PH FLEET: TVR CHIMAERA/ LEXUS LS400/ MAZDA MX-5
A new addition to the Garlick fleet sees an old favourite depart to make room
Shiny new headlights have not only improved the amount of light the headlights give after dark, it has also freshened up the front of the car too so Iíll mark that up as a success. Less successful is the fact the revs are still sticking, itís better but not fixed, and the heater is still half the beast it used to be. These need to be looked at again when it goes in for a service and MOT later this month. Once thatís all done I look forward to crisp, dry winter mornings once more but now winter is here I will be avoiding salty roads when the weather gets too filthy. I still treat the car far too softly with lots of polishing and pampering, but how I adore the sound of that V8 and relish the thought of every drive long before I reach the garage.
When winter finally arrives the job of transportation will be down to the little Mazda. The sharp eyed amongst you will notice that I now have two green two-seat roadsters, similar in character but very different in basic ingredients. Having two single-minded cars is great as I donít have kids, and I like the fact that Iíll never be asked to drive on nights out with friends and family again!
After a couple of days of discussion and negotiation I bought the car. Itís a 1.8is UK model with 93,000 miles, three owners, FSH with long tax and test thrown in. In addition it had been recently treated to new Dunlop rubber, a new (non-noisy) stainless exhaust, new audio and had been in for service at a Mazda main dealer only a few months ago. In exchange for £600 I was handed a comprehensive history file along with a complete handbook pack and spare keys. Nice.
Why so cheap? Well it was suffering from the dreaded sill rot and needed a new hood too. Fortunately I was able to swing by Claremont Coachworks on test drive and asked owner Will to take a look and send me a quote before buying, and a quick chat with friends resulted in me finding a replacement (used) hood too
The car was filthy when I got it and to kick things off I treated it to a wash and wax which resulted in dull paint shining once more. The very next day it was shipped of to the bodyshop for a week or so to have the sills cut out and replaced. A look at the photos below tells you all you need to know about the state of them and what a great job they did in fixing it. It really does look like new again, especially after they kindly machine-polished the sides too, and the paint match is superb. If you need sill work doing on yours, I can recommend these guys to do the job as their level of care and attention to detail is second to none.
Next up was a replacement hood which came from another MX-5 being broken for parts that just happened to have an excellent roof. A drive down to Gatwick last Sunday saw MX-5 fanatics (and father and son team) Steve and James get busy on my car on a cold Sunday afternoon. These guys keep MX-5s and Eunoses on the road by buying all manner of cars from around the country which keeps them in all the spares an owner could need. Knowing the cars as they do the old hood was removed and the new one fitted within hours rather than the weekend a Haynes manual suggests, and a trip to the local hand car wash resulted in not one drip of water entering the cabin despite two guys aiming jetwash hoses at the roof. Result.
If you visit Steve and James for parts, take more cash than you intend to spend. While I was there I noticed a red Eunos with black leather seats, a short discussion later and my, slightly worn, cloth seats were out and the leather seats were in. As I was happy to leave my old seats behind we agreed on a swap plus a very reasonable amount of cash from my side.
All that leaves is the Lexus. I love(d) that car, in fact it remains the best car I have ever owned. As I watched it drive away with the new (PHer) owner I felt more than a little pang of regret. It was superb in every way and the next time I need to blast up a motorway or find myself sitting in a traffic jam it will be sadly missed. Whether my rash car change decision will actually save me money remains to be seen, and whether I can resist an automatic saloon with armchairs for seats is another matter entirely. †
Car:†1997 Lexus LS400
Last month at a glance: Sold, departed, missed
Car:†1999 TVR Chimaera 4.0
Last month at a glance: New headlights, high idle, service due
Car:†1997 Mazda MX-5 1.8is
Last month at a glance: New addition, new roof, new sills