So, reader chums, what’s happened since my last post? Well…
I dropped the car in for its MOT a comfortable 10 days before it was due, & casually mentioned the spray on the screen. Next thing I know the garage are calling to tell me the coolant system just blew steam all over the garage & they are going to need to replace the header tank (just a standard Ford part @ ~£80 so OK). Then a second call to say that ‘something’ is compressing the coolant system, with the pipes rock hard & that probably explains the mist on the screen with some coolant escaping from one of the pipes around the jubilee clips. Next call is fluid is dropping but not coming out anywhere so… going into the engine somehow? Ho hum. Then we move on to compression testing the engine; the left bank is lower than the right one with one of the cylinders only making 20psi. “We’ll have to take the head off”. Joy. Plus the car is trailered off to another garage ‘cos it’s getting in the way! At this point we’re two weeks down the line, the car has no MOT & I’m starting to get a bit f*****d off with everything, especially as I ‘heavily invested’ (think 60+ hours of labour!) in getting everything sorted before the Le Mans Classic at the start of the year. Now, this might read like a bit of good old fashioned whinging… And you’d be right!
Lo & behold I am back at the ‘how much do I keep spending on this engine’ question (again). The current answer is ‘Not any more’ and thoughts turn once more to an engine swap to an GM LS3. I definitely can’t afford the high £20Ks that TopCats want, so I have had a chat with Jay who bowled up at LMC with a lovely LS3 in his Mantis Challenge converted road car. He’s happy to have another go at an LS3 engine swap & is pricing it up. Gulp!
So in the next couple of weeks I may have to decide if I can ‘afford’ (& I am using that work in its most flexible definition I assure you) to keep the Mantis or not. Blimey.
Today noticed a thin film of spray on the windscreen. Not unusual for North West England I hear you say! I’d agree but it wasn’t raining & the spray was driver side only of the screen. It can only be coming out of the engine via the bonnet vent (nostril?). The ‘taste test’ was inconclusive but I don’t think it’s fuel, so probably coolant. Couldn’t see anything obvious around the radiator, lose jubilee clips etc so may be (another) garage job. In the meantime loving the autumnal sunshine in September. One of my favourite times of year to be out in the Mantis with hood down feeling that slightly crisp edge to the weather which says summer is over. Wonderful.
Back from this years Le Mans Classic & it was a blast! I had a great time with my chum Doug, & below you can see him piloting my Mantis past the famous LM clock into the straight between the grandstands. Whoohoo! Photographer Mark Scarrott you are a very nice man!
The drive back today, Monday, was generally uneventful, making the Roscoff ferry in good time & a decent crossing to Plymouth with a bracing sea breeze under a grey sky. The hood stayed down all the way, despite hitting heavy rain just south of Junction 19 on the M6. Tiredness & mediocre visibility led to driver error with my prematurely turning off the roundabout &, after around 600 miles and just 10 miles from home we found ourselves back on the M6 heading north again & now away from home. D’oh! An interesting development over the previous few miles had been a growing lack of stopping power, with the brakes becoming increasingly ineffective! I decided to figure out what was going on the following morning & continued home using the engine to brake. Feeling more than a little sheepish, it was off at M6 Junction 20 & (with apologies to everyone in Lymm for driving a very loud sportscar through their village at about 0200 hours on Tuesday morning), we finally got home. It’s fair to say I slept well!
A day off from work today & I finally pulled my finger out… at least in terms of getting the stereo working again! I always rated the ads component speaker install SQPlus did on the Mantis a few years ago, but knew the company had disappeared – another victim of the recession perhaps? (Their installs must have averaged about £2k 😮). By the miracle of the Internet, it turns out that the owner, Phil Leach, is now working with Manchester Car Audio, so I popped over there this morning. After a brief discussion around my dead Nakimichi amp, I was soon putting a deposit down for a new Amp & Alpine head unit. I’ll be back next Wednesday to get it all fitted. So that’s the tunes sorted… never mind the leaking engine, badly fitting hood or shocking shocks! 😂
As it was a gorgeous spring day with some warmth in the sun, I decided to go the long way home from MCA and headed out to Macclesfield, home of JP Exhausts. I was soon chatting to a mega helpful chap called Will who instantly confirmed a small hole near the weld in the exhaust downpipe.
He very kindly gummed it up for me & we agreed a return visit was in order to get two new downpipes made up. I also tentatively asked about a system that would allow me to lower the exhaust noise levels – the answer was remarkably straightforward: a solenoid driven diverter valve which sends the exhaust flow via a bigger silencer. Simples! There is enough room under the Mantis but it’s a lot of work so £500 plus the exhaust flow controllers. Maybe next year?…