Our Cars

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I  did make mention of this van some time ago and it has occasionally sneaked into frame in pictures I have posted so I thought I’d post up some better pics of it. A friend in France bought this 1982 Peugeot J9 and came over in it back in February. He left it here for me to register and sell on his behalf. Having made some use of it recently, I think it’s a brilliant vehicle… it’s much like a French version of the old Commer PB or Spacevan, only much better!

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920LCHa

This morning my Nissan Cherry Europe GTi was rudely awoken from its winter slumber and wheeled out into the rain for a trip to the testing station. Normally, I refrain from taking it out in the rain if I can help it but the MOT test was already booked so I didn’t have a lot of choice. I have had its fruity little Alfa boxer engine running at least once a month over the winter but this was its first time out on the road since September last year. It’s good to have it back on the road as it’s a fun car to hustle along on twisty back lanes, even in the wet.

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Spring is nearly here so it’s time to think about getting cars out of their winter hibernation. I usually aim to have them on the road for late April so, as I’ve got a ton of other stuff to do at the moment, I figured that I better make a start now! The first one into the workshop is Ol’ Bluey, my 1962 Bluebird wagon which needs it’s exhaust fixing as it had started to leak at the end of last year. Back in 2011, when I got the Ol’ Bluey back on the road after it’s thirty eight year slumber, I fabricated a new exhaust system for it but only from the existing front pipe back. On reflection, I should have done the front pipe as well as it’s a bit of a mess…

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goldM10a

I bought this 1989 Nissan Prairie Anniversary II via eBay in August last year, primarily because it was cheap and I figured it’d be useful for spare parts for mine. It had a little bit of road tax and some MOT left so I drove it for a few weeks before laying up. It went well and with 91,000 miles on the clock, it’s done some 70,000 less than my red Prairie but also it had pretty bad rust around the rear arches and was had also been converted for wheelchair use. These two factors alone meant that I had no intention at all of returning it to the road. However, rather that it being cannibalised for parts as I had planned and the remainder getting shredded and shipped off to China to become next year’s new Chery, it’s back on the road instead!

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Unbelievably, it’s been 3 years and 9 months since I last wrote an update on this, my Dodge van and only non-Datsun project.  That’s not to say I haven’t done anything on it in that time, it’s that I’ve just done so little that I didn’t bother to document any of it. I’ve completed a few things like re-installing the dash, getting the steering column housing polished and re-fitting the windscreen (which was a nightmare!), but the real major bodywork has taken a back seat for a while. Most of the bodywork is actually done, but I still have four of the six doors and the bonnet to mend, all of which have varying amounts of rust. I want this van on the road for summer so I’m now back on it and I started with the front doors…

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I pushed my yellow 160J SSS into my workshop while I was having a move around this week in order to give it a once over to see what was required to get it back in working order. As I’ve mentioned before, I have owned this car for 18 years and it’s been off the road for 15 of those! In 2001 I started doing the work to get it roadworthy again as I wanted to take it on a road trip to Finland, only to discover it was way rustier than I had anticipated and so, minus it’s engine and gearbox which I had removed in order to do some welding, it was left under a cover in the shed as I took a different Datsun to Finland. Sadly, that’s where it’s stayed ever since and in the intervening years its engine got pilfered for another Datsun too.

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I guess the good thing about this is that back in 2001, a Datsun 160J SSS wasn’t worth much in the UK, especially one in rough condition, but today it’s a very desirable model and even a really rough one would probably make over £1000. Had I parted with this car in 2001 it would most probably have ended up as scrap, so ironically, 14 years of neglect in my shed has probably saved it…

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Having decided that later this year I will attempt to return my yellow Datsun 160J SSS to the road, I took the opportunity to have a good look at it and decide what it requires. Apart from a considerable amount of welding (more on this tomorrow) it needs an engine and gearbox fitting which I was lucky enough to to acquire recently, some carpet which I’ll have to make and some decent bumpers which I think I have among my parts stash. It also needs some new badges which, although I have some, they’re destined for my black 160J SSS. The rear quarter panel ‘Datsun 160J’ badges I can live without if I can’t find any but the round SSS emblems on the rear pillars are essential as they look really bare without them. So I bit the bullet and paid out for some brand new ones which arrived a couple of days ago, all the way from Kuwait. Feast your eyes on these beauties!

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My thanks to Saad, who is a Kuwait based eBay seller (ukstar76) selling new old stock Datsun parts. Everything I have bought from Saad in the past has arrived in great condition and the delivery has been very fast too.

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I’m pretty sure that when the M10 Prairie was new back in the early 80’s it wouldn’t have been considered to be a really small car but these days it looks tiny against modern small cars. The Vauxhall Meriva to the right is considered to be a ‘Mini MPV’ which I would guess is the class of vehicle the Prairie falls into. The Citroën Berlingo on the left looks huge next to the Prairie yet it too is considered to be a small car and like the Meriva it almost certainly doesn’t have as much useful space inside as the Prairie offers. I guess the Prairie doesn’t have the fuel efficiency or crash protection that either of these modern equivalents but it still beats them hands down for practicality. I wouldn’t swap it for either of them.

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I’ve had a bit of a break over Christmas but now I’m back it’s time to look forward to the coming year and think about what will be happening through 2015.

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This is going to be a year of major work on my projects and I am aiming to finish as many as I can. Having spent the last two years clearing out and selling off the bulk of my un-finished (and un-started!) projects I’ve lightened my workload considerably. In fact I now only have five projects to do and of those, it is possible that only four will actually get done as one may become a parts donor.

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510sss00

So finally the French Datsun 1600 SSS is home and I can finally take a close look to see just how much work I have taken on. The answer is quite a lot! The rear quarters and boot floor are particularly rotten as are the sills, and the interior is in terrible shape, although remarkably the dash top isn’t split! Fortunately I have plenty of parts stashed away including lots of new panels, original carpet and seats… and if necessary I’m even willing to use my 1400 Deluxe 510 as a donor to rebuild this car.  That would be a tough call to make but a European 510 SSS is a very rare car and so worth every effort to restore it. Thankfully all the important SSS parts are there and serviceable. Click through to take a look at the car as it currently stands…

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