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…)

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! 

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…

Fans… AGAIN

Well the Mantis managed two local journeys before something went wrong. Coolant temperature went above 120 degrees C. No fans. Fortunately this was not far from home & got back. Ran the car today on the drive & it did the same thing. Fan fuse is fine so f**k knows.

The emotional rollercoaster that is Marcos ownership continues.

Welcome to 2021

Sooooo… We are into February & the Marcos Mantis is still, alas, dead. I confess to being at somewhat of a loss as to who to give the car to in order to get it fixed. Bring back Eddie from Cross Street Motors! (Actually, shame I don’t have his number as he won’t have been able to play golf for most of last year due to Lockdown so should have had a lot of time on his hands). Oh well! So long as the car is working for September. Why September I hear you ask? Because I will be taking the car down to display in the hoi polloi section of the Concours of Elegance in the gardens at Hampton Court Palace. One of only 10 Marcos cars invited no less! It would, therefore, be jolly nice if the car could actually move by then.

Farewell 2020

Well goodbye 2020. A year that, to borrow a phrase from our ex-colonial cousins… truly sucked 😠. Or in Britspeak, the year has been a tad underwhelming. Like many Marcos owners, 2020 will have seen my lowest annual mileage ever 😭. The silver lining? Lowest fuel costs ever. 😂

As we enter Lockdown 3 (in England) 😷😷😷 there have been some lovely crisp driving days over the last few months but unfortunately the Mantis hasn’t moved since it was dead in August 😔. The new Optima Yellow Top battery continues to show as fine & hold charge. Unfortunate I cannot find anyone local to entrust the car to to get fixed.

So… what else? After a very quiet 2020 in terms of car events, I have formally handed over the baton as Club Marcos International area organiser for the North West to Debbie & Darren Morrison. They are already on the case with emails going out & plans afoot for the Carfest North, which is great! A pleasure to see & just reinforces my conclusion that things were getting a bit stale under my stewardship & some new blood was required. The Morrisons are also much nicer people than me, know a lot more about Marcos, are experts on their own car & absolutely brimming with enthusiasm for all things Marcos. Basically it’s an upgrade all round!

Like a lot of Planet Earth currently, I am wondering what 2021 will bring. IBM have finally decided to ‘spin off’ Global Technical Services to concentrate on Cloud and AI, so that will be the end of an era this year. I may just about make my quarter century with IBM (May 2021) after which it’s a voyage into the unknown & that includes my company car allowance that keeps the Marcos Mantis on the road. (OK, well, technically incorrect but… you know what I mean).

Too late for Santa now but in hindsight I should have sent a letter up the chimney asking for;

  1. Standard cam to replace the thirsty/hot/bumpy Fast Road cam, plus a retune of the ECU
  2. Better engine cooling with a whole year of going without dramatic overheating & blasting coolant into the atmosphere
  3. New rubbers for the hood frame
  4. A new gasket to seal the rear brake LED light strip
  5. A new interior
  6. A new hood which actually keeps the rain out
  7. No more mice…
  8. A smooth run up to Scotland to revisit the fantastic scenery around Callendar

Tally-ho for 2021!

So what’s new, kids?

Gosh, where to begin! Nah… just messin’ with you. 😉 Nothing new. Went to go for a spin to get some fresh air in the Mantis last week & car wouldn’t start. Alarm LED still flahing, DRL illuminate, clock still working, stereo fine (mighty fine! Oh yeah!) but f**k all from the starter. The new(ish) NOCO starter did… nothing. Bit of a bummer seeing as this is a new deep-cycle Optima yellow top. So, lots of stuff that should work that didn’t. No drive that day then, eh? Any road up, put the CTEK charger on & fully charged a day later & the car started fine but didn’t have time to actually drive it. Jumped in the car today due to unexpected sunshine (on a Bank Holiday, what’s going on?) and nothing from the starter again. However, battery is at 12.65V so that’s not the problem. Some electrical issue… I guess I am just not destined to drive the car at the moment. C’est la vie. Texted an auto-electrician so let’s see if they respond & can help (although they are in N Wales! Not had much luck with the local ones).

So, shiny stuff. The filler cap is getting stiff. Wondering if I should get a replacement Aero 400 from Newton Equipment.

Out & about

Some nice trips out in the car recently as the weather has been decent & the cooling issues seem to have gone away. One of these was a little trip up the M6 to Wigan to see the legendary Morrisons, Debbie & Darren. Their LM500 is still on the ramp as they await the refurbished wheels but they have made good use of the time & the car is… immaculate. Everything is either colour coded to match the striking purple on the LM, polished to a shine or carbon dipped. It looks stunning (must be the neatest car in the north… or at least equal with Dave Barlow’s Marcos). Shame this horrible Covd-19 lockdown is preventing car shows to allow everyone to appreciate it.

Darren also spotted that my bonnet catches are very corroded & one of them is moving around enough that is is wearing a hole in the bonnet. Yikes. New ones ordered from Marcos Heritage but not sure how I will fit yet. The nuts & bolts are so heavily corroded there is a risk they will snap in situ. I did think about replacing the bonnet catch cup & latch in the car body. At least, until Rory from MHS explained that this required the front mudguards to be cut out from the body to get access, then re-attached with industrial quantities of poly-urethane mastic. Probably reasonably straightforward given plenty of time, space & tools. But…

A request on Facebook for Marcos photos from Nick Marsh, one of Jem’s sons & a painter, has thrown this image up which I suspect is the Marcos Mantis launch. Great picture & lovely looking car which Phil Cunningham still runs (& occasionally washes).