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    Martin
    HEADING SARTHE FOR THE SUMMER

    The Le Mans Classic is a favourite on the DRIVE-MY calendar, and that is mainly down to the road-trip aspect of the journey there. The Reader Run has become a team-bonding exercise in getting our old nails to La Sarthe and back, hopefully without having to throw in the towel and hitch a ride on a recovery truck. The process of preparing our respective classics always begins nice and early – literally days before the off – and in typical fashion it included Port carrying out an emergency water-pump overhaul, MacLeman install a cooling fan, reinstating the overdrive wiring and fixing the wiper motor, while Clements checked the oil and set his engine tinware to ‘summer’.

    Making it to the docks at Portsmouth is always the first success and, with the UK still basking in a heatwave, it was a relief to get on board the Brittany Ferries boat for St Malo – particularly for Port, who had a last-minute reprieve from a £140 surcharge because his #Land-Rover-SII was deemed too tall. After entrecôte avec frites all round and a few cooling beers, we were suitably refreshed for the overnight sailing – a chance for our extended group to get to know each other.

    The DRIVE-MY crew – Clements, Port and MacLeman – was joined by BMW Z4-driving former #DRIVE-MY designer Paul Breckenridge and Le Mans virgin Sam Read (both on hand to help Clements celebrate a significant birthday), while MacLeman’s travelling buddy was fellow professional beard-grower and millennial Paul Bond. After years of pestering, Port gave in and brought eldest son Alfie – the end of GCSE exams finally giving no reason to refuse. After a fitful sleep and the usual rude awakening by tortuous lute music, our quartet rolled off the ferry early on Friday morning. For a while it was business as usual, following a familiar route from previous excursions including a stop for breakfast at Combourg. But here we met up with fellow DRIVE-MY cohorts Mick Walsh and Julian Balme, who had burbled down enthusiastically in Balme’s Lincoln Cosmopolitan, ‘Wooly Bully’, adding to an already eclectic mix of classics parked up in the surrounding roads. This included Reader Run regular Scott Fisher’s stunning #Porsche-912 – previous winner of the DRIVE-MY car park concours at the Hotel de France. Echoing 2010, Port set the 55mph pace up front in his #1959-Landie while the #Suzuki-Cervo , #Triumph-2500 and #BMW-Z4 shadowed his every move – owners doing well at concealing their frustrations at his cruising speed.

    As temperatures soared we ploughed on, avoiding autoroutes, and were rewarded with some fantastic countryside – freshly harvested fields and abandoned stone farmhouses beckoning a new life away from the constant onslaught of Brexit negotiations and a government in turmoil. Hitting the roads around Le Mans meant two priorities: a visit to the supermarché to stock up on food and drink, then heading to pitch tents at the Porsche Curves. Naturally, our shopping was made up of the three Le Mans staples: meat, snacks and booze – the latter mainly consisting of French lager, but also the finest vin rouge that three Euros could buy. (We’d tried the one-Euro alternative two years earlier, and decided to push the boat out on medical advice, and also because it was Clements’ birthday.) Rolling into the Travel Destinations campsite reminded us just what a great location it is – despite being a road-train ride away from the paddock. As the GT40s roared past the banking within stumbling distance, tents were pitched and thoughts turned to chilling beers and burning meat. Crucially, we had all made it without significant mechanical issues – albeit with Balme reporting brake troubles – just a little hot and bothered thanks to the Europe-wide heat-wave.

    There then ensued three days of the usual mix of breathtaking cars, spectacular on-track action and paddocks to die for – a combination that never fails to result in a magical atmosphere. With temperatures hitting 35º-plus during the day, it was important to maintain fluid intake – but fortunately the local cider proved very useful in ensuring that stamina was maintained, as well as a finely honed sense of humour at all times…

    The ‘good old days’ of sitting on a busy banking at Maison Blanche are now a distant memory, but the Porsche Curves campsite offers a relatively quiet experience (at least in terms of numbers).With most of us now being past 40 (Clements only just, a milestone marked by late-night cake), the short roll down the hill to the toilets and showers is pleasingly convenient and doesn’t interrupt viewing of the right- and left-handers for long. The relative peace also provided the perfect opportunity to raise a glass to absent friends. Although he was never keen on camping, the Le Mans Classic was one of our late chief sub editor David Evans’ favourite events, so in his honour we each drained a dram and saved him a space on the banking, before some made the pilgrimage to his favourite spot at Arnage corner the following morning.

