A friend of mine asked me to help him troubleshoot some electrical problems in his 1978 308GTS. We'll call him Fred to protect the innocent.We worked all day replacing fuses and finding short circuits in in his electric cooling fans. We finished up just at sunset, and went for a ride to check our work. Fred removed the targa top to the car, and we both enjoyed the warm summer evening drive. Before returning to his house, Fred wanted to get some gas, and pulled into a Mobile station. I sat in the passenger compartment waiting for him to finish, and I turned to answer a question he had asked. Just then, I heard a "POP," and saw flames erupt between Fred, filling the gas at the left rear of the car, and me sitting in the car! The fire had grown so fast, I could feel the heat of it through the rear window!
Accessing the situation, I realized I was in a bad place because the car was on fire, and I was still sitting in it! I looked down, and realized I had never been inside a 308, and had no idea how to open the door! The flames were now up over the car, and I was still inside the car. I decided it would take more time to look for the door handle than it would take for me to climb out of the car, so I ungracefully threw my head and torso over the open window, followed by my arms, thighs, and feet. Landing on the pavement, I scrambled to my feet, and ran clear of the car.
Fred, by this time, reached into the driver's side compartment, and got a small Halon fire extinguisher and tried to extinguish the flames. I realized he was fighting a loosing battle because there were flames under the car from spilled fuel, and this could easily ignite the rest of the car! At that moment, I decided to return to try and push the car off the burning pavement. Luckily, the car was left out of gear, and it began to move. Fred came around and found an area cool enough to put his hands on, and helped me push. We soon cleared the pumps, and got the car away from half of the fire. At the same time, the gas station attendant came over with a 25lb chemical extinguisher, and doused everything out. Fred's Black/black Ferrari was now completely covered in white powder, but at least the fire was out, and the car wasn't completely destroyed!
You can imagine the phone call I made to my girlfriend telling her I was going to be a little late coming home!
The cause of the fire was from a crack in the rubber hose that connects the fuel filler neck to the gas tank. The 20+ year old hose had rotted, and began to leak. As Fred filled up that evening, enough fuel was leaking past the hose to drip onto the hot exhaust manifold, and catch fire. We were very lucky no one got hurt, and Fred was lucky to save his car. After a year of work, he got his beloved 308 back on the road!
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