Bel, MX5 Update.

Now that I’m writing again, it is time to do an update on the fleet. The first is Bel, my little MX5.  So, after 8 months…

Small. scruffy red sports car on top of a hill overlooking a wild beach Cornish beach with waves crashing in.
Bel near Porthtowan

First, I never intended to buy a sports car, but then that goes for a lot of us… In other blogs, the buying and MOT process has been covered.  Since then we have shared about 3000 miles. Some longer trips, once even getting caught in the snow and of course lots of local driving.

Bel has proven to be remarkably reliable, well to anyone used to a British sports car she would be. I can feel confident even after leaving her for a week or so she will start up. For a cheap car, one that was saved from the scrapyard, this is amazing. After checking her fluids, she is safe to drive 500 miles.  And each one will be with a smile, roof down most of the time. Cruising at the legal maximum without strain. Even a lower spec 1600 is plenty fast for the overcrowded roads of Britain. 

Here in Cornwall, on the narrow lanes, she has the right combination of speed, power, size, and grip. Every mile is a grin and when safe, even with narrow 14inch tyres she can carry a lot of speed. Her heater makes going top-down easy on the coldest of days. Yes, we did get caught on the edge of the snowfall. After my Vitara had passed her MOT in the morning, I was asked if I could do a Penzance to Newquay airport run. No problems, except I’d not checked the weather. As we went around the Hayle bypass we started to notice cars coming towards us with snow on their roofs, this did not bode well.  As we headed towards Avers roundabout near Redruth the snow on the ground started to get thicker. I made the decision to come off the A30 and either drop my friend off at the train station or go and get Tug, my little Vitara.  This being Cornwall, no one had any idea of how to drive in the conditions. Once we managed to get up the slope, I had worked out that you can drive an MX5 in the snow if you are careful. After dropping my friend off at the train station I popped the roof and tried to fight my way out of Redruth. With traffic moving slowly the technique I found was to go from grippy spot to grippy spot. sometimes resting her rear wheels on speed bumps to get a little momentum on the gentle hill. Bel seemed to be connected to my nervous system. The feedback was amazing. We managed to climb out of Redruth and carefully drop into Lanner, by the bottom of the hill the snow had cleared. If I wasn’t impressed before, I really was now. We had become a team. We were even spotted by a couple of friends, roof down…

You don’t drive an MX5, you bond, become one.

I’ll cover some of the work and the non-performance upgrades I’ve done in another post. In an earlier blog, I covered my favourite 5 cars I’ve owned. The best being the little Triumph Spitfire 1500. That spot is now shared, with Bel, my MX5.

They share the same essential essence.

And rust issues…

Petrol Filter Change On a Suzuki Vitara (Tugg)


A filtered change?

Finally, after almost a month I’ve changed the fuel filter…  An easy job, but not having a workshop a real pain. As funds allow the Vitara is slowly getting a complete service. The parts I expect to come to around £150. Some things seem to make very little difference, yet I know in the long run will pay dividends.


The fuel filter is one of the cheapest components to change, yet has had a major difference to the driving experience. When I first bought the Vitara (Tugg,) she ran so badly it was frankly almost dangerous to drive her.  The filter is fairly accessible but I would still need wheel ramps to make it that bit more accessible. Oddly it was the easiest reverse up ramps I’ve ever had, in low range, the Vitara simply inched her way up.

Needless to say, but a rusty bolt led to almost a bugger moment. Normally a little heat can be applied, but not near fuel lines. The bolt loosened as I held my breath and carefully turned it half a turn one way and then quarter back the other.  Having loosened it off, I then bolted it back in and undid the fuel lines. No matter how carefully I did this, yes I did get an ear full of fuel.  With disintegrating latex gloves and making sure that the direction of the filter was right. Of course, the shape of the replacement was different to the original. In the process setting off my dyslexia paranoia. So after a double check, I fitted it and crossed my fingers. Checked the fuel lines and even remembered to use fresh washers.


As Tugg was up on the ramps I had a little inspection. Some brake lines might need changing for the MOT. But it confirmed the generally good condition that I first attracted me to the Vitara.

The road test was a revelation. Tugg drove so much better, not perfect but a real difference. Each little improvement brings an increase in my understanding and appreciation of the little 4×4.


After a shower and shave my partner commented on my new aftershave. Apparently being a petrol head is ok, smelling like petrol is not.