It lives!

Wonderful day today, as the car was driveable for the first time since Christmas Day. After much pondering (& quite a lot of checking what batteries were in stock locally) I bought an Optima Yellow Top YTS 4.2 from Advanced Battery Supplies in Stockport. A tiny place on a side street but nice staff & a small discount was very welcome as Optima batteries are not cheap.

A quick wash down was very definitely in order, leaving the Mantis gleaming in the sun. Went out for about an hour driving round Cheshire lanes in the sunshine. Being a little cautious but everything went well. The stereo isn’t working but I can look at that at home. Very happy.

My daughter wanted a spin (can we go the long way round to the shop 😁) so went out again, this time through Dunham & Lymm. Stopped for fuel & had trouble pulling away from the pump. Felt like fuel starvation so wondering if there is still an issue with heat evaporation in the fuel rails. Turned the engine off for a few seconds & it restarted again without issue.

Looking forward to driving the car every few days to uncover any gremlins from being stood for five months. To do list is stereo, bonnet mesh & fuse box(s).

Battery woes

The NOCO Li-Ion starter has arrived… and wouldn’t start the Mantis. It did start the Mini One however, so the NOCO unit is OK.

The CTEK battery charger/tester also arrived. I removed the Optima Red Top battery from the Mantis, & it was at 4.2V across the terminals. Left it on charge from the CTEK & it got to 11.6V but the CTEK & battery were both getting pretty hot so I disconnected it. A day later, not having connected it back to the car the voltage is back down to 5.4V. 😭

At this point I have decided that the Red Top can’t be reconditioned or brought back to life & I don’t fancy cooking my new CTEK charger either. So now I need to find an alternative battery which will fit in the tray & will last a little longer. And, of course, figure out what is draining the battery.

Charger of the light brigade

The black mesh for the front bonnet cooling vents has arrived – Huzzah! Being aluminium, it is very light in comparison to the current steel mesh. However, that should be OK as it’s not load bearing bar the odd stone & occasionally someone who thinks it’s funny to put their rubbish down the hole! The gaps are a lot bigger so fingers crossed this means improved airflow & better cooling.

Of course, cooling is only relevant if the engine is running! 🤣 Despite charging the Optima Red Top 35 R battery with my trusty CTEK XS3600 more than once over the last few months, the engine still wouldn’t start. It is clearly a lack of juice as there is a barely audible click upon first attempt, then nothing. No luck with my DBPower 600A Portable Car Jump Starter either (disappointing).

That said, I did manage to start the engine using jump leads to feed off our trusty family steed, the Honda CR-V. That would seem to rule out a wiring issue. Why might there be a wiring issue? I’ve been slightly nervous since I found those mouse droppings oin the wheel arches in the engine bay (although the culprits are no longer with us I’m afraid 💀).

I’m still at a loss as to why the battery is not at full charge. I can’t figure out what’s draining it & suffice to say in Coronavirus lock down, getting an auto-electrician is not happening 🙄. I’ve also found both the CTEK unit & the battery getting quite warm, which can’t be good. Inevitably the battery is a few months out of its 2 year warranty, and at ¬£150 a pop, I am not in a hurry to replace it if it can be reconditioned. Therefore, in the spirit of self-diagnosis & resolution, I have decided to invest in a better battery charger and car jump starter. Step forward, the CTEK MXS 5.0 Test and Charge, and the NOCO Boost HD GB70.

The MXS-5.0 Test&Charge has diagnostics as well as charging functionality.

After much Googling, the NOCO Boost HD GB70 has another 2kMA on the DBPower 600A & is rated to start petrol engines up to 8 litres. Plus, the next DBPower unit up, the 800A, doesn’t seem to be available in the UK.

I have high hopes that the CTEK will give me some insight into whether it is the battery or not. 🤔 If so, my love affair with Optima may be at an end! At least I can prove the NOCO car starter, which allows me to travel in the car with a bit more confidence. Covid-19 Lock down looks set to run on into the summer so I am not missing out too much, despite the lovely weather. In the meantime, the Marcos Cars Facebrook is very active with lots of great pictures resurfacing, including some nice ones of the Mantis. 😁


Day… whatever of Covid-19 lock down & the car still not moving (electrics) but thinking ahead to when it is. I am hoping there will be some decent weather left, so… how to improve the cooling on the car? I keep coming back to something Dave Chivers mentioned last year, that when mesh was fitted to the front radiator vents (nostrils of the Dragon!?) the factory saw a 10 degree increase in engine temperature. Yikes!

