tend to run close to 200°F. Asking around, I ascertained that the GT was running too cool to activate the computer that regulated the catalytic converter. We pulled out the thermostat and found that a build-up of limescale was holding it open, so it was allowing more cooling water through than was necessary.

    I picked up a new thermostat at my Ford dealer, that’s the thing about a Ford GT: it might be a supercar, but it’s still a Ford. Once it was installed, the car ran at between 195 and 205 degrees. I took it for a drive, about 15 miles at 45mph, plugged in my code-reader and all the codes read OK, including the catalytic converter. I then drove to the smog station and passed the test. Supercars might be complicated, but they’re still cars. And for all the electronics that make supercars complicated, there are other electronics that help make life easier.


    Do yourself a favour. Buy a halfway-decent code-reader and find your modern car’s OBD port, then, the next time your dealer tells you ‘This is going to be complicated’, why not just plug it in and find out for yourself?
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    CAR #Volkswagen-1600-Type-3 / #Volkswagen-Type-3 / #Volkswagen / #1968-Volkswagen-1600-Type-3 / #1968 / #1968-Volkswagen-1600-Type-3-Fastback / #Volkswagen-1600-Type-3-Fastback / #Volkswagen-Type-3-Fastback

    RUN BY Damon Cogman

    OWNED SINCE 2003

    As the newest member of the team, allow me to introduce the latest addition to the Drive-My fleet. I’ve owned my very beige 1968 1600 Type 3 Fastback for more than 15 years, making it the longest (car) relationship I’ve ever had. We’ve been everywhere together, My little #VW and I, all over Europe visiting countless car shows, historic racing events and even getting pressed into action as my wedding car one summer’s day. When I bought the VW in 2003 it had just arrived in the UK from a lifetime spent in the Californian sunshine near Hollywood. It must have been a bit of a shock to the poor thing to suddenly have to contend with the British weather.

    I’m a big believer in using my classics every day, come rain or shine. So much so, I forsake the modern reliability of a boring Eurobox and rely only on classics for transport. Not always the best idea when I’m stranded at the side of the road at 3am, but that’s what breakdown cover is for, right?

    Consequently, and because I have a stubborn insistence on all-year-round classic motoring, maintenance and repair on my VW is pretty constant. However, as the legendary German engineering has proved, it’s more than up to the job of racking up the miles in the modern world year after year.

    To keep the car from being overwhelmed on the autobahns, it has had one or two upgrades here and there over the years. The first job after its import was to lose the power-sapping smog equipment and temperamental fuel-injection system and replace them with a pair of sexy Dell’Orto carbs. A much simpler option, and they even came with the bonus of a few extra horses. Not to be sniffed at when you only have a whisker over 40 to start with. The original steel wheels were also changed for Mahle Porsche 914 versions and, like many VWs, a gentle lowering for a slice of cool. However, like every classic that gets driven through all weathers, the dreaded rust creeps up on you at some point. So, with a heavy heart, this winter I decided to take my trusty companion off the road and start the process of attending to all the telltale signs of bubbling paint and flaking underseal.

    This is where the story deviates from the familiar one of a light refresh towards what is now a full scale restoration. The rot had spread much further than hoped, and beneath the innocent beige panels lay a collection of horrors that meant many more hours of welding and quite a few swears when each small hole turned into something slightly larger.
    Earlier this year, my old friend Sam Anker drew the short straw and was entrusted with setting about the VW in his spacious and very organised workshop with a grinder and welding torch. It’s been a painful experience, seeing my once immaculate Type 3 reduced to its bare bones, but I know the end is gradually coming into sight.

    Many hours have gone into wire-brushing, paint-stripping, sanding and preparing the floorpan and inner-wing areas, which were the worst spots of rot.

    As I write this, all the rust has been eradicated from the shell and new metal now lives where rusty holes once lurked. And, with a bit of luck, the Type 3 should be heading off to the paint shop very soon. I can’t wait to have my old friend back for a fantastic 2020 of adventures – all over Europe.

