PH FLEET: TVR CHIMAERA AND MAZDA MX-5
Inactivity (intended) for one and inactivity (unexpected) for the other sees Garlick get on his bike
You may recall I parted company with the Lexus LS400 and replaced it with a 1997 MX-5 1.8is. This was to be my new reliable daily car and it had some tough boots to fill after life with the fantastic LS. Having replaced the rusty sills and leaking hood I was looking forward to spending time with K-Mo (sadly all my cars are named after the 'plates) but in the lead up to Christmas my troubles started.
It appeared to be immobiliser related and I was going nowhere, worrying with Christmas eve just around the corner. Fortunately I found a mobile auto electrician who removed the retro-fitted late-90s alarm and immobiliser for the princely sum of £45. But that didn't fix the issue it just help us to diagnose it. Turns out the factory-fitted immobiliser (which I didn't know I had) had caused the non-starting, and the key wasn't talking to the main unit meaning no ignition. A switch to the spare key and all was well once more, with the master key needing nothing more than a re-programme at a Mazda dealer.
A few weekend jaunts had been made in the TVR and all was running well in that department, the Chimaera feeling supercar fast after the Mazda. I'm still getting used to the new (more refined) sound of the V8 after keeping the catalysts in place, and while it is still largely unsilenced the noise is more grown-up than it used to be and still catches me out when I start it up.
Between Christmas and New Year I was moving house, a task the MX-5 and TVR were largely useless for meaning more packing than driving. The TVR sat in the garage and the Mazda on the street while we buzzed around in hired vans and borrowed hatchbacks. Once settled I went back to collect the Mazda and found the front nearside brake firmly stuck on. Putting it down to lack of use I headed off with bouts of fierce braking in an attempt to loosen it off, but if anything it was getting worse. There was no time to wait for recovery so I tried hitting the calipers in an attempt to release them. This didn't help, so I resorted to buying four litres of water from a shop and stopping every mile to cool the discs with water. It wasn't pretty but I got home, dumped the car in a huff and got on with the move. To say I was falling out of love with the Mazda would be an understatement.
So now I found myself at a new house, with an immobile Mazda taking up my only allocated parking space and a TVR that was in my garage 14 miles away. Work, life and a lack of parts needed to fix and waiting for a mate to assist me with the task of fitting meant a month with my pushbike being my only transport, not great but I've lost some weight as a result and a week ago we finally got around to starting the fix.
Mill Autoquip along with some new pads and my mate James (who also happens to work on the Performance Car Show) popped over to help. The left hand caliper was badly seized and took a lot of brute force for it to yield the disc, which was remarkably free of damage. With new calipers fitted we experienced issues with bleeding and called it a night after many failed attempts. Disheartened I was back on the bicycle for the commute and James collected the car the next day to take another look, but still couldn't get pedal pressure. In the end he realised the bleed nipple on the new caliper was allowing a tiny bit of air in and was a faulty unit. One new bleed nipple later and I was back on the road! What is it with my bad luck and cars?
Now the Mazda is finally rolling I will regularly swap between it and the TVR as the car I have at home. I still rent a garage near my old house so one car will be in the garage while the other lives in my underground residents' car park, being warm, dry and secure. I am more than happy to leave the TVR in the new car park and the easier access should mean more V8 miles covered in 2013 than then pathetic 3,000 covered in 2012.
After all, the TVR will be more reliable than the bloody Mazda at least. Zoom Zoom indeed....anyone got an LS400 for sale?
Car: 1999 TVR Chimaera 4.0
Run by: Garlick
Bought: December 2009
Purchase price: £12,995
Last month at a glance: Rested, missed, battery probably flat
Car: 1997 Mazda MX-5 1.8is
Run by: Garlick
Bought: November 2012
Purchase price: £600
Last month at a glance: Broken, broken again, working again (for how long?)