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Tony Tamora’s Titanic Tales

Tony Tamora’s Titanic Tales

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starmist

Original Poster:

1,050 posts

161 months

Tuesday 21st June 2005
quotequote all
(or How to sink a well planned trip to Le Mans 05).

You know what it s like when you organise a dinner party and only 13 people can make it? You set the table for 14 and put a teddy bear in the spare seat, don t you?

13 people, 8 cars, 2 groups to Portsmouth

The starting grid consisted of (in order of age of conveyance) Steve and Glyn in a Suzuki Gold Chimeara 4.3, Phil in a Griff Taraka 500, Chris and Lee in a very pretty blue Tuscan, John and Tom in the Tango Orange Cerbera 4.5, Andrew in an M3 CSL, myself and Roger in a Tango Tamora, Dave and his son Chris in a yellow Sagaris and Tony M in a bright red Sagaris.

It would have been an all TVR line up had Andrew not sold his Taraka Griff 500 last month in favour of something more reliable . As the weekend unfolded, many of us were glad that he did!

Tackling the 170 mile trip down in one morning and one afternoon pack, we regrouped in the pub just outside the quay and toasted the warming weather and the start of our outing in the usual fashion.

Several hours later and with the cars safely stowed we settled down for a pleasant evening of beer, wine and food before hitting the cabins for a few hours sleep.

This turned out to be a few less hours for Chris and Lee, who unfortunately were sharing their cabin with myself, Andrew and Roger who turned out to be the unofficial accopello snorers of the party.

The French leg. (Oh God, the French leg.)

Decamping on the other side saw us head off in assertive fashion the wrong way up the dual carriageway for an impromptu drive down the scenic coastal route.

Having found our way back onto the right road, we drove but a few miles before Chris, tiring of the sound of silencer sliding along the tarmac pulled us all over for a spot of skin burning action, trying to re-attach his Tuscan s nearside silencer hanger, but to no avail.

So driving on to a Citroen garage, we managed to find a mechanic to do the job for us. Hey, these things happen.

Feeling peckish, we d decided to find a roadside caf for some lunch, but before finding anywhere suitable, we managed to get split up into two groups again. In our group was Dave (yellow Saggy), Andrew (BMW), Tony (red Saggy), Chris (blue Tuscan) and myself.

Orbital

Whilst hacking up a bit of dual carriageway, Dave stretched the Saggy s legs a little, and just after coming past fast enough to physically move me on the road with the air he was pushing out of the way, his bonnet tore off and up over his roof. Mesmerised by the bright yellow flying object, I nearly lost control of the Tamora trying to get out of my prediction of its path.

Pulling over on the hard shoulder, Dave, Chris and Andrew ran back up the road to retrieve the offending bits of bodywork from the road, but not quick enough to prevent Tony driving his red Saggy straight over one piece, splitting his canard wing and cutting the sidewall of his nearside front tyre, as we were later to discover.

Whilst trying to work out what had happened, a local Gendarme arrived on his motorcycle and ushered us off the road to somewhere a little safer. After chucking the bits into Andrew s CSL we found a truck stop a few clicks further on, and set about trying to work out a), what had happened, and b) how we were going to get the car the remaining 30 miles to the circuit.

Our answers were a), the nut retaining the catch to the bracket at the front offside corner on the underside of the main bonnet and come loose, allowing the catch to disconnect from the bonnet. This allowed the bonnet to be sucked up into the low pressure area over the bonnet, catching the wind under it, and doing a Malcolm Campbell. With little left to hold it in place, the service bonnet soon followed suit. Looking at the other side, the nuts aren t even Nyloks. On further investigation on Pistonheads, it would appear this is not an isolated incident!; b), tape what was left of the bonnet back in place and drive slowly to the circuit whilst contacting the factory to see if they could fly another bonnet out in time for the return trip on Monday.

Do you mind not flicking ash in my boot, Tony?

