A Tale Of Two MGB GT’S Part Three.

Heading Home, Initial Problems

 

For the first two instalments, please follow these links. A Tale of Two MG MGB GT’S Part One   

A Tale Of Two MGB’s Part Two.

After connecting the sat nav I headed home, ahead of me 250 in changeable conditions and it with it getting dark. For the first few miles it spat back, misfired and generally misbehaved.  

As the engine started to settle down the next issue rose it ugly head. What seemed like smoke started to rise from the dash board. As I pulled over, I prayed to Lucas, the god of old British cars not to let this one burn. 

Now, I have a confession, my sense of smell is not that good, never has been. So there  I was trying see if it was water vapour or smoke. Seeing how it condensed on the windscreen, it must be vapour.  Not ideal. Thankfully I had a few litres with me and it is fairly easy to get more if needed.  This being Britain I could just hold the bottle outside… 

Reading Rush Hour Traffic, Teething issues.

I was guided towards and through Reading. It was now 6 pm and it seemed the city is just a collection of junctions with traffic lights, mostly red. 
When I put the headlights on the fan belt squealed, an indication I should have tightened it. Apart from that and the steam coming from the dashboard the car was settling down.  It wasn’t fair of me to ask it to cope with heavy traffic so soon after getting revived, yet oil pressure was good as was the temperature. 

Finally The Motorway, First Stop, Adjusting The Fan Belt

 

Finally getting to M4, I opened her up. Nothing silly, but this was the first time I’d felt that lovely long-legged cruising ability that MGB’s are renown for. The overdrive clicked in and we sat at 65 mph. After about 15 miles we approached the next service station. An Ideal place for me to tighten the fan belt, check her over and of course stretch my legs. 

The Belt adjusted, wheel bolts checked and I visited the services.  Feeling more confident once again we found ourselves turning west. The next couple of hours was a question dealing with the endless road works and average speed check zones and heading towards my next planned stop at Exeter.  Morris Minor Road Trip Part Two.

 

 

Flat Tyre On The Motorway

 

Entering the roadworks ahead of junction 29 I could hear a flapping, trying to work out what the noise was, for once I was thankful of 50 zone. After almost clearing them, the front right tyre popped. The B was still very controllable and stable as I eased my way towards the hard shoulder. Pulling in behind I large concrete barrier and with road work cone on my right I quickly changed it. Thankful of my foresight of packing a scissor jack. 

A few miles later it started to rain and the drivers wiper  didn’t, the passengers seemed good. It could wait for us to get to Exeter to swap them over.  I pulled into the petrol station not far from where months before I bought Mog from. Finding the best wheel and tyre among the many in the back I used the free air to pump it, then topped the tank up.

 

Diversion, Beans On Toast

 

At this point I should have been heading down the A30, but instead I went down the A38 a few miles to see my friend Jude. After some much needed beans on toast and a mug of coffee. It was time for the final 100 miles or so. Deciding to head back to Exeter and the A30,  rather than the shorter route through the Glynn Valley.

 

Final 100 Miles

 

With the conditions getting worse I carefully eased my way onto the A30. Rain was interchanged with fog. The going was slow, but steady. The rain came down sheets and the fog was thick. The B plodded on, each mile west taking me closer to home. 

Parking her in an unrestricted area, I thanked her,  locked her up and headed to my bed. We made it home, it was 2 am and easier trip than the previous one with Jess.

 

 

A Tale Of Two MGB’s Part Two.

A Tale of two B’s part two…

 For part one please follow this link. A Tale of Two MG MGB GT’S Part One

Ebay…

I watched the last few seconds praying that someone would out bid me. They didn’t. Importance of Gut Instinct.
What had I done?  Ironically, I’d just bought the car I was looking for when I got Mog, my 1952 Morris Minor.  An  MGB GT… Buying a Morris Minor.
It was 250 miles away and now the question was, how would I get it back?  After quickly making contact with the seller and arranging to pick it up later in the week, I sat back and reflected. It would be an adventure at least.

Ticket To Somewhere.

