Christmas Blast for 23

Not having been in the Mantis for a few weeks, the fantastic clear blue skies of Boxing Day 2023 were too good an opportunity to miss, so after press-ganging my daughter into coming along for the ride, it was off out into the Cheshire lanes for a very pleasant drive out.

A good few things still needing to be done on the car, with future funding sources unclear, but for the time being it was just nice to get out. Given how infrequently I am now driving the car, with negligible commuting & other demands on the old bank balance, I really must try & get a dash cam sorted for 2024 so I can get some driving footage. An aide memoire for the car when the grey cells start failing might be rather handy!

What else for next year then? Well the chatter at the Marcos Christmas Dinner was that we might go to the Youngtimers event at Gawsworth Hall on the second May bank holiday as a group, rather than a independent owners. Other than last year, this was not something I have been previously available for as I am normally at the Hay (Book) Festival with my son, however sadly he has grown up & looks to be elsewhere from now on. We will probably continue to gather on the Sunday of the Oulton Park Gold Cup as our NW race-based meet. The big news perhaps is that we may consider going back to Tatton Park, which we attended for over 25 years before falling out with the new owners, Morton Events, over their ill-informed & ill-advised insistence that we attend on two days across the show weekends. Hopefully after five years running the Tatton Parks shows they now understand that owners clubs of low volume, rare sportscars can’t necessarily get the vehicle numbers to cover more than one day. We will see….

Concours of Elegance 2023

A very enjoyable Sunday at the Concours of Elegance, held once again at the ever impressive Hampton Court Palace.

2023 saw Marcos placed to the right of the palace.

Ulez

What a monumental fuckwit Sadiq Khan is. If you’re going to create a completely bullshit tax to get more money into your Inner London coffers to spend on your divisive policies, at least spend taxpayers money on a decent payment website. What a bag of spanners the user experience is…

A good trip down to the White Hart Hotel with the ever entertaining Doug in the passenger seat. Travelling down from Manchester with the Morrisons, sadly still without their LM which, having been converted to a coupe, is still awaiting paint. As ever, nice to see the Essex mob again, sadly without Geoff now.

As the owner of an “ordinary” Mantis, I am honoured to be in the presence of a supercharged Mantis at the White Hart Hotel today. 🤣😂🤣 Yes RJP, you know who you are!

MOT already?!

Time flies. MOT time & a very welcome pass! As usual the chaps at Altrincham Tyre and Exhaust were brilliant & took the time to point a few things out that I might want to look at sooner rather than later. Mainly wear & tear on the rear bushes, & suspension.

Also less than 1300 miles last year. Food for thought.

Gawsworth Youngtimers

Battery changed, car working. Chance conversation with a neighbour & it was off to the Youngtimers event at Gawsworth Hall on the last May Bank Holiday.

What a fantastic venue. No stalls or vendors, just cars parked around the amazing Gawsworth Hall itself. Plenty of nice motors (Ferrari etc) but also many less exotic classics. Everyone was up for a good chat in the sunshine.

Never having taken the Mantis to Gawsworth before, I was intrigued to be directed to the Chamomile Lawn, which turned out to be a great spot near the Panthers & Corvettes. Paul & Gilly, seasoned attendees, found me in their Mantula so we had a Marcos stand… Kind of! 🤣

Barry Martin In Memoriam

Down at Donnington Heritage circuit today, courtesy of a lovely bequest from Barry Martin who wanted some fellow Marcos owners to get together & have some fun when he was gone. Barry loved his Marcos, and had a few of them over the years, most recently an in-your-face green LM400. In fact, the car was guest of honour in the reception building – a nice gesture from the current owner. There must have been a good 30 plus cars there – a lot of familiar faces, & plenty of familiar cars. Some people I haven’t seen for ages, including Lynn Marsh, Dave & Mandy Chivers. Never enough time to properly catch up…

So, first time at the Donnington Heritage circuit. It’s cloudy with spells of light rain, so the circuit is damp but very little standing water. After the safety briefing we get a few laps of the circuit, one car at a time only. After a couple of sessions, I realised this was a great opportunity for my son, Bertie, to safely get behind the wheel & have his first drive of the car. He’s a pretty decent driver, but I think both of us were rather surprised! Anyway, he was up for it(!) & after a couple of very sensible questions about how the car drove, off we went with him in the driving seat. Suffice to say he was great, & the grin was well & truly worth it.

Having been unable to attend either annual rally this year, & failed dismally to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Mantis I thought it would be nice to get a group picture of the Mantis in attendance. You can see the results for yourself below (although the parking was a bit random). Inter-generational no less!

Mantis line up from Barry Martin’s Donnington day.
How many Mantis owners does it take to park in a straight line? Not this many apparently!

Barry… Thank you, & job done.

2022 Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace

What a marvellous weekend! Good company, cold beers, hot curry, sunshine & many, many rather splendid cars. Yes, it was finally time for the 2022 Concours of Elegance, held once again at the ever-impressive Hampton Court Palace.