Whilst sorting this out, we also discovered that my Tamora was leaking fuel out from a drain hole under the boot. Further investigation revealed a split hose from the tank to the solid fuel return pipe to the top of the tank, causing high pressure fuel to leak out into the boot and out the drain hole. (This was discovered by Saggy Tony who was smoking a cigarette at the time.)

Please bear in mind that both of these are brand new, 05 plate, 3 year warranty, we ve sorted out the reliability issues cars.

Having called the RAC to tow my car to the circuit, we retreated to the truck stop for some lunch while we waited. On emerging, Tony discovered his cut sidewall and resulting flat tyre. After much deliberating (like you always get when a group of men are tasked with resolving a problem) Andrew and Lee (who spoke fluent French) nicked off into nearby Laval to see if they could find a tyre for Tony and some fuel hose and jubilee clips for me.

Some time later they reappeared with a length of hose and clips and an arrangement for a replacement tyre the following day at a local French equivalent of Kwikfit who were happy to look after the car in the meantime.

We tried sticking some tyre weld into Tony s tyre, but just ended up with a snowstorm coming out of the split, but eventually tried using an inflatable lilo patch over the outside to stem the flow long enough for a second can to work and keep the tyre inflated. Tony wasn t too keen to drive any distance on it, understandably.

He had already arranged for a new wheel and tyre to be brought out with a member of staff from a UK dealer who hadn t yet left for the race. Handily, the RAC recover truck arrived just after we d finished fixing my car, so we used it to take Tony s Saggy to the circuit instead, closely followed by Dave in the yellow one. The truck driver at thoughtfully placed some 2 inch thick planks of wood in front of the angled bed to assist with ground clearance issues when loading the car, but as these were met by the rear wheels, shot out from the back of the car like a pair of skateboards. If anyone had been standing in the way, they would have taken their feet of at the ankles!

Arriving in style (not).

A very embarrassing scene indeed was created as two flagship TVR models arrive at La Sarthe, one on a transporter and one being covered in silver duck tape.


Having taken 8 hours to travel the 140 miles from St Malo to the circuit, Andrew, John, Tom and Chris ventured out in the BMW to Arnarge for supplies (okay, beer) and Dave and John cooked us supper.

That'll be 45 Euro's Monsuir.

On Friday we ventured out to Indianapolis for the Pistonheads meet. Chris and Lee cruised into Arnarge to mbe met by the roundabiut spinners....well you have to oblige don't you? Out pops the Gendarme, with hand outstretched for some beer vouchers. B*st*rds!

Woo Woo

On arriving back to the circuit, Dave s yellow Sag was doing a passable impression of Ivor the Engine, with steam hissing out from under his impromptu bonnet. Suspecting another of TVR s high quality hoses, we left it to cool for inspection in the morning.

Chris also found that he could no longer open his door using the button under the door mirror, but the car thought it was still open, so wouldn't close his window either.

Drivers Parade

That evening, we ventured into Le Mans proper for the driver s parade, which was a little disappointing due to the time gap between each vintage car and team s drivers, so we found a spot to get a meal and enjoy a beer or two before catching the midnight coach back to the circuit. However, the peanut smuggling baton twirlers were rather fetching (see Dave for copies of the video).

Err, darling?

Having been split up again, we bumped into other members of our party later on who informed us that Steve had had his rucksack stolen. Now this would not have been too much of a disaster were it not for the fact that it contained his car keys, two cameras, one lens, his Euros, his Sterling, passport, entrance tickets and Glyn s tickets as well.

After a number of frantic calls to various institutions, it was established that yes, he could get back home, but no, he couldn t go on his family holiday to Fuerta Ventura on Tuesday as it would take at least seven days to get a replacement passport. After asking his wife if she fancied going to Cornwall instead of the boring old Canary Isles, Steve decided to go home and face the music, so first thing on Saturday, even before the race had begun, Steve and Glyn packed up and headed to Caen via the local police station to gain the necessary paperwork to smooth their journey.

