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Trouble - late-1969 SSS Bluebird Coupe


carterb

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Trouble - It began with the following e-mail back in March:

 

"Carter,

 

Good afternoon. I was wondering if maybe you knew of someone who might be interested in my '69 Bluebird, I'm leaving back to Japan and I can only take one car and I have the most amount of money in my Kenmeri. There are a lot of little extras I have that have not made it on the car that will go with it, let me know if you think there's an enthusiast you might know that wants it. Clean title and all.

 

Shawn"

 

Now I've had way too many 510's for one guy in the past. I think I had 8 or 10 at one time on my property which was just silly. Eventually, I narrowed it down to "one of each" A 2dr, a 4dr, a wagon, and a coupe. It was tough to give up all the dreams that were tied up with each car but in the end, I was breathing easier. Now, I did last winter get a 2nd wagon as my coupe was my daily driver and I needed to get it in the garage before the snow and salt hit the roads but it was/is a temporary measure.

 

Now this offer from Shawn... My happy little world has just been upset. At first, I thought oh great! I know lots of guys after a coupe, it will be great to get them in touch with Shawn and get this car taken care of. But then I slept on it, and for some dumb reason, I convinced myself that I might be interested myself.

 

I knew Shawn from earlier when I bought the longchamps for my coupe. They used to be on his!

Shawn_Alicea_Coupe_3_.JPG

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I spent the rest of March getting information on the car, agreeing on a price, and confirming that I would like to purchase it.

 

Here is the information I got on the car:

 

1969 SSS Bluebird Coupe

Purchased 2 years earlier from Jun Auto in Japan, imported to North Carolina 8 months ago.

 

Drivetrain:

Stock L16/219 head – fresh rebuild with Kameari Headgasket, Kameari Cam, Isky springs & retainers, Felpro gasket set, new water pump, oil pump, temp sender, oil pressure sender, timing chain kit, piston rings, bearings, con rods bolts, etc. Fujitsubo headers and full exhaust, OS giken Super Single clutch, Kameari clutch slave w/ braided line, stock 4spd tranny (checked out at shop) w/ new seals. New distributor cap, rotor, and plugs, MSD coil, new hoses, NISMO fuel pump, rebuilt (in Japan) SU carbs w/ stock airbox, new thermostat, NIB aluminum radiator. McKinny Motorsports front crossmember & polyurethane motor mounts for SR swap.

 

Suspension:

Front: New adjustable LCA’s, new adjustable T/C rods, new cross drilled rotors, new pads, NIB cusco camber plates and strut tower bar (not installed) NIB bump steer spacers (not installed), ES front sway bar with new bushings.

Rear: New brakes, ES rear sway bar (not installed)

 

Electrical:

New Optima battery & billet mount, new alternator and Futofab bracket, H4 conversion kit, HID conversion kit

 

Wheels:

WIDE 14” Techno Phantom rims and new tires and GReddy lugnuts/locks

 

Other:

New Recaro seats and sliders, new bluebird tail lights, new or reconditioned rear bumper and license plate light, okay front bumper, front spook, painted in Japan prior to sale. New carpet kit. NIB fender mirrors. Front and rear fender flairs (now removed).

 

Here is what it looked like when he got it to the US:

Shawn_Alicea_Coupe_2_.JPG

The ar was currently at Klassic Rides in NC getting the front end redone.

http://www.klassicrides.com/Project/169

 

The previous owner had installed a heater and AC from a different car which Shawn had removed so he was having the shop weld up the holes in the firewall, take care of any rust up front, and re-paint the engine bay.

 

shawn_alicea_coupe_04102012.jpg

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dude your so off my friends list.....to quote my three year old daughter ".....are u joking me .....daddy your joking me..."

 

 

when i can afford to wipe my ass u gotta sell me one......want a bagged 2000 fullsize or lifted 71 blazer.........next time im in lynwood im taking my k4500 and doing a lawn job at your house....