    Floorpan is now as good as new – or better.

    Lurking beneath the shiny chrome and layers of wax, the dreaded rust had taken hold. Soon the VW will be back to its pristine best. Three stages of grief, for VW’s caretaker Anker, as the inner wing is overhauled after rot.
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    This 550-horsepower #1968-Porsche-912 is getting all of its power from an unexpected source: the electric motor from a #Tesla-Model-S-P85D . It was made by two Southern California shops, #Zelectric-Motors and #EV-West , which convert old Volkswagens and Porsches into modernized electric cars. It’s a new way to rescue aging vintage cars — though not everyone is happy with the idea.

    / #Porsche-912 / #1968 / #2019 / #Porsche / #Porsche-912-Eelectric / #Zelectric-Motors / #Porsche-912-Zelectric-Motors / #Porsche-911
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    Metal gurus at work

    CAR: #1968-Jensen-Interceptor / #1968 / #Jensen-Interceptor / #Jensen


    My Jensen had been with the chaps at Autostilo (www.autostilo. for a couple of months when I received that call. It might be a good time to pop up to Potters Bar and have a look, they said. Being a glass-half-full kind of guy, my natural reaction to this was fear and the thought that it could prove very expensive. On the way up there, however, I started to rationalise this a bit and found two positive needles in the haystack of uncertainty.

    The first was that a fair bit of progress must have been made, otherwise why bother getting me up there? The second was that it probably meant the car was going to be at its absolute worst because, if I were a bodywork guy, that s when I would want the owner to see it, the better to appreciate the work done thereafter. Hence, things can only get better.
    On my arrival, I was kind of impressed to see the Jensen up in the air on a two-post ramp, because it meant that the sills must be rather stronger than I had previously suspected.

    It turns out I was right on both fronts. Some good progress had been made, but some grisly discoveries had been unearthed, too, horrors which, to be fair, Massimos and Paolos initial inspection and the suspect bubbling on both A-pillars had led them to expect.

    First, the progress. I had sourced most of the panels that were needed from Jason Lawrence down at Rejen, specifically the front and rear lower valances and both rear wheelarch repair sections. Actually, Jason only had one of the arch sections in stock, but I know that Andy Brooks at Richard Appleyard Jensen has an offside item that I will try and prise out of his grasp. Apart from both lower doorskins, these are precisely the same panels that were repaired or replaced when I briefly last had the funds for bodywork, nearly nine years ago.

    The front valance is on and the rear is off awaiting the new item, plus the rear nearside arch is done. Apart from the offside arch, there remains some general tidying and some less visible welding to be done - plus those A-pillars and a proper sill inspection - before we can even think about paint.

    So completion is a long way off, but I have to say that I am delighted with the quality of work I have seen so far and I can hardly wait to get the Jensen back. I’ll just have to be patient; right now the front valance is probably the strongest part of the car!

    Clockwise from right: Tiny Fiat has needed even more metal than hefty Jensen; new front valance; old offside rear arch not so good; new nearside one ready for rubbing-down.
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    Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s I worked in a European car dealership called Foreign Motors. The name seems quaint now, but back then most people bought Detroit iron because it just seemed like you got more for your money. It seemed foolish to pay more for a six-cylinder Mercedes when you could get a Cadillac with an enormous V8 engine and automatic transmission for a whole lot less.

    / #Mercedes-Benz-300SEL-6.3-W109 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SEL-6.3 / #Mercedes-Benz-W109 / #Mercedes-Benz / #1967 / #1968

    Then in 1968 came the game changer: the #300-SEL-6.3 , the fastest four-door sedan in the world. It’s hard to convey the impact this vehicle had on the world when it was introduced. Horsepower and torque were something Americans understood. Even Hot Rod ran a feature on the Mercedes. Car & Driver had drag-racing superstar Don Garlits look it over in an article entitled Superman Meets Super Machine. I still have my copy from October 1969.