I walked up to my local railway station, Penryn, loaded with a rucksack full of spare parts and tools. My socket set was gaffer taped up and reminding me just how heavy a good one is. With a few spare face masks, ahead was 250 miles and 5 hours of train travel in the modern pandemic world. At least I’d have two seats to myself.  The train would take me to Maidenhead.  The car was few miles away, but Richard , the seller had offered to pick me up. This would allow me to change the B to an historic vehicle. One that was both mot and tax exempt. A quick visit to the post office and it would be in my name and taxed. Yet I still hadn’t seen it. Tools… The Importance of a Good Socket Set

When I met the seller at the station it confirmed the impression he gave on the phone, he is a true gentleman.

 

MGB First Impressions.

 

I could tell he was nervous about how what I’d think of it. As we pulled into a very nice house the B sat there. I recorded my initial impressions.  The car was better than I hoped. The more I dug the better it got. Yes, it has a few issues, but it could be far worse. To be honest, often a glance is all I need, but closer inspection can either confirm or prove I was wrong.

 

MGB Quick Check Over

I then set to giving a car a good once over. Oil, water, brake and clutch fluid, fan belt and so forth.  the clutch was a little low,  and not much water in the cooling system.  But then the car had been barely used for 6 years, thankfully inside and not near the sea, unlike Jess’s B. A Tale of Two MG MGB GT’S Part One

When I popped the distributor  cap, to my surprise there was  electronic ignition. To those of us who know, worth mentioning and a good thing. Quickly changing the rotor arm and cap. Richard who had popped out to get some brake fluid returned. Assessing a Car

Spares and History.

It was mentioned, would I like some spare wheels? …  A total of 5 extra. Again, something which would have been great to mention. As one tyre was really not even good as a spare. Richard was amazed as I pulled out a scissor jack and collapsible axle stand and proceed to change the front right. Checking the front the front right wheel bearing as I did. It had a little play, but nothing to really worry about, but still to keep an eye on and replace sooner rather than later. Checking the passenger side, all was good.   As I was doing this, Richard brought out folder that contained the cars full history, including every mot from the start. Of everything, this was the most important and if he had mentioned it in the listing, I would be looking at an Austin Maxi instead. I placed the folder safely in the car and thanked him.

Time to Start the MGB

Pulling a spark plug, dirty but looked almost new.  Then filling up the carburettor pots with 3in1 oil it was time to fire the MGB up. With full choke, she fired, but ran really badly. Richard commented on the amount of black junk coming out of the exhaust. This, I wasn’t worried about, we have all seen those rescue car videos and know that it takes a while for a long dormant engine to settle down. https://youtu.be/bNN2ePkv5gY
 For example, Junkyard Digs. 

As the engine, popped back, misfired I checked the exhaust. It sounded like it was either sports exhaust or was leaking. Placing my hand over the end confirmed it must have a sports silencer fitted. Not an issue on car like an MGB, much more so with something less sporting.

Time to Head Home. 

After letting her settle and finishing a second stellar mug of tea I said goodbye to Richard and his family.  Then we headed into the fading light and home…

 

A Tale of Two MG MGB GT’S Part One

A tale of two MGB GT’s.

Offering To Drive 700 Miles.

As we changed the gearbox on Mog I found myself saying to Jess, “OK, we leave at 6 am tomorrow…”
After struggling with Mog’s mismatched parts  tomorrow would be interestingMorris Minor, Filling Some Of The Gaps.

Early Start.

 

Picking  Jess up in Tug, my little MK1 Vitara  At 6am the following morning.  We set off loaded up with parts and my Cebora 130 Mig Welder. Ahead of us was a journey to the North Welsh Coast and date with a 69 MGB GT that Jess had just bought. Suzuki Vitara MOT, 4th Time.
 

Classicaraddict Does Road Kill

After finally finding our way it seemed we were half way up the foothills of a mountain. There before us was nice, but needing attention MGB GT. It needed a quarter panel welding along with the exhaust.  Welding One Small Patch? 

 

Jess cleaned up the area that needed welding and quickly cut a patch to fit as I set my welder up.  After which he slugged it in, with impressive skill.  Then he tackled the exhaust. At this point it would be hoped that we could load up and head home. 
Sadly, the clutch was seized. The next hour was spent with Jess trying to free it up, which finally he did. https://youtu.be/pOhl6oVpEes

 

Braking Issues and Breakdowns

After heading towards the local supermarket filling station Jess flagged us down. His front right brake had stuck on.  Thankfully next to it was a Halfords. I tackled the brake as he did some other work. 
After half an hour or so, we headed south and east.  The car running ok, until finally we picked up the M53.  Aiming to stop at the first services, the B decided too a little early.  Almost beside the second marker for it. 

