Happy Christmas from Edale

Shot off to Edale for a Crimbo walk. No snow but this probably made the driving a bit safer! The Marcos is behaving perfectly & started first time, so the battery is fine (phew!). Fantastically crisp air reminds me why I love being out with the top down in Winter, however this is slightly marred by the hyperthermia induced by my ‘Christmas special’ haircut, which is even shorter than usual (how do you get shorter than #0?). The handling is noticeably better with the fully-treaded Bridgestones at the back, so I feel smug!

Oh… and Happy Christmas of course!

Powerless to act

Aaarrrghhh! Dead battery. No idea why. No lights left on (I even remembered to check the interior one), no fans, even the alarm is disabled when it’s garaged (it is secured by other means…) so I’m buggered if I know what’s going on here. Anyway, it jump-started first time & after a 20 minute run into Manchester was fine for the rest of the day. I haven’t driven it for, what, 3 weeks maybe? Surely the battery can’t flatten in 4 weeks? Watch & wait on this one I think.

A long weekend

A very soggy weekend in the Brecon Beacons is on the cards, followed by a trip to Marcos Heritage to get my cracked windscreen replaced (at last! How many months wait?!?) and also get the clutch looked at. It was slipping a couple of weeks ago, then after a minute adjustment proceeded to jump out of gear, so there is possibly something up. The car handles like a pig on the way down, skittering all over the place with a lot of surface water on the road. While I’m steaming quietly in front of a huge log fire in the cottage, someone informs me that my two back tyres are well & truely bald. A quick (And I thought it rained a lot in Manchester…) trip outside to the car revealed the reason behind the poor handing on the way down – both rears had lost their tread in the middle, with the outer tread almost unmarked; an expensive lesson about the effects of over-inflation. I add two new rear tyres to the shopping list but have already decided to try a new brand out rather than stick with the Pirelli Rossos, which I always found skittish (probably because they were over-inflated, I know, I know). Things are starting to look a bit on the expensive side, and I remember why I haven’t been on holiday for the last couple of years! Oops!

The drive out of Wales towards Marcos Heritage is ‘interesting’. It’s pitch black, I am lost (There is no-one to ask “Which way to England please?” at 4am!), and the windscreen wipers are only just winning. The obligatory leak where the door window joins the hood behind my left shoulder has started with a vengance but I am in high spirits as the windscreen saga is finally coming to a close. A couple of T junctions remind me I am still running on ‘slicks’ at the back (!) & I take it a bit easier until we hit the M4 where I can put my foot down. YEAH RIGHT! Enter the M4, stage left, cunningly disguised as the biggest car park in southwest England. Laughingly, I had been bothered about speed cameras… No problem! Instead I worry about the gearbox seizing up in 3rd, which I don’t get the chance to use for three hours… I idley wonder whether Mr Prescott or My Byers have been in this neck of the woods lately except by helicopter.

Reaching MH about 1030 on the Monday morning, Joe is not around again so I leave the Mantis with them & go for a wander in ‘The Beast’, Marcos’s old courtesy car that MH have inherited. To cut a long story short numerous phone calls back to MH elicit little or no information about when the car is going to be ready, and I get the sinking feeling that I am going to have to stay the night down here. I head for Bath to console myself with a decent hotel and twin Swedish hitchhikers who have run out of money (OK, but there was a need for some optimism at this point, I assure you), but end up stopping in Bradford-upon-Avon which is gorgeous. Not being religious or followed by strange men, a room at the inn is no problem & I bed down for the night, having sauntered round Bradford sampling the beer every now & then. MH demonstrate complete ignorance of the fact that if you are taking twice as long to do something as originally said, it’s a good idea to keep people informed. I do, however, get informed that the clutch appears OK. Then 20 minutes later I am informed that the clutch is not OK & I will have to pay for a new one.

The next morning I set off to acquire some new rear tyres. Again, MH are totally non-commital about when the job will be finished and it looks like being a long day. At least I get a great deal on my tyres, some Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Positions, from Micheldever Tyres. These (well, the previous incarnation in the form of the S-02s) are fitted by Marcos as standard on the supercharged Mantis (Eek!), so should be pretty sexy. As it gets dark I head for MH anyway, determined to take my car away, whatever. Handover takes place about 1700 in the darkened skies, and the scene is set when we all discover a scratch in the glass of the new windscreen. I don’t see the point in getting too uptight about it because there are no other screens in existence, so we all know I don’t have much choice. It’s an enormous improvement over the cracked screen anyway, so no worries. The bill appears, including labour for fixing the faulty mirror MH sent me, which I point out. This is removed & I end up paying for 3 hours labour, which is bewildering (but good!) when I have had to wait 2 full days to get my car back. I leave MH with a slightly sour taste in my mouth but pretty bloody pleased to be going home. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s not raining (much) & the top’s down – life is fantastic once again as I put my foot down & set off for the motorways back to Manchester. Time to bed those Bridgestones in…

CMI rally number one!

