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!

Belfast trip Day 4

Back home today & sad to be leaving but had a great time despite the frustrations of the self-opening driver’s door. A touch of drizzle whilst sitting in the queue to board the Stena-Line ferry back to Liverpool, but not enough to merit a comedy exit from the vehicle to put the hood up. Alas, the aura of coolness came to an abrupt end when leaving the car having boarded the ferry. Oh well, only about 30 people watching! Dukes of Hazard it was not…

Belfast trip Day 3

Inspiration struck early this morning, & manually locking the driver’s door seems to have done the trick. This suggests the problem is with the door latch itself rather than the striker. (More hunting for parts on the Internet…). With the driver door locked (& staying locked!) it does mean that I have to enter & exit the car via the passenger door. Not the most gainly manoeuvre on my part, & probably quite entertaining for any spectators. However, it means that the driving can go ahead, so all good!

So after a substantial breakfast in central Belfast, we headed off in the Mantis & the AMG under a blue sky to drive the coastal route down to Portaferry.

A couple of handsome fellows by the beach.
The Merc GT is a bit bigger than the Mantis. All those gadgets have to live somewhere!

We meet up with Cazzer’s chum from work who is in his heavily modified MR2 (the nicest customisation I have seen on an MR2), & head down the Strangford Lough scenic route in a mini convoy. The sun is still shining, skies are still blue & with the tide out the shoreline is constantly changing. All very picturesque, but the affects of the breakfast are starting to wear off (unbelievably) so there is a pit stop for coffee & cakes. The three cars dominate the cafe car park & there’s the inevitable ‘What is that?’ chat about the Marcos, which Caz kindly handles on my behalf. Caffeine & cakes done, we head back out. I still haven’t found a way to get into the car and look cool unfortunately.

Mini convoy on the way to Portaferry, via the heavily modified MR2 rear view mirror.

Despite some nervous door waggling by me every few hundred yards, the locked driver’s door is holding up. A short stop at Mark’s house (awesome back yard, full of motorbikes a la Sons of Anarchy) then Cazzer & I head home for pizza & cocktails. Very sophisticated for an LM driver is Caz! In the meantime someone makes use of the car…

Belfast trip Day 2

It’s been good to see Cazzer again, admire his blue Mercedes GT & see the sites of Belfast, which is a beautiful city. The original plan was to head out on the Saturday for a day’s driving. Unfortunately, despite my attempts to fix with JB Weld before setting out, the driver’s door opened several times whilst driving from the ferry to Cazz’s digs, so that required resolution before any day trips. A quick search for a new door striker latch from a local source in NI drew a blank. Therefore the focus was on repairing the current striker which was losing the black rubber sleeve around the bar. This meant the door latch was not fully engaging & the vibration from driving was eventually shaking it open.

A number of fixes were attempted, including bulking up the worn area with copper wire supported with epoxy resin, and some heroic 3D printing by Cazzer to produce ABS plastic sleeving to replace the worn rubber. Alas, the latch has made mincemeat of both, and a tentative trip up the coast road had to be aborted when the door opened coming off a roundabout. We returned to base for a rethink, door wedged shut with a repurposed sandwich packet covered in a microfiber cloth to protect the paint.

Toolkit number 1, courtesy of B&Q
Filling in the worn area with wire, supported by epoxy resin.

Some brainstorming prompted  another trip to B&Q in the AMG GT (not bad for a shopping car!) with the tentative purchase of some bungees, rubber tubing, Gorilla tape & aluminium foil tape. The aluminium tape was an instant fail, failing to survive first contact with the latch. Due to the stripped down design of the door interior, The bungees did not have anything to clip to. Covering the latch bar with the rubber tubing & then protecting it with Gorilla tape has allowed the door to shut & latch engage, but destroys the tube/tape so this is a sacrificial fix. Only a test drive will establish whether it survives being on the road. Fingers crossed.

Cazzer outside his flat. Gated parking very welcome!

No sleep ’til Belfast

Very excited to be heading over to Belfast for a weekend of driving with long time Marcos chum Ian Turner (currently building his own Marcos in New York… I kid you not!). The weather forecast is decent so hood down all the way is the plan!

I did actually need sunglasses at one point!

Currently waiting to board the Stena-Line ferry from Liverpool. It reminds me how much fun it was going to Le Mans. A few years ago now… Wonder when I will go back? In the meantime the sun is out (but cabin booked as a precaution). As the Mantis is low slung, I will be avoiding grounding it on the ferry ramp so in the queue with the caravans… and tractors!

Oi mate, did you know that…

“… you had a flat tyre?” So sayeth the nice Caterham owner at Knutsford Services this morning. Given it was inflated to 26 PSI earlier, this was not good news & spelled the end of my travelling down to the Stoneleigh Kit Car Show, but more importantly to attend the CMI AGM. I knew I had a slow puncture on the nearside rear but until now it has been fine for a few days by reinflating it. I hung around to meet up with the Morrisons in their now-awesomely prepped LM, but then headed back home, tail between legs. As you can see, it was a typical Manchester day with drizzle (but not enough to merit putting the hood up).

Very disappointed to have missed Stoneleigh after many years of absence. Looking on the bright side (a definite pre-requisite for owning a Marcos!), the Mantis was already booked into Diverse Automotive Technicians in Chorley on Tuesday for the Two Gates alloys to be refurbished, & now a pair of Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 5s at the back.

Just in time for my trip to Belfast to meet up with old Marcos chum, previous LM owner & currently New York based Marcos constructor, Cazzer.