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PH Fleet

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Wednesday 11th January 2012


PH FLEET: MAZDA EUNOS ROADSTER

Buying a car in January is fine - taxing, insuring and MOTing it the following year not so much


I may, on occasion, have mentioned the Eunos was cheap to buy. And it was. But there's a double edged sword to cheap cars, one that I came close to feeling the edge of the other day.

Early morning drop off for the MOT
Early morning drop off for the MOT
I smelt it first. Being a bloody-minded type the roof was down, even though it was half six on the M25. But that acrid whiff of tyre smoke woke me up, the blue-tinged cloud curling up from under the slewing Astra van ahead revealing its source.

It's exactly scenarios like this that make me uncomfortable risking the Eunos on the daily grind. Because it wouldn't take much of a fender bender for the insurers to write it off - exactly the situation faced by my MX-5 owning brother last year when someone slithered into his door in the snow.

Paying the price
It would be gutting enough to lose the car through my own stupidity but for it to be written off by some tailgating idiot in one of those depressingly familiar motorway shunts would be truly heartbreaking. Especially given that cars like this are, more often than not, worth a lot more than the sum of their parts, especially if you've spent time fettling and tweaking to get it just how you want.

No, haven't swapped the nose cone yet
No, haven't swapped the nose cone yet
It would have been especially annoying too, given this was the first drive since the triple-whammy of tax, MOT and insurance. All in the first week of January too - still smug about your post-Christmas impulse purchase now Trent?

Good thing too my comedy Tigar tyres were one of the things the Eunos failed its test on too. Much as I've enjoyed their comedic lack of grip being able to stop in a hurry is also nice, especially with a rapidly looming and very stationary Astramax in front of you.

Said emergency stop was a good test for my new Michelin Pilot Exaltos, freshly fitted to the 15-inch OZ Ultraleggeras. Yes, for the time being I've reverted to my 'big' wheels with, now, posh rubber. In my heart I still think the skinnier 14s are probably the better choice and, over time, I'll try and source (un)suitable replacements for the mighty Tigars. But I'm also a bit of a tart and I like the look of the OZs. Boy, was I glad of proper tyres in the above situation too.

OZs back on with fresh Michelin rubber
OZs back on with fresh Michelin rubber
Had it resulted in unpleasantness I would at least have been protected by the fact my new insurers Adrian Flux are both relaxed about declared mods and, on receipt of suitable evidence, happy to insure to an agreed value. I don't ever want to be in the position to put that to the test and the idea of starting afresh with a new car doesn't appeal but the £3,000 we've settled on would at least minimise the financial loss.

Flux babes say hi
I'm sorry to leave REIS too, their personal service (one contact, just an email or direct phone call away) and flexibility much appreciated. But the numbers matter and the Flux quote was £200 less and it was that, not the arrival of the Flux Babes calendar (honest!), that won the day.

At least going for a six-month tax disc means I can break the sequence there, the MOT and service coming in at just over £300 with friendly local spannermen The Car Works. I knew the Tigars would be marginal but it also failed on emissions, reinstallation of the cat and the new tyres seeing to both issues. A couple of bulbs, an oil change (ashamed - should have done this myself but ran out of time) and a quick check around were all that was required too, a new clutch in the not too distant the next big mechanical job on the horizon.

Does grip come at the expense of fun?
Does grip come at the expense of fun?
Now it's all bona fide I can see about fitting my freshly resprayed nose cone and giving it a bit of an early spring clean - god knows it needs a bit of TLC in that respect.

Not to mention a bit of a thrashing. First impressions of the Michelins are that they have a lot more grip than the Tigars which may mean a reduction in comedy low speed dab of oppo skidfoolery but a whole lot more cornering grip. Now, which is actually more fun? It's a question I mused on recently and our man Harris will shortly be exploring in his own inimitable style. To be continued...

What I reckon I need is a custom tyre with great braking performance but a nice, predictable lateral breakaway. Maybe we need to lobby tyremakers to come up with such a tyre and brand it with a PH smiley on the side!


Fact sheet:
Car:
1993 Eunos Roadster (JDM import model)
Run by: Dan Trent
Bought: January 2011
Purchase price: £1,250
Last month at a glance: Wallet left reeling by three-pronged tax/MOT/insurance attack; new Michelin tyres fitted; grip versus fun debate renewed


Previous reports:
Winter fun in the Eunos
Eunos gets a loud exhaust and new suspension
New suspension offered but am I worthy?
Purchase price only half the story...
Open Season heralds rare 'money where mouth is' moment...

Author: Dan Trent