After my plan of selling the Trans Am at Beaulieu didn't happen I figured that I would hang on to it until next Spring, then have another go.
Besides which, Mrs Clint has been using it as her little run around since I sold her Honda CR-V, so in reality it's been pretty handy that I didn't sell it.
Although nearly all of the tear-a-ways got torn away I only had one person contact me about it, and that person lives in a place called Mulhouse, in France. My feeling was, that although for the last six weeks or so we've been exchanging texts four or five times a week, it was unlikely that he was actually going to come and get it. But he did have a lot of questions, and wanted to see more of it via me taking photos of it and sending them to him. Oddly, one of his main concerns was not if it was as good as it looked, but if it was actually a genuine Trans Am. He felt that because it had no shaker scoop, and no body kit that it probably wasn't. In the end, he asked me if I could send him a photograph of the documents. I was a bit apprehensive about this, but I asked him what he wanted to see. He told me that he just wanted to see if it said that it was a genuine Trans Am, or just a plain old Firebird.
I still wasn't thrilled by this, but I figured that if I only sent him the portion of the Documents that had the registration number, and the model name it would probably be ok. Once he had received this photo he was noticeably more interested, and over the next week or so the texts came thick and fast, culminating in a text that said he was coming to see it, what time could I meet him? I told him that as long as he gave me a time and date for his arrival, I would be able to meet him. He said that if I can send him my address, he would be arriving on Thursday, at 06:30. I informed Mrs Clint about the arrival of the Frenchman, and she asked what sort of time he would be here? I said that he'd told me that he would be here at 6:30. She thought that was a good time, as she'd be home from work by then, so she wouldn't need to bring the Trans Am home early. Last night as I laid in bed I had this niggling feeling that he wasn't talking 6:30 at night, that would be 18:30, he was talking 6:30 in the morning! Her Worshipfulness thought that would be ridiculous, nobody comes to buy a car at 6:30 in the morning... It would be dark! They must mean 6:30 in the evening. She was right about one thing...
It was dark! I set my alarm for 05:30 hrs, which pleased Mrs Clint no end when it went off. She wanted to know what I was up to, and so I said I was meeting a French man in about an hour, so I'm getting ready for his arrival! She told me again that I was being an idiot because nobody in their right minds will be buying a car at 6:30 in the morning. But I said to her that I had looked on t'internet, and Mulhouse would appear to be almost 600 miles from BelongaClint, nearly 500 of those miles would be in France if they drove to LeHavre and caught the overnight ferry to Portsmouth. If they caught the ferry at 23:00hrs, then they would probably be getting off the ferry in Portsmouth at about 05:30hrs. Again, she told me that I was mad if I thought that anyone would come to look at a car at 6:30 in the morning, in the dark! The clock ticked over... 6:31... See, she said, where are they? I said well, they've probably had a long trip, so they probably wouldn't be bang on time. Just then there was a very loud KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK!! On the door, who the heck is that? Exclaimed Mrs Clint. I said, well, by the way they knock its either the Gestapo, or its a man from France coming to look at the Trans Am, personally I'm hoping for the Frenchman! Luckily for me when I opened the door there was no sign of a Gestapo officer, just a couple of French fellas.
They told me that they had come to look at the Trans Am, and if it was all in order, they would buy it and take it away with them today. I reckon it must've looked pretty suspicious with the three of us out there looking all over the car with torches. My feeling was that at any point Neighbourhood watch would call the police, but nobody ever came. This more or less confirmed what I think of the Neighbourhood watch scheme... When a crime is committed, the Neighbourhood watches, and then does nothing! Anyhoo, after about an hour of looking at the car, and with the sky turning a little lighter, the French men wanted to take the Trans Am for a run, so off we went. It was a pretty good run, and we arrived back at BelongaClint about 45 minutes later! By this time a very angry Mrs Clint had taken our two monsters to school, in her new car apparently... The Celeste! I'm even less happy about this than I was about her using the Trans Am as her daily, but there you go! I personally think she should be using the Scorpio, but by all accounts my opinion counts for nothing, and the Scorpio is too ugly for her! Anyway, I chatted with the Frenchman who was planning to buy the Trans Am, and the more I talked to him, the more I thought that I had met him before. I'm fairly sure that when I had my Karmann Beetle four or five years ago, I sold it to him (see episode 12). However, before long we had reached a point where we were both happy with the price of the Trans Am, we did the paperwork, he handed over the cash, and got ready to leave. I asked him if he wouldn't mind if I drove it to work one last time, as it wasn't very far away, and he could take it from there. He said that would be ok, and so, for one last time I donned my imaginary moustache, and headed off in the Trans Am. Once I arrived at work, we shook hands, and...