After a couple of minutes, I told Jess it would be better to tow it down the hard shoulder to safety. We did this, changed various parts of the ignition system when we got there.  She fired, so coffee time for us. Morris Minor Road Trip Part Two.

 

Convoy Driving In The Dark.

Time was late, and we still had 300 miles to go. Driving in convoy is difficult at the best of times, in the dark on a busy motorway almost impossible . We lost contact and at that point I wished we both had Sat Nav’s or walkie talkies. Just south of Birmingham I went straight on, Jess went right.  ¾ of an hour later, finally we were back in convoy. It was now 11pm and we still had 240 miles to go with two full tanks of fuel. No, we were not wearing shades. 

 

Finally Home

 

Finally making it back for 4 am, we had made it!

I’d driven 780 miles in the Vitara. We had rescued a 69 MG MGB GT and made  it home with only a few issues. 
That was 2 months ago as I write. The MGB has been Jess’s daily since.  For a tale of two B’s this is only one.   

Morris Minor, Filling Some Of The Gaps.

 

Spares to a daily.

From buying the Morris Minor to driving to the Northeast, a jump worthy of any postmodern film or book.  When I studied creative writing 10 years ago, we were taught show don’t tell.  Yet how did Mog and I go from oh my god to being able to do a round a trip of 1200 miles?   Morris Minor Road Trip, Part One.

The simple answer would be with a lot of hard work and many breakdowns. Perhaps not the most descriptive or in depth blog post especially for one that is theoretically about cars. This post is a less detailed overview of experience Mog and I shared during those months.

After Getting The  Morris Minor Home. 

After towing Mog back behind Tug from Exeter I was allowed to borrow a driveway to work on her. 15 years before and 3 weeks after buying my Triumph Spitfire this was the same place I changed the gearbox.  I said a week then and I did it.  Again, I said a week and 6 days after I started welding Mog was solid enough to drive down.   Buying a Morris Minor.

During that time, I didn’t just weld but also had to fit a new thermostat, water pump and a few other parts. But we made it, sadly the dynamo stopped working, but thankfully Jess had a spare so we swapped them over. If at that point I thought it was over, and it would be possible to enjoy the pleasure a new car how wrong was I?  

 

Ignition Issues. Road Side Solutions. 

I spent the day doing little jobs and just as it was getting to late evening was about 6 miles away from home Mog died.  Her ignition switched fell apart. In fading light and with my phone battery low I had to find a solution. This was made far harder due to inexperience with Morris Minors. What would be easy a few months later was a struggle.  
 

An older car needs fuel and ignition. If I could get those working there was still time for us to get back safely before it got dark.  Thankfully the Morris Minor design came to my aid. The bulkhead has the fuel pump on the left, battery in the middle and coil on the right. Even with my lack of electrical knowledge it was a simple question of running a live feed to both the pump and coil.  We made it back. The following day I made the repair a little more permanent.  It held until last few miles of my return from the North.   

The Muppet Factor. 

Nigel popped down the following weekend. Quickly getting the indicators working and one or two other little issues.  We then settled into a two-week cycle, something would break. I’d fix it  then two weeks later something else would.  https://youtu.be/VaRNZn4OYh4

The next major thing was down to my own muppet factor… With Sheldon from Classic Britain I showed how good the brakes were. In the Process breaking the engine mounts. Not only was this caught on film, but also it meant Mog had to get recovered. With no local specialist parts were ordered and the wait began, the combination of parcel farce 24 and Cornwall meaning that it could take up to 5 days for anything to arrive.  The job itself not difficult. Repairing the radiator taking longer, as the steel fan had clipped the top.  

Cylinder Head

Having repaired her and after a few days, she started to run badly and misfire whilst in Falmouth. Managing to make it back safely and after few days I took the cylinder head off. There was a crack between the combustion chambers of number 3 and 4.  Once again Jess came to my aid. After upgrading his engine last year from a 948 to a 1275 he let me have his old engine for a good price.  The swap was soon complete and Mog was running once again.   

Lack Of Preparation, More Problems. 

