Sensible Precautions

It’s one of those things that few people think about carrying in their car; but like a gun, you’ll never need it until you do need it, and then you’ll need it really badly.

I speak here of the car fire extinguisher — which admittedly is hardly ever necessary when you’re driving your minivan to the supermarket — but which, if you’re pushing your car a bit, may be essential. Here’s one example, from a recent BBC-TV episode of Top Gear:

The car in question is the newly-relaunched version of Renault’s Alpina A110 which, fiery end apart, is a lovely car. Here it is, next to its predecessor from the late 1960s:

Yes, it’s a little bloated compared to its sleek and sexy ancestor (see here for my opinion on that phenomenon), but it’s svelte enough, Renault have kept several of the design motifs more or less intact, and I love them for that.

Anyway: if you’re going to buy one of these beauties, and if you’re going to enter the Monte Carlo Rally with it, you may just want to add a fire extinguisher to the options you choose in the showroom.

Of course, this piece of advice is aimed at my Brit- and Euro Readers because needless to say, we Murkins will never get a sniff of the pretty A110 Over Here. [1,000-word rant deleted]


  1. When I was a young and foolish sailor attending technical school in 1971, one of the guys in our class had a very pretty 68 Mustang Fastback. If I remember correctly it had a 390 with two four barrel carbs. Those high performance cars didn’t start very well, especially in cold weather, so the standard procedure for us 19 year old motorheads was to remove the air cleaner and fill the carbs with ether from a spray can. Then you cranked the engine until it hopefully caught.

    It was a cold Saturday morning and a couple of us wanted to go to town. So the Mustang’s owner opened the hood and did the starting ether trick. The engine backfired through the carbs and caught the under hood insulation on fire. I ran into the barracks and came out with a soda acid pressurized water fire extinguisher – which is what we had back in those days. By the time I got back to the parking lot the engine compartment was burning pretty well and the water extinguisher had no effect. The guy on duty in the barracks called the base fire department and they got there in time to wash the hulk of the car down. Of course the owner had no fire insurance so he was an E-4 out a bunch of money when we were making less than $400 a month.

    Ever since that sad day I’ve carried a dry chemical ABC type extinguisher in my vehicles. I’ve got a couple of them at home as well. I’ve never needed one thank God but its like the old mantra about carrying a gun. Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

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