    Wooly Bully left on Sunday and, with heavy hearts (plus a few heavy heads), the rest of the team packed up to head home on Monday. But not before Port had dived under MacLeman’s Triumph in a bid to reduce the vibration of exhaust on propshaft and gearbox crossmember – Greg using a convenient grass bank as a makeshift ramp.

    The convoy headed north without any other problems. Driving into Le Buisson, however, Clements suddenly stopped up front – almost giving the Triumph behind a new Suzuki-shaped bonnet ornament. We’d all seen it: an open yard packed full of French classics in varying stages of decay. Seconds later we were rummaging through the Négoce Matériel collection at the invitation of owner André Papillon, who was working under a Renault 8 – swaying gently on the outstretched arms of a forklift. The noticeboard in his office revealed that he knew what he was doing, however, with an impressive display of past rebuilds.

    Back on the road, we headed cross-country and opted to pause for lunch in Bagnoles-de-l’Orne. Steak tartare, galettes and omelettes filled the table, but we soon found ourselves tight on time if we were to complete our supposedly relaxed trek back to Ouistreham.

    “I’ll lead,” announced Port, who then promptly ground to a halt. The cause was clear straight away – muck in the idle circuit of the carburettor – but cleaning the jet and aperture didn’t improve matters. There was little else for it but to raise the idle to prevent stalling and carry on, with as much speed as he could muster. Although the Landie was running fairly unpleasantly, the quartet pulled into the port with minutes to spare – the Series II then doing a decent job of fumigating fellow passengers as it waited in line.

    Murphy’s law meant that the rush was followed by a delay, thanks to a computer failure – a blessing in disguise because, after 45 minutes of queuing and a hand over the carb to create a vacuum, the blockage in the Land-Rover cleared itself and the Series II rumbled onto the ferry with no more than a bit of smoke from the rich running.

    Yet more steak and chips were consumed with a sigh of relief that we’d made it, tinged with sadness that it was all over for another two years, and a few hours later we were welcomed into Portsmouth by a stunning sunset and the sight of the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.

    Pulling into our respective driveways at around midnight, we each reflected by text on the mileage covered (just over 400) and fuel consumption. ‘I’ve used about £48-worth,’ boasted Clements, before expressing his disbelief at the Land-Rover’s £147 bill.

    Yet the Le Mans Classic is worth all of that and much more. It’s an event where friendships are cultivated, belly-laughs are enjoyed and memories made, all in the company of some of the world’s finest classic cars. (And ours.) Martin Port
    THANKS TO Travel Destinations: 08448 730203; traveldestinations.co.uk

    ‘Steak and chips were consumed with a sigh of relief, tinged with sadness that it was over for another two years’

    A gathering of old scrap… poses alongside André Papillon’s collection of classics waiting to be rebuilt or raided for parts.

    Clockwise from top left: first goal achieved, having arrived at Portsmouth ferry terminal; breakfast stop at Combourg; magical sunset bathes La Sarthe; happy campers toast their arrival at superb Travel Destinations campsite with welcome cold beers.

    Clockwise, from above: selection of Djets fronts amazing Matra display on Bugatti Circuit; Balme’s ‘Wooly Bully’ pauses while passengers enjoy a break on eventful run to Le Mans; Whizz at speed (well, at 55mph); Peugeot 504 and period caravan equipe.

