28 April 2015

Losses and Lessons: Gas leak leaves 1970 ’Cuda burning more than rubber

VEHICLE COVERED: 1970 Plymouth ’Cuda with factory 426 Hemi V-8

WHAT WENT WRONG: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire; and that’s never a good thing when you’re driving a car – especially your treasured classic. The owner of a 1970 Plymouth ’Cuda (with factory 426-cid, 425-hp Hemi V-8) pulled up to a stop light, where another driver frantically alerted him that flames and smoke were spewing from the front wheel well on the passenger side of his car. The owner quickly pulled into a nearby convenience store, popped the hood and extinguished the flames.

DAMAGE/LOSS: While no one was injured, the fire – stemming from a gas leak, according to inspectors – caused extensive damage. The ’Cuda’s engine and transmission needed to be cleaned; fenders, hood, firewall and doors required refinishing; and the battery and cable kit, wire harness, alternator, wiring, gaskets and hoses were replaced. Hagerty paid the $19,149 repair bill.

LESSON: Since fuel with ethanol tends to break down rubber compounds more quickly, it’s important to check fuel lines and clamps regularly, and make sure the carburetor isn’t leaking – especially if the carbs are located over the exhaust manifold, like in MG, Triumph and other models with similar engine configurations. It’s especially important to check for leaks if your car has been sitting for a while. And always keep a Halon or Halatron fire extinguisher on hand.

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