PH Fleet: TVR Chimaera and Mazda MX-5

As it stands my green cabrio duo are both fit, well and ready for duty. Shocking I know, but there is a story behind how we got to this stage, of course.

The root of all evil/cooling issues
The root of all evil/cooling issues
I’d been using the Chimaera from time to time, when the weather allowed, but now I’ve moved to a different area I have a 14-mile commute to go for a TVR-powered drive. It’s less that convenient, but my annual rent on the garage is too affordable for me to let it go. With a new radiator fitted I confidently started racking up a few miles until one day on the commute I watched the temp gauge rise when stuck in traffic, and it continued to rise to the point where I pulled over and switched off to be safe. Less than amused I managed to get a clear run back to the garage and discovered the fans weren’t kicking in … again! To say I was annoyed would be an understatement, cooling had been the ongoing TVR issue of 2012 and now it had crept into 2013 too.

Fan boy
Back to Fernhurst it went, after all I had spent enough on cooling in 2012 to expect the issue to be resolved by them once and for all, and after having a chat with company owner Graham I was confident it would be resolved this time. I took the car to them early one morning and waited around to be kept up to date with progress. To their credit I was kept fully up to speed with regular calls to the car to see what was happening and Graham and I went out for a 25-mile drive to ensure the problem was solved after fixing. The cause of my cooling fan failure was the wiring harness to cooling fan connections and on my car, both connections were at fault. The cooling fans are fused and wired separately and over time, both the terminals had corroded which caused the bad connection. With new parts fitted I can be confident that my issues are over, and as a gesture of goodwill the work was carried out with no charge, including some other issues not related to cooling. Can't say fairer than that eh?

Underground car park now quite noisy
Underground car park now quite noisy
Now I sit in traffic without issue and me and PSG will spend a whole lot more time together. It’s good to be back, especially as I’ve put the de-cat Y-piece back and we’re at full noise (great in my underground car park). But sitting in the Fernhurst showroom for a few hours while looking at shiny Griffs and 500 Chims offered with two- or three-year warranties (yes really) was very, very tempting indeed. Although it took a while to get there, I can only thank Nick, Simon and Graham at Fernhurst for taking such interest in getting my woes sorted.

Meanwhile, back with the MX-5
Life in Mazda-land is also rosy and KMO has been used extensively without issue since we fixed the brakes a couple of months ago. Life with a Mk1 as a daily driver is relatively painless, aside from a lack of bootspace when I take the Mrs shopping, and the more I use the car the better it gets. The previous owner didn’t use the car often and with every mile I drive the gearbox becomes sweeter and the engine appears to be running smoother and punchier than ever too.

Mazda seems to be thriving on the miles
Mazda seems to be thriving on the miles
With a lack of mechanical issues to address I have started to tinker elsewhere and recently fitted a grille to cover the gaping air intake hole in the front bumper revealed by swapping the plastic number plate for an adhesive one. I like the way the front looks devoid of ‘plate but now I notice an old parking dent so much more. As a result I’ve sourced a used nosecone in the same shade of green and will be fitting that shortly.

Fighting fit
Other work has involved getting the door speakers working on both sides and adding a front strut brace in an attempt to tighten the car up a little. So far the brace seems to have eradicated the scuttle-shake so apparent on our pot-holed roads and also stopped the dash from rattling so much. Steering feels more positive too, but it’s early days and I’m wondering if many of these improvements are in my head. More on this next time once I’ve had the chance to drive a few more miles.

Speaking of MX-5s we recently took a call in the office asking if we wanted a loan of a Mk2 MX-5 and naturally I was keen to have a go. Warranty chaps, and PH partners, Warranty Direct had noticed the Mk2 appeared regularly on their ‘most reliable’ list and their PR company bought a car to demonstrate this fact. Driving the silver Mk2 definitely highlighted a few things about my own car, in fact it made my car feel light, lithe and completely fit for purpose against the slightly softer, more comfortable Mk2. I must confess this car needed some attention with a vague steering feel, brakes that made the car pull to the left and a few other bits and pieces so maybe I wasn’t trying the best of examples (I also hear the Mk2.5 are the ones to have). Hopefully we’ll get the car back once these issues have been sorted and we can have another go as I'm sure i'll warm to the car when it drives correctly.

In the meantime I’ll enjoy being in the rare position of wondering which of my own cars to use now both are performing well. Roll on the summer.

Fact Sheet:
 1999 TVR Chimaera 4.0
Run by: Garlick
Bought: December 2009
Purchase price: £12,995
Last month at a glance: Cooling, noisy, been to Fernhurst

Fact Sheet:
 1997 Mazda MX-5 1.8is
Run by: Garlick
Bought: November 2012
Purchase price: £600
Last month at a glance: Working, fettling, driving

Previous reports:
Garlick gets on his bike after a double whammy of mechanical malady
Guess which of Paul's two roadsters is the unreliable one?


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Comments (24) Join the discussion on the forum

  • HorneyMX5 27 Feb 2013

    Makes a change they're both working at once, lucky you! I'm in the opposite camp of three cars and all having issues. Such is the life of a car nut with a budget eh?


  • rgracin 27 Feb 2013


    Did you sort the 'pulling' after fitting the strut brace?

  • Garlick 27 Feb 2013

    The pulling I mention here was on the borrowed Mk2, my Mk1 is fine but I fitted the brace to firm things up a little as it felt like it would benefit from it over bumpy roads. So far, so good...

  • rgracin 27 Feb 2013

    Ahh. Sorry. Must pay more attention.

  • JamesHayward 27 Feb 2013

    Garlick said:
    The pulling I mention here was on the borrowed Mk2, my Mk1 is fine but I fitted the brace to firm things up a little as it felt like it would benefit from it over bumpy roads. So far, so good...
    Glad it's working as it should. Incidently the Chim sounded awesome this morning when you pulled into the car park!

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