    I remember one particular detail in the engine compartment that seemed to stump Garlits, an inner fender panel switch. Then it dawned on him: it was there for safety reasons. It turned off the auxiliary cooling fans when you raised the hood, so you didn’t lose a finger. That was a small example of the level of engineering in this Q-ship.

    There’s no need to re-tell the story of how the car came about. Everyone knows that engineer Erich Waxenberger took the V8 from the Mercedes 600 and shoehorned it into the W108/W109 platform. Kind of like what John DeLorean did when he created the Pontiac GTO by putting the 389ci V8 into an intermediate-sized Le Mans body. Or ‘Le Manz’ as they say here.
    The impact the SEL 6.3 had on me as a 19-year-old was unbelievable. Sure, there were bigger American V8s, but they didn’t have overhead cams, fuel injection, air suspension and four-wheel disc brakes, as well as all the amenities American luxury cars had such as sunroof, air-conditioning, acres of wood trim and a leather interior.

    It took me 40 years, but I finally got one. Mine was a 1968 with over 300,000 miles on it. The previous owner had died and the son just wanted to get rid of the car. I offered him $5500 cash and he took it. That was over ten years ago. Since then, I’ve put another 25,000 miles on the Merc and have had relatively few problems.

    Then it started to go downhill. First off, the air suspension was starting to leak overnight and it was taking longer and longer for the air compressor to raise it back up. Another bad sign was that the warning light on the dash was staying on, indicating that the air compressor could not maintain normal driving pressure.

    I know these cars are supposed to be a nightmare to work on, but the good news is that it’s a mechanical nightmare and not an electronic one. First thing we did was to take off the engine-driven air compressor, thinking we could replace it with an electric one. Then we realised this wouldn’t work because it drives the power steering. We then proceeded to take apart the compressor, figuring we would replace the valves and the piston rings. That didn’t work either, because once we got the piston out we found there were no rings that were commercially available. Before admitting defeat, I then used the greatest tool in my #Mercedes -Benz tool box: the Classic Center.

    I often hear people complain about the prices of classic parts, but only before they start their search, not after. After nearly a week of calling breaker’s yards and various piston-ring manufacturers, trying to find something that worked for a car of which they made only 6526, I finally called the Classic Center.

    I said, I’ve got a 1968 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 and I need an air compressor for the suspension. After I’d had seven days of hearing ‘Good luck finding one of those’, and ‘Yeah, right’, click, the voice on the other end said, ‘Do you want rebuilt or new old stock?’ ‘New old stock’, I said. ‘Next day delivery OK?’ And I had it the next day. Was it expensive? Yes. But not as expensive as a lost week, searching high and low.


    I then realised I could make my 50-year-old car not quite brand new but pretty damn close. I ordered new rubber bladders for the suspension plus bushes, kingpins and everything else to make it last another 50 years. If this sounds like an ad for Mercedes, it’s not. Jaguar, Lamborghini, Ferrari and other such brands are now all doing the same thing. I’ve had too many close calls caused by using replacement parts made by someone other than the original manufacturer. Most recently a front tyre on a 4500lb Duesenberg blew out at 70mph, when the replacement inner tube disintegrated with less than 300 miles on it. The box it came in looked identical to those I had purchased for years from a brand-name manufacturer, except these ones were made – well, you can guess where.
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    Jensen intervention
    CAR: #1968-Jensen-Interceptor / #1968 / #Jensen-Interceptor / #Jensen


    It all started when we were preparing for the Octane Tour to the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court last autumn. Mark Dixon announced that he would be doing it in a lovely new Bentley, not his Mustang because it wasn’t in good enough condition, this took me aback because Mark’s Mustang is a minter compared to either of my current classics.

