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dollywobbler

Pretty Blue-bird - Dollywobbler's latest wheels

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I got to the stage with the Mk1 BX that progress had come to a complete halt. Major project fatigue and a lack of cash. I hawked it around on BX Club for a while, with a few people tempted but no-one really able to take it on. Then someone got a pay rise and a deal was done! It's gone to a chap with an utterly shambolic GS estate, which is entirely marvellous. He did a mammoth welding job on it and took it on a roadtrip around France earlier this year. He's not fussed about shabby looks - the perfect new owner!

 

He lives in Gloucestershire and within minutes of the deal being done, I was looking for a new motor. That Autotrader Granada 2.8Ghia for £499 certainly fitted the bill, but I was too slow. Drat. Then I went for a trawl through the Retro-Rides forum. You never know what you'll find there. Sure enough, I re-found a 1986 Nissan Bluebird 2.0SLX hatch that I'd commented on back in May when it originally came up for sale. There was another Bluebird too in South Wales, but it had already sold.

 

The Bluebird was in Bristol and had received barely any interest. As it was not a million miles away from where the BX was going to live, a deal was done and a road-trip was in the offing.

 

Why a Bluebird? Well, sometimes (especially when you surround yourself with quirky Citroens) you just want something that'll do the job. Last year, the Saab 9000 fitted the bill and proved perfect for some major mile-munching. This year, it's a Bluebird. I've always liked them and my dad had one as a company car(his only brand new car until this year). I'm sorry to say that Negative Creep's Bluey proved too far away and I wasn't keen on the saloon.

 

I was somewhat sad on the drive to Gloucestershire. After all, this is a car I dragged out of a garage (where it had sat for three years) and got back on the road, scooping up many (two) awards for most dreadful vehicle at various events. It was my dream specification of Mk1 diesel estate, though not dream condition. The rotating drum speedometer is still a feature I love, even if the PRN dashboard was not Citroen's best effort. The CX is much, much nicer. However, I did get to travel in this joyous machine to get to my new car, so that was alright!

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The GS was fabulous. 1220cc but went very well, sounded brilliant and was remarkably refined at speed. Hasn't done anything to take away my desire to own one at some point.

 

However, this was the point of the trip.

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One of the earliest T12 Bluebirds in the UK, being registered in March 1986 - the month it was launched. So early in fact that it is a Japanese-built one. They didn't start knocking 'em out in Sunderland until the Autumn apparently. Incredibly, the reg is C416 LGK while that of the BX is C44 LGK. Both registered (within a couple of weeks of each other) in south London and both purchased by me in Bristol, within a few miles of each other. There are some major differences between the two though...

 

For a start, check out the mileage!

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MOT history to back that up. Incredible. Details like this back it up too.

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Interior is blue, blue and more blue.

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I'll never tire of the unecessarily complicated pantograph rear wiper. It's like that on the driver's side of a TR7 or Stag. I believe these were only fitted to the Japanese-built Bluebirds but need to confirm that. They certainly didn't make them like this for long, changing to a much simpler fixed arm design.

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Original dealer sticker and plate. I think. S'pose they could be modern repros - the sale included the original bill of sale, so the previous chap would know the dealer.

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First owner got a bit old and careless...

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Engine bay is rather horrific. Annoyingly, I might feel inclined to clean this. It's not something I usually do, but I reckon it won't take much to brighten it up.

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The sale included three correct SLX wheeltrims, but I thought that was enough to make one side look 'proper' so it now wears two.

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Here she is on the way home.

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So, what's it actually like? Well, as porridgey as you'd expect really. It's got a 2-litre engine kicking out a mere 105bhp, but peak torque is at a very useful 3600rpm, so it isn't too disimilar from a diesel to drive, and about as rewarding if you rev it. The engine noise is absolutely uninspiring. The steering is very nicely weighted and geared, if a bit dead. There is some feedback though, but when you try cornering hard, it initially turns in well, but wallows rather. It's like an old Merc and you quickly learn that it can be nice to just corner a bit more slowly. The ride isn't bad, but isn't good either - especially after a Citroen. It just feels a touch underdamped as well as under-sprung, but certainly isn't horrible. I'll probably find out that it's still on its original dampers if I look.

 

The gearing is fairly tall and engine noise is minimal, so it's great on a cruise. The only problem I had was that when you lift off the throttle, it feels like the throttle has jammed open slightly. I'm not sure why it does this because if you dip the clutch, the revs drop to normal tickover, so it's not like the throttle has jammed. The brakes are good, but it feels like a change of fluid wouldn't be a bad idea as the pedal feel is not encouraging.

 

The spec is a bit odd. Lovely plush seats, PAS and electric mirrors, but manual windows, no sunroof and no central locking. However, on the plus side, when you lift the driver's door handle, an LED illuminates the lock so you can find it in the dark. How Japanese! I do find the lack of electric front windows annoying as the car is so wide that you can't reach the passenger handle - I often lower the passenger window as it's quieter.

 

Plan is to find out more about Bluebirds in general and clean this one up a bit. It is unlikely to become a long-term keeper as I'm already looking for a really nice BX. However, it should fill a slot and give me something a bit different to meddle with.