    ‘Port set the 55mph pace while Suzuki, Triumph and #BMW shadowed, owners trying to conceal their frustrations’
    Clockwise, from right: Port tries to solve Triumph’s ‘prop on exhaust’ issues; troubles of his own with SII; Renault-8 – no health-and- safety concerns here; team #DRIVE-MY seeks new fleet additions; patinated Impala, just one gem to be found outside the paddock. From far left: Citroën IDs and #Citroen-DS s have seen better days, but still provide parts; Sam Read prepares to pilot the Suzuki for the final leg home; stunning sunset over Portsmouth.
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    STEVEN’S E31 #BMW-850Ci-E31 / #BMW-850Ci / #BMW-E31 / #BMW / #BMW-850i-E31 / #BMW-8-Series / #BMW-8-Series-E31 / #BMW-M70 /

    Yes, I know the 850 is supposed to be for sale. But you can’t sell a broken car, and if there’s one thing that E31s are good at, it’s being very high maintenance.

    I suppose I could call this one a narrow escape, as it happened the day after it passed its #MOT . Upon start-up, I heard the characteristic screech of a worn fan belt. This surprised me as it’s not that old, however it is adjustable, so I mentally put it on the ‘to-do’ list. While pulling away, however, I heard a distinct rattling noise coming from the engine bay, so I quickly pulled over to investigate. I found the viscous fan rattling away at all sorts of angles, with coolant spraying out from the water pump which it’s connected to. Clearly the water pump had lost its bearings and was moving in a ‘nonlinear’ fashion.

    Water pumps are not that hard to change, they are simply bolted to the front of the engine block. Accessing one, however, does require the removal of several parts, namely the viscous fan, fan shroud, radiator and coolant hoses, thermostat, both auxiliary fan belts and associated tensioners, and finally the crank pulley. The last one is particularly difficult to remove and has to be levered off using a large screwdriver, lots of muscle and even more patience. All of this took me about four hours to remove.

    I could now access the water pump, and removal of that was interesting. The pump housing has three threaded holes in it which seem to serve no purpose as they line up with nothing. In fact, they are there for removal. You screw some bolts into the holes and, by tightening them up, they push the pump away from the block. After that, you just need to carefully pull the pump off from the block, trying not to pull the top hoses off from the back of the engine.

    Fitting of the new pump was, as always, the reversal of removal, and once I’d drained and replaced the remaining coolant I fired her up. Lo and behold, a spinning fan and no leaks. Happy days, and all-in the job took six hours. Shame I chose a day when it was 33°C, but never mind. I also had another go at the headlining last week. I replaced the headlining a couple of years ago when I rebuilt the sunroof as it was sagging badly and quite dirty. It was a time-consuming, but relatively simple job. However I noticed that it was starting to sag again, so clearly more attention was required. It is only really held-up with clips so can be pulled off once you have removed the roof handles and sun visors, and I set to work removing and re-gluing the material back on, this time with stronger glue. All of the clips instantly broke when I removed it (as they always do) so a quick trip to BMW sorted me a replacement set. Once refitted, I have to say it was looking rather smart. Now I can sell it.

    Knackered old water pump has been replaced. New water pump in place.
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    MARK B’S E30 M3 #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-S14 / #resto-mod /

    There are some events that simply stand head and shoulders above the rest and the Retro Rides Gathering is one of them. Despite a few location changes over the years, it continues to be the class of the field as far as I am concerned. This year saw a multitude of cars descend upon Shelsey Walsh where, set in the hills of Worcestershire, is one of the UK’s premier hill climb tracks. Established in 1905 it has seen a glorious array of cars and drivers, stopping only for the two world wars. I had been before, so knew what to expect and although this was very much a ‘for fun’ event, it doesn’t stop you trying once the light goes green.

    In the days before Retro Rides I was able to get Joe Geach of ARM BMW and Motorsport to spanner check the car and change the oil. I had already backed off the KW suspension to full soft, so as to afford as much compliance as possible. It’s still very firm but allows for some roll and better grip on the slower, tighter corners. In the quick stuff the M3 still felt totally planted and gave me loads of confidence to push on. Now, I’m no natural talent and certainly haven’t missed out on a career in the BTCC or DTM, but I’ve driven a fair few race cars (including an outing in a Formula Opel Euroseries car. A genuine slicks and wings formula) and my personal best in a race-prepared E30 325i is a 59.7. Now considering I’m built for comfort and not speed, I was pretty happy with that.

