Irreplacable parts - Faine 449

By: Jon Faine

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car parts car parts

It was held to the chassis by little more than cobwebs

What is the most stupid thing you have done to a car? The biggest mistake? The most costly cock-up?

Over years I have done my share of stupid. As a silly teenager, freshly licensed, I was astonished while towing a broken and un-cooperative Renault 4 (is there any other type?) when the front bumper became completely detached. It was held to the chassis by little more than cobwebs.

I have previously told the hilarious but almost tragic tale of nearly collapsing the entire garage onto my head by attaching a cable to a steel roof support so I could haul a dead Citroen in from the street. The wheels on the car did not move but the garage roof support did.

I posed the "stupid stuff" question at the annual car club Christmas dinner. Danny giggled as he told of setting a Triumph Stag on fire, welding a muffler but not noticing the plastic fuel pipe next to it. The inevitable explosion and fire only lasted a few seconds, extinguished before serious damage.


Alex told of a prang while bringing a just-serviced car out from the workshop. Distracted by a pretty woman walking past, he managed to rear end a stationary vehicle and rearranged the front of a customer’s nearly new car.

Recently, I destroyed a power steering pump by running it without power steering fluid. Needless to say, pumps get hot without fluid to keep them cool. No fluid = seized pump. How this came about is instructive for those of us who think being hands-on is therapeutic.

Just over a year ago I "retired" and the occasion deserved a party. To keep a promise to my wife not to spend the evening hiding in the shed, I left the garage door open and the light on for those who wanted to see the relics.

One guest was an old mate I had not seen for ages. He sauntered back from the garage and buttonholed me. "I didn’t know you had an E-type…. Do you want another?" was his tempting opening gambit.

To cut the long story short, I ended up selling my beloved E-type 2+2 so I could buy his coupe. The car had been in his family for many years but in recent times was neglected. Whilst structurally sound and rust free, the radiator leaked badly, the leather seats were totally shot, there were multiple electrical gremlins, the steering rack and pump leaked…. and so on. But on a short test drive I loved the factory Webasto sunroof, the triple laced wires, the tight motor and quiet gearbox.

If you have never driven an E-type you will be unaware that these magnificent looking cars are also sensational to drive. They do not need power steering. But weak lazy yanks apparently insisted on it, and thus the factory belatedly offered PAS, towards the end of the 6 cylinder cars. It is very rare and particularly so with right-hand-drive. My new coupe is a rhd manual Series 2 car with factory power steering.


Re-commissioning went smoothly. I got the radiator, rack and pump out with little kerfuffle and sent the various bits to specialists. Then Covid shut everyone down for months and then I could restart. With small hiccups it all went together and the car started with no fuss. But the steering was heavy. Visually the pump was circulating fluid from the external reservoir, but there was no assistance at the rack.

First advice was to bleed the rack, by turning the steering lock to lock. After two attempts – once with the car on stands to take the weight off the front – no change. I took it back to the guys who did the pump and rack. Their diagnosis was brutal and blunt.

"Who installed this pump back into the car?" was the somewhat pointed question.

"I did" was the confession, to which the retort was "...and your mechanical qualifications are what...?" And on it went.

Apparently while re-installing the pump, I blocked the feed pipe, starved the pump of fluid and cooked it. Irrepairable.

Replacements are not available. Anywhere. At all. I’ve tried the UK, the US and needless to say locally there are none. Zip. Zilch, Nil. Nothing so far.

So what next? I hope I have good news before next month’s magazine.


From Unique Cars #449, February 2021

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