To continue, after having a good look around the Firebird (it looked to be as described, and pretty solid! The plan was simple, head home as quickly as possible, call RJJ Freight Limited, (who handle the containerised cars apparently) and pay them the £671.21 import duties, and quite hefty storage fee so that they would release the car to me!
Then phone around see who has a car transporter I can hire in the next couple of days. Call my friend Paul, and
beg him to clear a space in his workshop. Then once all this is done...
Back to RJJ Freight Limited as soon as possible (so as not to incur any more storage
fees!) and pick it up!
Abacus in Ferndown were the cheapest, and nearest who had a car transporter I could hire, on the day I wanted it, and that worked well for me as my friends workshop is in Holton Heath. So, pick up Mrs Clint, drive to Ferndown and pick up car transporter for £140 + fuel (£20), Back to Southampton docks, load up the Firebird, Drive to my friends workshop in Holton Heath, unload Firebird, drop off car transporter, back to Winchester for a pint, and wait for this all to blow over! Well, that was my plan, more or less.
Got the transporter bit sorted, I'd never driven one of these car transporters before, but I wasn't too worried about it, because in a previous life I was a white van man, er, except mine was a Transit pick up, and it was blue, but you get the idea! But before I go on I would just ike to say what an easy, and pleasant van to drive the Peugeot van was (nothing at all like my old and very playworn Transit!) It was absolutely effortless, and the staff at Abacus were extremely helpful, and showed me how everything worked. I would definately hire one again!
It has to be said that there was some pretty cool stuff waiting to be collected from the docks. Oh incase you're wondering what my car shared it's container with? It was a Lamborghini Diablo. I hope the Diablo owner didn't see the two of them in the container, it would've been awful for him if he had. Staring into the container, only to find that he didn't have the coolest car in there! Poor bugger!
Load it up... Yes those pipes did scrape the ground while I was putting it on there, but never mind, let's roll...
First fill shot (of the Abacus truck!)
First fill shot of the Firebird (I'm not really gonna count that one as it's not technically on the road!)
Safely delivered to Coltech Classics Although loading up the Firebird the tail pipes did scrape just a little, for some reason when we unloaded it, they really scraped... They really needed to go!
Before I had packed away the ratchet ties that held the thing onto the transporter, Paul had got stuck right into getting the Firebird ready for MOT. I can only imagine that whoever put those pipes on like that was either (A) High as a kite fuelled by a drink and drugs binge, or (B) Mental! The poor thing looked like the back end of a wheelbarrow, and I can imagine one of those huge fellas from the 'Worlds Strongest Man' competition walking up behind it, getting hold of the pipes, and walking away down the road with it like they were in their garden with a wheelbarrow! Madness I tell ya, madness! Although to be fair they are right for the car, they're just not in the right place...
If you look at the photo of my original Firebird you can see the pipes protruding from beneath the rear wings (fenders for you guys in Americaland!) But I think my latest Firebird has an aftermarket exhaust system fitted, and by the looks of things the exhausts should've just pointed straight out of the back without the trims on the very end! Well, that's what I thought anyway, and that's what was done. No turn downs, just straight out the back like every other car!
Before too long the Firebird was burbbling away quite happily, as Paul had replaced the leaky fuel line that caused my cars delay, and need to be containerized. What was the problem with the fuel line you may ask? Well, to put it simply the fuel line was actually just a length of green garden hose loosely hose clipped together! Strewth! Who does that? But once some proper fuel line was fitted it started up pretty much straight away, and ran good! My plan was that after leaving Pauls place, Mrs Clint and I would go out to lunch at her favourite resturaunt in Westbourne. However I may have got a bit carried away talking with my friend, and pretty soon Mrs Clint was saying that it was time to wrap it up, as we needed to be home in just under and hour to collect our two little monsters from school! Plus we were still the best part of 50 miles from home, and we had to drop the transporter off and pick our car back up! Paul said, leave it with me, I'll call you in a couple of days when it's done and MOT'd!! We jumped into the truck, pointed it back at Ferndown, some 12 miles away, and headed off. By the time we got to drop the truck off, we really were pushing it to get back to Winchester in time for the school pick up, but we jumped in our car, and Mrs Clint just looked at me and said "Stand on it!" "OK" I said... "Hold on! I'm about to make the jump to light speed!" The next 35 miles went by in a blur... Literally! But, we did get home in time to collect the monsters before school ended!
