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Friday 6th July 2012

PH Fleet: Lexus LS400/TVR Chimaera 400

One barge and one sports means the perfect pairing for reformed car buying addict Garlick



Who said efficiency was the preserve of the Germans? Japan plus Great Britain equals the world's best (affordable) fleet in my opinion. The mix of Lexus and TVR is the methadone equivalent, the only things that have been able to wean me from my addiction to buying used cars from the PH classifieds.

Used often, cleaned less often
Used often, cleaned less often
The continued joy of Lex
Let me try to explain the appeal of the LS400. This is a car I bought for £1,800 and by rights it should be a pain to keep on the road, it should cost me a fortune and I should fear taking it too far from home. Cheap luxury cars always go wrong, right? Well, no actually, at least not Japanese ones. †OK, so someone will soon remind me of the suspension rebuild, but that aside my expenditure has been on petrol, tyres and routine servicing. It has become a car I jump in without a second thought and drive all over the country without a care.

So far we have travelled over 17,000 miles together and to back up my (foolish?) trust in its reliability I donít even have any breakdown cover. It still likes a drink - you knew that already - but at a total of 122,000 miles it is yet to develop any rattles in the cabin, still sits firm at fast motorway speeds and the audio hurts my ears with high-quality noise.

The front suspension is a little creaky after a long run, so I do need to get that looked at, but in the meantime it is the best £1,800 Iíve ever spent. Iím not sure such refinement, coupled with amazing reliability, can be had for less. If you want Rolls-Royce refinement for Ford Fiesta money I canít recommend it highly enough. Every now and then I ponder selling it, but then we travel a few hundred miles and that thought is forgotten. One day Iíll need better MPG, but Iíll hold off replacing it for as long as I can.

Post-Le Mans polish
Post-Le Mans polish
And so to the TVR...
Where the Lexus impresses as an effective tool for the job, the TVR succeeds to captivate the senses better than any car you car to name. Despite hearsay regarding TVRs, my Chimaera continues to be a reliable companion whenever I choose to use it. Many spouted comments of Ďwill it make it?í or Ďyouíre braveí when I mentioned I was taking it to Le Mans again this year, but once more we rumbled all the way there and all the way back without a hiccup. Itís more economical than the Lexus at 130kph and with the roof down all the way there and back I managed to gain a glorious tan too. Best of all is the fact that people enjoyed seeing it; we were waved at all the way there as I cruised along unable to chat to my passenger due to the racket from the exhaust.

Before you think I have my rose-tinted glasses on, however, I will confess to one issue. Before I left for LM the fan switch failed and needed replacing. One day I noticed the temp was higher than normal and sure enough, no fan noise meant the fans were taking a breather just when I needed them. Fortunately I had a clear run home which kept the temp down, and took the car to Fernhurst for a pre-Le Mans check and a new switch a few days later. With a bill of under £40 and a few cups of coffee as I waited one canít complain, and as the fans on the car are on more often than not when in and around London I canít blame the switch for wearing out after 13 years.

Must get around to fixing this
Must get around to fixing this
Once I returned from Le Mans I de-stickered the car, polished it and put it back in the garage to let my limited mileage policy catch up after adding 1000 miles in four days. Somewhere between London and Le Mans, I managed to collect a stone on the Autoroute that cracked the NS headlight lens, something I must get sorted but is all to easy to forget from the driver seat and as the headlight still functions I imagine Iíll need reminding a few times.

The TVR privilege
Owning a car like the Chimaera is a privilege as far as Iím concerned. When I open the garage door I get a smell of real car, you know the smell you get in a classic car showroom? I have that all the time with a mixture of engine smells, leather and slight smell of fumes from when I last reversed it into the garage. Taking the dust cover off is still an event, rolling it out of the garage to lower the roof is a pleasure, and firing it up still makes me excited.

En route to LM
En route to LM
To drive I still get wobbly legs from the adrenaline rush, I like the admiring glances it gets, the conversations it starts with strangers, the way us TVR owners still wave at each other when we pass. Itís fun at 10mph or 100mph, and that chassis still gets my respect in corners, especially when wet. What a car it is, and what else does so much for the price?

Right now I have my luxury appliance for daily use and my noisy little toy for the weekends. My garage is perfect and it even seems to have cured my addiction to car buying. Part of me feels sad about that, though and that urge to buy still nags from time to time...


Fact Sheet:
Car:
1997 Lexus LS400
Run by: Garlick
Bought: Jan 2011
Purchase price: £1,800
Last month at a glance: More miles, more reliability

Fact Sheet:
Car:
1999 TVR Chimaera 4.0
Run by: Garlick
Bought: December 2009
Purchase price: £12,995
Last month at a glance: Le Mans, the love affair continues

Previous reports:
The Lexus has sprung a creak! And the TVR has a hiccup
Garlick enjoys a history lesson
TVR lives once more, Lexus carries on regardless
MOT time for the Lexus and a reawakening for the TVR
A costly months and goodbyes
Noise upsets neighbours

Garlick
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Author Discussion

pepsi max

Original Poster:

1 posts

21 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
Looks good to me, and very good value.