    Maybe Mark was just saying that to warn me off using the Jensen - until then it had never crossed my mind not to - and potentially embarrassing us in front of our readers. Or maybe not, but either way it really made me aware of the depressing state of my cars and their unsuitability for ‘official’ occasions, those frilly-knicker arches and all the other bodily shortcomings were suddenly and hugely amplified in my mind.

    To be fair, the bodywork was last looked at eight years ago and I guess that in my mind it was just too soon to need to revisit it to this degree. So I had been ‘driving around’ the issues for years. Of course, much-used, all-season cars are always going to deteriorate more than classics tucked up in a garage and wrapped in blankets over winter, but there is only one thing worse than using your classic at will, that is not being able to use it, and I was damned if I was going to have a car that was mechanically sound, but which I felt compelled to leave at home for purely aesthetic reasons.

    So I started casting my net for someone I trusted to make the Jensen great again, there are loads of those, but when we added the filters of doing it on my terms and to my budget, the playing field thinned rather.

    Good pal Tom Cribb recommended Massimo Olimpis Autostilo (01707 658723), which had been looking after Tom’s many Alfas for years. We contrived a visit so they could check out the car and I could check them out, and we all got on like a house on fire. Of course they desperately wanted to do a proper body-off restoration, but I insisted that this time around the best I could stretch to was to make it solid and presentable. Of course there are degrees of presentable and, such is the work Autostilo carries out when broke Jensen owners aren’t forcing them to compromise, I sensed these guys would be near the top end.

    We arranged a second visit for a proper on-ramp inspection, and agreed an initial price exclusive of undiscovered nasties. I wish I could fund a full resto, but I can’t. Neither can I jettison the Jensen. So, watch this space...
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    / #1968-Citroën-DS21-Decapotable / #Citroen-DS21-Decapotable / #Citroen-DS21 / #Citroen / #Citroen-DS / #1968

    CHASING CARS Russ Smith’s tempting buys

    For sale at #Bonhams , London, December 1, Why buy it? Any #DS drop-top is a rare thing of beauty, and Bonhams’ goddess compounds the attraction by being one of – it is believed – only six examples built in right-hand drive. Straight, smart and with just the right level of patina, it has covered just 700 miles in the last three years. Price estimate £150,000-£180,000
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    Ben Field
    No. 1... with a #1968-Bullitt ! / #1968-Ford-Mustang-390GT-Fastback / #1968 / #Ford-Mustang-390GT-Fastback / #Ford-Mustang / #Ford / #Steve-McQueen

    Classic American was approached with an offer we just couldn’t turn down: to be the sole UK publication to feature one of the original (probably the most wellknown one in terms of time on screen) Mustangs used in Bullitt on its return visit to San Francisco. Over the years we’ve featured various Bullitt tributes and replicas, but never one of the original cars and certainly not shot on location in San Francisco.

    I hope you enjoy the feature. The film is always voted one of the best car chase sequences of all time and it’s amazing to hear how the car led such a pedestrian and ordinary life in New Jersey after its brief blaze of glory on the silver screen.

    Another favourite article of mine this month is Jim Maxwell’s feature on retro automotive accessory advertising, which starts on page. Even after all these years being around American cars and Classic American magazine, it’s still a real buzz to find out/discover things I never knew, such as the snippets in Jim’s feature. For instance I was aware Trico manufactured wiper blades, but I never knew Trico stood for Tri-Continental, or that the firm was based in Buffalo, New York. Likewise, while I was aware of 3M as a company, I didn’t know that the ‘3M’ stood for ‘Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing’ or that Delco was actually an abbreviation of Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company…

    As you read this, the finals of this year’s Footman James & Kingstown Shipping Car of the Year competition will have taken place, but this magazine will have already gone to print; however, if you take a look at the Classic American website and/or Facebook page, you’ll be able to find out who won after the competition has finished!

    The original Bullitt Mustang at the launch of the #2019-Ford-Mustang-Bullitt-Special-Edition .
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