So with the Firebird left in the capeable hands of Paul I sat at home, went to work, did all the stuff that we all do, but the whole time I'm wondering what he will find wrong with it? Or more importantly, what would the MOT inspector find? Two or three long days go by, and I'm at work, thinking, wondering, shall I call Paul, should I? It's been a couple of days, I'll just give him a ring, y'know, just to see how it's going? But, I don't want to know, what if it's hangin', what if it's twisted, what if, what if, what if... No, I've gotta know. I pull the phone out of my pocket, and I start to write a text... Hey Pau... My phone goes off, it's a text, who could this be? Oh, it's Paul, great, oh carp... Whats wrong with it? I open the text, it reads:- "I've taken your Firebird for MOT, it failed!" For second I read no further, in my head Paul was standing in his workshop with a failiure sheet that looked like a scroll, holding it in his hands as it rolled out down to the floor, then across the floor of the workshop and out of the door!! Shit, shit, SHIT!! What have I bought, how bad is it, how bad can it be, hmm, I could always read his text to the end I thought. His text continued "just a couple of small items, I'll get them fixed then I'll get it re-MOTd tomorrow, and it'll be ready for you to pick up when you're ready!" EXCELLENT!! In my excitement I forgot to reply, but later that day, whilst walking around work looking like I'd been sleeping with a coat hanger in my mouth, I replied, and said that I would not be able to collect it for a couple of days, but I would be there probably by Friday (it was Tuesday I think at the time!) He said this would be fine, and how was I getting it home, was a going to drive it? Was I giong to drive it? Hmm, YES... Yes I was. A quick call to my insurance company, and it was insured on the VIN number, and I could drive it home!
A couple of slow days later and I was arriving outside Coltech Classics, and my Firebird was sitting there, waiting. The first thing I noticed was that those pipes... Had gone! Instantly the back end of the thing was looking better. A quick chat with Paul, well, quick for us anyway, and payment for his services, and MOT etc so as to keep me from the "Wall Of Shame" and we we're off... I'm gonna be the Bandit! I put the key into the ignition, and with a quick twist the V8 engine burbled into life. A quick tug on the B&M shifter, and it was into reverse, I was driving my Firebird for the first time. I backed out of the space, looked at Paul who reminded me not to forget to get petrol! A quick wave, and I was off. Of course, as ever I was quite deluded and in my head, this was me pulling away from Pauls place:-
Yep, I was the Bandit! But as usual my delusions had the better of me as I am nothing like this, but atleast I tried to be cool! Anyway, so here finally, was the proper first fill shot!
Pretty soon I was burbling along the A31 towards home, and as Bournemouth is West of BelongaClint I was quite literally eastbound and down... Yes, I did have the Smokey and the Bandit soundtrack playing in the car! Jerry Reid was singing his head off, and I was singing along with him! Probably a good job that I was alone in the car!
I took it steady on the way home, keeping it around the ole double-nickel, and of course keeping an eye out for those smokies! Although it was insured and legal I still found it quite nerve wracking driving along in a car with American plates and all that! But the drive home was uneventful, and pretty soon I was home again (after a couple of laps of the town!), and still grinning from ear to ear like an idiot!
Now all I needed to do was fill in the V55/5 form I got from the DVLA to register the car here in the UK, post it off, and sit back and wait until the DVLA assign me a registration number. Then, get a numberplate (or two) made up, call up my insurers to inform them what my registration number is, and then I'm on the road! Hooraaaaah!! At that point in time, this was the only time I had driven the Firebird, but it has to be said, it is a very pretty cool ornament!
To be continued...