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Friday 29th January 2010


PH Drives: Garlick's Fleet Update

Faith, Hope and Charity? PHer Garlick must need reserves of all three for his trio of classics...

1999 TVR Chimaera 4.0

Not ideal TVR weather. Rangie looks on.....
Not ideal TVR weather. Rangie looks on.....
It was with complete innocence that I popped into Fernhurst TVR one Sunday afternoon after the Sunday Service at Mercedes-Benz World. All I wanted was a nosey around but as soon as I stepped foot inside the door I was thinking 'what if?'.

Anyway, a couple of hours later I had bought my rather lovely Starmist Green 4.0 Chim with 46,000 miles on the clock and a bulging history file. Coming from a well-known dealer it had a sound (recently worked on) chassis along with good paintwork and an immaculate interior. It's in standard specification bar a sports exhaust, a fantastically noisy sports exhaust in fact, and it was the noise that sold the car to me from the first turn of the key. It is loud (measured 109db at 4000rpm static) but that's the point of TVRs isn't it? Although my neighbours might not agree.

I picked it up on the 23rd December after a full service and a host of other pre delivery items were attended to, and that meant heading straight into a period of snowy weather, which wasn't exactly ideal.

Smell the leather, er and fibreglass
Smell the leather, er and fibreglass
Christmas day saw me leave a dry and clear London only to arrive in a rather snowy Leicestershire and by the time I had reached the white stuff I was too far from home to turn around but at least the roads were clear.

It didn't stop me worrying about the salt on the chassis though despite it being recently waxoyled. I know that I could have taken another car but I had that new car urge and I'm pleased I did as it helped me to get to know the car and it also meant I could show it off to my family, and we all like to do that don't we?

Since collecting the Chim I have covered over 1000 miles, including two PH run outs, the odd commute and a return trip to the PH Show at the NEC in yet more snow. It's been a complete and utter joy to own so far and is even kind to the wallet with late 20's MPG creeping into the 30's on the motorway. The best bit is that fact that I finally own a car that is such an event to drive, even on the morning commute through London you can't help but feel happy as you rumble through the streets looking at the TVR logo on the steering wheel, enjoying the smell of leather in the cabin and the great view over the bonnet.

On display at the PH Show
On display at the PH Show
But hang on a minute, this is a 10 year old TVR and I haven't mentioned any problems? Well, OK there have been some niggling issues but nothing too serious. Rather amusingly the boot release didn't work properly and I needed someone to pull the bootlid while I pressed the release button in the car. I have to say that the dealer was more than happy to fix that for me as soon as I told them about it, but I just couldn't find the time to get over there. For those that don't know, the fuel filler sits in the boot and so for over 700 miles I was having to ask anyone I could find at petrol stations to 'pull my bootlid' which was a little embarrassing at times, but it's been fixed now.

The exhaust gasket has also just started to go meaning a faint tappety noise can be heard, but once again the Fernhurst team have bent over backwards to help me and it will be sorted under the 12 month warranty that came with the car. Things that aren't so easy to solve are the rather poor headlights and largely ineffective wipers, but I'm learning to live with that, and the evenings are getting lighter. Life with one of Blackpools finest is an absolute pleasure and if I'm honest I'm struggling to work out why it took me so long to buy one in the first place. I can't wait for summer to arrive (even if only so I don't have to put the Leven cover on every day) and I'll enjoy keeping you posted as to how we get on from here.

1990 Porsche 944S2

It looks so small next to the XFR
It looks so small next to the XFR
My beautiful 944 continues to impress me every time I drive it. It is running so well after a rather extensive (and expensive) recent overhaul at Porsche Byfleet. The torque is so strong and it seems to be performing better than ever, feeling very rapid indeed, and helped by the amazingly responsive steering. It's not being used as much as it I'd like since the TVR arrived, but I always ensure that I use it at least once a week, even if only for a quick blast with the other half at the weekend. The interior is supremely comfortable and now I have fitted a new head unit, and thrown the old broken one in the bin, I can actually listen to some music. As a bonus the new unit looks great in the cabin too.

My favourite angle, still looks so fresh
My favourite angle, still looks so fresh
I have had one issue with the car however, one day we were going out and decided to take the 944 as it had sat idle during a very wet week and I wanted to stretch its legs.

When we got in I was heartbroken to see the passenger footwell was full of water and it was dripping down the side of the dash as we watched. Fearing the worst I took it back to Porsche Byfleet and left it on their forecourt with a note asking them to take a look at it.

It transpired that a drain hole had become blocked behind the engine and it was a simple enough to fix. Fortunately the water hadn't done any damage to the electrics which was my biggest fear. After the fix I asked them to remove the interior so that every drop of water could be removed from beneath the carpet and had the seats and carpet dried to avoid any damp smells too.

The bill for all this was a very reasonable £250, so I think I got good value for money considering the work involved. Other than this, life with the S2 is good, and I'm pleased to say that the rust free body is staying that way too. It really is a great car and I think it looks as fresh as ever for 20 years old.

Previous report here

1992 Range Rover V8

Remember sunny weather? Me neither
Remember sunny weather? Me neither
I love the old Rangie so much that I doubt I will ever sell it, and as it owes me so little I wouldn't gain anything by selling it anyway. I use this car more often than any of the others and the unstressed V8 continues to run as smoothly as the day it was made. It swallows anything I want to carry, still looks fantastic, it was a godsend in the snow and I recently took it on a fairly long motorway trip and saw reasonable MPG at 70-odd mph. I've had to do a few bits along the way however. New wiper blades sorted out the lack of visibility in the wet, a new battery and alternator were fitted one lunch time after the old one began playing up and new plugs and leads have stopped a slightly lumpy tickover and mid range stutter. I had to replace a fuse too after losing the right hand side head and tail lights along with the dash lights. In fact, with the help of a colleague showing me the way, I am enjoying tinkering with the old girl and avoiding garages is certainly helping my pocket as I've spent less than £200 on the jobs listed including parts.

How it looks today after daily use
How it looks today after daily use
The manual box isn't the pain you might expect thanks to the torque available and it still provides extremely comfortable transport making sure you don't forget that this was once a very expensive luxury car. It's famous too after appearing within the pages of the January 2010 issue of Classic & Sports Car.

Previous report here

So that's the current fleet, and I'm very pleased indeed. Yes they are old but that means bags of character and enjoyment as you drive around in cars that aren't seen that often any more.

Yes, I own two petrol powered 4.0 V8s and one 3.0 'four' but used with care the fuel and maintenance bills aren't as hideous as you might expect and all are insured as classic cars which helps keep costs down too. I don't need three cars - I have to juggle parking them as I only have one residents permit and I can't really justify three lots of MOTs and tax but right now I wouldn't change a thing.

Author: Garlick

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85 comments on this story

Last comment was by LHD
on 2nd February 2010