Goodbye, first quarter of 2022

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.

Hello 2022

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…

Hampton Court invite 2022

Hampton Court Palace

A fantastic weekend at the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace. Marcos were invited to provide 10 cars as part of the car club displays. Hampton Court Palace is an amazing place so took the opportunity to take my daughter along so we could look round in between ogling cars.

We met with other Marcos owners at Knutsford Services on Friday morning; Debbie & Darren in their lovely LM500, and Andy & Lorraine Peers is his latest (fourth?) Marcos, a nice blue LM500. A chum of mine was also joining us in his rather splendid Jensen Interceptor MK 3. The cars managed to stay together for 99% of the journey into London, bar an unplanned random diversion instigated by yours truely for a can-be – postponed-no-longer comfort break  ☺️.

When you’re embarrassed you used to have a Mantis but swapped it for an LM… 😔🤫😭

Come Saturday morning we met with the seven other other Marcos owners at 0930 in the holding area by Stud Gate in the Palace park.

Bar some very limited drizzle on the journey south, it was a top down weekend. The car behaved faultlessly over the 500 miles covered.

Trip to the beach

After 15 plus years of holidaying in Abersoch & seeing lots of Mclarens, Lambos and, er, Defenders, I finally got to take the Mantis over there! ️ It was just for the weekend but top down there & back, weather was decent. I even got to park in my chums drive. (often home to some expensive motors…)

Wedding bells

The Mantis was finally used for a wedding… after 20 years! 藍 Transporting the disappointingly relaxed groom to his fate. Just to be clear, he was the passenger. I haven’t rushed into anything yet, dear friends. 

And they said the Mantis couldn’t get any noisier.

Back to Chariots

So, the mystery of the bonnet… After a few phone calls, many photos & much pondering, the Mantis was picked up today to go back down to Chariots. I am relieved.

Cunningly disguised as a caravan?
Tucked up for a comfortable trip back down south.

The car is meant to be at a wedding on Thursday so should be interesting! However, if anyone can, Jay can!

Carfest North

Carfest North for the first time. I’ve always baulked at the ticket prices previously but with so many car events cancelled due to Covid, felt I should show willing (See what I did there? ) . I still wasn’t shelling out £150+ for camping though!

A somewhat peculiar experience with only three car clubs attending; Marcos, Maserati & Lotus. Unbelievably we had the most cars at six. (Sunday, one lone Lotus was present. I felt for the owner ). Talking to the car club organiser, Debbie, around 20 clubs dropped out in the weeks before the show due to Covid concerns. As it was, it felt more like a Foodie festival with bands & some cars than a car event. Not a bad thing, mind… I like food! 

Beauty & the Beast?

Everything was going fine until I popped the bonnet & then found it could not be closed without rubbing on the pedal/heater boxes, whilst also grinding away at the bonnet rams & rubbing through the DRL wiring. Yikes! Having just got back from Jay’s & a sizeable bill, this was rather unexpected. Despite much head scratching from the other (far more hands on) Marcos owners & a bit of ‘bending stuff’ no-one could figure out what was causing the issue. Bizarre.

Fortunately some nice fellows from Black Storm brewery had stopped to chat about the car first thing, & invited me over to their stall for a beer. This cheered me up (I recommend the Pilsner) & I bagged a lift home with the ever generous Morrisons to avoid driving & making things worse. Sunday back at the show trying to figure out what had happened to shift the bonnet forward. A group effort from all the owners failed to reveal the cause so headed home with tape over the most obvious rubbing points.

Verdict? Glad to have attended a Carfest. Hacked off about the bonnet of course , however…. weather was fab, top down, nice Cheshire countryside to drive through. And cars can be fixed.  Plus I have bought another case of Black Storm Pilsner. I will catch up with Jay next week. In the meantime… Cheers! 

Back from Chariots

This morning I am excited to be getting the train down to Lewes to pick up the Mantis from Chariots. The train journey passes quickly & it is not long before we are back at the ranch. Jay is taking me through the work he has done:

Cam change from fast road to standard, retune, refurbished pedal box including completely new fuse boxes, extended flanges on the hood, rewired cooling fans with a trigger temp lowered about 5 degrees.

More efficient aluminium cowling replaces the original Marcos design, improving airflow to the radiator.
Deeper flanges on the hood mean there is now a remote possibility I may not get standing water in the seats when the hood is up!

As ever, the car looks great, a thorough job done by Jay, & I am raring to drive the circa 260 miles home. I completely ignore Jay’s recommended route (he drives people for a living, what would he know?) & spend about 7 hours getting home. But I really don’t mind because… Car drives really smoothly after the cam change & retune. The cooling is better with the M25 coming & going without an anxiety attack. Yay!

Off to Chariots for a bunch of fixes

Today I headed down to Chariots, 250 miles away to get various things sorted out. Top of the list was the cooling fans & anything else related to keeping the engine temperature down. Also I have bitten the bullet & the fast road cam originally added when the LS3 was fitted and pushed the car past 500BHP is going, to be replaced by the standard cam. That will come along with an ECU retune of course. Whilst it was fun to have the 500BHP bragging rights, I never really had the chance to drive it in a way which really utilised the extra power. The fast road cam doesn’t even get out of bed below 2500 RPM & realistically the majority of my driving in our wonderful UK traffic meant I rarely hit that threshold. I am putting it all down to experience – it was fun but I’m looking forward to a more drivable (& less thirsty!) car. Definitely pleased I gave it a go though. I think that just leaves Jay’s converted Challenge car as the only road legal Marcos Mantis with over 500BHP.

Also on the hit list is a somewhat overdue refurbishment of the pedal box. This has been slowly suffering from moisture ingress over the last 24 years plus some organic growth & get-me-back-on-the-road fixes to the electrics & fuses.

Other stuff… the chassis protection from a couple of years ago is flagging in a couple of spots so that will be refreshed. I had asked for the hood seal rubbers to be replaced as part of my futile battle to make the car vaguely waterproof with the hood up (don’t know why I bother, much more fun with the hood down!). However, Jay had some great ideas about replacing the flange on the hood that should form a seal with the window. It’s about 0.75″ at the moment & will be replaced with a much deeper version. I’ll be delighted if this works as I’d assumed any changes to the hood meant a complete new hood. Fingers crossed…

As ever it was great to catch up with Jay. His place is like an Aladdin’s cave of interesting cars & I was particularly impressed with the bright red London double decker bus. Cool! I also got to see the vent covers that he has fitted onto his ex-Challenge Mantis, courtesy of Eurotech. These are the ones used on the race cars & they look mighty mean!

The drive down was OK & no issues with the car overheating (Hurrah). Coming back on the train was a bit weird with Covid, but even the Tube wasn’t that crowded so I felt pretty safe all the way. I will be counting the days until I pick the Mantis up…