...and this one is a cracker

I can see the rain begin to fall
Watch as the wind blows
Can you hear those engines as they call?
...Yesterday's Volvos.

Well, I didn't end up buying the car...

I was fully intending to... but before the auction ended I spotted another car. And this one was free... being given away. Rock on, I thought, perhaps I can get my B30 Amazon project off the ground sooner than I thought...

However, it turned out to be the other way round. Despite being free, the car was not a fucking wreck. It was being given away for restoration, and it was definitely worth restoring. It was not a heap of junk fit only to be dismantled. I looked at some photos of it, pulled them into the image editor, enhanced them a bit and looked some more. There was some nasty stuff going on around the rear wheelarch and the back end of the sill on the nearside, but it looked pretty sound.

So I thought - Right, I'll have it.

Well, you know how it's always dodgy trying to assess the condition of a car from photographs. I certainly know it, and was careful to add some pessimism fudge factors to my assessment. But on the other hand I have on occasions displayed a certain ability to look beyond the surface appearance of a photograph and discover something within that is even more interesting. So it was with the photographs of this car. I knew it was good... and when I got to look at it I was not too surprised to find that the photographs had made the dodgy bits look worse than they really were. What had looked like a hole in the sill was just a welded patch that hadn't been painted, and stuff like that. There didn't seem to be any structural rust that hadn't already received some kind of repair - crap repairs, but strong enough. It looked like it might even be able to pass the MoT.

It did.

So, on with various minor mechanical items. Replace the centre UJ which had collapsed. Replace the front lower balljoints which had received an advisory for wear on the MoT - an entertaining job, this; red hot balljoints make jolly fine smoke grenades. Fit an electric fan - with pigeon electronic thermostat, to avoid drilling holes in the radiator for a conventional one - to replace the viscous-coupling original with its loose centre bearing. Get rid of the repulsive stereo someone had fitted, make exclamations of horror at the way they'd hacked the dash to make it fit, make up a blanking plate to repair the ragged ugly hole. Fix the instrument lights, which had failed due to a dodgy rheostat. Sync the carbs, check the ignition timing, and various other odds and sods.

A three litre straight six is a lovely smooth device... the car just glides along. Plenty of power there to move smartly when you need to, but the car isn't the sort of vehicle to be driven like that habitually. It's a sublimely relaxing cruise. Only the barest touch on the throttle is needed for normal driving. Gentle, smooth, but continuous acceleration, silent constant speed driving, gentle progressive braking for a bend, then touch back on the throttle and flow round it. Oh, that steering. The power assistance gives an excellent compromise between weight and feel - effortless but not in any way vague. With a fingertip touch on the lovely large steering wheel, it's like caressing the bare shoulders of a beautiful woman, with luxuriant long dark hair and liquid warm brown eyes.

I drive and I drive and I drive and I drive in my Volvo 164,
I drive and I drive and I drive and I drive in my Volvo 164.
I drive and I drive and I drive and I drive in my Volvo 164,
I drive and I drive, oh Lord how I drive in my Volvo 164.

So the next thing to do is get hold of an oxy-acetylene set, repair the rust holes in the boot floor and rear wheelarches, and re-do the crappy sill and wheelarch repairs which some previous owner bodged so badly. Should not be too hard. I love my oxy-acetylene. While the member of the A-Team to whom I generally bear most resemblance is probably Howlin' Mad Murdock, when it comes to welding I'm definitely more of a BA.

Then there are various ancient suspension bushes that could do with replacing, split balljoint gaiters on the steering, and suchlike bits and pieces. Nothing that currently affects the way it drives, but will need to be done sooner or later; might as well get the whole thing in as good condition as possible. Then replacement of the windscreen surround, and a respray. That'll be fun... And I'd like to fit fuel injection - good old D-Jet - and replace the BW35 with an AW71L, only this seems likely to be something of an awkward pain in the arse, requiring the making of an adaptor plate and the modifying of a bellhousing to take it; spare B30 bellhousings are not exactly plentiful. But 2500rpm instead of 3500rpm on the motorway with no torque converter slip should make a big difference to fuel consumption.

Thankyou Lord. It's a jolly fine car. Especially for one that's free. (And no road tax, either. 1972.)

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Be kind to pigeons
You might meet one some day
Driving in his 164, down the motorway

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