No, I have not gone bonkers… the Pug is a loan car from Jay. (Getting the tram or bus into work while the Mantis is off the road is refreshingly different, but doesn’t help when I need to divert off to collect sproglets etc). Jay trailered it up from East Sussex where he is based. An hour later & after some impressive winching he disappeared off with the Mantis. Gulp! Actually it couldn’t be in better hands as Jay has his own Mantis & also knows mine is my baby!
I only ever see Jay at the odd Marcos rally or over at Le Mans so it was good to catch up with him before he left, & also ‘Talk Marcos’. Of course much of the discussion was around what was happening around the engine swap (which I continue to be very excited about!).
- I am still minded to have an Engine Start button but have rejected the idea of going fully keyless due to all the bad press around security flaws such as radio jammers & code grabbers; so the conversation was around Engine Start vs Engine Start & Stop. Both are possible it seems, but I still haven’t decided! I quite like the Lexus one right now.
- We also discussed how best to manage the solenoid lockout on the TR6060 transmission, which is required because 5th & reverse are located right next to each other, & ‘bad things’ would happen if you select reverse instead of 5th at 100mph! Having read up on this on a few US forums, one workaround is wire up the brake light so you can only get reverse while the brake pedal is depressed. Another alternative would be to put a momentary switch into the gearknob under the Marcos badge, but this would mean modifications to the gear shaft etc which seems to be asking for trouble. We’ll go with the brake option.
- The new exhaust will be based on the one on Jay’s car which is racing spec & in all probability will be quieter than my current one. I’ll certainly miss the sound of the Ford V8 which had the most wonderful, wonderful lope… but my neighbours probably won’t! To be honest, it also killed off using the stereo & grated a bit on very long journeys like Le Mans where you’re driving for hours on end. A gorgeous noise though and… dare I say it… the nicest sounding Mantis out there (a few other Marcos owners have said the same thing though!).
- Finally I have been looking at Cruise Control which (if you read far back enough in this blog) you will know I considered early on for the Mustang Cobra engine before opting for the Traction Control instead (subsequently uninstalled as it never worked properly). There are a few places in the US who have after-market CC for the LS series engines, & I like the look of the one at HotRodTherapy, however Jay has suggested he ask around more locally before I go ahead & purchase, so waiting to hear back on that one.
Jay texted me when they got back to East Sussex (what a nice chap) so now I just need to wait for the first photos to arrive. Am I nervous? Oh yes! (Especially if it tops 500BHP) But it’s still exciting stuff & fortune favours the brave etc etc!
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.
Hooray! Car back from the garage, with new front bearings fitted & brakes back in working order.
A bit eye watering on the hours labour front but soooo worth it to get the car back on what is proving to be the hottest day of the year so far. Bizarrely had to hoover some sand out of the centre console tray (say what?! Nearest beach about 60 miles away so not too sure what’s gone on there!). Happy days… Back to motoring in the sun for me.
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?…
So… Happy days, the car passed its MOT – third time lucky. All the previous fails were on the indicator flash rate after the LED conversion. MOT actually expires tomorrow so that is the closest I have run it for a while. As usual multiple advisories, including a nail in one of the tyres (which have had a good innings to be fair) and, more annoyingly perhaps, some flex in the front shocks. Not all that long since I got these Protech units & had hoped they would last longer – perhaps not handling the comedy speed humps in the office car park so well, or the four potholes in the first 500m from the office. Seem to remember some good feedback on Gaz Golds on the Forum so will investigate. Maybe another trip to TopCats on the horizon…
A lottery win would be quite useful at this point.
This afternoon I dropped the Mantis off at Invisifilm’s new premises in Cheadle. Tomorrow Steve will fit the Armorfend paint protection film. It’s an 18 year old CAD drawing & very basic compared to modern kits, however a new drawing & bespoke kit is another £500. Yikes!
The paint is still relatively unscathed after a few weeks of (admittedly cautious) driving. Hopefully the Armorfend will keep it that way for a good few years (there is a 10 year warranty on it). A couple of trips to Le Mans should be a good test! 😂
Well today’s the day! Off down to Bristol (well, Clevedon) for a get together & meal celebrating Jem Marsh’s 80th birthday. Suddenly sunshine & warmth(ish)! Woohoo!
Bah! Still no takers for the CARFEST North show & I can’t attend myself. I get the impression our glorious leader at CMI is (understandably) a bit miffed at the underwhelming response. You wouldn’t think Marcos owners were the most obvious shy types!
On the bright side it looks like at least one Marcos is going to be exhibiting at the Passion for Power show in Manchester’s Event City. Well done to Mr Barlow says I! Flying the Marcos flag in the North.
School runs & commute in the Mantis today. Glorious. Glorious. Glorious. Fine weather & all running well on the car. I have succumbed to contacting the car detailer to see what can be done with the Mantis prior to Jem’s birthday bash & of course, with a view to staying shiny through both Tatton Park shows & the odd annual rally! Time to get that kidney on eBay…
Tatton Park tomorrow. Of the ten cars who had requested exhibitor passes, four have dropped out in the last 24 hours. Gaaaaargh! Some hasty ringing around & some emails may have mitigated this so we’ll have to see how many cars make it for 0830 hours tomorrow morning at the Swan meet point. I am expecting nine cars, but no longer sure of owners or models! In the meantime some more work with Mequiars detaling gubbins means the car is still looking pretty good, so fingers crossed there’s no rain. It would be nice to pick up a trophy from the Tatton Park judges on the 50th year…