Fleet update – Nov 2017

Right. Winter is pretty much upon us, so let’s wrap up fleet happenings.

I’ll start with the Honda, as it has been by far the busiest car on the fleet this month, ferrying me up to Hinckley for a photoshoot, then to Birmingham for the NEC Classic Motor Show. It came back from Birmingham carrying a washing machine.

The trip wasn’t without fault, as the Honda managed to pick up a screw in the nearside rear tyre. I was forced to take desperate action. I went to ATS.

ATS offered quick and pleasant service to be fair.

However, it was otherwise problem free bar the fact that it’s still drinking oil. The cam cover gasket is leaking, but I’ve managed to break a captive thread, so I can’t actually remove it at the moment. For now, it’s rust-proofing the front subframe my spreading oil all over it. There are worse problems to have.

The Nippa has been working fairly hard too, having clocked up 3000 miles since MOT in March – which is quite a lot by Nippa standards. It has a windscreen wiper bush problem – as in the bush is turning in its housing. It’s not meant to do that. The spindle is meant to turn in the bush. However, it still works, so that’s a job for another day. It is due a service, but that just means draining the oil and putting another 2.5 litres of 5w30 in. No problem. He says. I did get given a lovely brochure for it at the weekend, which was nice!

A rather lovely gift.

The 2CV hasn’t turned a wheel in November. She’s hibernating, and I promised I’d finally sort out the paintwork I’ve been meaning to do since January. Elly has covered 5000 miles since then, including trips to Ireland and France, and once I started driving her again, I rather lost interest in paintwork. I must sort this out.

The Lexus has mostly been broken, as it repaid me for the recent cambelt job by breaking its alternator. I had a lovely 600-mile trip to see the Invacars, but then the Lexus decided it needed a rest. I swallowed a brave pill and, as the Lexus won’t go on my ramps, had to improvise.

Makeshift ramps – an old Dyane wheel!

A wooden ramp to get the car sitting on a Dyane wheel. Yeah, ok. Not ideal, but it’s not going anywhere. Yes, it is in park and yes, the parking brake is applied too. It’s just lifted the Lexus enough for me to get at the alternator. You can’t get at it from above really. Well, you can undo one of the fixing bolts from above, but then you’ve got to crawl underneath, while swearing, as you try to disconnect the wiring and free the thing from an impossible place.

Once out, the failure point was pretty obvious to be fair.

Broken brushes dot com.

One of the brushes seems to be melted into place. It wasn’t for shifting and the slip rings on the shaft of the alternator (just visible) are toast too. I need the car back on the road for a trip to Devon, so a recon alternator was ordered online with next day delivery. It arrived today. I must fit it tomorrow.

All this has served as a bit of a distraction from Invacar collection, but don’t worry. Next week, I will finally hire a truck and go and collect them! I’m pretty excited. Christmas may not be necessary this year. Nothing will top this.

Elly goes to France: Part Deux

The reason for being in France was that some dear friends of ours were getting married. Several other friends brought classic Citroens, and we had our own parking area at the wedding venue. 

Yes, that is a pair of RHD Ami 8 saloons. The groom owns one of them. The gorgeous orange GS estate is a car I did a photoshoot on for Classic Car Weekly eight or nine years ago. It now belongs to Darrin of Citroen Classics, which is where the groom works these days, handling parts. 

Following the wedding service, there was a very enjoyable hoon convoy, which saw the fleet of Citroens take to the streets of Saint-Amand-Les-Eaux, with much bodyroll and horn tooting. Marvellous. 

We certainly created quite a scene, with our British Citroens and 1960s dress code! There were many bowler hats. 

The rest of the day felt like a 2CV camp indoors, with much merriment and silliness. 

The following day, we discovered that there was a classic car meet in the Centre Ville. Excellent! Elly met an elderly relative. 

Trying to pick my favourite car was not easy. I adored this Vespa very much, and the Mustang was not without appeal. 

But this Alpine 310 has wacky wipers, and is oh so French. The Renault Floride behind it was nice too. 

Sadly, no Ami 6 saloons were present, but this Break was very pleasant. 

Finally, this shabby-chic GS estate was absolutely delightful. I would love to own one. 

After returning to the wedding venue for a lunch of leftovers, we began our gentle drive northwards to Dunkerque. I didn’t crack much above 90kmh on the autoroute.  There was no rush, and my passenger may have been a bit fragile… 

We booked into our Ibis Budget hotel, and immediately ran away from the horrid, chemical smell in our room. We left the window open in the hope that the smell might dissipate somewhat. 

An amble along Dunkerque’s long prom was pleasant enough, with an entertaining mix of architectural styles and lots of cafes. We chose one for a spot of dinner and blistered our way through an embarrassing failure of our feeble French… 

However, we did some sightseeing before we ate, with beauties such as this nice Renault 5 ‘supercinq’ not far from Elly. 

We thought that this shambolic C6 might be the most hopeless car we would see, but we were wrong. Check out those gaffer tape repairs though!

That turned out to be a mere starter though. The main course of pure Autoshite was this C15. The tinworm had left holes in the roof! 

Generally though, France was disappointingly bereft of old tat. This is a country where people would only buy a new one once the old one had finally fallen apart completely. Either more modern cars just don’t soldier on regardless, or consumerism has finally taken hold here. It’s a bit disappointing either way. 
But, holiday time is over. We’re now back on the boat, heading back to Kent, where a spell of work awaits. There will be another part to this tale though, as we still need to get back to Wales! 

For now, here’s our last photo in France. 

Elly goes to France

After the success of the recent trip to Birmingham, it was time for a rather larger adventure. France! A 2CVing chum is, today, marrying His French love (a lady, not any of his Citroens) so several of us have driven to the Continent in our 2CVs. 

Our trip began on Thursday, when we drove from Wales to Sussex. Here we are lunching in Crickhowell. 

Earplugs were very necessary, but Elly lapped up the miles with no bother. Motorways can be scary places in a 2CV. The legal limit is your top speed and actually passing people can be annoying if they speed up. Sometimes, they look in the mirror and refuse to let you past. I just assume these people have a need to compensate… 

After a pleasant stop over with Rachel’s family, we headed to Dover. Three miles from the port, a collision up ahead brought everything to a halt. We had a nervous wait while the emergency crews did their thing. 

We were very glad to reach the ferry port in time! 

We were even more glad to find friends that would be on the same boat. Yes, the yellow one is a 4×4. It was on Top Gear a LONG time ago, driven by Kate Humble. 

The crossing itself was undramatic, and some friends in an Ami joined our happy convoy. 

Then we pushed on for Saint-Amand-Les-Eaux. This is a town tucked near the Belgian border, and is suitably French. We even found a Renault 4!

There are two minor problems with Elly. One is that the speedometer bulb has stopped working, which made driving around last night entertaining. The other is that oil seems to be misting on the inside of the windscreen. There must be a mild leak on the offside cylinder. Hopefully not a major one. We need to get back home yet! 

More in the next post. 

Video! VW Caravelle

I’m really trying to clear my backlog of videos. Here’s another! A road test of the Volkswagen Caravelle (née Transporter) T25 (or T3 anywhere else in the world). This wasn’t just a quick test: I ended up covering around 150 miles in this vehicle, and managed to sell it! Here’s what I thought of it.

Video: Honda S-MX update

So, I finally managed to get a video together! That’s despite various technical failures and almost zero spare time – thank new magazine Rolls-Royce and Bentley Driver for that. Sure, I recorded it a few weeks ago, but hey, it’s live. Right here! Enjoy. Stick with it. Contains snow.