My Car Quest

December 6, 2021

The Kindness of Strangers

by Mike Gulett –

Those of us who drive old cars that have carburetors and no computers occasionally must depend on the kindness of strangers when we break down for some unanticipated reason.

This has happened to me a few times with the most recent being a few days ago when I took the Lamborghini Espada out for a short drive with a stop to gas up. Even though there are two gas tanks on the Espada I only filled up one. Stopping at the gas station was just an excuse to take a drive. I did not really need gas.

When I was ready to drive away from the gas pump I heard the dreaded “nothing” when I turned the key to the start position. In the on position the fuel pump ran fine but in the start position, “nothing”.

I thought it was possibly the battery disconnect switch not making good enough contact to send the current needed to run the starter motor (this happened to me once before). I went to the trunk where the battery is located and tightened down on the disconnect switch with hopes this would solve the problem. It did not. Even though my battery is always connected to a battery tender when in the garage it seemed like I could have a dead battery. Or maybe the disconnect switch was not connecting properly.

Lamborghini Espada

This is not the gas station where my battery died. I failed to take photos on that day so this photo will have to do.

Fortunately for me an Espada attracts a lot of attention wherever it goes, especially when stuck next to a gas pump in a very busy gas station. I was answering questions like “what is that?” or “what year is that?” followed by “what is it?”. I find it interesting that some people want to know the model year before they know the model.

I was so lucky that day that Randy and his son, Carson, were at this gas station and they came over to talk to me to see if they could help. They did not ask what the Espada was because they both knew. Carson works for RM Sotheby’s at their US auction locations so he knows how to handle old cars. They discussed the situation and decided they would go home and come back with their tool box and battery charger. I waited for them to return, I did not have much choice.

The jump starter did not work because it was not strong enough to crank the engine fast enough, although it did turn it over but not enough to start the Espada V12. We also removed the disconnect switch and convinced ourselves it was not the switch but the battery.

Lamborghini Espada Trunk

The Lamborghini Espada battery is in the trunk

I was so grateful that I had Randy and his mechanically handy son, Carson, to give me comfort. Then another man named Nick walked over to see what the problem was and after looking at the battery he walked back to his car and brought over a small battery charger (one of the Lithium batteries used for jump starting cars), which had enough power to start the Espada and it did so right away. I was soon on my way back to the safety of the garage. I now know that the Espada needs a new battery.

My thanks to Randy, Carson and Nick for their generous help during a stressful time for me. I hope to return the favor to someone else in the future.

Postscript

When I started the Espada for the last time with the old battery it started up just fine with no indication that would be the last time that battery would start a car. Then the next attempt a few minutes later at the gas station the battery was not capable of starting a car again. It died without warning.

I knew that the Espada battery was nearly six years old and I now realize I should have replaced it maybe one year ago.

I have a Lithium battery for jump starting cars located safely at home and not near the Espada. So when I needed it I did not have it. I have since bought another one to be located with the Espada although after I get a new battery for the Espada I will likely not need it for many years. But you never know.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Micro-Start XP-10

Micro-Start XP-10 Jump Starter, which I had at home and not near the Espada when needed. It started the Espada right away.

Hulkman Alpha 85/Alpha 85S

Hulkman Alpha 85/Alpha 85S – the new jump starter I bought for future use – it also started the Espada.

Summary
The Kindness of Strangers
Article Name
The Kindness of Strangers
Description
Those of us who drive old cars that have carburetors and no computers occasionally must depend on the kindness of strangers when we break down for some unanticipated reason.
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Comments

  1. Bruce Caron says

    You might have the opportunity to help someone else in the future now that you are armed with a second lithium battery.

  2. Are you sure you need to replace that battery? Is this simply not the Lambo’s way of encouraging you to drive the car more often?!?

  3. Anthony Olissoff says

    Getting 6 years on the battery was a win from the start for you Mike. I’ve had 4 different vehicles do the same as yours but with batteries 1yr and just over 2-3yrs old. I’ve now started disconnecting the battery trickle chargers for 1-3 weeks so that the alarm/immobilizer runs the battery down and then charge them up again and disconnect after a few days.
    A bit of cycling may help.

  4. Glenn Krasner says

    Mike,

    If the battery started the car twice in your garage, and then died, is it possible that you have an alternator or alternator belt problem, with your battery not getting charge while the car is running and driving? Just a thought, as today’s batteries are much better that ye olde batteries of yore. My father’s 2009 Buick Lucerne car battery from the GM factory actually lasted ten years, dying in November 2019. Just a thought.

    Glenn in Brooklyn, NY.

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