On Friday afternoon & with no prospect of shutting the work laptop any time soon, it became obvious the car was not going to get the few hours cleaning it needed before heading off to London. Cue a quick search of local detailers (and I mean local! Nearest 500 yards!). Primewash did a decent job I think, given the time available.

Like a well oiled machine, I met up with The Morrisons at Knutsford Services around nine on Saturday morning, and by one o’clock we were parked up enjoying a cold beer in front of the White Hart Hotel, a stone’s throw from the Thames. The Essex mob rocked up shortly afterwards, which was an unexpected pleasure as they are a great bunch & I haven’t really seen them since the Le Mans trips a few years ago. Beers & a curry followed then bed & before you know it, it was show day! Whoohoo! It must have been a good night because Richard Partridge was not cleaning his car at 4 a.m on Sunday!!! (I genuinely checked). Blimey… Could it be The End of Days?

The fun starts with a catch up with the other owners at the staging area just inside Hampton Court Palace. A few new cars & faces to get to know. Also lovely to have a chat with the inimitable Jonathan Harmer, & the ‘other Oli’ with his (rather fetching) wife. Today the LMs outnumber the Mantis’ssssss, but that just makes them common in my book (which I may have mentioned in passing!). Not too much hanging around before we’re marshalled back out of the Palace grounds & a few hundred yards down the road to a different entrance. From there it’s into the Palace grounds again, past the Bentley owners club line-up and round the edge of the main car display to park up just in front of the Long Lake. A new location for us & ideal with the serious cars only a few steps away. Result!

The Marcos cars line up nicely, fourteen all told which is a good effort!

In hindsight, chronological order would have been better, but as it is my Mantis is next to the TSO which makes for an interesting visual comparison.

The weather holds, & after a few goodbyes it’s off back to Manchester, this time a solo effort as The Morrisons will be heading further south to Redline. Just under four hours later I am home. It has been a great weekend, albeit one without any family, but now time for some contented zeds.

A day at the races

Today was Gold Cup day at Oulton Park. This is now our North West Marcos event, having superseded Tatton Park following the idiocy of Mortons. Six cars made it in the end. It is more of a meet up than an opportunity for the public to see the cars together (which is a sha… I thought they looked awesome lined up, with so different models).

The forecast was intermittent rain & indeed I left home in the drizzle (top down, obviously 😁). Met up with the Morrisons at Lymm Truckstop then took the scenic route to the circuit. Despite a plot number on the vehicle display ticket, it was a complete free for all, & with the LM500 not very happy we just parked up near the conference building. Needless to say the good old Met Office ballsed it up again & the sun was soon beating down. Alas, I was too busy chatting to the other Marcos owners & watching a bit of racing, so with no sun cream with me, am now suitably beetroot faced. D’oh! Lovely to catch up with people though. I really must find someone to do the rear diff seal…

Self-opening door fixed, but… Ouch!

Well who knew that replacement door latches from the 1986-1989 Escort/Orion are like rocking-horse shit?! Getting a Google Whack when looking for replacement bits for your car is not a good thing! I finally bit the bullet & ordered an offside latch from Marcos Heritage Spares, but not cheap. You would think with it being from the Ford parts bin (& God knows how many Escorts & Orions they sold in the late eighties) there would be plenty but it seems thirty years ago is now considered ‘ancient’ in the world of car parts. Oh well! The local garage, Needhams, replaced the latch but was unable to swap out the striker bar as it is well & truly stuck in the bodyshell. The great news is that the problem seems to be fixed & I can go round corners without being tensed up to grab hold of my door on left hand bends or exiting roundabouts! Fingers crossed that is the last of this summer’s ‘hiccups’ & the car will pass its MOT to usher in some summer motoring.

The 1986-1989 Ford Escort/Orion door latch. Hard to source after 30 years…

All dressed up & nowhere to go… Another Rally fail

Car cleaned. St Saturnin polo shirt washed, ironed & donned. Sunglasses in hand & all set to head down to the MOC rally at Walton.

Cleaned & ready to go to the MOC rally.

However… the driver’s door has decided not to shut properly again & this time locking it does not make a difference. So another failed attempt to attend a club rally. More than a bit annoyed TBH. I hope the replacement latch does the trick. Telling myself I have saved £80 in fuel rings a little hollow. So, why don’t I just jump in another car & go down to the rally? To quote Quentin Wilson… “The car’s the star”, & I never really enjoy being at car shows or Marcos events, without the Mantis. I’m just not that into it, sorry! (Heresy, I realise).

Shiny, but that’s as far as we got!

On the bright side (there always has to be a bright side with a Marcos, right?), tickets are now booked for the Gold Cup at Oulton Park, where there will be a Marcos club display on Sunday 31-Jul-2022. I hope to see everyone there!