 

 

 

nice f!cking score..... love the pic with the longchamps no flare...mmmmmmm so fresh and clean

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Now this was where the trouble started…

 

As Shawn mentioned, the reason for the sale was that he was moving back to Japan. It looked like this would happen in early June. That gave him April and May to get the car back from the shop and rebuild it while preparing to move house and family back to Japan. It gave me April and May to figure out how to fly out, meet Shawn, see the car and transport it from Jacksonville, NC to Lynnwood, WA.

 

Most of you know, a month can disappear in a day, and that’s exactly what seemed to happen here.

 

Shawn was sent out of country for a while, then had a death in the family, so although he started briefly in April,

http://datsun510.com/photopost/data/3811/medium/shawn_alicea_coupe_04122012_2.jpg

 

he wasn’t really able to start putting the car together ‘till May.

 

I was trying to determine if I would fly out and drive home, fly out with the family and see some sights, fly out with Brenda and spend a couple days on the beach, or what. Then I had a business trip that was lining up with the end of May and in the end, it turned out that I would fly to NC on my way to the UK.

 

That of course eliminated all possibilities of a fly and drive arrangement so I looked into cross country car transport options. After getting some good advice from the bluebirds list, I narrowed it down to two companies which I started working with. Dependable Auto Shippers and a shipping broker (don’t remember the name at the moment)

 

May arrived and along with it, a wave of stress building up to this whole transaction.

 

Shawn started sending me updates of the car assembly. Back in April, I mentioned that I didn’t think the custom crossmember would work with an L motor but assembly continued anyway. By mid May, there was still no motor in the car!

shawn_alicea_coupe_05142012_7_.jpg

Okay, clock is ticking here…

 

We had finalized the dates by then. Shawn’s movers would pack up his house the first weekend in June, and I would fly out June 3rd, see the car on June 4th, put it on a truck, and Shawn would leave for Japan the following Monday. Tight!

 

Making the decision about the shipper was extremely difficult. Both shippers offered a few options from “hub to hub” to “door to door” ranging from about $1300 to $2100. I have a very difficult time spending money but also have a long history of trying to save $100 only to be sorry later. DAS was very professional, but also very expensive, and the car had to be shipped completely empty, no spare parts could ride along for free which meant I had to factor in UPS costs for the spares. The other company was extremely unprofessional, but inexpensive, and I could fill the trunk with parts as long as I paid an extra $100 in case the driver was fined during the cross country trip. Also, the pick-up date was +/- 4 days depending on who wanted the job. I weighed my choices and in the end, chose DAS. Mainly because they convinced me that DAS would trucks have my vehicle the whole time vs the other company where the car would be subject to possibly many different independent truckers. Also, the DAS price was fixed where the other price *could* change during transport due to unseen circumstances.

 

Okay, tough decisions out of the way, now about 1 week away from my trip Shawn calls me and verifies that the front crossmember won’t work so luckily Jeff had a stock one at work which I shipped overnight to NC allowing Shawn to get the motor in on May 28th.

2012052895170546.jpg

Did I mention this was getting stressful?

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In addition to the car not yet running. I also found out that my business trip the UK needed to be postponed a month, I had to rearrange my tickets so that I could fly back home from NC. This, it turned out, was great as I was able to go to Canby, which I was going to have to miss this year…

 

Now, just a day or two before getting on the airplane, Shawn sent me a text saying that the car has been started! This was great news because I was trying to finalize the arrangements with DAS and they were as worried as I was that the car had not even been started yet as “drivable” was a requirement for the shipping process.

 

Finally, on June 3rd, I head to the airport to begin my journey to Jacksonville, NC, via Atlanta, GA.

06032012_SEA_to_ATL.JPG

Plane 1 down, now onto pane 2

06032012_ATL_to_OAJ_2_.jpg

Now whether or not you have ever flown it, you probably realize that first class seats are usually in the front of the airplane, so I was a little surprised to find my seat assignment from Atlanta to Jacksonville was seat 1A! But then I sat down.

