My New Year Break(down)

I’ve owned my 1970 Fiat 500L ‘Rizzle’ for 3 years and after never having the experience of a piggy-back ride home I was beginning to think that she was a very unique vehicle indeed. Despite occasional problems with poor running and brake master cylinder failure (causing the brakes to bind), I’d never broken down completely.

I installed an electronic ignition eight months ago (with much amusement from some other members of the club, with quotes such as, ‘let’s see how long it lasts’ and ‘I would stick to points and condenser if I were you’).

I was joining the club on a drive out to ‘Stony Stratford’s New Year’s Day Meet’ and luckily, I decided to have a quick blast a few days before. All started well until three miles in (on the bustling A14) I suddenly lost all power. After a few seconds of disbelief and that ‘please, not here’ feeling I rolled to a stop.

I drive for a living and encounter this kind of thing quite often but it felt much more scary in my own pride and joy, being stranded on the side of a hectic dual carriageway.

After a quick look I couldn’t see anything obvious and decided to call for recovery. I have to say it was just a tad hairy watching big trucks thunder by my car, with just inches to spare. Causing quite a commotion (with the police called to close the lane, whilst recovery took place).

Although I was lucky really, back, tinkering in the garage within an hour, I learnt a few valuable lessons on the day. These include…

• Stand well behind the carriageway barrier.
• I may install hazard warning lights.
• Have a Hi-Viz jacket in the vehicle.

I’m sure there are other safety items to carry such as a warning triangle etc…

Back at base, after a calming cuppa I started to investigate. After discovering I had no spark, I put the points and condenser back and I was back on the road. Revved up and ready for an 80-mile round trip. The ‘Stony Stratford Meet’ was a fantastic start to 2019. Great to see everyone who attended, with much chat about how I’d managed to stay off of the recovery truck for so long and whether I should go back to using electronic ignition or not? The jury’s out on that one!

Richard Simister