Kurt Kelsey of Iowa City, Iowa, is an old friend and a big dealer in NOS Pontiac parts. A few weeks ago, while driving my ’53 Catalina to the Pontiac club (www.poci.org) convention, I heard a ratting noise under the car and figured I might need a U-joint. As soon as I could, I stopped at a McDonald’s to grab a burger and take advantage of their free Wi-Fi. I opened the iPad and sent Kurt an email to bring some U-joints for my car to the Wichita convention.
Kurt and I met at the indoor car show to swap some money for U-joints and since we both like prewar Pontiacs, we couldn’t help noticing what looked like a very nice, original 1940 Pontiac sedan. As we eyeballed the car, we noticed some large paint flaws on the hood. Pretty soon the owner of the car showed up. His name was Carl Barrier and he was from El Dorado, Kan. We told him what a nice car he had and asked about the crinkly paint on the hood.
“Backfired!” is all he said. We were stunned. “You mean it just happened?” Kurt asked. That turned out to be the case. Carl was driving his car through the “tech” line where they check certain things on each show car and take a photo of it. The engine backfired and Carl had an engine compartment fire to deal with. Luckily, a fire extinguisher is one thing the tech guys check for and they were able to put out the fire. That was fortunate. Things could have wound up a lot worse than they did.
Well, the conclusion here is pretty obvious. You’re not going to hear any preaching. If you have a nice old car, things can happen. And if you’re not prepared, things can get much worse than you might expect. Carrying a fire extinguisher isn’t a bad idea.