06032012_ATL_TO_OAJ_1_.jpg

That magazine holder feels really good against my knee! : )

 

I think I got my rental car around 11PM, then drove down to the hotel, and of course didn’t sleep much in anticipation of the big day ahead.

 

The internet didn’t work from my room so after breakfast I got directions to his house from the hotel lobby and started on my way. I can’t believe how badly this went. I’d be lying if I said only 1/2 of the streets had signs. It was probably closer to 1/3 of them - Including the main intersection I was supposed to take off the highway. So I saw a little more of Jacksonville than I was supposed to, but I did get there eventually. I think I was scheduled to meet Shawn at 9:00am but still arrive little bit before hand and waited for his arrival.

06042012_corolla_at_shawns.JPG

He arrived, we exchanged greetings, and then he took me to the garage to check out the car. I was a little shocked at what I saw. No, it wasn’t even better than expected, it was still partially disassembled! No fenders, no front bumper, rear bumper just sitting in place, wiring hanging over the side of the engine bay… Oh bay, here we go!

 

Now to the best of my knowledge, DAS was supposed to be there about noon to get the car. So we had 3 hours to get it ready to drive up on a trailer and the car had not rolled under its own power yet. I tried to call the shipper to confirm the pick-up time but just got put on hold forever. Nothing to do but start at it. So Shawn and I started getting all the big stuff bolted back on. He went to his van to grab the front fenders and they were in primer! I knew he had a problem as when the front end was being re-built, the shop used heat to remove the undercoating from the inside of the fenders and when they did, they bubbled the paint. I thought he was getting them repainted but he wasn’t able to find anyone to do the work in a suitable price/timeframe so we were, whatever, let’s get them on…

 

All major parts in place, now let’s make sure it can drive. Trouble… it wouldn’t even start! We went to a local auto parts store and borrowed a volt-meter and I was able to establish that the ignition switch had died. The “run” pin would not send power to the coil. Looking at all our options I devised a plan to bypass that pin and get coil/fuel pump power from one of the other pins. I had done this before on a different car and it was pretty straight forward and I called Jeff back home just to make sure it was sound.

 

We proceeded with the re-wiring job and tried starting it again. But when he started cranking one of the wires to the fuse box and also one of the wires under the dash started smoking!!! NO!!!! STOP STOP STOP!!! Surveying the damage, some of the wiring was burned up pretty good, so we had no choice but to eliminate all that from the harness. It was power for all the gauges, lights, etc. I don’t remember exactly, it was a little stressful at the time. We re-wired again just the car so that it would start and drive. This time, we got it to turn over and run. Oh man! He put it in gear and rolled forward and back a few feet as well just to make sure we didn’t have problems there as well.

 

A few more unanswered phone calls to DAS and my cell battery was almost dead now. So we spent the rest of the afternoon assembling whatever else we could and making plans for the next day. The whole day ended up being quite a blur, all I remember was that it was late by the time I got back to the hotel. I finally got a hold of DAS and they gave me the number for the OTHER COMPANY who would be transporting the car from Shawns house to the DAS hub. Other Company?! So much for their claim that the car would always be in DAS control…

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what a adventure and well worth it for a coupe'....wish i was ricjh i woulda bought the ticket next to u .....all my shit comes down to t thrash a t some point...i know theres moe your typing cant waitto see what das pulled...

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Okay, I got a bit ahead of myself there… I did say the day was a blur! Shawn and his family had an appointment at 4pm or something like that. We quickly transitioned from getting the coupe put back together –

06042012_coupe_ready_to_ship_18_.JPG

 

06042012_coupe_ready_to_ship_24_.JPG

- to getting all the spare parts collected for shipping. This involved hurriedly pushing all the parts out onto his driveway so that I could pack them in the rental Corolla while they were away for the evening. I filled the (quite spacious) trunk, back seat area, and even the front passenger seat with parts, and headed to the closest UPS store which was about 20 minutes away near the coast.