A simple job of changing the rear leaf springs became far harder to a combination of my lack of preparation and the parts supplier mixing nuts of the same diameter but different threads together.  Again, once bitten, twice shy.   This sums up those months, simple jobs often made far harder due to previous repairs, (bodges,) my lack of Morris Minor knowledge and the main parts suppliers being a long wait away with parcel farce.  

Axle Issues. 

I mentioned during the introduction of Morris Minor Road Trip Part One the axle was changed.  The day before I was due to go to Liskeard and Bridgewater to pick up some spares.  I decided to change the driver’s side oil seal.  This was a mistake, after tapping the locking washer flat the nut holding the half shaft on was loose. Praying the threads were worn on the nut and not the axle casing, of course the casing was worn. I spoke with gent at Liskeard and he did have an axle for sale as well at a good price.  A few days later I spot welded the nut to the casing.  Something which I wish I’d thought of on the Saturday.  

The axle change wasn’t easy, likewise the week after almost cutting my finger off the gearbox went. Mog’s mismatched combination of early and later parts meaning that was far harder than it should have been. 

So? 

Reading through this there is an intentional dryness to the post. I’ve not written about my emotional experience of owning and driving a Morris Minor, an early one at that.  Now that is real story and will be saved for another post.  

Morris Minor Road Trip, Part One.


“To travel hopefully is better than to arrive.” Wrote Robert Louis Stephenson in 1881. Red in the Shawshank Redemption narrates at the end of the film, “I feel like a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.”
 

Before leaving.

Two weeks ago, I loaded Mog my 1952 Morris Minor up and prepared to leave on a long journey. Here was a car that hadn’t been on the road for ten years until only a few short months before. After I completed the initial welding work had an immense amount done as what could fail did. The fews week prior had seen me change a gearbox, passenger front wing, weld in two large repair panels due to a bodge creating a rust trap, a rear axle, two brake pipes, several oil seals. Oh, and another oil change. Buying a Morris Minor.

 

In the days of tall ships, the saying was, one hand for the ship, one for the sailor. The modern version went, the boot is for the car, the interior for me. Carrying more spares and tools than some mobile mechanics.   Yes, I was overprepared, but still  not enough.  With my paddleboard on the roof, clothes, paddles, wetsuit on the backseat off we set.  Filling up at Truro the next stop would be just before the M5 at Exeter, not far from where I got Mog from.  MX5 Goodbye.

Initial 100 Miles.

Those first 90 miles were a shake down, and if not shake they certainly rattled. We headed off up the A30. Where I found to my pleasure that with all the work completed Mog would sit at 55 to 60 MPH, well unless the hill was steep… The Paddleboard affected her crosswind handling a little, ensuring a mild tail waggle in certain conditions. Nothing to worry about, just to be aware and take account of.  

Early Issues.

 No, the biggest issue was the rattle coming from the gearbox selector cup. One that amplified leading  to a deeper understanding of those who suffer tinnitus. Running locally not an issue, but after an hour or so, wearing.  Working out that the lightest pressure damped it and remembering that I had a couple of shorter bungee cords in the boot it meant that when we stopped, I was sure it could get sorted.  
 

We pulled into the well known supermarket at Exeter, 90 miles into an initial 230. Filling up cost £14 of the premium fuel, not too bad considering. After giving Mog a quick visual check over followed by her oil and water off we headed for coffee stop at Taunton Deane. With the less steep gradients on the motorway Mog would easily keep up with the slower traffic. The rattle from the gear lever fixed with a combination of bungee cord and hairband. Yet my radar pinged.

Loosing water.


It is said that those who have been around older machinery often develop a sixth sense when it comes to problems. I pulled to a stop mine was on overload. Popping her bonnet, oil was fine, but water was down. Clearly there was an issue with her cooling system. After checking all the hoses and fastenings and topping her up we pulled tentatively back onto the motorway.   Running the heater and pulling in every 20 miles or so. On the second stop there was a discarded 5 litre container.  For once being thankful for our selfish society I quickly wiped it down and refilled it.

For the next 100 miles or so that was how we travelled, slow but steady.  Thankfully not to far to our stop,  a deluxe garden shed high up on the hills in Gloucestershire.  

We had made it, tired, I  even had a paddle on the Stroudwater canal. 

