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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

 


Author: Garlick
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