If I wasn’t sweating already (I was, it was hot) now I had to get all this stuff packed in boxes and shipped before the UPS store closed. In the end, I shipped over 200lbs of pars including, a pair of stock front seats, aluminum radiator, trim parts, engine parts, suspension parts, brake parts, NOS parts, used parts, aftermarket parts, etc filled five or six boxes, not including the NOS mirrors, upper and lower grill trim, eyebrow trim, and a few other parts I figured I’d just take with me on the plane.

Since there was nothing much more I could do for the day, I decided to go see the Atlantic ocean since I was so close, so I got directions to the nearest beach and started driving.

About 20 minutes later I found myself at Emerald Isle, NC

06042012_emerald_isle_NC_beach_3_.JPG

Unfortunately, there was no parking anywhere so I quickly ditched the car and ran up the sand to snap a quick photo of the ocean to prove I was there.

06042012_emerald_isle_NC_beach_1_.JPG

I was hoping to get my feet wet but I guess that will have to wait for another trip.

Now, as I said, I go the number that night for the company that would be picking up the car and in the morning, I gave them a call before heading out to Shawn’s again to take care of the paperwork before getting on the plane to come home.

Well, apparently, the guy I needed to talk to didn’t show up for work ‘till 9:00 so I went ahead to Shawn’s house and called again there. Finally, I got confirmation that they would not be picking up the car ‘till the next day!!! This was all enough to drive a man to drink! Nothing to be done now then so I spent the morning with Shawn, driving on to the marine base with him to get the title transfer notarized before heading to the bank to deposit his big fat cashier’s check.

After the business was complete and final goodbyes were exchanged, I headed to the airport to return the rental and make my way home. I had the NOS parts in my carryon suitcase and the long grill trim pieces in a long cardboard mailer tube. I asked the airport security guys if I could carry on the tube and they didn’t know. “What is it?” they asked. “stainless steel car trim” I said. They both looked each other waiting for the other guy to make the decision. I told them I don’t want it to be a hassle and I was happy to pay for it to ride with checked baggage and this appeared to bring them great relief as they agreed that would be a good idea.

Then when they ran my carryon through the x-ray, they pulled it aside and said they needed to have a look. Oh, I said, you are probably seeing the door sill trim I have in there. Probably looks like knifes or something. No, turns out they needed to confiscate my toothpaste! Yeah, because fresh breath is definitely way more dangerous than 16” long pieces of sharp metal car trim!!! *brother!*

Anyway, I was now cleared for the trip home and left to reflect on the whole experience. And quite an experience it had been! It was great to meet Shawn. I’m sorry he had to let go of his car but happy to be that much closer to owning it now. I am also sorry he is headed back to Japan because he was a really nice guy and it would have been good to get him connected with the East Coast Datsun guys. Hopefully we’ll still be able to communicate once he is settled back in his new home.

Now check this out… See what time my flight boarded in Atlanta?

06062012_coupe_plane_tickets_1_.JPG

A perfect end to an eventful journey!

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dude awesome story thanks for sharing that tail....still pissed u now have two.....but i wont take u off my friends list...

 

 

 

 

by the way if the car turns up missing and theres a dead asian hooker carcass left behind...

 

..a. we couldnt fit both hookers in the trunk...

b..dont worry the car will be back in a few days smelling of high caffine apple juiice, yellow jackets and a bottle of old spice...

 

but it will be clean ....after all we are datsun enthusiasts not criminals..we cant afford no ballerin ass bluebird coupe....so we borrow ..

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The next day I breathed a sigh of relief when Shawn texted me a photo of the car loaded up on a flatbed in his driveway.