Tomorrow could wait, time for a beer and dinner.  

 

Buying a Morris Minor.

Quick Recap

My friend Jess and I found ourselves at the edge of Exeter looking at a Morris Minor 2dr saloon. A few days before I had been looking at classified adds on Gumtree…Classified Classic Car Hunting

Running? 

 With a battery attached the engine was coaxed into running for a few seconds. Whilst I might not know much about Morris Minors, I do about the A series engine and this one was sweet sounding.  Assessing a Car

Dashboard & General Condition
After wrestling  a seat into the empty cabin, I sat behind the wheel, the dash being very different to the later ones. The iconic central Morris Minor Speedo not only stylish but also very practical as it allowed both right hand and left drive vehicles to be made much cheaper.  

Yet here was a dash that looked much less 1950’s and more 1940’s. Cream painted tin, chrome, and bakerlite with Banjo 3 spoke steering wheel… The lighter  panels offset  by the rich blue of an earlier window out respray.  

 All the tyres would need replacing and to be honest the amount of welding needed scared me silly. Yet…  Welding One Small Patch?

Jess and I went back for a little chat beside Bel, my MX 5. He said it was bad, but it could be far worse. The expense being the body on a Morris Minor as the rest is fairly cheap.  Yet the engine was good and we gambled on the transmission. He went on to say, Morris Minors seem to have either good oily bits and poor bodies or the other way round…  

From the floors up she was solid.  

https://youtu.be/q9WvF7gD_3M

https://youtu.be/_5qK4wW33Mk

Negotiating a price.  

As Jess looked over the Moggie again I sat down with the seller. 
 

We have all watched those shows where people rip the seller off and flip the car for a big profit. Others have described them as sharks with smiles… 
I’m not like that, but when I do low ball, I’ve learnt that if we are getting on it is much easier. 
After telling the seller that I was going to take the mickey and that he wasn’t going to get upset. He wasn’t, told me up the price by £100 and knowing he was being a gent, we didn’t shake hands, but I gave him a £200 deposit… I knew it that he had come down a long way and I wasn’t going to insult him any further.  MX5 Goodbye.

After visiting a nearby supermarket, taking the rest of the money out I paid the seller.  Arranging to pick the car up soon, Jess and I left to see a friend locally for a socially distanced coffee before heading back down the A30 to Cornwall roof down… 
I’d bought a Morris Minor, and early one, but what had I actually bought? 

Classified Classic Car Hunting

Classified Hunting. 

Late night classified add looking is never a good thing. 
Hunting that bargain, odd wording, fuzzy pictures or lack whereof spark the interest.  

Requirements

As I’ve already mentioned, the car to replace Bel would have to be an historic one, tax and mot free with cheap insurance. Also, the parts would have to be plentiful and cheap.  That immediately discounts anything with a VW badge, as yes there lots about but you pay a premium. http://www.classicaraddict.com/mx5-goodbye/
 

My requirements meant an older British car, ideally an MG MGB GT, but they are little expensive. To be honest I’m horrified how much once cheap cars are now worth, Ford Capris as an example, a few years ago bangers now anything is worth thousands. After this shock I found myself looking at adds and this is when living in Cornwall is an issue, for many Bristol is the far southwest, Exeter might as well be France  and Cornwall Outer Mongolia. Combined with the amount of salt in the air here, especially near the North Coast we have to travel.  18 months ago I found a MK1 Toyota Rave 4 Auto for a friend at Honiton and felt I’d got away lightly.  Finding a Unicorn Car for a Friend.

 What To Look For In An Add.  

After looking on Facebook Market Place and eBay I tried Gumtree. Lots of  adds full of clear pictures and well written and with each one my heart sank a little lower. Then one stood out, a single fuzzy picture not too far away by our standards as only 100 miles, well 96 away. After getting used to how gumtree works I contacted the seller and asked if we could have a look at the weekend. It would have to be Sunday as I was towing a car back from Plymouth for a friend on the Saturday.  https://www.gumtree.com/

Initial Contact With The Seller.

We agreed a time, this was Thursday evening, on Saturday I confirmed that we would be aiming to be there at midday and if we came to an agreement £200 pounds would be a suitable deposit.  Just before we left on Sunday morning in Bel my soon to be sold MX5 I messaged to let the seller know we were on our way. 

