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Tuesday 25th September 2012

PH Fleet: Lexus LS400/TVR Chimaera 400

With guest appearances from a VW camper, a Hyundai and a 125cc scooter



A lot has happened since I last wrote about my fleet, the main event being a two-week holiday which gave the Garlick duo some well-deserved time off while their owner enjoyed the same.

At the Ferrari PHSS
At the Ferrari PHSS
The TVR was cleaned and taken to the Classic and Sports Car 30th birthday party the evening before I flew to Greece and was proudly parked among an array of classic exotica as we celebrated 30 years of the best classic car magazine ever made.

I like the fact that the Griffith and Chimaera are now being welcomed into the classic car community. While it might not quite have the cachet of the Bugatti Type 37 that was parked nearby, the Chim still drew a few glances from other owners.

At the end of the night I rumbled out of the car park and headed home, taking the long way around, before garaging it safely for my two-week absence. I’d miss it - and was I imagining that higher-than-usual idle as I stopped at the lights? Let's hope so.

Arriving at Skiathos airport, I presented myself at the Europcar desk and requested the keys for my pre-booked holiday wheels. I glanced at the paperwork to see what my car was, I had no idea as the car was included with the villa, and was disheartened to see we had a Hyundai Atoz (or Amica as they are known here) for 14 days. Our 'Hundy' was immediately named BOT (thanks to the the letters on the numberplate) and we headed off to our hired home in a car so narrow I expected it to tip over. Fast it was not, nor was it laden with luxury features, but it had air-con and at 100 degrees plus that was welcomed more than anything else.

Great view, great hire car
Great view, great hire car
As with all hire cars I ended up loving it. Within a few days I could extract all the available performance and hustle the locals around the hill roads with an impossible amount of lean and a hint of squeal from the 13-inch rubber. We negotiated dirt tracks to secluded beaches and passed walkers with amazed looks on their faces as we crawled back up in first gear on tracks made for 4x4s. Despite being full of beach by the end of the holiday it didn’t miss a beat. We were sad to leave BOT at the end of the holiday and even took a photo of it at the airport, covered in dust.

Isn’t it funny how you bond with hire cars over time…even rubbish ones seem to get under your skin in the end? I'm sure we all have similar stories, and deep down the best car will always be a hired car.

While we were in Greece I watched with envy as locals scooted around on their mopeds until I decided that I had to have a go. 48 hours hire of a mighty Agility 125 was secured after dinner one night, and we buzzed around for a couple of days pondering our lack of protective wear. It was great fun, but I was glad to hand the keys back when we did as local drivers don’t care much for other road users. We had no mishaps, we’d scratched the itch while wearing helmets better suited to cycling, and managed to get away with it  

Pizza anyone?
Pizza anyone?
Upon our return to the UK the Lexus appeared a little reluctant to start but it eventually fired and seemed to enjoy being used again as we sped home along a deserted M25. The very next day I went to start the TVR and was pleasantly surprised when it started as strong as ever. It seems the new battery fitted earlier this year was a good move, although the Chim was probably disappointed that I only took it to Sainsbury’s for the weekly shop before returning it to the garage. It deserved better after such a lengthy rest, but I was pleased it wasn't grumpy after sitting there for so long.

It got the run it deserved when I headed to Silverstone for the PHSS a week later. Returning from the event confirmed the idle speed was definitely too high and it seems I need to have a fiddle with the stepper motor to stop the 1500rpm sticking point. Embarrassing with a loud exhaust when you’re stuck at traffic lights. While that’s being fettled, I’ll finally get around to fitting the new headlights (mentioned in my previous report) and that should be all I need to do to the TVR before the service and MOT that are due in December. Speaking of which, I've been piling more motorway miles onto the LS400, and that could do with a service too...

That’s not the end of my motoring month. I’ve also been satisfying my strange caravan/ motorhome obsession by borrowing another VW California, using it to camp at the Britcar24 last weekend.

Obligatory whistling kettle
Obligatory whistling kettle
I love the idea of having a small van-based camper, and while I can’t stretch to the £40k you need for a new California, I have started to look at older VW’s in the PH classifieds where a reasonable Transporter-based example can be had for well under £10K.

The yellow van I borrowed was a ‘Beach’ model which meant it came without luxuries like a stove, fridge or sink. After two nights without these items it’s clear that I need them if camping is to be fun.

I wonder if I could commute in a camper van? If I could I might just about be able to justify owning one...

Last time I wrote about the fleet I mentioned buying a 911, this time I’m coveting Hyundais and perusing ads for camper vans. With that in mind it’s probably wise that I keep quiet my lusting for a Smart ForTwo Brabus, and the fact that I'm using a bicycle to get to work these days.


Fact Sheet:
Car: 1997 Lexus LS400
Run by: Garlick
Bought: Jan 2011
Purchase price: £1,800
Last month at a glance: Airport parking, more motorway miles, service due.