 

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Looks brilliant - well bought. It's amazing how many of these you still see around, relative to their contemporaries, and yours looks like a particularly fine example barring the odd giffer scrape.

 

Fine accompanying pics as usual, too. Is the GS owner on here? Apart from anything else, I think we may need that shot for the calendar.

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Looks like a good 'un well bought :D I would love to own one of these. I have been a passenger in a couple, both owned by a friend of the family in the mid 90's, I was 12 or 13 but still remember how comfortable and well spec'd they were. Both were late models though, a 1990-on-the-G 1.6LX with electric everything (a minter), replaced by a 1989 1.8 ZX Turbo (fast but a bit of a shed).

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I rarely post here now but that is a quality purchase there, and a seriously rare car due to it being a C reg model, I have only seen three of them in something like three years, two of them are as follows:

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1986 NISSAN BLUEBIRD T12 1.6 LX SALOON by bramm77, on Flickr

Scrapped.

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1986 Nissan Bluebird 2.0 SLX Hatchback. by bramm77, on Flickr

And this one was exported.

So, not that you needed telling how special that car is, but it is probably one of very few C reg T12s left.

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Ok Bluebird lovers. Some advice needed for a few things. Where's the best place to get bits from? Need some ARB drop links PDQ and at least one SLX wheeltrim. I probably should give it a service too as despite it apparently having a service fairly recently, the oil isn't a nice colour.

 

Secondly, what's the score with the wiper arms? I tried getting the blades off but the arms don't seem to want to bend more than a few mm. Just about enough to get a blade off but it feels wrong. There's a little knob on the top edge of the arm, but pulling that didn't seem to achieve an awful lot.

 

I'm also pondering what to do about the stereo. It's currently got a hideous Sony X-plod (what a stupid name) thing with flashing lights and annoying beeps. I've got a period Phillips unit in the garage (as fitted to Montegos of the era) so might try that. Might be time to dig out the cassettes again.

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I'm also pondering what to do about the stereo. It's currently got a hideous Sony X-plod (what a stupid name) thing with flashing lights and annoying beeps. I've got a period Phillips unit in the garage (as fitted to Montegos of the era) so might try that. Might be time to dig out the cassettes again.

 

I had one of those years ago, they are good stereos but I'd agree that the beeps and lights are annoying. However, you should be able to turn most, if not all that nonsense off through the menu system.

 

Edit: Also meant to say, good score on the Bluebird, looks like all the car you could ever need. Still a surprising amount of them about too which must say something for build quality.

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Sony X-plod (what a stupid name) thing with flashing lights and annoying beeps

I have one in the Micra which was an exchange from Halfrauds when the Ripspeed died under warranty.

You can turn all the lights and beeps off, and it then becomes a reasonable stereo.

Hold down the mode button, then you can access the menu - I bet its still in shop demo mode

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Secondly, what's the score with the wiper arms? I tried getting the blades off but the arms don't seem to want to bend more than a few mm. Just about enough to get a blade off but it feels wrong. There's a little knob on the top edge of the arm, but pulling that didn't seem to achieve an awful lot.

 

 

Mine do that as well. A quite unfathomable bit of design that I'd only ever seen previously on the Pug 406

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Great car DW. I think the only time I've been in a Bluebird was moving garage rent chappys car out of one of the garages to put mine in, he left me to it whilst he went to drop off a few of those KleeEazy leaflets. Basically, the battery wasnt strong enough to keep the car running, so I had to inch the Bluebird out of the garage whilst it was connected up to the Rover to keep it running:

 

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I'm pretty sure it ran on its own at one point as I moved the thing up and down the carpark to free onewheel off after he left the handbrake on for about a year :|:roll:

 

It was an auto, the seats seemed fairly comfortable and certainly a car I could get used to.

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The thing with the engine keeping its revs up when you lift off the throttle I seem to recall being a feature of these early Bluebirds - Spottedlaurel's did the same thing. I think the theory was that it was a leftover from the Stanza, on which it was introduced in an attempt to cure the lift-off oversteer.

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They didn't start knocking 'em out in Sunderland until the Autumn apparently. Incredibly, the reg is C416 LGK while that of the BX is C44 LGK.

 

 

An ex-girlfriend of mine had C73KGK. A 1.3 povo spec Mk2 Golf that would now be worth eleventy trazillion pounds to an OMG DUBSCENE SLAMMED RALTUK tosser. Lovely little car - died in 2002 according to DVLA.

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The thing with the engine keeping its revs up when you lift off the throttle I seem to recall being a feature of these early Bluebirds - Spottedlaurel's did the same thing. I think the theory was that it was a leftover from the Stanza, on which it was introduced in an attempt to cure the lift-off oversteer.

 

No, it was an emissions thing on the Bluebird. Stupid bloody solenoid on the side of the carb that would hold the revs up, basically to try and keep it burning cleanly on over-run.

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Thanks chaps. It did feel like an engineered 'fault' rather than a failure of anything. If the wife has a drive of it, I'd better warn her about that...

 

Wonder if you can disconnect it. Around here, engine braking is a bloody useful thing! Got some work to do but hoping to start some prettification this afternoon.

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