Club Marcos International Annual Rally! My first! This year at Castle Combe so we get to experience the GT Power Tour at the same time. I also get to meet other Marcos owners & check out some of the other models. Saturday is a bit of a dud as no-one else turns up at Lacock Abbey so me & the boy Roysty slink off to the accommodation after a heavy dose of culture but no other Marcos bods. Mind you, we checked out the abbey & Lacock village which was all rather picturesque. Amazingly things get much better when we hit the B&B,Manor Farm, highly recommended!!!. Great countryside (LOTS of twisting single track roads – and no cyclists… I think) & a nice welcome from the farmer/husband. Everything gets dumped at the farm including the car (lots of nice comments of course) & we make a beeline for the pub. The rest, as they say, is… er… hard to recall.

So, into Castle Combe circuit before 0900 on the Sunday where we are the 7th Marcos in the special parking area. This turns out to be a good thing as a couple of hours later there are 4 rows of them, and some tricky driving to be done by the late arrivers. I would’ve hit something, but then I haven’t been driving my Marcos for the last 20 years, so… I didn’t get to speak to everyone, but there was a nice mixture of people & everyone without exception was incredibly friendly. Some of them were mad, but friendly with it. I mean, who’d try & fit a 6.5 litre Chevvy engine in his Mantis ‘cos his GT wasn’t quick enough?!? (That would be Geoff then)

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OK, me not happy. Clutch cable snaps in the middle of deepest rural Cheshire. However AA (sic) top geezer arrives in very large loader down very small lane & does a great job securing the car & looking after it. I learn he’s an over-achieving Scouse bin man and it all gets a bit surreal on the way back. Another AA chappie meets us back @ base & sticks a temporary clutch cable in. He shares a lot of personal issues with the Fossil & I then leaves. I also notice that the front wheels have completely worn through the wheel arches where they have been on full lock. This probably isn’t good.

Chilly at Tatton

Today get the A/C fixed ‘cos it is super-heating the air atm! Mobile maestro turns up & immediately impresses by squirting Ghostbusters Ectoplasm everywhere to identify if there is a leak! Bleurgh! Then he susses out where it is & replaces the old gaskets (apparently the green, imported ones are the only ones to use). When he tests it to check out it’s all OK he measures an air temp down to minus two!!! The second lowest he’s ever seen, after a specially converted Land Rover destined for Safari work in Africa. Coooooool car! Also went to the Classic Car Spectacular & Autojumble at Tatton Park. Lots of wicked cars but no Marcos in sight! Worse, there are LOADS of TVRs. Erk! Had a quick word with the organiser, Stuart, but got told it was too late to enter a car for the Sunday. <Mutter>. There is another one in August though, so I’ll try & sort that one out. Tonnes of people oggling the Mantis in the carpark though, which bodes well.

Wng Cmdr Hawkins

Result! My flying-jacket turns up from ! Having visited them in December & been measured up for the jacket, it had all gone quiet while they sourced a thick black sheepskin for me. In May I got a call telling me they had finally found a suitable skin in Iceland! I somehow knew I was going to get it in the middle of Summer, but who cares! It is truely fabulous & every time I try it on to show someone I break into a sweat after about 30 seconds, so I guess it will be warm enough come winter!

Throwing the towel in

OK, I drive around with the TC turned off all the time now 🙁

Just hit 8,000 miles since I bought the car! Good thing I didn’t get the limited mileage insurance deal, eh? A few niggly things wrong and of course it is still leaking like a sieve. My door handle seem to have a cob-on too.

Testing… testing…

Spoke to anyone/everyone about my ongoing TC problems & got lots of helpful advice, so I have now turned it off to try & identify the root cause of the acceleration problem. I am a little unsure but I think the misfires(?) have stopped. This is both good & bad as it points the finger at the TC in a big way. Spoke to Racelogic who were jolly helpful as usual but ended up suggesting I go down to see them again & get it all checked out another time round. Hell of a trek. In the end I’ve asked them to send me the s/w to track the control box stats, but my laptop battery doesn’t last long enough to do this! Never mind, work owe me a new laptop soon…