Daihatsu Sirion: Cosmetics and more

Today’s main aim was to improve the cosmetics. That involved removing most of the artwork and then giving the cleaned panels a good coat of polish. Removing the remnants of old stickers was very hard work. I tried carburettor cleaner, electrical contact cleaner, white spirits, brake cleaner and tar & bug remover. Eventually, the rag which was by now soaked in all of the above managed to clean the gooey, gluey mess off the paintwork. I’m very pleased with the results.

Sirion cleaned

Looking much cleaner

For the moment, I’m keeping the roof-mounted bird and the Yellow Peril bonnet artwork. Both may yet go, but I’m in less of a rush to get rid of them than I was some of the other stuff. I’ve kept one Muttley on the offside rear quarter too.

Arse dragon

Cleaned backside

You can just about see in the shot above that I’ve also tackled the rot in the rear wheelarches. It’s going to need some welding at some point, but I’ve rubbed back to decent metal and treated what is then visible for the time being.

I did discover some shoddy repairs. The tailgate has many shades of yellow upon it as whoever repaired some previous accident damage clearly couldn’t be bothered to paint the whole tailgate. I can’t say I’m that bothered though. Adjusting the rear washer was a pain as I had to remove the rear spoiler to do so. Great design! Fortunately, three nuts are all that hold it in place. I also changed all wiper blades and gave some parts of the underside a soak in anti-corrosion wax – namely the front crossmember and subframe mountings.

Tiny engine

Tiny engine

I almost checked the gearbox oil level too, but that can wait for another day, and possibly use of a ramp to make life easier. As you can see, despite the dinky engine, underbonnet access is still quite tight. The radiator and battery also seem to be scaled down!

I’m still very pleased with the car. I only really sold the Golf because the tax was up at the end of this month. The downside of a 1.6-litre engine is that it is just over the 1550cc cut-off for Vehicle Excise Duty. That means 12 months costs £225. That’s a lot of money to find at once, especially when I’ve recently had to tax both the 2CV and Land Rover. In fact, it angers me that road tax for older cars is so ridiculously expensive. Some moderns are super-cheap or even free. That doesn’t seem fair. A Golf costs as much to tax as a 6-litre Jaguar XJS-R. That’s just lunacy.

As it is, the Sirion doesn’t need taxing until the end of November, and will only cost £140 for 12 months. That definitely helps, and so should the theoretically better economy. I’m looking forward to finding out just what it’s doing, but it has only used quarter of a tank in the 120 miles I’ve covered so far. Shouldn’t take too long to use the rest up I reckon!




One of those days. Again

Read through my Blogs and you’ll see that there are days that really test those who like older cars. For some reason, my cars do often seem to conspire to play up all at the same time. Today was one of those days.

Before I start, I shall exonerate the BX. It coped with a 320 mile day recently, despite still being far from entirely healthy. Perhaps I used up all of my car luck on that journey…

Anyway, I got up this morning and headed in to town for some totally unexciting shopping. Things didn’t start well – or at all – when the 2CV’s ignition barrel resolutely refused to take the key. I do have a spare barrel kicking about because the one fitted has played up before, but I was in a hurry to get to Morrisons before the Aberystwyth masses arrived. So, into the Maverick I hopped and off I went.

It was a horrible morning, with mist and rain conspiring to make me very glad of the variable intermittent wipers. Well, until they just suddenly started going continuously all of their own accord. I tried turning them off. They just kept on going. Ok. One of those delightful electrical quirks eh? Switching to fast and then off did make them behave, but then I needed the intermittent setting again – which lasted for precisely two wipes. Gah!

I bought an oil filter for the Mini and  then went supermarket shopping, ensuring that I also filled my trolley with some cheap 15w40 oil for the 2CV and BX. They never get fancy stuff, especially as the BX soon leaks most of it back out. I tried not to get too upset with the wipers on the drive back and thankfully, for the most part, they did behave themselves. It’s either a relay or an earthing issue – probably not a duff wiper stalk as I first suspected.

After lunch, and far too much time spent reading the third instalment of the superb Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy, I eventually got myself outside to tackle an oil change on the Mini. The usual cursing and scraped knuckles ensued, and I had to park the car on pieces of wood to enable me to get my oil catch can beneath the sump. The oil filter is also horrible to get at unless you remove the grille, which involves removing and subsequently losing far too many screws. Ugh.

My mood was not enhanced when after refilling the engine with lovely, fresh 20w50 oil, a distinct dripping sound could be heard. I gawped underneath and watched lots of lovely new oil pour from somewhere at the rear of the engine. What?! It wasn’t from the sump plug or the filter. I was entirely baffled. Also, very, very anxious as the Mini is meant to be tackling a 300 mile drive to Cornwall in the morning – probably the furthest it’s ever travelled in a day in our ownership. I was starting to wonder if I should have just left it, but Minis rely on good engine oil, as it’s also the gearbox oil. And it’s well over a year since it was last changed… (to be fair, only about 2000 miles ago).

I decided to bravely attempt a test drive, as no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to repeat the random oil dumping. It seemed to be behaving.

My conclusion is that the rocker cover gasket is shot. I think I poured so much oil in via the filler that the rocker cover actually filled up with fresh oil. I suspect (by the stains out the back of the rocker cover) that a fair dollop of the fresh oil bypassed the engine and flooded straight down the back of the engine. I hope it’ll be ok…

I try not to get too disheartened as mechanical issues are never far away when you’re dealing with older cars that have plenty of miles on them. Yet weeks can go by with no problems at all! Well, they  did until I bought the BX…

At least none of these issues required a laptop to sort them out, or special tools. And as bad as a Mini is to work on, it’s a lot better than some moderns. Plus, I’d feel really, REALLY annoyed if I experienced mechanical trauma with a car that cost tens of thousands to buy. Ignoring restoration and running costs (of probably £10,000 across the entire fleet) the purchase costs of the fleet are £450 (2cv, 12 years ago), £741 (Mini, 6 years ago), £250 (BX, six months ago) and £500 (Maverick, last month). They may cause me woes at times, but financially, they still make a lot of sense!