2012060695124830.jpg

Turned out that was quite a story as well. I don’t know the details but apparently if it were not for Shawn’s intervention, the car would likely have sustained some damage during the loading process by the driver and his ride-along wife/girlfriend. Whatever, I was just happy to see it loaded… But I couldn’t help thinking of how many times the car might have to be moved. Will they know how to use the choke? Will they leave the car running too long? (Shawn didn’t have a radiator fan) Will they smoke the clutch trying to get it up on some truck/trailer somewhere? The whole experience had been a real exercise in trust and stress management so far. And now came the exercise in patience…

 

I had one car and six UPS boxes in transit and all I could do was check tracking information on the internet and cross my fingers.

 

The first sign of relief came on June 11th with the morning’s UPS shipment. And, of course, more trouble as well… Only three of the six boxes arrived, and one of them was split open.

854AB3F6-D9E8-4051-9972-25EBEADAC20D.jpeg

Who knows if any of its contents were spilled out during its coast to coast journey. Everything happened so fast I didn’t even really see what I was putting in the boxes. The next day two more boxes arrived. That left one box missing. And ultimately, UPS was not able to find it. I do know what was in that box. A brand new aluminum radiator and a hood strut retrofit kit. After two weeks of sending UPS descriptions of the box, its value, and evidence of replacement costs, they issued a refund for the minimum standard $100 value and a refund for the $17.00 shipping charges. Thanks UPS…

 

Now then, where is that car?

It sat at some hub in Mableton, GA for two weeks before it finally started its NW journey.

coupe_in_transit_06142012.JPG

On June 19th, it was finally on the move, at one point passing through Mount Vernon, IL.

coupe_in_transit_06192012_1.JPG

On June 20th, the coupe was in Kansas, scheduled for delivery on the 23rd.

coupe_in_transit_06202012_1.JPG

The next day, it passed through Creston, WY, now with a better delivery date of the 22nd.

coupe_in_transit_06212012_1.JPG

Closer now! One state away but it’s the 22nd now so I don’t think I’ll be getting it that day.

coupe_in_transit_06222012_1.JPG

And finally, on the 23rd, it is in Auburn, WA. Close to the delivery hub in Lakewood.

coupe_in_transit_06232012_1.JPG

Now I had expected some kind of phone call when it arrived but that didn’t happen. No e-mail notification either. Apparently their system does not update over the weekend because I was slightly concerned to continue tracking the car as it made its way down south through Oregon, and then California!!!

My friend google helped me find the number at the hub but the gal that answered the phone said I’d have to call back Monday to talk with someone involved with DAS, she was only dispatch for local towing…

 

Monday brought some tracking clarity and confirmation but still no notification from DAS.

coupe_in_transit_06252012.JPG

I called the hub back and was able to verify that the car had arrived and arrange transport from Lakewood to Lynnwood on June 26th. 20 days after it left Shawn’s house. Patience? How’d I do?

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The day had finally arrived!

06262012_coupe_delivery_8_.JPG

Trouble was here!

06262012_coupe_delivery_9_.JPG

The car was backed down off of the trailer by the truck driver.

06262012_coupe_delivery_12_.JPG

And much to my relief, the car actually started!

06262012_coupe_delivery_15_.JPG

And allowed me to drive it the fifteen feet to my driveway… If you heard a weird noise that Tuesday morning, June 26th. That was me breathing a sigh of relief!

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I wasn’t able to really see what the heck I just bought ‘till Friday. I pulled it up on the lawn, gave it a wash job, and took some photos.

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_9_.JPG06292012_trouble_as_delivered_2_.JPG

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_19_.JPG

Looks pretty good on the outside. Of course the primered fenders are a bit of a disappointment, and there are some other issues like the holes in the rear quarter from the cast away flares

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_46_.JPG

and there are some rust issues with the sills

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_45_.JPG

and the trunk

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_47_.JPG

and even the rain gutters

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_41_.JPG

but that can all be taken care of in due time…

 

The engine bay looks like it’s all there and in good shape

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_51_.JPG

but it will take some time to recover from the burned wiring I’m sure. Unfortunately, the Fujitsubo exhaust is almost invisible.

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_66_.JPG

The front suspension looks pretty fancy, but I’ve no idea if it is adjusted/aligned well at all.