Arriving / Initial  Impressions.  

Aiming for midday I rang 2 minutes passed to let him know we were outside. As he opened the gate, the seller said, “the price is not fixed.” Not the thing to say to a buyer…  The seller is a true gent and to see his lifetime collection of pushbikes, cars, and paraphernal was amazing.  He showed us his much loved 1925 Citroen Cloverleaf  looking just like Brum the children television series and not that much bigger.   

Three generations of petrolheads together all sharing the same passion. The seller, myself and my mate Jess in his early 20’s. Those who know Jess would have guessed the car now. For those who don’t, Jess has two cars on the road, one 1956 2dr  rat rod and the other a very original 1966  4dr and this was the reason he was with me.  Both Jess’s cars are Morris Minors and the car  was a one, except it was a little rarer than many.   http://www.classicaraddict.com/importance-of-gut-instinct/ 

A Morris Minor, But what Type? 

I’d found a 1952 split screen 2dr Minor, listed as a series two and needing a lot of work. She had been stood standing for over 10 years the seller having rescued it from a possible destruction a few years back.  Yet not having the welding skills, he never managed to get her on the road. With the arrival of the Citroen it was time to let her go. 
To be honest my first impression was oh bugger as the interior was stripped out and clearly both sills and lot more needed doing. Yet as Jess clambered all over her, and we managed to make her fire up she spoke to me. Running enough to let me know she wanted to live.   http://www.classicaraddict.com/33/

This is the first of a whole series of posts, and yes there is little hint there…

Classic Chainsaw for the Classicaraddict?

I work outdoors, when asked, the nature of it is best described as hack & slash…What this means is that small urban gardens are best left to others with nice little vans.By choice I prefer larger properties, this is where my little Suzuki 4×4 comes in. It has changed how I do my job, and never ceases to amaze me where she goes. Often called my workmate and she really is.

Today the starter cord broke on my law mower snapped just as the client was bringing a mug of tea out. We chatted as I quickly sorted the issue. The mower looks old, scruffy, yet cuts wet grass like nothing else. A few years ago I was given it along with a strimmer after they got thrown out. Sadly, the strimmer died after a couple of years of sterling service.

Late last year one of my clients gave me an old Echo CS330EVL chainsaw. It had sat in their shed for quite a few years. They said that it had an issue with the chain brake.  I did fire it up a few days later, it ran, but the brake didn’t work, and the starter got stuck. After putting it down, it sat, forgotten once again, until this evening. Sadly, once again the need for a reliable small saw has risen. For 3 years I used a beaten-up Stihl 009, this little saw was amazing, but finally died last year.

People assume that bigger chainsaws are better, yet I would argue that say one with 12inch to a 16inch bar is far better for 90% of all the jobs you need to do. Unless you are felling bigger trees, then, of course, a larger saw is better.  I don’t and when most of my use is logging and only small trees, a lighter saw is far better. First, you don’t get so fatigued using one, and second, they are cheaper to run, less hassle to maintain.

This evening, I dug the little saw out, got my socket set from the truck and set to work. The chain brake was simply down to being clogged solid with fine sawdust.  This is where the Echo reveals its older design. Modern saws have the chain brake on the inside of the bar cover. This means that every time you take it off it is a simple job to clean the brake. With this Echo, the chain brake is behind the engine drive sprocket and stays on the machine. Hence, it is far more difficult to keep clean, which then reduces the performance until it stops working.  After cleaning, it now works well, which means the saw is safe to use again. It is a little more complex than more modern designs, yet the quality is clear to see, and I’m impressed compared to cheaper, newer saws.

After sharping the chain, I then found the second major fault…

The starter cord was jammed, so once again, my tools came out, pulled it apart. Only to find starter drum was cracked. A quick look online proved that this a rare part. Only available from the States. Cost £6 and £16 for postage…

Tomorrow I’ll test the saw and if it runs well, then it will become my everyday one.  I’ll order a couple of spare chains, for £15 which will mean that for £40  I’ll have a good saw…

And that is a bargain.

Classic chainsaws for the Classicaraddict… Of course.

Quick update, the day after writing this post I did try the little saw.
Considering how long it must have been sitting, it did really well. At first a little smokey and until the fresh fuel worked through a little rough running. It now seems to have settled down and after  I get a spare chain, this will be the saw that lives in the truck, (Tug). I also would like to thank my clients for giving me this saw. They are truly good people.

