Do cars get SARS? Faine 379

By: Jon Faine, Photography by: Jon Faine

Presented by

in the shed2 in the shed2
in the shed in the shed
citroen citroen

Are cars vulnerable to contagious diseases just like the drivers? Jon Faine ponders if a mechanical infection can spread through the garage.

There are four old cars in the shed. Well, five, but one is just a chassis sitting on trestles with some bits of timber dangling loosely pretending to represent a body frame.

The others are actual cars. Engines and stuff. And each equipped with four wheels that go round. Sometimes.

But it seems cars are vulnerable to contagious diseases just like the drivers. My shed stands as Exhibit One.

First, the Jaguar lost its brakes. The booster kacked itself. Refer to Section AA4.8 of the Jaguar E Type ‘Series One and a Half’ loose-leaf green vinyl ring-binder Repair Manual "Kacked brake booster replacement". This was shortly after every other component of the entire brake system had been renewed or replaced just last year. Rear cradle out. Front hubs apart. New old stock wheel cylinders all round, discs machined, new pads, brake lines remade by hand bending from new copper – all topped off with a re-sleeved and rubbered master cylinder. But the power booster seemed in perfect order, so why touch it? Why indeed.

So after no more than a handful of miles, suddenly while travelling at speed the pedal pressure sinks – the tell-tale thunking noise is audible through the firewall above even the other various Jaguar noises and the inevitable happens. Call the tow truck.

Jaguar -e -type

While waiting my turn in the Jaguar elective surgery queue, to the shed at home it goes. And there begins my next problem.

Sulking Jaguar clearly spends the lonely nights moaning to its neighbour and infects it with brake failure too. So just a few years after a total brake rebuild, the Citroen Traction Avant catches SARS – Sudden Absence of Retardation Syndrome. This highly contagious disease spreads through the garage at an alarming rate.

In no time, the English have spread it to the French and then, horror of horrors even the German gets it. The always reliable – always starts – nothing ever goes wrong – built to last – thunks solidly when the doors shut as does the glove box – ("Those French and English cars are rubbish, not like us Teutonic marvels.") – BMW gets the staggers as well.

Mind you, as the infection spreads, the severity of the disease diminishes. Apparently the World Health Organisation and the Atlanta Centre for Disease Control have observed the same thing. The virus becomes less potent as it spreads.

The Jaguar – first with the contagion – has total loss. The Citroen suffers from only one wheel cylinder collapsing. The BMW 3.0CSi develops an inexplicable and ungainly disc and pad squealing that makes driving unpleasant and seems to be designed to punish me for leaving the beast exposed to the mechanically exotic virulent bug in the first place.

Mitsubishi -colt

Not as bad as our neighbours though. And this is where the microbial mutation of SARS becomes a subject demanding urgent scientific research. The neighbour’s car has developed a strange and rare condition affecting not just its brakes but the entire sedan. It has had a total central nervous system shutdown – a vehicular superbug has shattered its immunity. I fear the stewards might call for the screens on this one – after all it is a Colt.


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