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_63_.JPG

But it seems to hold the Techno Phantom wheels in the right place

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_65_.JPG

But there is no way I’m going to be able to lower this car with the rear wheels sticking out like that!

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_73_.JPG

The interior is pretty much all there.

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_33_.JPG

And although I prefer the dash on my other 69, this one is still nice

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_34_.JPG

I don’t exactly know what I’m going to do with it yet to be honest, it will probably go in the garage under a cover for the winter while I finish my VG wagon but we’ll see. Before I do anything, I wanted to drive it around the block so I could hear it and make sure it drives and stops

06292012_trouble_as_delivered_77_.JPG

But the next week, when I had the garage bay cleared out for it, I got in and it wouldn’t start. Battery was dead. Of course! Got that charged and fired up the motor only to find out that it didn’t have enough power to get up the small hill I live on. Then the motor started revving up on its own out of control so I had to shut it down and coast back down to the garage. It did fire up again so I could park but after that, I haven’t touched it.

 

Not sure what to make of the whole experience yet. It was a stressful whirlwind purchasing the car and bringing it home. It was supposed to be a nice, finished, driving 1969 bluebird coupe. In the end it turned out to be a very expensive project car that took days of time and effort leading to much, much, trouble…

 

That aside, I’m happy with the purchase, but just… it will get better when I can spend time with the car and get it on the road and enjoy driving it. That’s why I like 510’s… To drive! Not to stare at. My other coupe was the same. Not much to look at but man, once I got it on the road, I never want to get out.

 

Actually, Cooper is so perfect just the way it is, at this moment, I plan to leave it that way, and take a much more creative license with this car. The later dash and grill aren’t as “special” as coopers so I won’t feel as bad making modifications to the car. I think a VG would probably look nice in this engine bay don’t you think? Some suspension mods are DEFINITELY in its future. And unfortunately, probably some different wheels as well. These are really cool but the offset just won’t work here. Maybe on a wagon with a narrowed rear end? We’ll see…

 

For now, the story has a beginning. Now let’s see how the middle goes. And hopefully, there will be no end.

 

If you want to see all the photos I have taken so far, they are in an album here:

http://datsun510.com/photopost/showgallery.php?cat=3811

 

--carter

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cool story carter ......bummer it was so much trouble......next time u need soemthig like this transported give me a hollar i woulda jumped at the op to meet u in lake wood and run this bad boy home for u .....car trailer just tsits there unless i got something to haul....would love to say i hauled a true imported import on it...u shoul sell those wheels they would fetch someof your shipping costs back...some at least....

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You know, I bet you could make a killing starting a long distance car hauler that was run by auto enthusiasts. Everyone always freaks out over how shitty the drivers treat their cars. I know I would want someone who knew how special my ride was and knew not to fuck it up.

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You know, I bet you could make a killing starting a long distance car hauler that was run by auto enthusiasts. Everyone always freaks out over how shitty the drivers treat their cars. I know I would want someone who knew how special my ride was and knew not to fuck it up.

 

something i thought about doing if i was single and childless...there are people out thee like this for street rods but its definately more expensve.....father used some to transport some roadsters and a tube chassis drag car....all enclosed, all car covered by company...huge double decker nascar style hauler with a tractor with huge sleeping quarters....looked fun..but costly...cool seeing them unload all these rare and cool street rods to load a car in the front of the trailer...

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  • 3 weeks later...

I had to loan the techno phantoms to my VG33 wagon project. After dismounting them, I got to look at that fancy front suspension. Ooooh, Ahhh... Can anyone tell me who's kit this is? Adjustable aluminum LCA's and adjustable T/C rods?

 

 

08192012_trouble_front_suspension_1_.JPG

 

08192012_trouble_front_suspension_2_.JPG

 

Now Trouble's sitting on some 14" steelies with beauty rings. I like it!

 

08192012_trouble_with_14in_steelies_1_.JPG

 

08192012_trouble_with_14in_steelies_2_.JPG

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