Episode 22. Talbot Alpine C562 NJM. (Part 6).

I've not been driving the Talbot as much as I'd like to lately. Having said that, I have done, or should that be, I have had done a few jobs I was planning to do, mainly give it a good service. So, apart from the regular Oil, Filters, Plugs etc, while my mechanic was servicing my Talbot I asked him to have a look at the brakes as I felt they were a little on the spongey side, I just felt that they could be better, and I felt that the brake fluid was probably the same stuff it left the factory with 30 years ago! I also asked him to change the pads and shoes while he was at it.

So after a small brake overhaul, and some new DOT 4 in the system the brakes felt to be much sharper, which was good. Other jobs that need to be done are more about parts that have broken. For example, with the warmer weather I thought that I would roll down the drivers window, well that wasn't a good idea. Firstly, the window seemed stiff to roll down, and as I am a man, I decided that the best way to 'fix' the stiff window was simply to add more power to the winder handle. This did indeed work out very well. However after arriving at my destination I decided to roll the window back up, again, it was stiff, actually VERY stiff, but thats ok, I just applied more power and then... It was broken! Upon taking it all aprt it would appear the wire that forms part of the mechanism has snapped, but worse that that, so have the plastic spools that the wire goes around! Great! So, if any of you out there reading this happens to have a manual window winder for the drivers side door of a 1985 Talbot Alpine, please let me know as I have a good home for it waiting! The other thing that is now broken is the passengers side tail light. This happened on the school run one morning, and I'm fairly sure I know who the culprit is, but of course no one saw it. But, there's this woman, and she drives an old Vauxhall Zafira, it's a real shed of a car, not a straight panel on it, not even the roof, and covered in scratches, it's only made worse by the fact that it's black. Anyhoo, she's what would best be described as a contact parker, actually, by the look at her car, I reckon she's probably more  of an impact driver! I've seen her parking, and she's just keeps going until the car infront, or behind moves as she bumps it, this is usually followed by the sound of an alarm! I have a particular dislike for this kind of driver, and I genuinely believe that if you don't like your car, and have no interest in driving, and motoring, then you have no busness owning a vehicle, and being on the road! This is because I believe people like this, and don't get me wrong here, she's a lovely lady, friendly, chatty, nice to be around, she's even good looking! But she can't drive for toffee! Anyway as I was saying, if you look on your car as just a means of getting about, and never bother cleaning it, maintaining it, or looking after it, you probably don't care too much about it, and you probably don't care at all about anyone elses car. I realise of course that a car is just a machine, a tool if you like, but I think that the best craftsmen are the ones who look after their tools... Anyhoo, rant over, but this does of course mean that I'm looking for a passenger side tail light for a series 2 Talbot Alpine, or Solara, again, if anyones got one kicking about in their garage, please do let me know.

Anyway, as I was saying I've neglected the fabulous Talbot lately. But I've had some time off this month, and in that time off I thought that while my two little Monsters were at school, and Mrs Clint is at work, I'm going to head out in the Talbot for a bit of a drive round one day. This has not happened. I can't really explain why this hasn't happened, but I guess I've just been plain lazy, and it was easier to go and jump into the Ranger and drive that, rather than go and take the battery off the Talbot, charge it up, re-fit it, and drive it. I did think about it though, and the more I thought about it the more I thought that I needed to get out in the Talbot again. So, Saturday night, was the night. My friend, came over to do a spot of gardening, and have a spot of dinner (yep, I know, I'm so rock n roll it hurts!) I casually mentioned to him that I had planned to take the Talbot out for a bit of a spin-a-rooney tonight. Ok he said, where shall we go. A quick check with Mrs Clint, and my friends owner, and it was all systems go for a bit of cruising in the Talbot!

So, first things first, see if it will start. Knowing the battery was flat I took along two battery jump packs, I put the first one on, and it slowly cranked away, but there was no way it was going to go, so, I put the second one on as well, pretty soon it was rattling away happily, and we were off! I had decided that we would cruise down to Muddyford which is about 40ish miles from my house, and that for a change we would go cross country, rather than just blast boringly along the motorway. Its funny, while I've been busy driving other cars you kinda forget how raw the Talbot is, or how the exhaust howls and make your ears go numb after a long drive! This rawness, combined with the howl of the exhaust is what make this car in my eyes. When you're driving it, due to the excessive noise and lack of driver comforts it gives you the illusion that you are travelling faster than you are. As we blasted through the twisty and undulating country roads the drive felt extremely invigorating with tight bends, and steep desents and inclines which the Talbot was coping well with as I went up and down the box, and sawed away at the steering wheel.

Being that it is a mid eighties Talbot it is quite light and responsive, even though it's only got a 1600cc engine, the engine roars away, and it accelerates very well. Due no doubt to it's power to weight ratio being aided by rust, which as we all know, rust is lighter than carbon fibre! The steering too is very responsive, and on several of the tighter corners the tyres chirped away as we went round! It felt pretty darn fast, and pretty good fun, I glanced at the speedo to see just how fast we were blasting through the countryside, 50!! FIFTY MILES AN HOUR?!! I reckon in any of my other cars this drive would've felt like I was crawling along at a snails pace, but in the Talbot with it's exhaust roaring away behind me, it's engine rattling away infront of me like a bag full of rusty spanners, it's slammed and quite stiff suspension jarring us on every twig we ran over, and complete lack of creature comforts in the cockpit I felt like I was blezzing through the countryside like Jimmy McRae on the RAC! In short it was a fantastic drive, at a relatively slow, and safe speed, especially as it was dry, and there were very few other people on the road! It was, in short, great!

