And it’s an MOT pass again. Hurrah! Thank you to the ever-helpful chaps at Altrincham Tyre & Exhaust. Now to let the road tax direct debit kick in & look the other way… As AT&E had done some previous MOTs, the certificate included some previously annual mileages – a bit sobering to see just how few miles I have driven over the last few years. I miss those Le Mans trips, & the ‘quick run’ down to the Ace Cafe in London.
Whilst doing the MOT, AT&S spotted what looked like a leak from the front of the diff, which needed following up. With this in mind, I went to see Debbie & Darren Morrison in Wigan to borrow their ramp. This confirmed the leak, so I now need to find a garage who can fix this. In the meantime I thought I’d share the rather luxurious surroundings in which D&D keep their lovely purple LM500. ‘Home from home’ does not even begin to cover it… air-con for summer, heated in the winter, HiFi (& Wifi!). And to think the poor old Mantis is locked in with a lawnmower, some ladders & some (hopefully) dead mice!
Well who knew that replacement door latches from the 1986-1989 Escort/Orion are like rocking-horse shit?! Getting a Google Whack when looking for replacement bits for your car is not a good thing! I finally bit the bullet & ordered an offside latch from Marcos Heritage Spares, but not cheap. You would think with it being from the Ford parts bin (& God knows how many Escorts & Orions they sold in the late eighties) there would be plenty but it seems thirty years ago is now considered ‘ancient’ in the world of car parts. Oh well! The local garage, Needhams, replaced the latch but was unable to swap out the striker bar as it is well & truly stuck in the bodyshell. The great news is that the problem seems to be fixed & I can go round corners without being tensed up to grab hold of my door on left hand bends or exiting roundabouts! Fingers crossed that is the last of this summer’s ‘hiccups’ & the car will pass its MOT to usher in some summer motoring.
Car cleaned. St Saturnin polo shirt washed, ironed & donned. Sunglasses in hand & all set to head down to the MOC rally at Walton.
However… the driver’s door has decided not to shut properly again & this time locking it does not make a difference. So another failed attempt to attend a club rally. More than a bit annoyed TBH. I hope the replacement latch does the trick. Telling myself I have saved £80 in fuel rings a little hollow. So, why don’t I just jump in another car & go down to the rally? To quote Quentin Wilson… “The car’s the star”, & I never really enjoy being at car shows or Marcos events, without the Mantis. I’m just not that into it, sorry! (Heresy, I realise).
On the bright side (there always has to be a bright side with a Marcos, right?), tickets are now booked for the Gold Cup at Oulton Park, where there will be a Marcos club display on Sunday 31-Jul-2022. I hope to see everyone there!
Back home today & sad to be leaving but had a great time despite the frustrations of the self-opening driver’s door. A touch of drizzle whilst sitting in the queue to board the Stena-Line ferry back to Liverpool, but not enough to merit a comedy exit from the vehicle to put the hood up. Alas, the aura of coolness came to an abrupt end when leaving the car having boarded the ferry. Oh well, only about 30 people watching! Dukes of Hazard it was not…
Inspiration struck early this morning, & manually locking the driver’s door seems to have done the trick. This suggests the problem is with the door latch itself rather than the striker. (More hunting for parts on the Internet…). With the driver door locked (& staying locked!) it does mean that I have to enter & exit the car via the passenger door. Not the most gainly manoeuvre on my part, & probably quite entertaining for any spectators. However, it means that the driving can go ahead, so all good!
So after a substantial breakfast in central Belfast, we headed off in the Mantis & the AMG under a blue sky to drive the coastal route down to Portaferry.
We meet up with Cazzer’s chum from work who is in his heavily modified MR2 (the nicest customisation I have seen on an MR2), & head down the Strangford Lough scenic route in a mini convoy. The sun is still shining, skies are still blue & with the tide out the shoreline is constantly changing. All very picturesque, but the affects of the breakfast are starting to wear off (unbelievably) so there is a pit stop for coffee & cakes. The three cars dominate the cafe car park & there’s the inevitable ‘What is that?’ chat about the Marcos, which Caz kindly handles on my behalf. Caffeine & cakes done, we head back out. I still haven’t found a way to get into the car and look cool unfortunately.
Despite some nervous door waggling by me every few hundred yards, the locked driver’s door is holding up. A short stop at Mark’s house (awesome back yard, full of motorbikes a la Sons of Anarchy) then Cazzer & I head home for pizza & cocktails. Very sophisticated for an LM driver is Caz! In the meantime someone makes use of the car…
It’s been good to see Cazzer again, admire his blue Mercedes GT & see the sites of Belfast, which is a beautiful city. The original plan was to head out on the Saturday for a day’s driving. Unfortunately, despite my attempts to fix with JB Weld before setting out, the driver’s door opened several times whilst driving from the ferry to Cazz’s digs, so that required resolution before any day trips. A quick search for a new door striker latch from a local source in NI drew a blank. Therefore the focus was on repairing the current striker which was losing the black rubber sleeve around the bar. This meant the door latch was not fully engaging & the vibration from driving was eventually shaking it open.
