Great roads, wafty suspension
As fuel prices rise and more and more of my friends and neighbours convert to diesel, life with a 1997 Lexus LS400
continues to be, erm, expensive yet supremely enjoyable. Unlike my Mercedes the Japanese Rolls-Royce (Sacrilege! To the rack with him! Ed)
takes a while to get under your skin. It smells like a Toyota Carina E (Why do Japanese cars all have 'that' smell?) and its effectiveness is easily confused with blandness. Give it a few months, however, and you realise that it is the closest you can get to the feeling of a Rolls or Bentley for a few grand, or considerably less... (Give the prisoner another turn! Ed)
Last week I took a holiday on the Yorkshire Dales/North Pennines borders and decided the LS was the car to take. The roads would be filthy and I couldn't bring myself to coat the TVR chassis in mud and cow poo, the Merc has the space but lacks the refinement of the LS and the MX-5 is too small. As a treat I booked the Lexus into a local garage for £220 worth of service and gave it the first non-Lexus stamp in the service book, but at 114,000 miles I think it can be excused main dealer labour rates. £90 worth of unleaded and a bootfull of luggage later and we pointed North.
Getting this high saw alarming MPG
I won't bore you with details of the holiday (although let me know if you want to pop over for the slide show) but on the way up I set the cruise for 75, turned up the excellent hi-fi and managed 260 miles on half a tank. Then it all went wrong. A week of climbing mountain passes saw me use £265 worth of unleaded which (using rough calculations as I still have a 3rd of a tank left and never did run to empty) means I was seeing between 20-21 mpg over the 930 miles I covered.
Not bad considering the climbs and the fact that the return trip was covered at (ahem) speed, but still painful considering my Dad's diesel Golf would do the entire trip on a tank and a bit. BUT... he doesn't have a 4.0V8, nor does he have big leather chairs, 150mph performance and whisper quiet luxury. OK, so he has more money in his wallet and doesn't experience the ambience of the forecourt as often as me but what's the point of bargain barging if you worry about all that?
Imagine the noise between the walls
continues to provide immense pleasure to me, and immense displeasure to my neighbours. Since removing the catalysts my already loud car became even louder, and shortly after removal I received some complaints from the neighbours facing my rented garage in SW London. The noise made by the car when I reverse into the garage is upsetting some of the residents so much that pen was put to paper and complaints sent to the landlord.
At first the complaints gave me a perverse sense of pride, but that soon disappeared as I realised that a lowly tenant like me could soon be kicked out of my (very reasonably priced) rented garage. So I chatted to my landlord and we agreed that I could stay as long as I attempted to make the car quieter, the solution being to slip on a pair of track day silencers when reversing into the garage. So after buying some from the PH classifieds, the residents and I are getting along just fine and I still have a noisy car once the cans have been removed (a 30 second job).
New plugs and leads going on
The only trouble with the Chim since I last wrote about it was a misfire at 4000rpm. A new set of plugs and leads were fitted (with the help of friends at Classic & Sports Car magazine as getting the suppressors off was a little tricky) and it seems to have cured the issue. As we approach annual service and MOT time I wonder if anything will be found that causes further wallet trauma when it returns to Fernhurst TVR. Only time will tell, but in the meantime I'll continue to enjoy the winter sun.
What of the Merc? Well it remains largely unused since the LS arrived and I need to ponder the sanity of keeping it as a static exhibit. I don't want to sell it, but cars start to break when unused and I don't want that. The MX-5 is in a similar position too since my other half started to commute by train... hmm, decisions, decisions.