Although I have increased the size of the holes in the mesh at least twice since I have owned the car, I am going to try the largest mesh I can find. This is black aluminium mesh from Simoni Racing – not cheap but hopefully it will make a difference.

Mesh black aluminium 100x30 cm wide

Just waiting for the postie now to see what it looks like offered up. Then to get it fitted of course, as I don’t have the gunk or tools to cut & replace the current mesh at home.


Having had the battery charger on for a full day, tried to start the Mantis (to look for mice! No, really…). Alarm LED was working. Second hand on clock moving, so definitely power. And…

Nothing. Bugger. 😫 The mice are happy though! 🤣

So something is draining the battery within a day, or the battery has had it. (Not expected as Optima Red Top, less than three years old). Ho hum. 🤔

Posted in Car

Something rude

… was what I was thinking of putting as a title. So, having run the car in the garage yesterday for about 10 mins I decided to do an ‘essentials’ shop out to Costco today and it wouldn’t start. Some power still but just a click when hitting the engine start button.

I am getting mighty pissed off with how unreliable the car has become.

Posted in Car


Gosh! Never mind the impending world doom of Corvid-19, the real tragedy of 2020 is that the Mantis still hasn’t moved since it died on Christmas day. Well… that’s not strictly true, as it was pushed out of the garage (thank you Tilly & Sam!) to allow a thorough inspection of the fuse box, then pushed back in again. From which, dear readers, you will have correctly assumed that the root cause of the electrics failure is still not found.

Sooo… what’s next? There is obviously some kind of electrical fault but I don’t know of anyone local who I am confident would fix it. Options would appear to therefore by taking the car to Joe at Redline, or Jay at Chariots to get the wiring checked out (it cannot be a coincidence that everything stopped after a good soaking when the car was being thoroughly cleaned!). \neither one is local so that is going to be hard on the trailer costs. On the other hand… I have saved two months of fuel so far! Checking the fuses has also made me realise the pedal box really needs a refurb & the fuse box needs replacing. The heat dissipation from the LS3 has never really been resolved & I am mindful of Guru Chivers comment last year that the factory saw a 10 degree reduction in engine temperature with no mesh fitted to the front bonnet vents, so I am also minded to get a less dense mesh fitted. Finally… do I swap the fast road cam for a standard cam to get better mpg & get the ECU remapped to a more normal config (less extreme advance etc). OK so this would drop the car from the magic 500 plus BHP (530 BHP) to a slightly-more-modest 480 BHP, but I have come to the conclusion that I can live without the bragging rights.

I am also going to hand over the reins of the North West club organiser to the Morrisons. Uncertainly about job, the car off the road so much, the end of Marcos at Tatton Park & so on have meant I am no longer as enthusiastic as I used to be & the other owners need someone with more Va-Va-Voom. After around 20 years there is a good case to be made for new blood, & the Morrisons are both extremely passionate about the marque & all round ‘good people’!

Tis the season to be jolly…

Christmas day. House full of someone else’s family. Time to hit the road in the Mantis!

Three hours of random driving round Cheshire, through Macclesfield¬†, past the (sadly closed) Cat & Fiddle over to Buxton in thick fog. Around the Derbyshire Dales, past Chatsworth, past Mam Tor through New Mills. A bit of cruising, a bit of festive overtaking… a bit of grinning!

When I got back home, the car was a bit grotty with some go-faster speed smears over the front of the bonnet so I decided to give it a quick wash. Half an hour later everything is shiny & time to drive the car a few yards into the garage. Nothing. Nil point. El zero. Even the second hand has stopped on the clock. My initial thought is fuse (but… everything?!?) however I can’t get into the fusebox because the special spring-loaded screws won’t unlock.

Not how I wanted to finish 2019 but the drive was great fun. Let’s hope I can have another one before too long, eh?!

Posted in Car

Castle Combe 60th race

I was sorry to miss the last 60th anniversary event of the year, the Historic Cup at Castle Combe. Although I had tickets, family reasons meant I was unable to attend, but the pictures & video on Facebook looked great & the weather held for everyone. 👍🌞.

Now I am cycling to work (Doctor’s orders… 😔) the Mantis is not getting used much. The autumnal temperature is perfect for me though so I will probably succumb in the near future! 🤣