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Car of the Month

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Car of the Month September 2006 belongs to Jonathan Newble from the United Kingdom.

First glance

It was a chilly January morning, I was working with my Dad along the sea front at Hythe in Kent removing grime and sea salt from windows whilst clinging to the top of a ladder. As I worked I stole a glance at the white 480 Turbo, that had remained stationary for the last eighteen months. I had never seen the owner. It was partially sheltered by the towering mass of town houses that sat in front of it, but that was the only protection it was afforded from the sea less than two hundred yards away.

As the work day progressed I was able to take a brief look inside the car and noticed that it had become a temporary skip for everything and anything. My dad asked me to leave a note on the car to say that we would be prepared to buy it as a donor car for his newly purchased Celebration. So I duly made one out, and thought no more of it after a few weeks passed.

In mid February though I received a phone call, the owner of the car was moving abroad and wondered if we were still interested in it. By this point however we had sourced all the parts we needed for the Celebration, so I regretfully informed him that we could only offer him 100 pounds for it. He replied that he would be happy if we just took it away and he didn't have to clean it out! Dad and I discussed our plan of attack over dinner, we would attempt to tow the car back to our house in the country through the town after work the next day, and then spend time stripping off anything of value to us and have the shell taken away by a local scrap man.

A new home

The next day was bright and cold, and with a little apprehension I helped dad push the Volvo out of the driveway with the disc brakes protesting loudly, the one and only key had been left in the ignition for us and so after taking off the steering lock we maneuvered the car into position and connected the towing hook to Dads Cavalier, and inflated the tyres to a low psi. I climbed into the drivers seat and mused over what it must have been like to pick this car up from the dealers the day it was new and considered what the car could have seen of life, having only covered eighty two thousand miles since then. Dad set off and pulled up at a junction, I endeavored to stop using the pathetic excuse for braking that was available to me. The rest of the trip could be described as was the first time I had been towed.

Will she live?

At home after surveying the car Dad suggested trying to start the engine, and after swapping the battery for another the 480...............ran like a dream! I killed the engine to prevent any damage and we retired to consider our next steps. What we had here was a working 480 Turbo that had completely fooled us and its previous owner as to its true condition. We agreed that at the weekend we would change the oil plugs, fluids and filters and see how the car ran. I was trying to conceal it but the thought of owning my own 480 and a Turbo at that, was mouthwatering. Later that evening I went outside and washed the car thoroughly so as not to lower the tone of the neighborhood with its current shade of green algy and rust coloured streaks oozing from rust spots around the side trims and rear wheel arches. Much elbow grease later I had a moderately presentable car on my hands. So much so that a neighbor arrived home and asked if I had just got a new car, and I was so triumphant that the poor guy had to listen to the above in its entirety!

Next job was the inside of the car, donning rubber gloves I picked through the rubbish. Among the more useful items I uncovered were the previous owners bank details, a leather motorcycle jacket, fishing rod stay, 500 candle powered torch, numerous cassettes, a luminous coat, a second leather jacket, and two unused clip on boot covers. Once clear the only items that I could see missing were a floor mat for the boot and the obligatory drivers side seat belt arm. The interior although for the most part in one piece, clearly had to go, as it smelt bad, was moldy and was suffering from a bad case of cigarette burn holes.

It was at this point that I got in contact with my great friend Jez Stanley, a wizard with an airbrush and persuaded him to work on my cars exterior for free as long as I chucked in my labor and as much coffee and food as he could consume. Dad set to fettling the engine whilst Jez surveyed the extent of the work in hand, with me acting as go between. I was tasked to source all materials and spares that were required for the job and first on the list was oil, oil filters and air filter coming in at 30. Jez and I spent six days on and off after that preparing the paint work and then finishing it with a top coat of paint matched by a local shop. Hats off to Jez here, we were working in winter, outdoors in dry but frankly bitter conditions. The mixed paint, primer and filler used on the arches and side panels including the wet and dry paper came to 40. Next Dad was enlisted to service the braking system, first we bled it (20 kit from halfords), then fitted new pads and discs front and rear (105 Interpart). At this stage I got in contact with a very helpful lady on ebay that was breaking up a 480. She sold me a boot carpet, window wipers and also chucked in loads of spares that she thought I might need e.g. rear lights etc. for 22. The DVLA were notified by letter that my dad (wink, wink) was the new owner, and as the previous owner had washed his hands of the car, we signed the request in his name and this request for a new V5 was accepted and processed for a fee of 19, so now at least the car was in the bag! I turned again to ebay for a new driver side door pocket and seat belt holder at a total of 25 - I now know that if you order then from Volvo they are a heck of a lot cheaper, trust me! Finally a new interior was sourced from my long time favorite car salvage people, Salvogroup ltd (01159445644), they really know what they are talking about and although located in Derbyshire they got a Half leather interior delivered to me on a pallet within the week. It was in mint condition apart from the absence of the piece of trim that fits into the dash which dad kindly fabricated for me. The said father helped me install the seats and trim, total cost for the interior was 130 including delivery. One thing that remained was a tyre to replace a badly worn one on the front of the car (40).

On the road

The day of the cars MOT loomed and I twisted the arm of my friend Luke Cahill to drive it to and from the test on his fully comprehensive insurance. Whilst the car was being tested I had to work whilst dreading a call to inform us of terminal rust somewhere in the chassis, that call never came. The car sailed through. Two months of work had paid off. Once more I'd like to thank my Dad and Jez for their help in making this dream come true, I will always be in your debt guys!

The 480 Turbo as she looks today!

Jonathan Newble, member 1954