We have since learned that Steve is recovering nicely in hospital.

Castrated Cerbera

Whilst reflecting on Steve s plight on Saturday, Andrew was staring at John s Cerbie and noticed that only three of his five wheel nuts were silver, the other two being black (to suit his wheels). He mentioned this to John who having felt steering vibration on the way down, got up to investigate, and discovered that they were indeed not black, but absent.

Using Saggy Tony s torque wrench, a nut was pinched from a rear wheel and the remaining nuts checked. Turns out, only two of the remaining three were tight. The car had been in for a service recently, as well. To top it all, the locking wheel nut key was missing, so if he was to have a puncture, the wheel could not be removed for repair. We can only assume that the wheels had been removed for brake wear inspection, and not tightened on refitting.

It does not bear thinking about what could have happened had the front wheel detached itself from the car at anything like a reasonable speed.

Incontinence

Dave had a look at his cooling system, and after an hour we came to the conclusion that his radiator had split as there was no sign of damage, and the thing sits horizontally anyway.

Finally admitting defeat, Dave called the RAC to collect the car and repatriate it. Missing the start of the race waiting for the recovery truck, it eventually left at about 5.30pm. Dave was going to go with it, but then Chris, his son started suffering from hay fever, so he decided, that on reflection, it would be better for him to stay and look after his son, than go and look after his car. (Personally I think it had more to do with my vague threats to educate Chris at the minty hippo.)

Breaking, one low mileage Sagaris.

However, before it was removed, it donated a couple of wheel nuts to John and a rear wheel and tyre to Saggy Tony (so the new set could be returned unused in it.)

Nick & Caroline

We decided to eat out again on Saturday evening, and ventured into nearby Arnarge where I had arranged to meet another member of the West Mids car club and his girlfriend. After dinner, we drove to Arnarge corner to watch some of the night racing, and spent some time walking up to Indianapolis as well. Trying to find a way out of the car park and back to Houx Annex proved tricky, but eventually we all made it, finishing the night with a few drinks and promises of seeing the sun rise over the action on the circuit.

That s a lovely coloured nailbrush, Dave!

Whilst in Arnage, Dave who seems to be quite anal about his hygiene, bought a rather fetching pink nailbrush. By the end of the evening I had demonstrated to Dave that I was quite anal about these matters as well.

Lunch in Fille by the river

On Sunday, Saggy Tony, Chris and French Lee made the decision to head back early as well, leaving eight of us to travel out for brunch. John and Tom left before us and found a caf in Arnarge, but we wanted to go out into the villages and came across the village of Fille, about 7 kms south of Arnage, on the river. We spend a pleasant couple of hours drinking beer on its banks and eating jambon et fromage sur pain in the caf .

Getting back to the circuit at around 2.30pm, we waded through the 40 degree heat to catch the last hour s racing, only to discover that racing had indeed stopped several hours previously to be replaced with some Sunday afternoon cruising. Not being prepared to endure the relentless sun to watch such crap, we repaired to the camp to open some more beer and enjoy each other s company in the relative comfort of the shade offered by the two gazebos we had brought along.

A quiet Sunday in.

Whilst in Arnarge we had bought provisions for Sunday night and at around seven thirty cooked steaks with pepper sauce and salad for everyone, although I don t think anyone had much of an appetite as it was still over 30 degrees. However, once the sun had gone down, and the temperature dropped, the appetites returned and focussed on the remaining wine and beer. This took until about 4am to consume, along with much singing and letting off of fireworks (some at ground level) much to the amusement of our fellow campers, I am sure.

Monday s long drive home.

Fortunately, Monday started dull and overcast which allowed us a lie in and some respite when packing up the gear. Dave and Chris piled into Andrew s BM along with their gear, and after ensuring we left nothing serviceable for the gyppos, except a little used pink nail brush, we called in on Arnarge for the last time for breakfast and fuel before starting out on the drive back to Caen, and England. Getting to the boat in the nick of time (why does it take so long to drive anywhere in groups?) we embarked and took the opportunity to rest up before the last 170 mile leg home.

