Dodgy dealings - Morley's World 463

By: Dave Morley

corona van corona van

Life goes the full circle for Morley and his Celica escapades

Ever feel like you might be holding yourself back? I mean, I’m the first to admit that I’m fairly stunted when it comes to personal development. And in terms of mental age, I refuse to move beyond teenager status. A fart joke, for instance, possibly shouldn’t be the funniest thing a bloke with grey hair has ever heard. And yet…

But even by my appalling standards, I still manage to surprise myself with just how stagnant the murky waters of my troubled mind have become. This was hammered home recently with a Celica-related incident that proved to me just how far I haven’t come.

Let me set the scene. Back when Corona was a Toyota, not a virus, I had myself an RA23 Celica which I promptly backyard-tuned to a standstill, blew the engine to smithereens and subsequently fitted a twin-cam engine from a mob importing them by the container-load (back then). This was a car I came to absolutely love and, for the most part, it was totally Toyota reliable. But now and then it would blot its copy-book with a gremlin that wasn’t always down to me.

The most annoying one happened when a mate and I were cruising the coast for a few days, living off counter meals, camping on the beach and hunting the snark (as you did). Suddenly, the old RA23 developed a case of the vapours. Wouldn’t idle, refused to run properly and was hard to start. It only ran remotely properly when you gave it full welly, so that’s pretty much how I drove it home at the end of our fact-finding mission into the nocturnal aspects of coastal life.


Morley has a thing for these

Once I got it home, I wheeled it around to the bloke around the corner who ran a little workshop and he dug into the twin-cam. Didn’t take him long to figure out what was wrong; apparently, the raw fuel pouring out of the front side-draft was the big clue. And as soon as he whipped off the top-cover of the 40mm Solex in question, it became obvious that the emulsion tube (with its jet at each end) had begun to wind its way out of the carburettor. The farther the tube backed out of its thread, the worse the mixture became on that cylinder, and the crappier the engine ran. Anyway, there’s the back-story to all of this.

Fast forward 40 years, and I’m still messing around with old Celicas, this time my RA40 which – surprise, surprise – wound up with the same-spec 18RG twin-cam I plonked into the RA23 all those years ago. These days, of course, I don’t use the old Tojo for daily stuff, but I still drive it as often as I can because, well, because I like it. Especially that engine.

So, anyhow, I’m driving home in the old girl a few days ago when, out of the blue, it develops a case of the staggers. Won’t idle properly, running rough and there’s black fuel smoke out the exhaust pipe. My immediate thought (thanks to modern ULP) was that the spark plugs had given their best. So I slammed a new set of NGKs into the Yamaha-designed had. No good. Same as it was.

Then I moved on to the fuel system as the potential culprit. See, when I got the car, it had been sitting in a shed for about 13 years with half a tank of old fuel just sitting there, brewing up rust and scale. The first few weeks of ownership were spent changing the fuel filter every week. As the old one fouled up with crud, I’d switch it for a new one and motor off again. Usually for a thousand kays or so until the new one suffered the same fate. And this was after removing the tank and cleaning it during the recommissioning process. So, being an ex-boy scout and, therefore, prepared, I fished around in the spares box for another new fuel filter, plugged it in and crossed my fingers. Nope. She still had the staggers.

toyota celica morley.jpg

And then suddenly, it dawned on me. For some reason, the way the car was driving was more or less the same as my RA23 drove when the emulsion tube jumped ship. Could it be? Nah, surely not…

Even though I’d convinced myself it couldn’t be the same problem, I unscrewed the top of the front Solex and peered into the innards. And right there was the left-hand emulsion tube and the main air-jet, poking out of the jet-block a few millimetres more than they should have been. Not even finger-tight. The emulsion tube hadn’t backed completely out, but it was well on its way to doing so. And the more the engine vibrations jiggled it out of its thread, the worse the mixture became and the lumpier the car ran. I almost passed-out from four decades’ worth of déjà vu.

Within a few seconds of recovering, I had the tube tight in its thread again, the carby buttoned up and that twin-can singing sweetly. And that’s when I began to contemplate how short my personal journey has been. I dunno; at least this time I fixed it myself, but it made me reflect on how little some things have changed. And then the bloke on the radio told a fart joke and any chance of further introspection instantly disappeared. And I went for a drive…headed for the coast.


