TVR Chimaera and Mazda MX-5: PH Fleet

As winter approaches the TVR has somehow become my main car which, while fun, is far from an ideal situation. Now I’m not one to tempt fate but PSG is standing up to the tasks of daily driving without complaint, so we’ll say no more about that for now.

Used daily. Perfect city car
Used daily. Perfect city car
A few jobs need looking at in the next few weeks as we get ready for winter. The roof (as previously mentioned) needs fixing to cure the small crack in the rear screen and the chassis needs cleaning and treating too.

Writing this I’ve realised that the annual service and MOT is also looming which means a few people won’t be getting Christmas presents this year as it seems I have a lot to pay for.

While using the car as regular transport is fun, I fear that excitement may wane once the weather truly sets in. At the moment I’ve been browsing the classifieds for winter hacks up to £1,000. All sorts have caught my eye from a 306 diesel estate at £500 to £1,000 worth of diesel Bora to £1,300 worth of 306 Rallye, all viable but I need to realise that a winter beater is not a car I’m (necessarily) going to love so need to lower my expectations. Got something reliable to sell? Mail me.

At the carwash...
At the carwash...
The Mazda is proving equally reliable bar a sticking driver's door that refuses to open more times than it yields. Apparently it’s just a spring that needs realigning in the handle mechanism but more often than not access is gained from the passenger side. Ungainly. The paint is also dulling a little so some elbow grease will be required soon before I lose that shine altogether. Otherwise it's being typically Japanese with no major issues to report; I was going to fettle further but in all honesty it probably won't happen now.

A few months ago I mentioned the Quicksilver exhaust system for the 1.8is that I'd obtained. After a fair few miles I can report back on progress, but let’s go back to the beginning.

When you have an exhaust in your hand many fitters don’t want to know (I guess they lose the parts profit) but a plea for help on Twitter saw Michael O’Dea from Berlinetta Cars step up to offer his fitting skills. As a company more used to looking after some of the finest supercars in London the little Mazda was quite out of place, but the quality of workmanship remained as high as any supercar owner would expect.

Underground parking replaced garage
Underground parking replaced garage
The Quicksilver looked great off the car, but fitting it wasn’t simple and resulted in it sitting quite awkwardly on the hangers. Apparently most owners find fitting easy, but we needed to do plenty of prodding and pulling to get it sitting right. The result is a nice looking tailpipe with a fruitier, but not obtrusive, noise under load. The tailpipe is a little bigger than standard (resulting it a bit of bumper melting initially) but it is settling in nicely despite having to be further fettled to stop vibration from the hangers.

Would I recommend the exhaust? Yes, in terms of quality and noise but the fitting issue is something you need to bear in mind.

That’s about it for the little Mazda; it will see a service bay sooner or later and a new set of rear tyres too. After that it will probably be sold to make way for a new car next year. The TVR will stay, the Mazda (and winter hack) will go and I’ll be on the hunt for something German and comfortable for 2014.

 1999 TVR Chimaera 4.0
Run by: Garlick
Bought: December 2009
Purchase price: £12,995
Last month at a glance: New home, summer sun, unfairly shunned

 1997 Mazda MX-5 1.8iS
Run by: Garlick
Bought: November 2012
Purchase price: £600
Last month at a glance: MIA

Previous reports
Summer suits the TVR and Garlick has been making the most of it
Two roadsters, plenty of sunshine - happy days!
MoT for Mazda, holidays for the Chimaera and a ponder over 'new' TVR
TVR gets a summer spruce up
No faults, just miles covered for the Garlick fleet

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (28) Join the discussion on the forum

  • happygoron 18 Sep 2013

    190e Mercedes, over built German mini barge, comfy, safe and a bit different.

    I bought one as a stop gap, ended up having it for 40,000 miles. Despite having newer fancy cars, I wish I had never sold it.

  • keith2.2 18 Sep 2013

    It seems pretty widely accepted that Chimaeras benefit from regular use. The Mazda you could get in once every 2 years and as long as the battery had charge it'd run like you'd just parked it to go to the shops.

    My Chim sulks if I leave it for more than 3-4 days :lol:

  • 405dogvan 18 Sep 2013

    The reason garages don't like fitting your parts isn't just about 'parts profit' (although at 20-60% it's notable!) - it's also about issues of risk and possible rework and responsibility.

    If the part you supply is faulty or damaged, you may get shirty and start to accuse a garage of damaging it or fitting it incorrectly - or it could just take a long time to fit (as with this example) or whatever.

    If the part later develops an issue, you get the flashback from that too - you're basically getting involved in what my Dad called 'someone else's problems'.

    NEVER underestimate what people expect when they pay you to do work - example

    Example: Friend's daughter crashes her car - mate fixes-it cheaply as a favour - 18 months pass. One day she calls into the garage to say there's a "problem with the work you did on the car". Original Repair was a new front bumper and some paint - the 'problem' is that the new bumper is hanging off. You might think "erm...." but it gets worse, it's hanging off because it's hit something pretty hard - hard enough to damage the rad/oil cooler and a headlight and the bonnet has moved too.

    "You've crashed it again?"

    "No, it just fell off"

    "But there's damage underneath - you're losing water from the radiator, oil from the cooler and the headlight is cracked - the BONNET HAS MOVED"

    "It was like that when I got it back from you last year - but I didn't want to complain because you did it as a fabour - but now the bumper fell off totally and it's scraping"


  • 405dogvan 18 Sep 2013

    keith2.2 said:
    It seems pretty widely accepted that Chimaeras benefit from regular use.
    All cars do - someone I worked close-to used an Esprit Turbo as a daily for 2 years and had no real issues - when he swapped it to a 'fair day' car it never worked.

    There are 2 reasons for this

    1 - obviously a car not being used is seizing/leaking/water and rust are spreading into electrics etc.
    2 - when you drive a car regularly you get used to foibles and issues - when you drive it once in a while they seem like disasters which must be fixed ASAP

    Drivers door doesn't open on a weekend car - ignore it and do something else
    Drivers door doesn't open on a daily driver - get in the passenger side and fix it at the weekend smile

  • 900T-R 18 Sep 2013

    After having used my throughly sorted Chim as my only car for the first half of the year I accepted another editorial day job that involved a 110 mile round trip commute.

    I got myself a moon mileage MG ZT-T 135 CDTi in a rather vibrant shade of BRG. Style-wise it sits rather well with the TVR, it's a good steer (for a diesel estate) even on the Chinese rubber that the prior owner 'kindly' put it on before trading it in - and so far in 6,000 miles it has cost me nowt to keep on the road. Long may it continue smile

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