Time to Confess… Cars or Bikes

I have a confession, some of my friends might want to disown me after this…

Yet, it is time to come out…

 

Most people assume that I love bikes more than cars, even many of long-term friends still think this, despite all the evidence to the contrary.  Within the biking fraternity, there is an assumption that any bike must be more fun than a car. For those who think this, I suggest trying a Suzuki Gs 500. Then you will know that watching paint dry is more fun than riding one of those. I think it might be better to say that generally, bikes are more fun than most cars.

Yet, whilst I do love bikes…

For me cars, well classic ones are more than just a mode of transport. For instance, my little Suzuki Vitara is not only work’s vehicle but also my friend. She has transformed how I do my job and if I was not impressed before it snowed I was certainly after. Every time I sit in her I smile, then I have to put fuel in her and the smile becomes a little smaller.  I’ve had an old beaten up Mercedes estate car that somehow was special. I’ve owned some cars that are so bad I lost the will to live, for instance, a Hyundai Lantra estate. After driving it to South Wales I pulled into a local supermarket and when I came I’d forgotten where I’d parked it. How bad does a car have to be that after driving it for 4 hours you cannot even remember what you had been in?

 

I’m writing this after buying a bargain Mazda MX5, a car that somehow has already wormed its way into my soul. It reminds me so much of my much-missed Triumph Spitfire. Yet with the bonus of being reliable and dry. Driving should be fun; the safest cars are often the ones that engage the driver at lower speeds.  Anyone who has driven a classic Mini knows this or the much-maligned Metro. They are safer because the driver is engaged in what they should be doing. With the added bonus the more passionate driver is rewarded with car that is fun at legal speeds.

For me, cars that do this are more fun than bikes, the view over the bonnet of a sports car sends a shiver through the soul of the enthusiast.

So I’m sorry to confess, but at heart, I’m a car guy and not a bike one…

Mazda MX5 First Driving Impressions

 

What is an MX5 like to drive?

 

Having not had a convertible in almost 2 years and a two-seater one in almost 8 years, having the roof down is such a joy.  But, then if you have ever gone topless, you will know that.

In my first blog post, I wrote about how I was not impressed 12 years ago after borrowing an MK2 1.6 MX5 for an hour or so. This experience put me off them for a long time. A few years later I did get to drive a much later MK2 1.8 model with low profile wheels and tyres and a six-speed gearbox. Sadly, I could only drive it at 40 mph…. But it did seem a lot better.

 

After buying my MX5 (Bel) on impulse, and at the time on a purely rational basis what is she like to drive?  In one word, sublime. Write I’m done now…

 

OK, a little more, let me explain.

First, Bel is a driver’s car, she talks to the driver who wants to listen. The experience is completely immersive. Most cars, well modern ones are like driving less interesting video game, and by doing this, they make the passionate driver want to slit their wrists.  The other type of car seems only to become interesting at speeds that either mean an instant ban and you are travelling too fast for the safety of others.

 

Bel is not like that, at normal and legal speeds she is fun. I do a lot of driving on tight, narrow Cornish back lanes. Often getting close to the speed limit is far too fast. Here her poise and well-balanced steering is a joy. On faster roads, she is lovely and stable at 80 mph, at 100, very skittish. I will add that I only hit that speed for about 3 seconds before dropping back down to more legal speeds. Sorry officer.

 

They have been described as minimal when compared to modern cars they are. Compared to my much-missed Triumph Spitfire, even a basic spec MX5 is loaded with such features as no leaking roof, stereo, a handbrake that works, etc, etc… It is only a question of perspective… Not only does all that tec weight a lot, it is more to go wrong.

One such feature that is outstanding and is important for driving a convertible in the winter… Her heater is amazing, the best I’ve ever felt. Toasted feet on the coldest of days, or nights.

 

I still think that space wise they are cramped and carrying capacity is a joke, compared to my Spitfire there is hardly any at all. I would argue that some bigger touring bikes can carry more.  A little creative packaging will be required when I go away to see my mother later in the year.

Yet…  Those downsides are nothing compared to the driving experience.

What are MX5’s like to drive?

 

Amazing… They are driver’s cars.