Gorbyrev

650 posts

34 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
What a fleet! Speed six passed me the other day and I remembered why everyone should be glad of the wonder of TVR. As for the Lexus, suspension rebuild vs tragic depreciation - bargain. Do they still have a cutaway LS400 at the Science Museum?

SpecB

782 posts

28 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
....and how cool is it to have an all V8 fleet? biggrin I ditched my SpecB shortly after getting my Chimaera for an E500 and don't regret it in the slightest.

Alex

7,089 posts

164 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
"I have that all the time with a mixture of engine smells, leather and slight smell of fumes"

but mostly plastic resin and glue. smile

JPW231

324 posts

91 months

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Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
I have had my TVR Chimaera for a month now.

A couple of issues I have caused - a fuse blew whilst installing the CTek charger and I buggered up the timing trying to replace the Vaccuum Advance on the distributor (the day after it was serviced!) :-(

It is a fantastic car though and once I have the vac advance replaced I won't touch it. Working in engineering a little knowledge can be dangerous!

Looking forward to many years of enjoyment yet.......when the weather improves!
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Schnellmann

1,574 posts

84 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
That is a pretty impressive fleet for such a (relatively) modest outlay.

I think I suffer from the same disease: "carbuyingitis" You seem to be on the road to recovery but for me, however great me garage is, I am always eyeing up something else! Drives my wife nuts (and me too at times). Still, keeps my insurance broker busy....

LesKellet

233 posts

99 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
Our LS400 is still much missed, as was bought for the same purposes. Maybe I bought a wrong 'un, but the engine blew 11 months into ownership. Still, still so gutted!

Limpet

782 posts

41 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
What a fabulous fleet. Two cars that between them tick just about every box. Except fuel economy, of course wink

Garlick

40,422 posts

120 months

PH Manager Bloke

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
Alex said:
but mostly plastic resin and glue. smile
Busted smile

MarJay

1,849 posts

55 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
Hmm Garlick, sounding dangerously Mike Breweresque here:

Garlick: "Rolls-Royce refinement for Ford Fiesta money"

Mike Brewer: "Champagne car, for lemonaaade mannaaayyy!"

Soon, you'll find yourself saying "'Ere, old aat yer aand, you got yersef a diw!"

jbi

6,894 posts

84 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
LesKellet said:
Our LS400 is still much missed, as was bought for the same purposes. Maybe I bought a wrong 'un, but the engine blew 11 months into ownership. Still, still so gutted!
wow... you really got unlucky.

The engine is probably the most reliable part of the whole car.

School boy

925 posts

91 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
Get a 4x4 next for use in adverse weather.

Tyre Tread

6,915 posts

96 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
You just need a true British Classic now to top them off. scratchchin

I wonder what that could be?

idea

VictorMeldrew

8,293 posts

157 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
Alex said:
"I have that all the time with a mixture of engine smells, leather and slight smell of fumes"

but mostly plastic resin and glue. smile
You forgot the musty carpet and the vague smell of urine. Does fibreglass ever fully cure, or will they still smell of pee in 50 years?

wink

Good mix though, not entirely dissimilar to my Chim and A8 barge fleet. I could improve on the barge, after listening to the R8's at FoS I have a serious hankering for a 5.2 V10 S8.

Garlick

40,422 posts

120 months

PH Manager Bloke

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
MarJay said:
Hmm Garlick, sounding dangerously Mike Breweresque here:
Well it owes me £5k and as I'm such a super salesman I won't budge an inch on price. I'm a negotiating god, just watch me.


....£2500 you say? Oh go on then, but promise to look after it.

KDIcarmad

703 posts

31 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
A mechanic friend of my brother comment on Lexus as great cars if you forget it wants to be a Merc. Also added they were surprised that more kit car don't use them.

MPoxon

3,353 posts

53 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
TVRs are very addictive.... Sounds like you have the bug!

M666 EVO

877 posts

42 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
I am feeling your happiness Garlick. I have the XJR for wafting in comfort and the Delta for weekend looniness. But is that enough?

I found a Renault 21 Turbo in your classifieds, one of my dream (cheap) cars and I thought "should I sell or get 3 cars?"...

I mailed the guy and asked him to send pictures, he didn't reply but I guess he doesn't want to sell it that much after all rolleyes

jbi

6,894 posts

84 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
KDIcarmad said:
A mechanic friend of my brother comment on Lexus as great cars if you forget it wants to be a Merc. Also added they were surprised that more kit car don't use them.
they are starting to get a big following in the kit car world as the rover v8 becomes more and more antiquated.

Jim20vt

28 posts

109 months

[news]
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
This looks familiar.... It's you right??

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEUsNWghpvc

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