Stopping at Bicester for a last coffee, we made it home at around 1am and fell headfirst into bed.

Despite all the, err, hiccups, this was a fantastic trip one of those that are reminised over for years to come. We don t buy TVRs for their reliability we buy them as much for their quirkiness as their performance and head turning looks and noise. Having said that, it is still very disappointing for these new 3 year warranty cars still showing the same old issues previous cars have shown.

Even saggy Tony, whose puncture was hardly his fault has had a catalog of issues since he took delivery of his car at Easter, and the only difference seems to be that TVR will be paying for their cockups for much longer than on older cars. Someone told me they allocate 7% of the retail value of each new car sold towards remedial warranty costs. That would be around 3,500 on a 50,000 Sagaris. I think they are still being a little optimistic.

If I was Dave, I would be absolutely gutted, and I am sure he will be having some interesting dialog with the factory.

The moral of this story is:-

Always pack a blow up doll for inflation in cases of 13 in your group.



>> Edited by starmist on Wednesday 22 June 11:27

>> Edited by starmist on Thursday 23 June 15:44

jodypress

1,614 posts

193 months

Tuesday 21st June 2005
quotequote all
amazing story, glad you can smile through it all. how did the RV8 cars fair?
i remember last year, we went with some friends and there ferrari's, lets just say, not that many made it down there.

one guy, had just bought david wu's blue 355 (big mistake, esp if you read EVO) and when the tow truck picked it up in le mans (after he limped most of way there) he had a VERY big engine bill. 1,000's

RichUK

1,217 posts

166 months

Tuesday 21st June 2005
quotequote all
We wondered what had happened to the yellow Sag.

Alanq

189 posts

203 months

Tuesday 21st June 2005
quotequote all
We saw the gaffa taped bonnet on our travels and made a guess at what had happened, but still
Glad nobody was hurt

starmist

Original Poster:

1,050 posts

161 months

Tuesday 21st June 2005
quotequote all
The V8 guys faired very well. Re-reading the piece, it seems a little biased, but only because we were focussing on what went wrong, not what went right!

Neither V8 had any problems whatsoever. As much down to decent TLC over the years sorting out these issues as the inbuit reliability of the engine, I expect.
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wixer

373 posts

169 months

Tuesday 21st June 2005
quotequote all
jodypress said:
amazing story, glad you can smile through it all. how did the RV8 cars fair?


The the two oldest cars, my 1993 Griff 500 (53K miles but a two week old engine) and Steve's 4.3 Chim (83K miles) never had any issues. We were the first there in fact and 30 mins later the third eldset car, Johns C1RBY arrived and he was only behind us as he'd got lost around the circuit outskirts.

This story comes across as quite serious and some of the problems we had could well have been disasterous but in all, this trip was another fantastic experience that would never have happened if it wasn't for all our passion for our cars.

Wixer (now known as Stripe)

starmist

Original Poster:

1,050 posts

161 months

Tuesday 21st June 2005
quotequote all
Glad you got home okay, Phil. I rolled in at 1.30 this morning, having dropped Dave and Chris off at Shirley. Had to stay up another hour watching Sunday's Top Gear until my brain switched off.

sportie

557 posts

170 months

Tuesday 21st June 2005
quotequote all
One item I think was not mentioned was Chris and Lee being fined 45 euros for spining the wheels of the Tuscan in Armarge.....

Cannot wait for the next tour Tony.......

PS Take a close look at your toothbrush as it suffered the same fate as my nail brush

London Irish

3,991 posts

158 months

Tuesday 21st June 2005
quotequote all
you poor b$% $ d. What a story. Was that the yellow saggy at arnage on the friday?

The good new is what could possibly go wrong next year?

A

andy4200

4,657 posts

192 months

Wednesday 22nd June 2005
quotequote all
Wow I heard the story about the two saggies but I didn't realise how unlucky you guys all were.

