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PH Fleet

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Monday 14th March 2011


PH FLEET UPDATE: MAZDA EUNOS ROADSTER

Dan Trent's impulse purchase 'bargain' is sucking up an awful lot of money, but he still seems happy...


Written in the post-purchase afterglow, my first report on the cheapo Eunos was, with hindsight, a little over-ecstatic. So, after the first few weeks of ownership, am I still quite so over the moon?

Well, I've spent pretty much its purchase price over again on various bits and bobs. And not just the succession of stick-on numberplates I keep having to buy, after the various wonky/air-bubbled/peeling attempts I've tried thus far. Suffice to say I'm glad they do a discount on repeat orders for just such eventualities.

Even small roads prove fun in a Eunos
Even small roads prove fun in a Eunos
For now, a slight funding crisis should at least bring relief to the postie, who's been cursing my impulsive, online shopping habits and, literally, shouldering the burden with box after box of deliveries to the office door. So, after an initial spike, I have to say sorry to Autolink, MX-5 Parts and others - the boom times are over for now...

So what's been costing the money? Well, there was that first £350 service, including the rather expensive fitment of braided brake lines and subsequent pairing of that work with self-fitted new discs and pads. On the recommendation of an MX-5-owning colleague, I went OE with the latter but we'll see how we go with that.

Strut brace a vanity buy, K&N filter isn't
Strut brace a vanity buy, K&N filter isn't
There was also the eBay special strut brace, which, I'll admit, is more about vanity than any truly functional improvement. The K&N air filter kit, on the other hand, looks good and sounds better, this and the cat replacement pipe freeing up the breathing and unleashing a cheeky, Alfa-esque, twin-cam rasp.

Then there's the cambelt kit. With the offer of help from fellow motoring scribe John Simister, himself a former MX-5 owner, I decided to take the plunge and change this myself, the kit comprising belts for cams, alternator/water pump and power steering pump/air-con compressor, plus all the necessary tensioners and gaskets. Not bad for £70, but I was more than a bit nervous about tackling a proper, hands-on bit of spannering like this myself.

OZ alloys came from Dan's Clio Cup
OZ alloys came from Dan's Clio Cup
A combination of John's watchful eye and the expertise of Messrs Haynes and Hardiman (the latter's MX-5 Renovation Manual a godsend and now nicely patinated with oily fingerprints) saw the job through successfully, thankfully without any stripped or seized bolts or fittings.

It's certainly empowering, doing a job like this yourself and, with the rest of the fluids fresh and the brakes all new, I'm pretty happy the Eunos is mechanically fit. The clutch hasn't got a whole lot of life left in it, but other than that I'm happy to have atoned for the total lack of service history when I bought it.

Oily bits have had a proper workover...
Oily bits have had a proper workover...
Next job: suspension. As everyone has told me, a geo set-up is essential, but if I'm going to upgrade the dampers as planned there's no point doing it until that's all in place.

Aforementioned chat with Bilstein is approaching fruition, subject to confirmation that my shrugged "well it should fit" optimism means I can, with a change of top-mounts, go for the full monty B16 kit for the Mk2 with all the height-adjustable, tweakable damping goodness that entails.

...And Dan's even got his hands dirty
...And Dan's even got his hands dirty
I appear to be spending more time fettling than I am driving at the moment. So, an impromptu mini-roadtrip around Surrey and Hampshire's finest back roads was hastily arranged with a trio of MX-5 and Elise-owning pals. The weather duly obliged with a hearty downpour; a 7am meet in a lay-by with a load car geeks in the pouring rain is not, it seems, the easiest sell for long-suffering other halves.

The rain did at least mean some skidtastic fun, the Toyos on my newly fitted OZ Ultraleggeras - from my Clio 172 Cup but, happily, correctly sized - not quite as progressively slidey as the Tigars on the original 14s, but the conditions more than slippery enough to reveal I am not quite the drift god I fancied myself to be. And the less said about that the better.

Plenty of bits to fit...
Plenty of bits to fit...
Clearly cash isn't the only thing I'm running out of, then, but with the parts budget depleted it does at least mean I'm left no alternative but to get out and drive the thing more and, though the new dampers can't come soon enough, I'm absolutely loving the Eunos. Sure, it's not quick. But it's so small and wieldy even a single-track lane can be fun. The bonding process is well and truly underway.

...But a weekend blast is the reward...
...But a weekend blast is the reward...
...even if another stick-on 'plate pays the price
...even if another stick-on 'plate pays the price
   
Author: Dan Trent