Fact Sheet:
Car: 1999 TVR Chimaera 4.0
Run by: Garlick
Bought: December 2009
Purchase price: £12,995
Last month at a glance: Strong battery, high idle, new headlights going in

Previous reports

Garlick tries to save fuel on his all-V8 fleet and Petrol Ted's legacy lives on

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

Why reading up on your car's history is most definitely a good thing

 


Garlick
2
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Author Discussion

Ocellia

Original Poster:

88 posts

36 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
LS400 tip. Don't set the alarm with the plip when parking up for night/weeks, etc..
The alarm uses up power and that would be why it seemed sluggish to start. Just lock with key.
Dead battery can cause the computer to act up too, as I seem to recall the alarm is not a Lexus one but put in for U.K. sales here.
Enjoy the ride! I miss mine.
Chris in Shirehampton

Pablo16v

1,078 posts

84 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Good write-up as usual. It brought back some fond memories of a rather bouncy but utterly charming Suzuki Jimny convertible that my wife and I rented while on holiday in Zakynthos.

louismchuge

1,577 posts

71 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Does your commute mean that Cooper has finally got some dust on it?!

Garlick

40,601 posts

127 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
louismchuge said:
Does your commute mean that Cooper has finally got some dust on it?!
Of course not, I've bought a bike to actually use smile

excel monkey

2,822 posts

114 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Troy Queef said:
Within a few days I could extract all the available performance and hustle the locals around the hill roads with an impossible amount of lean and a hint of squeal from the 13-inch rubber.
The Hyundai Amica is a bh. And I spanked it.

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Garlick

40,601 posts

127 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
excel monkey said:
he Hyundai Amica is a bh. And I spanked it.
An accolade biggrin

Big E 118

1,781 posts

56 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Ah, bumpy sandy lane leading to a secluded beach on Skiathos.......hmm, heading to the nudist area at Banana Beach Garlick?


Garlick

40,601 posts

127 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Big E 118 said:
Ah, bumpy sandy lane leading to a secluded beach on Skiathos.......hmm, heading to the nudist area at Banana Beach Garlick?
Kastro, but I am familiar with Banana too...Koukounaries is still the best mind you.

The Jolly Todger

1,987 posts

67 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Ocellia said:
LS400 tip. Don't set the alarm with the plip when parking up for night/weeks, etc..
The alarm uses up power and that would be why it seemed sluggish to start. Just lock with key.
That seems like a good tip but surely when you're parking the car for nights/weeks etc. is when you would want it to be protected by an alarm?

Trickle charge might be an option.

Garlick

40,601 posts

127 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
But not when parked at an airport...

_Batty_

12,211 posts

137 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Got to be a photoshop of the camper.
There's no mountain of bottles around it hehe

Big E 118

1,781 posts

56 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Garlick said:
Kastro, but I am familiar with Banana too...Koukounaries is still the best mind you.
I stayed in Koukounaries, it's a fun road between there and Skiathos Town although overtaking those buses in a 70bhp hire car can be dicey!

GBB

1,725 posts

46 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Ocellia said:
LS400 tip. Don't set the alarm with the plip when parking up for night/weeks, etc..
The alarm uses up power and that would be why it seemed sluggish to start. Just lock with key.
Dead battery can cause the computer to act up too, as I seem to recall the alarm is not a Lexus one but put in for U.K. sales here.
Enjoy the ride! I miss mine.
Chris in Shirehampton
Seconded, mine E39 one went totally flat whilst away on holiday, the ensuing efforts to access car and jump start threw the immobiliser out.

Nice to see I'm not alone in fancying a VW California. I'm waiting for the kids to leave home before buying one for Mrs. GBB to commute in.

elvismiggell

1,253 posts

38 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Had a Corsa on Skiathos a few years ago. Did a lap round the island in it for fun one day. Some of the tracks on the north side of the island are so much fun!

Beefmeister

12,003 posts

117 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Great article, PG. We can all relate to the hire car love - we had a Pug 107 when in France recently, absolutely hilarious thing. Couldn't actually make it up some of the hills from Geneva to Lyon with the AC on, but was a hoot nonetheless.

I'm feeling strangely drawn to a camper too, though my desires run to something with adequate headroom which means mighty big pricing. Love this - definitely in my lottery win garage!

http://www.unicat.net/en/pics/EX70HDM-MBActros6x6-...


Garlick

40,601 posts

127 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
elvismiggell said:
Had a Corsa on Skiathos a few years ago. Did a lap round the island in it for fun one day. Some of the tracks on the north side of the island are so much fun!
We had to take those roads to get to our place. The trick was to carry speed into corners so as not to lose the momentum as some of the gradients are 1st gear if you slow too much.

Best hire car out there seemed to be the Smart Crossblade, was tempted...

elvismiggell

1,253 posts

38 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
Garlick said:
We had to take those roads to get to our place. The trick was to carry speed into corners so as not to lose the momentum as some of the gradients are 1st gear if you slow too much.

Best hire car out there seemed to be the Smart Crossblade, was tempted...
I remember one particularly impressive bit going downhill with a tight switchback where most our weight seemed to be on the seatbelts, and then back up the other side of the little valley. No idea how we made it!

You could almost make a sport out of it - most inappropriate small car for cross country driving?

PILCH 23

170 posts

87 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
good write up.

tomoleeds

649 posts

73 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
best thing to do with the hyundai would be put in a skip

Garlick

40,601 posts

127 months

[news] 
Tuesday 25th September 2012 quote quote all
tomoleeds said:
best thing to do with the hyundai would be put in a skip
It's worth more than that. Poor BOT frown
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