A number of fixes were attempted, including bulking up the worn area with copper wire supported with epoxy resin, and some heroic 3D printing by Cazzer to produce ABS plastic sleeving to replace the worn rubber. Alas, the latch has made mincemeat of both, and a tentative trip up the coast road had to be aborted when the door opened coming off a roundabout. We returned to base for a rethink, door wedged shut with a repurposed sandwich packet covered in a microfiber cloth to protect the paint.
Some brainstorming prompted another trip to B&Q in the AMG GT (not bad for a shopping car!) with the tentative purchase of some bungees, rubber tubing, Gorilla tape & aluminium foil tape. The aluminium tape was an instant fail, failing to survive first contact with the latch. Due to the stripped down design of the door interior, The bungees did not have anything to clip to. Covering the latch bar with the rubber tubing & then protecting it with Gorilla tape has allowed the door to shut & latch engage, but destroys the tube/tape so this is a sacrificial fix. Only a test drive will establish whether it survives being on the road. Fingers crossed.
Very excited to be heading over to Belfast for a weekend of driving with long time Marcos chum Ian Turner (currently building his own Marcos in New York… I kid you not!). The weather forecast is decent so hood down all the way is the plan!
Currently waiting to board the Stena-Line ferry from Liverpool. It reminds me how much fun it was going to Le Mans. A few years ago now… Wonder when I will go back? In the meantime the sun is out (but cabin booked as a precaution). As the Mantis is low slung, I will be avoiding grounding it on the ferry ramp so in the queue with the caravans… and tractors!
“… you had a flat tyre?” So sayeth the nice Caterham owner at Knutsford Services this morning. Given it was inflated to 26 PSI earlier, this was not good news & spelled the end of my travelling down to the Stoneleigh Kit Car Show, but more importantly to attend the CMI AGM. I knew I had a slow puncture on the nearside rear but until now it has been fine for a few days by reinflating it. I hung around to meet up with the Morrisons in their now-awesomely prepped LM, but then headed back home, tail between legs. As you can see, it was a typical Manchester day with drizzle (but not enough to merit putting the hood up).
Very disappointed to have missed Stoneleigh after many years of absence. Looking on the bright side (a definite pre-requisite for owning a Marcos!), the Mantis was already booked into Diverse Automotive Technicians in Chorley on Tuesday for the Two Gates alloys to be refurbished, & now a pair of Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 5s at the back.
A quiet first quarter with very few miles added to the clock, what with playing hockey, work & needing to go out on my bike more than a drive when the weather is sunny. It will be interesting to see how many miles I drive in the Mantis over 2022, given the last two year’s restrictions arising from Covid. However, things are moving (pun intended). I had a wonderful if rather random drive through the country lanes of Cheshire under clear blue skies & beautiful spring sunshine last Sunday with my son. Today I took the opportunity while having a few welcome days away from work to go out for a scenic drive through the Pennines to Chatsworth House, then back through Buxton & Macclesfield via the Cat & Fiddle. I invited my chum along who has a few interesting cars & who unbeknownst to me had bought an immaculate Daimler Double Six Vanden Plas last November. Whilst not my bag (it has a roof!) it’s a lovely 70s saloon and with 5.3 litres to draw on, didn’t have any problems keeping up with the Mantis (although the cornering was a bit interesting on the winding roads in the High Peaks). The Mantis drove well again, wasn’t too thirsty (good thing too at £1.85/litre for Unleaded. Grrr….) & I only got rained on for the last 10 minutes of a four hour expedition, so all in all, good fun!
Next up is a much-postponed (Covid – tsk!) get-together for Marcos owners in the North West, when we meet for Sunday lunch in Northwich. The weather is due to get a lot colder between now & then, & there has even been mention of snow, but unless they salt the roads or there is horizontal rain then I will go in the Marcos. I’ve also booked a ticket for the National Kit Car show at Stoneleigh, where this years Club Marcos International AGM will be held on 01-May-2022. Yes, yes, I know the Mantis isn’t a kit car (you knew that, right?!) but that seems to be the best bet in terms of catching up with other owners, after a famine of events over the last two years. I used to go to the Stoneleigh show & park up with the other Marcos on the CMI stand for a few years when I first got the car, but not been for ages so looking forward to seeing what it’s like.
Ridiculously mild weather at the end of 2021 has meant no salt on the roads, so a few trips out with the Marcos including to Northop Hall for the semi-annual hockey game. The post-cam change setup continues to delight & mpg is healthy (Averaging ~22 MPG)
Amazingly the next invite to the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace has arrived – this time for the Sunday. Bizarrely the Marcos Owners Club have also swung at invite to the equally prestigious Salon Prive event at Blenheim Palace which Sod’s Law says is on the same day. How fantastic to have been able to attend both events over the same weekend. Oh well! Maybe next year…