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Wednesday 20th July 2011


PH FLEET UPDATE: TVR, LEXUS AND MERC

New noses, new springs and a starring film role mean a busy time for Garlick's fleet

PHer 'Penfolds' spotted me in London
PHer 'Penfolds' spotted me in London
TVR Chimaera 400: It's been an up and down few months for my beloved TVR. First the 'up': I had booked us onto the PistonHeads/Petrolhead Nirvana Welsh Weekender where we spent 700 trouble free miles driving the best roads Wales has to offer. To say the car performed well would be an understatement; we were never far from the front of the group despite being down on power to many of the other cars, and it never missed a beat throughout.

Now the 'down': on the way home I decided that it wanted a closer look at a car on the M4 and gave a small Toyota hatchback a friendly tap on the bum. It was avoidable, but I didn't avoid it. I locked up and, despite my best efforts to get into the hard shoulder, I did catch it with the front offside. Damage was minimal and I was able to drive home after securing the bonnet, but the resulting repair meant I would be without the car for the six weeks of solid sunshine that appears to have been our summer.

On the way to Le Mans. Remember sunshine?
On the way to Le Mans. Remember sunshine?
To their credit the team at Liphook Coachworks did an amazing job, lavishing great care to the job and delivering me back a car that looks gorgeous. Such is the level of workmanship they will soon be getting the car back to repaint the rest of it too - I might as well have it back to showroom standard before the winter season.  

As a welcome-home treat I drove straight from Liphook to Fernhurst so the chaps could fit a de-cat pipe for me. As I'm now de-catted and sleeved it is rather loud to say the least, but as a car I use for fun it's perfectly acceptable. The Rover V8 has taken on a noise that is more Detroit than Blackpool, prompting a fellow Chimaera owner to speak to me on the ferry to Le Mans to enquire if I had fitted an American big-block into it. Not a bad compliment, really, and it certainly now sounds unlike any other Chimaera I've heard.  

Speaking of Le Mans, the 24 saw me pile another 800 trouble-free miles onto the car as we made the annual pilgrimage to La Sarthe. The roof stayed off all the way down, and we cruised along the back roads avoiding the motorways. The attention TVRs get in Le Mans is extraordinary, there seems to be so much love for the marque in Europe and the smiles, unintelligible comments and waves made the experience all the more enjoyable.

Cosy....excuse the rubbish iPhone pic
Cosy....excuse the rubbish iPhone pic
As I feel the car deserves a treat after my relentless use I have located and rented a garage near to my South West London home. Nowadays the car lives in the garage, under a dust cover awaiting the next jaunt. In fact, I have become rather precious since collecting the keys to the lock up and I'm now loathe to take it out in the wet. The smug feeling of knowing it's safely tucked up as the rain lashes against my window is one I enjoy immensely. Over pampered? Perhaps, but as it's a car I genuinely feel privileged to own I think it's worth it. Next up is the annual service and MOT along with a few pondering thoughts regarding some subtle upgrades. Watch this space.

Mercedes-Benz E220 Estate: The old Merc continues to earn its keep and is used exactly as the manufacturer intended. Having an estate car is hugely practical and over the past few months 'HUC' has taken numerous trips to the local tip, carried bicycles around, helped me move house and has collected large pieces of furniture. It remains my most economical car, too, so it takes me to the odd business meeting and some out of town weekend trips sipping unleaded at around 30mpg.

And who would have thought an ageing workhorse could become a film star? Well that's what happened a few weeks ago when a PHer asked me if I would loan my car to be the star in a short film, and he wasn't kidding either! Here is the finished article:

Garlick's Mercedes in its first film role...

On my driveway (ahem)
On my driveway (ahem)
Lexus LS400: The Japanese Merc continues to impress and I'm settling in nicely. It may not have the instant appeal of an old Benz but over time the LS has found a place in my heart and its the car I use the most. It still provides silent wafting with the merest hint of V8 to remind you that you are in something special.

The efficiency of the car is also shining through as everything still works as it should and the interior manages to cosset in the same way a brand new luxo-barge does. Best of all is the fact that the newly fitted suspension is now well and truly bedded in and this, along with a recent reduction in tyre pressures (after realising they were over-inflated) has seen a gracious ride return. I'll keep this one, largely because it owes me far more than what it's worth! (We've heard that before - Riggers.)

 

Author: Garlick
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