Buying a Project Cobra...
Gian and I have taken on some Cobra Project cars over the years. The one in this story goes back to before South Africa hosted the Soccer World Cup.
I got a call on this “runner” Cobra that needed “some” work. Without seeing this Cobra in person, I agreed to take it on, and so I informed Gian that we’ve got this Cobra project. We arranged to collect it on the weekend and decided that we would just drive the “runner” the 60 odd kilometers back home. No need for a trailer . . .
Early Saturday morning we got to where the Cobra was kept. We should have turned around just there, but me, myself and I had committed us to this project Cobra and there was no turning back. Since I committed us to this project Cobra, Gian cast his vote and elected me as driver.
Then my very understanding and loving wife phoned, about the lovely sunny weather in our country. She informed me about some unusual weather activities that was starting to develop over our province. So without further encouragement I jumped into the little yellow Cobra switched on the tape deck. Yes, this Cobra actually had a semi working tape-deck and it also came with a free Neil Diamond tape (because the “eject” function of the tape deck had packed up). Hey, at least I had music so on came Neil with “Forever in Blue Jeans . . . ” and off we went . . .
Now the reason I mentioned the Soccer World Cup earlier, was because our government was in full swing, upgrading our main highways in anticipation of the big event. Normally that would be a good thing, but this also meant that there was quite a bit of sand, dust and other debris on the highway. But nothing that should ruin the trip home . . .
About 25 km after we started our journey back home, the first raindrops started hitting the “windscreen.” Not having a top was no problem since we Cobra drivers know that if you keep moving, moderate rain will just pass over the windscreen. Right?
“Cracklin Rosie sing us a song . . . ”
Well, as we got to the top of a hill, the rain became a bit more intense, so I switched on the wipers. They gave half a sweep across the “windscreen” before seizing up. Well, that didn’t help much and it also created another problem. The “windscreen” was made out of clear perspex and the pressure of the windscreen wipers together with the onslaught of the now raging rainstorm, had started pushing the “windscreen” out of the frame. Could it get any worse? Hell yes it could and it did! Halfway down the hill, some marble sized hailstones were thrown in the mix. You know, just to keep things interesting. So I just positioned myself as close to the “windshield” as possible, hiding behind it but also supporting it at the same time. Just keep moving was the only thought in my mind. Ok, that is a lie. There were many thoughts. But that was one of them . . .
“Song Sung Blue, everybody knows one . . . ”
Then we reached the bottom of the hill, also known as a dip before the next hill. Here the Soccer World Cup road works came into play. All the muck from the road works had washed down the hills and collected in the dip. Not a big problem in it’s own, but a big problem when a huge truck passes you at that exact spot, while you’re driving an open top roadster. That truck just covered the little yellow Cobra with a brown blanket of mud.
Neil Diamond with something about “Blue Highway.”
So we established that it could get worse, but how much worse? Well having a mud-covered windscreen (luckily still kind of in place) and no working windscreen wipers, now posted a bit of a visibility problem. So I poked my head over the windscreen to see where I was heading. Another bad decision. Remember the marble sized hail stones. They were still flying around and they used my face for target practice. That was it! I pulled over!
“Love on the Rocks . . . ” dies out as I switch off.
Luckily Gian was keeping tags on what was happening behind him and he pulled over in unison. We quickly covered the Cobra with one of those nylon car covers, before jumping back in Gian’s car. We patiently out waited the storm while my lip kept swelling to new proportions. The storm eventually passed and I dashed back to the Cobra for a quick get away, but “no go.”
Again I have to call on Gian to come give me a hand. The hail had collected in the car cover and basically filled the bucket seats. Bucket seats- now I get it! After “digging” most of the hail out, we lifted the cover off the Cobra and we were ready to go. The engine takes with the first turn of the key and old Neil hits a note again . . .
The next 25 km went with neither Mr. Diamond nor the Cobra missing a beat.
But that ads up to about 50 km, and I did say it was about 60 km back home.
As we entered the city limits, a new aspect came into play. Progressively, at every traffic light or stop sign it became harder and harder to get the Cobra to pull away. Coming up to one of the main intersections, I noticed some of our beloved Metro Police officials standing on the left. I steered the little Cobra to the far right lane and came to a stop at the red traffic light. My gaze focused dead ahead, avoiding any eye contact, and pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out the front brakes. When the light turned green, I barely managed to get the Cobra to move forward without going into a wheel spin. Just out of sight, from the Metro officers, we pulled over again.
Luckily, Gian had a little spanner in his car’s emergency tool kit and it was just what we needed to release the pressure on the front brakes. Unfortunately for Gian, he was also the guy that loosened the brake nipples and got burnt by the escaping steam. (Over some months, the burn did heal very nicely though). Sorry Boet.
That was our last stop until we reached home.
What a lovely sight it was to find my worried, loving, caring wife waiting for us. Well, that was until she burst out with laughter . . .
“Sweet Caroline, dum, dum, dum . . . ” Oh shut up Neil!!!
Ok, I must have been a sight with my beanie still covered in hail stones and my red, two bar-pumped lips.
And that was the story about collecting the little ugly duckling Cobra.
PS. The first thing we did on that Cobra, was to get rid of that darn Tape deck...