France 2012
By Geoff Wheatley

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Geoff Wheatley

France 2012 & British Cars
Geoff Wheatley, 2012

If any reader is thinking of renting a car in Europe especially France there are a few things that you should consider. After November 2012 every car on the French roads must have the following items.. A working Breathalyser, The compulsory yellow vest to be worn by the driver if there is an accident, (Nothing said about the passengers however), the compulsory warning triangle and if you plan to visit the French Alps a set of snow chains, even in mid summer! Now add a first aid kit, and full set of car light bulbs with a set of flares to be displayed in company with the triangle. Obviously this reduces the space in the trunk so travel light. In reality the new law is currently in effect but to give the average motorist time to equip his/her vehicle or vehicles, this will not be enforced until November 2012 It was further suggested that the majority of these items should be made in France in order to help the French economy.

This started me thinking what if the same requirements were introduced here in the USA? What can I find that was/is made in America? A quick study of the motor dept at my local Walmart indicated that there was very little with a made in the USA designation . A further visit to my local motor store presented the same situation, however a visit to the Marine shop, (I have a small boat that was made in Canada), I found a set of flares that originated in Kansas. An English friend of mine, Rosh Bentley who founded the MG Owners club, now the largest of its kind in the world, when faced with the same problem re items made in the UK suggested that an English made condom would be a useful item to carry in case of an emergency... Ideal for carrying water from a local stream when the radiator boils over on a hot day. He goes on to point out that this item would not take up much room and with luck could be used several times for a variety of reasons.

Being the owner of several British cars, most of which spend more time in my workshop than on the road, I can appreciate the need to carry reliable support equipment. An adjustable spanner is a must if you wish to remove any nuts, American wrenches tend to slip or worse still round off the heads of bolts and nuts on British cars resulting in injury to the owner or any friend who is helping. A large screwdriver is also very useful for remove things that should be hand screw tight but often seem to have settled in for life. Of course at least one or more hammers are certainly required and are a definite asset for a multitude of situations. I Remember the old saying "Spare the hammer and ruin a nice afternoons drive". When the starter motor is playing up a quick tap several times often persuades it to function, if stubborn move on to a hearty bash or two and you are on your way. I always carry a spare can of oil just like the owners book suggested and at least twice a year check to see if anything needs topping up.

When I was a poverty stricken student in England, running a 1932 twenty five dollar car, purchased from a fellow student who by some stoke of good fortune had passed his finals, I never needed to check the oil, it never remained in the engine that long. In fact my gasoline to oil consumption was about equal. As indicated my economic situation was such that nearly new, only used once, oil was the answer to my driving costs, collected from any local garage at a very reasonable fee. You could say that this car had the unique feature of changing its own oil during the driving process.

Of course it also deposited the used oil on the road via the exhaust but as most of the roads at that time were tarred at least once a year it simply contributed to this requirement! Another feature that certainly came in handy was a starting handle especially when the six volt electrical system was not co-operating which was most of the time. One of the impressive features of this vehicle was the sensuous dome like lights located each side on the front fenders however, when dusk reared its head the six volt light bulbs looked like two glow worms in the dark, but adequate as far as the law was concerned..(I think)

Like the modern French requirements I was required, out of sheer necessity, to carry several items that you would not normally associate with a Sunday afternoon drive. Towing rope of course, spare recycled oil, size of the can being dependent on the distance to be traveled. Two sets of garden gloves to assist the passengers when a good push was required. A copy of the latest bus routes and time tables, you can only push a car so far without losing friends especially if they are doing the pushing! If this car is still around it would be simple to recognize. On one outing whilst stopped at a traffic light, the ignition key fell out of its electric holder and disappeared through a open space in the front floor boards. In desperation a nail file was found and inserted into the electric holder, and it worked. So from that moment on it remained in the slot where the key had once been and I would suspect it may still be there!

So if you happen to see a 1932 Morris Eight for sale with a nail file firmly fixed in the ignition slot let me know. I would love to have "Granny" back again.
© 2012 Geoff Wheatley Contributing Editor

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