Tuesday 4th December 2012


PH FLEET: TVR CHIMAERA AND MAZDA MX-5

Two cabrios in the fleet, one had big bills the other needed nothing...


Not many miles have been travelled in the cabrio duo due to my new passion for cycling to the office (don't hate me), busy weekends, the unwell TVR and the odd loan car. The latter included a glorious supercharged XJ for BTaP, but that doesn't mean it's been an uneventful month for the Garlick fleet!

Not an ideal start to the trip to Fernhurst
Not an ideal start to the trip to Fernhurst
Last time I mentioned how the TVR wasn't behaving quite right, steaming from the expansion tank and with an ineffective heater. Enough to put it on the subs bench until the issue was rectified. When I did start it the temperature was maintaining a safe level so it was booked to return to (you've guessed it) Fernhurst TVR to have the problem investigated as well as having the annual service and MOT. I arrived at PHHQ and all was well, leaving early to avoid traffic on the A3 but getting all of two miles before admitting defeat. The gauge was climbing (within safe levels) but I was concerned enough to kill the engine and call Adrian Flux Breakdown to get recovered the rest of the way.

After a 40-minute wait Andy arrived in his truck and loaded the Chimaera onto the back with the comment of "nice cars, but they always break..." The cheek! Turns out Andy was an Escort Cosworth owning PHer so we had a good chat for the next hour or so as we made our way into deepest Sussex. The car was dropped off and I returned home in the waiting Mini Cooper D loan car wondering how bad my wallet injury would be.

It was an expensive trip to Susex this time
It was an expensive trip to Susex this time
The next day I got the call. The radiator was holed and while it was still holding water it wasn't holding enough. It makes sense now as I was transfixed by the steam venting from the expansion tank on the upper right side of the engine, but the drip was coming from the bottom left. It also explains why I had to top the water up and (because it was still holding water) why the temp level was OK until the night I needed recovery.

I am a massive worrier when it comes to mechanicals and I'm pleased I am. The fact that I turned the engine off as soon as the temp started to creep meant absolutely no damage was done to the engine and once a new (recon) radiator was fixed the issue was resolved. The last time the car was at Fernhurst I mentioned the lack of heating and was told it was fine - maybe this problem could have been diagnosed earlier with a bit of investigation but at least we got there in the end.

Cats on to keep the neighbours quiet
Cats on to keep the neighbours quiet
That's not the end of the TVR tale. Once the radiator issue was described to me on the phone we got to the MOT and what it needed to pass. A lot. Despite only travelling 4,000 miles since the last test I needed to replace two upper ball joints, lots of gaiters and metres of fuel hoses amongst a host of other bits and bobs. The driveshaft needed to come out to fix things, the fuel pipes were quite a big job too and that's before the service was carried out and the catalysts replaced for the MOT. In the end I faced a bill into four figures but now have a freshly serviced and MOT'd TVR with no running problems whatsoever and the nuclear furnace heater has made a welcome return too. This time around I decided to leave the cats on after the MOT and while it's still loud it is less harsh-sounding and has a more refined V8 burble which I'm rather enjoying.

Meanwhile, in Mazdaworld
The Mazda is proving to be a great car and one both me and the Mrs enjoy using whenever we can. The new roof is leak free and the recently-fitted leather chairs add a level of thigh support that was missing with the original cloth seats. This was welcomed when I recently undertook a 400-mile motorway run without an ounce of discomfort and the little 1.8 surprised me with its competent motorway manners. What's next for the MX? Lots more miles over Christmas visiting friends and family and I'd like to get a bit of Waxoyl on the underside to protect my newly rust free sills too, but otherwise it will continue to be used as turn-key transport until the MOT is due in March 2013. Until then it will sit patiently on the street awaiting its next drive.

For less than the cost of a service on the TVR...
For less than the cost of a service on the TVR...
The Lexus refuses to leave my memory as it is now owned by a friend of mine and I see Facebook posts exclaiming how good it is, how comfy it is and (oddly) how frugal it is. Comments like this do nothing to ease my loss and what I should have done is sold it to a stranger and tried to forget. It was a good car, maybe when my mate is done with it I could buy it back ... maybe.

With winter firmly in place TVR miles will only take place on crisp sunny winter days, but I will be using it where I can to keep things running smoothly. In the meantime it's either the MX or the pushbike but I'll tell you more about that next time.


Fact Sheet:
Car:
 1999 TVR Chimaera 4.0
Run by: Garlick
Bought: December 2009
Purchase price: £12,995
Last month at a glance: Recovery, radiators, rather expensive

Fact Sheet:
Car:
 1997 Mazda MX-5 1.8is
Run by: Garlick
Bought: November 2012
Purchase price: £600
Last month at a glance: Reliable, much loved, needs protection



 

Author: Garlick
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