SHE LIVES!!!....albeit in a semi-comatose state:
This past weekend, I finally, for the first time since she left the junkyard in February, got some signs of life from her. For those of you not up to date on this Sunny's story, not long after I bought her--sometime in February or March--I tried putting in a new battery, but, being the noob I am, I think I connected it backwards. There was a spectacular bang and a pretty geyser of sparks, and she's been dead ever since...until now. My hopes were not high on Sunday, but I went through the motions of installing the new battery terminals and fusible link that I'd bought some time ago. I thought Id probably have to buy a new battery as well, but, with the summer poverty not yet over, I decided to try hooking up the one I thought I'd blown before, just for the hell of it.
To my excitement, a beautiful click sounded from somewhere within the engine the moment I hooked up the new negative terminal. With uncontainable excitement, I pulled the headlight switch, and behold, there was light:
The dome light produced equally beautiful results. Flathead screwdriver in hand, I climbed into the stripped interior, put the screwdriver into the ignition switch, gave it a twist, and heard the strong revving of the starter motor, followed by some bubbling and burping from the gas tank. I never got the engine to engage, but that's no surprise: she had that problem from the beginning. I think the next step--and hopefully some of you old hands can tell me if my head is on straight--is to get new spark plugs, clean out the fuel tank and lines, and probably replace the fuel pump. How does that sound? Am I thinking like someone who knows what he's doing yet?
Those of you with an eye for detail might notice a big change in the latest pictures: she now has an early style grill. I have to admit now that when I first saw the front of my car, I was a bit disappointed. What's made me want a B210 for several years are the memories of these cars from my childhood in Santa Cruz back in the 70s, and the truth is, the square 77-78 grill is not exactly the look I'd remembered. Still, a parent comes to love their children, even their imperfections, so I came to accept it and even meticulously restored the grill. Then, a month or two ago, I came to Newark Pick and Pull.
I came to see two B210s that had landed there, and on this 76, found an intact pre-77 grill, almost perfect but for a few cracks which could easily be fixed with plastic cement:
One problem was that someone had already picked all the emblems off the car, including the one on the grill. "No problem," I said to myself, "I'll find one on Ebay." To my surprise though, it turns out that early series grill emblems appear to be in short supply. There are always one or two 77-78 'D' emblems on ebay, but none of the earlier chevron-shaped ones.
I decided to use this as an excuse to visit my favorite junkyard: Salsipuedes in Santa Cruz county on the rural outskirts of Watsonville. This place is a world away from the P&P branches, one of the last of a dying breed of old school junkyards chock full of classics which stay there for decades. In addition to a junkyard, it's also a working family farm, and cars and car parts are laid out in decorative meandering paths. One of these days I'll go back with a camera and do a photo-shoot for this forum. There are old school Datsun things there, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Anyway, this would be my first visit there since getting the Datsun (usually I go down to get stuff for converting my van) but I thought I'd remembered a first generation B210 grill hung on the front fence during my last visit. Unfortunately, what I'd remembered turned out to be a 510 grill instead. Still, I searched through the place for an hour or so, and was just about to give up when I wandered into a distant forgotten corner, looked over at the fence, and spied this:
It was just before closing time, but I had enough time to retrieve my long-handled bolt cutters and snip the broken grill off the fence, being careful not to let my foot go through the piles of old car doors buried in leaves below and disturb any yellow-jacket nests. The emblem was glued on, so I would have to take the whole assembly. Last time I'd talked with the old patriarch of the family who owns the place, it had been in early 2016, and he'd been going on about how Donald Trump was a great man who'd save the country. I was glad to observe that this time, he steered clear of the current occupant of the Whitehouse, and had to settle for moving down a few branches of government, talking instead about what an asshole Jerry Brown was. I harumphed politely. He wanted more for the broken grill than I thought it was worth, but since they'd given me some great deals in the past, I said nothing and paid what he asked for it.
It's strangely appropriate, since, for me, this project is about evoking my memories of Santa Cruz, that the 'figurehead' of my car should come from Santa Cruz County. I already had a set of signal lights on the grill from Newark, but, in the same vein as the emblem, I thought it would be neat to have one of the lights be one that once cut through Monterey Bay fog long ago. Unfortunately the body of the light--which had been resting against that metal fence in sea air for years and probably decades--was too far gone to be used, but the bezel and lens cleaned up beautifully. Naturally I came to wonder about the car that had once worn the broken grill--according to the writing on it, it had been a 75--and looking at the rust damage, I started to wonder if this car had been a victim of the flood of 82. I was 8 years old when it happened and remembered it well, and one of the halmarks of that year were the piles of wrecked cars hauled into every vacant lot by clean-up crews. I remember plotting with school friend to hotwire one of these cars next door to our school in order to escape, either to Chuck-E-Cheese or to someone's mother's house-we never did decide.
I was worried that the emblem didn't shine up as well as I'd hoped, but I must say, shined as well as it is, retouched with Testors enamel, and mounted on the newly patched up and repainted grill, it looks damned good.