Yes, the HQ Holden is 51 years old

Age shall not…

I’m just gonna park this here… The HQ Holden is now 51 years old (Its 50th was last year, but Covid cancelled the party). But consider that when the first HQ appeared, there were Model T Fords that weren’t yet 50 years old. Think about that. But not for too long, you’ll only wind up depressed. Then again, we should remember not to bitch about getting old; it’s a privilege not all of us get to enjoy.

| Read next: 50 years of Holden HQ


Henry Ford, with his son Edsel and his famous Model T

Lies, damned lies and HiLux utes

Now, I’m all for a bloke grabbing a bargain when he sees one, but fellas who tell big pork-pies in order to make a financial (or any other kind) profit, really give me the creeps. Here’s what happened the other day: A couple of years ago, I bought a very nice little Toyota HiLux ute. An early girl, complete with a 12R pushrod engine, four-on-the-column and enough charm to end a war.


My 12R HiLux donk really loved a sip... of oil

I fiddled around with it, tuned it up and gave it a good clean out and, once I was done with all that, it had turned into a nice little ute with no rust and a really straight body. That’s rare for a 40-year-old ute, of course, because these things weren’t purchased to be coddled…mostly they were worked to death.

Nice though it was, however, the ute wasn’t perfect. The suspension rubbers were shot, the windscreen was cracked and doubtless there were a few other things underneath that needed doing. The worst of it, though, was that the old girl liked a drink of engine oil. I mean, it REALLY liked a sip of 10W40. Start with a full sump, drive it more than about 150km, and you needed to stop and top up the oil or you were gonna run the bugger dry. I almost found this out the hard way the first time I took it anywhere. But because the engine didn’t make any weird noises or blow smoke or rattle, it wasn’t something you automatically noticed.

Eventually, I decided to move the HiLux on to its next adventure, so I advertised it at a reasonable price and started fielding the calls. One bloke wanted to come and look at it now. Okay, fine by me. He rocks up, offers me slightly less than I was asking and we do the deal. But before we shake hands, I sit him down and detail the car’s drinking habits and walk him through every flaw I know about. I’ve gotta sleep at night, right?

And then, literally a day or two later, I see my ex-ute pop up on a for sale page at more than twice what I sold it for. This didn’t bother me on the basis that I’d maybe sold it a bit cheap, but I did find it a bit disturbing because the market value of the ute I knew was nothing like what Old Mate was asking. There was just no way that car was worth that money. Caveat emptor is one thing, but this bloke was just taking the piss.


1587cc and 83 neddies, Not hypersonic then

But the further I read down the advert, the worse it got. And that was when the ute went from grossly overpriced to criminally misrepresented. For a start the bloke was claiming to be the car’s second ever owner. Now, that would have made me the bloke who bought it brand-new, and I sure as hell knew that wasn’t true. In fact, I wasn’t even the second owner, and the Tojo had at least two other owners before me. Probably more. I kept reading. Not only was the new owner saying that the car needed nothing for roadworthy (So why hasn’t it got a roadworthy, then?) he makes absolutely no mention of the condition of the engine. And then it got worse again; the seller adding that the thing had a full service history (it didn’t). By now, I’m just sitting there with my jaw on the ground, struggling to believe anybody could be so blatantly dishonest.

The price then came down a few hundred bucks, and then the ad disappeared. I sincerely hope the fella simply pulled the advert on the basis of too much flak in the comments section, as opposed to he sold the car to some unsuspecting poor sod who now owns the world’s most expensive oil burning Toyota ute.

Seriously, mate, if you’re reading this, I really don’t know where your head’s at. People I’ve mentioned this to reckon I ought to dox you, but I’d be just happy if you read this and recognise yourself. At which point, you better hope to hell nobody else does. Particularly the poor bastard that bought the ute (if that’s what happened, and they paid anything like your asking price).


Even if – as I suspect – your price got you laughed off the internet, you wanna take a long hard look at yourself, pal. ’Cos mate, this past-time doesn’t need people jacking up the prices of collectible cars and taking them beyond the reach of so many of us. Which is bad enough, but that’s before we get to the lying and cheating stuff.

They reckon used-car dealers can be dishonest buggers. Yeah, well, it strikes me that a shifty private seller can be as crooked as the best of them.

Wheel Tub Time Machine

This month, the older me has been thinking that one piece of advice the younger me could have put to good use was something that real mechanics circle back to every day of their working lives. And this is, when in doubt, go back to first principles.


NASA’s Gene Kranz said, "Let’s work the problem and not make thngs worse by guessing."

Yeah, sure, sometimes you’ll bang your head against something unfathomable and unexpected, but nine times out of ten, the problem will be right under your nose and will involve that holy trinity, fuel, spark and compression. Even modern stuff, when hooked up to a diagnostic computer will still throw up fault codes directly linked to these fundamental systems. The more things change etc…


From Unique Cars #463, March 2022


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