 It really was quite a lovely evening, romantic even... Look at that sunset... Gorgeous!! Anyway, as we move away from Broke Back Mountain, and back somewhere near my point, all of this got me thinking, all my friends who are bikers go out riding. They're not going anywhere in particular, they just hop on their bikes and head on out on the open road, for no other reason than a recreational ride, I've even done it myself on my own bikes. We (or atleast I), as car drivers don't  seem to do this. As a rule if we get into the car we're going somewhere, there's a purpose, we're off to work, the shops, meet family or friends, go to the cinema, so on and so fourth. We don't just jump into the car for recreation, just for a drive round, just for fun! Why is this? Why don't we just go for a drive, I like driving my cars, it's fun, but they sit forlornly out on the street waiting for me to need to go to work, the shops, take my Monsters to school etc. This is a shame, as when I drive it, it's an event, a bit of an adventure, it's fun (unless it breaks down and I end up on the side of the road for hours on end waiting for the RAC to show up!). I don't even feel the need to be blasting through the countryside at warp speed (apparently) like many of my Power Ranger clad biking mates feel the need to do on their bikes, I'm happy at just 50odd MPH!

Even the drive back was pretty cool, as it was getting dark we decided to just drive along the M27 then the M3 toward home, and although the road was fairly empty we still only drove along at about 65MPH, and it was still fairly enjoyable, by the time I got home I looked like I had been driving with a coathanger in my mouth my grin was so big! Out on the motorway we got passed by several cars who all gave me the thumb as they passed, I don't know why, but this in my eyes is damn cool! I stopped to get some go-go juice, and had some random fella come up and just start talking to me about my Alpine, again, I think this is pretty cool. The funny thing is, when I had my original Chrysler Alpine one of the things that I hated about it was just how un-cool it was in my eyes. All my friends had Capris, Cortinas, and Escorts. My Chrysler was the newest car in our little group, but it was so un-cool it hurt. Fast forward nearly three decades, and now, in the same kind of car I'm getting thumbs up from people. People are interested in it, they even like it. I come back to it when I'm out shopping to find lads, and Dads photographing it in the car park. Its a cool car, due no doubt to the fact that you just don't ever see them about, and very often the people who want to talk to me about it have no idea even what it is, some have never even heard of the Talbot brand! I never expected the Talbot Alpine to be on everyones list of cars they'd like to own, and it really isn't, but the appreciation it gets is incredible. It's so great infact that I've thought more and more lately about my original Chrysler Alpine, infact I thought about it so much that eventually I felt the need to try and wake it from its 20 odd year slumber, and pulled it from it's resting place where it has hidden out of sight, and out of mind since about 1992...

Hiding in a damp and apparently very leaky garage has not been kind to the old thing. Having said that, the cellulose paint that was put on it back in '91 has held up quite well. Although it looks a bit dull, this is mostly due to dust, and nature growing on it. Sadly, as good as this looks (if it does indeed look good to you) it is very rusty, there are quite big blisters around the rear arches, door bottoms, bonnet, and various other places. The less said about the underneath the better, it would need quite extensive patching, If not starting again from scratch, and a new exhaust, new brake lines, new, well everything! It also refuses to start, I put a good battery on it, new fuel in it (some of which leaked back out!), and my Dad and I towed it around for an hour or so in gear, but nothing! Inside the damp has also got in, no doubt due to the stupid sunroof that I had cut into the roof back in '91, I wish I'd never done that! So anyway, what to do? Sadly, back in '91 when I drove it into the garage it was driveable, but I had moved on to other cars, thinking that I would get back to the Alpine 'some day'! Perhaps the day is now, I should round up some friends and hit it hard! We shall see, I know I don't want to get rid of it, so really the best thing to do would be to fix it, and maybe make a few improvements?

But back to the plot, and my current beige blaster! Why arn't I driving for fun more often? The funny thing is, I consider myself to be a 'Driver', no, I'm not the Stig, or even the Stigs bald fat cousin, but if I were to blow my own trumpet I would consider myself to be an above average competant amateur. I don't look at cars as a tool that gets you from A to B (even though it seems thats how I use them!) So why havn't I been just out and about driving them for fun? I'm sure that part of the problem is lack of time, but I think the majority of the problem is that I just didn't think about doing it! The stupid thing is, when I was a lad in my original Chrysler Alpine all those years ago, thats what we (as boy racers) did, it's all we did, get out in a cars with no particular place to go, and just drive about all evening, then for some reason or another, we just stopped doing that, and only drove our cars if we had a place to go! Odd, very odd! I wonder if I am alone in thinking that we just use our cars to get from A to B, or is everyone else just taking their cars out for a drive with the sole purpose being to just drive their cars for fun?