So things have been building up to my triumphant collection of the car. What’s happened in the intervening few weeks? Well… quite a lot! Generation III of my Mantis has had an eventful birth, & best described after the dust has settled.
- Drive to Lewes in the Pug, stopping off in Bedford overnight to drop my daughter off. I will, Shhhh… miss it! (The car that is)
- Get to Chariots on the Tuesday, see Jay, see Mantis gleaming on the ramp, see about 20 Wedding cars, several Bentleys, a Model T, lots of vintage & not-so-vintage bikes and… a 50s Electric Milk float (with 1/3 pint glas bottles in wire baskets). Am hopeful my car is the quickest out of this lot.
- Car sounds lovely when started on the ramp & pleased with Start button. Connolised leather looks amazing in real life, & I am told the chap who did it spent an entire day masking off the piping before bringing the straw leather back to its original glory. Cool! The Dark Green Samco hoses are a remarkable match for the paint & look great.
- Go for a spin. Sounds & drives like I imagined 6.2 litres would! Very fast with bottomless torque & silly acceleration. Also unfeasibly pleased with the OSRAM Daytime Running Lights (combined DRLs & Fogs), which really update the front of the car. And gosh… it’s loud!
- Back to Chariots to catch up on the snag list. Frustrating after a five month wait but nothing terminal: Rev Counter only reading half actual value, Speedo not working at all, original LS3 A/C won’t fit around the steering column so retro-fit electric motor fitted, a few Samco hoses missing off expansion bottle.
- Spent Wednesday driving around Brighton & Eastbourne in blazing sunshine. Visit Beachy Head – holiday mode fully engaged! Stuff gets tightened/loosened etc as car shakes down over the day. Jay’s hospitality is faultless with beer & meal each night.
- Thursday is all about waiting for the new Speedo gauge to arrive from Smiths. I kill time taking the car out, but UPS have mis-sorted the Package & it has black-holed. The prominent fuel smell from the Generation II engine is still there, prompting some furtling with the fuel tank breather pipes & the replacement of a faulty one-way valve. At this stage in the day, I need to head back to Bedford as part of the paternal taxi service.
- Pay bill. The old alarm didn’t survive removal so a new one has been fitted. In the best traditions of Grand Designs, it has gone over budget… but, heigh ho!
- Off to Bedford – the M25 is a bitch & I discover how hard it is to drive an unfamiliar 500BHP engine in stop/start traffic for 50 minutes, knowing that the fast road cam isn’t helping. The car is also guzzling fuel so I bail off the M25 to find a petrol station, only to overshoot it & break down at rush hour in the centre lane of the A408 as it feeds onto the M25 & M4. Yikes! The car won’t start & has all the symptoms of having run out of fuel. I am not impressed!!! Under telephone guidance from Jay, I press the bleed nipple on the offside fuel rail & get air not fuel, which seems to support an empty tank & the fact that I am a pillock. Friendly copper pushes car to roadside & I await The AA, who arrive & thoroughly nice chap emerges from the van to announce he has worked on the LS3 engine before. Hallelujah! He does exactly the same trick with the bleed nipple but leaves it open a few seconds before fuel emerges. The car restarts & I am left a bit bemused until AA man explains this is a ‘vapour lock’ which is a new one on me… Journey to Bedford resumed.
- Taxi service from Bedford to Suffolk to Manchester and finally home.
- A couple of short local drives including one into work (bad standing traffic experiences again) where I take an ex-Marcos owner colleague for a spin, with very complimentary feedback.
- Home. Battery is dead when I go to take the car out for the weekend. Charge it up & it happens again. Then several hairy moments as I lose clutch pressure while reversing out of the garage. This is enough for me & The AA are summoned once again.
- The AA flatbed the car back down to Lewes to be worked on & it’s back to work with no car again!
- Several weeks later, I’m off back down to Lewes, collecting the car from Jay. Although the Rev Counter is still misreading, I have a smart new programmable electronic Speedo from Smiths. The centre console has also been rejigged with a much improved fit. The big improvement though, the ECU has been remapped with several significant changes to the factory settings (Fuel Trim from 39 to -1) which results in a much improved, smoother driving experience and a predicted 33 MPG(!). More M25 angst on the way back to Manchester but no hattrick with The AA & I only have to fill up twice before I ‘m home, achieving about 200 miles with 40 litres.
And now, so far so good except the oh-so-predictable rain every day. The plan is to get some more experience driving the car (albeit in grindingly sloooow commuting traffic) then wind up to the Tatton Park Classic Car Show in three weeks time, then the big one… Le Mans 24 hour & CBW!
Wish me luck!