Good to hear you can keep a smile on your face after all that. Especially after the rucksack walking off.

HarryW

14,339 posts

188 months

Wednesday 22nd June 2005
quotequote all
Great tale there and a great shame in a way too. I assume it was your group on the Wednesday night crossing to St Malo . I think it must have been yourself or Roger who came across for the quick chat pre-embarkation if so (Tam).

Harry

DanH

12,287 posts

179 months

Wednesday 22nd June 2005
quotequote all

You couldn't make it up

starmist

Original Poster:

1,050 posts

161 months

Wednesday 22nd June 2005
quotequote all
London Irish said:
you poor b$% $ d. What a story. Was that the yellow saggy at arnage on the friday?

The good new is what could possibly go wrong next year?

A
The boat could sink?

HarryW

14,339 posts

188 months

Wednesday 22nd June 2005
quotequote all
starmist said:

London Irish said:
you poor b$% $ d. What a story. Was that the yellow saggy at arnage on the friday?

The good new is what could possibly go wrong next year?

A

The boat could sink?

Let me know what boat you intend to get on next time please .
You all looked and sounded so sparkling; laying down the No 11's in the car park before embarkation too .

H

vetteheadracer

8,252 posts

172 months

Wednesday 22nd June 2005
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Nice to hear I wasn't the only one to hit troubles.....I am off back to Le Mans tomorrow to collect the car!

jellison

12,790 posts

196 months

Wednesday 22nd June 2005
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What happen to the ZO6 say you snarl past entrance with another bunch of vettes on friday - it does look mean - Ok for the next fairmile?

NickT

402 posts

147 months

Thursday 23rd June 2005
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Amazing story, I can't believe your groups bad luck! I thought we had a bit of bad luck ourselves going down to Le Mans but it was nothing compared to you guys! Glad you all got home ok though and most problems seem like they will be fixed under warranty which is always a bonus.

I had some overheating problems in Le Mans but nothing too serious and I still got home ok, although I had to top up 5 litres of water when waiting for the Ferry!

I'm starting to think that my jaunt to the Stelivo Pass and the 'ring may be a bad idea in my newly acquired T350!!

It is in at the garage in a couple of weeks being checked over so hopefully it will be all ok for my trip!

johno

7,971 posts

201 months

Thursday 23rd June 2005
quotequote all
Fantastic that you still had a good weekend ....

I had only had 3 minor issues ..

1 - Phone refused to work for 3 days ... eventually sorted

2 - Wallet lost on Friday night, recovered by fellow PHer's who made several calls to nail me down and return it !!!

3 - Exhaust manifold gasket blow coming off the ferry on way down ... slowish drive down, gun gum bodged together followed by a very fast run home

CRB1

917 posts

161 months

Saturday 25th June 2005
quotequote all
Thanks for posting this lads. We saw some of you from time to time at Le Mans. In our case, 7 blokes and 5 cars, only one never made it, ironically an M3CSL. It fact it didn't leave its pre Le Mans service in blighty. So watch out Andrew!!! Its replacement was a totally bling 645Ci. What a laugh that car is and a total waste of money for 65k. The star of our group of cars was Richard's ZTT. A better car than the 645 and less than half (sorry quarter) the price!

>> Edited by CRB1 on Saturday 25th June 17:54

starmist

Original Poster:

1,050 posts

161 months

Sunday 26th June 2005
quotequote all
CRB1 said:
Thanks for posting this lads. We saw some of you from time to time at Le Mans. In our case, 7 blokes and 5 cars, only one never made it, ironically an M3CSL. It fact it didn't leave its pre Le Mans service in blighty. So watch out Andrew!!! Its replacement was a totally bling 645Ci. What a laugh that car is and a total waste of money for 65k. The star of our group of cars was Richard's ZTT. A better car than the 645 and less than half (sorry quarter) the price!

>> Edited by CRB1 on Saturday 25th June 17:54


What held up the CSL?