Away it goes, on it's 600 mile journey back to France! I'm guessing that by now as I've not heard from them, they've made it home, or atleast, they must be well on their way home.
So how do I feel about finally selling it? Well, oddly I've got mixed feelings. I never loved it like I did my red Firebird, but seeing it leave did make me wonder if I'd done the right thing. I think the reason for that is mainly because they have got quite expensive of late, and even third and fourth generation Firebirds have picked up in value quite a lot. I really do have a hankering for an early seventies Firebird, in gold, like Jim Rockfords car in the Rockford Files, but I'm wondering if I'll be able to afford one again? With the exchange rate between the Pound and the Dollar being so poor for the Pound, it's going to make buying a car in the USA a very expensive thing once you've added shipping and taxes to it all. I keep thinking that the value of the Pound will pick up, but it doesn't seem to. I guess time will tell, but at this point in time the thought of buying another second generation Firebird, or Trans Am is a bit of a dream!
Anyway, before I go on a full on Victor Meldrew winge-a-thon about the weak Pound, lets talk about what this thing was like to own!
I'd like to say that it wasn't a perfect Trans Am by any means, it was well used, and probably abused in it's past. But it was a pretty good example of a survivor car. It was a little bit playworn, and nowhere was this more noticeable than the interior. As I've said before, there were small bits of trim missing here and there, and the front seats were out of a third generation Firebird, but really, it was ok. The seats were comfortable, and although the electric motors didn't work, once I had them were I wanted them, they were good. There was plenty of room both up front for Mrs Clint and I, and in the back for the monsters. It was a good comfortable car for both popping to the shops, or long distance cruising! One thing I did always wonder about though was this...
A couple of odd little switches in the dashboard. One says Aux Lights On, and the other says Tail Lights Off. But the on and the off sides of the switch were on opposite sides, presumably so you could hit both the switches at once and turn on the auxiliary lights while simultaneously turning off the taillights. But why would you want to do that? The switches didn't seem to do anything, and there were no auxiliary lights on the car, but I did find a pair of light brackets behind the lower grilles on the front bumper with some household wire loosely tied nearby. I traced the wire back to the switch, and the battery, and removed it. I then traced some wire from the taillight switch to the boot, but they were connected to nothing, so I took them out too. I can't help but wonder what these were for, and I guess I'll never really know, but the only thing I can think of was that it was for evading someone in the dark... But why?
Under the bonnet was a 4.9 litre V8. I'm not too sure if this was the original engine that it left the factory with, but my feeling is that it isn't. I'm not too sure that they did a Trans Am with a 4.9 litre, I know the Turbo Trans Am was a 5.0 litre (probably a 4.9 in reality) But the Turbo Trans Am had, erm... Turbos! This didn't have any. My guess is that when this originally left the factory in Norwood, Ohio it had the 6.6 litre engine in it, I think that for whatever reason somewhere along the line it lost it, along with its body kit. I have wondered if this was rebuilt from parts by someone at some stage in it's life, but I never found any evidence of body damage, or even filler, so I cant really think of a reason for rebuilding it. I just think its a bit of a puzzle that I doubt I'll ever know the answer to. Anyway, whatever the engine was, it was more than up to the task of propelling this little F-body along. It drove pretty nicely, handled quite well (for what it is!), and would turn the tyres into smoke at the drop of a hat should you so desire! It wasn't even that thirsty really. I'm guessing that I was getting low to mid twenty miles per gallon, and in all honesty, thats not too bad. I think my Vauxhall Frontera that was only a 2.5 litre engine got less than that, and I'm pretty sure the Scorpio is around that mpg too.
But having a car like this isn't what getting good fuel mileage is about, it's about smiles per mile, not miles per gallon! This thing was quite a lot of fun to drive, and attracted a fair bit of attention when I was out and about. I really did delude myself into thinking I was Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit when I was out in this thing, it was great fun, right up until the point I saw my reflection in a big shop window! But now that it's gone will I miss it?
Well, yes, but not as much as I probably should do. I still miss my first Firebird, the red one, and that ones been gone years! I doubt that in five or six years I'll still be missing this black one. But, as for right now my little collection does look a little bit smaller tonight, that's for sure! Although, it's not like I'm left with nothing cool to drive!