    I usually leave Cornwall at 3am and make my way up to Shelsey, but this time I went all posh and got myself an Air BnB in Hereford. This meant I could have a lie-in till 7am, grab a shower and enjoy some of the beautiful roads that area has to offer. I’d driven up the day before and crossed the Severn Bridge for some B road fun en route. I even managed to find a jet wash close to Shelsey and got the M3 pretty clean considering the 250+ miles I’d covered and beat the queues to boot. Driving from Hereford to Shelsey, with the sun shining, windows down and the S14 singing, is a cracking start to any Sunday, let alone one with the Gathering to follow.

    One of the great things about Retro Rides is the eclectic mix of cars, with nothing newer than 1995. It really doesn’t matter what you drive so long as it’s old enough, and the atmosphere is terrific. On a personal note, I’m always made to feel so very welcome and it’s a real pleasure seeing the many familiar faces year-on-year. It’s that which keeps me going back time and again.

    As those of you who read my ramblings will know, it has been a tough year or so with my M3. It seemed that every time I left Cornwall the engine would let me down, and not in a small way. Much as I love the S14, it is extremely expensive to rebuild and I’ve been chasing reliability issues for months now. The biggest problem has been with the bearings and the supply of OE quality from independent suppliers. Hopefully, it appears to have been third time lucky and the M3 is now running better than it ever it has. Even with some of the hottest ambient temperatures of 2018, power was a strong 250hp+ on ARM’s dyno, with the rev limit set at 8.5k for engine longevity. It sounds absolutely glorious, especially now there are a few miles on the Eisenmann/Supersprint exhaust system. The pops and crackles on overrun are epic and, along with the induction noise from the carbon air box, it almost sounds like a proper DTM car.

    The mix of cars at Shelsey included a selection of Bavaria’s finest, including a ’60s 1600-2 with a supercharged M42 that was owned and built by James of JFi Classics in Brecon. There was also an S54-powered E28 flying up the hill and sounding glorious. Very much a home-brewed M5 and one of my personal favourites of the day.

    As well as having fun on the hill at Shelsey Walsh, I have been working with Thomas Garner Films and Mumbo Vlogs, who were shooting on behalf of Petrolicious. I’m going to hazard a guess that if you’re reading this, you’ll know Petrolicious and the content they put out on YouTube. If you don’t, you’re in for a real treat. The video will be up in October so just search for ‘Petrolicious BMW E30 M3,’ sit back and enjoy. You’ll also find relevant content on Instagram at mark_e30m3 and official-mumbo.

    Finally, if you’re in Cornwall around mid September, be sure to pay a visit to Watergate Bay and see what is billed as being the UK’s first closed road speed event. It takes place over the weekend of the 15/16th September 2018 and you’ll see a brace of E30 M3s being driven as they were designed to be. There are some very special cars and drivers entered so check out www.watergatebayhillclimb.co.uk for further information. Feel free to come say hello if you visit the pits too! If you can’t make it, I’ll try and bring you an in depth report after the event.

    E30 looked the part at Shelsey Walsh. BMW M3 E30 will be a YouTube star very soon. M3 received plenty of attention.
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    Matt Petrie
    Matt Petrie joined the group BMW E30 Club
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    ELIZABETH’S E63 630i SPORT / #BMW-E63 / #BMW-630i / #BMW-630i-E63 / #BMW-6-Series / #BMW-6-Series-E63 / #BMW / #MStyle / #BMW-630i-Sport / #BMW-630i-Sport-E63

    One of the things that drew me to my 630i was the colour; Stratus grey is a seriously gorgeous, albeit understated, pearlescent colour that switches from blue to grey to olive to gold depending on the light. I love it but, when I first collected the car, it was obvious that the previous owner hadn’t done a very good job of looking after it. The 630 looked like it had been washed with a scouring pad and was covered in swirl marks, which seriously dull a car’s paint. If your car’s paint is swirly then sealants and waxes will only go so far to make it look shiny and glossy, as all those surface imperfections will interfere with reflections, scattering the light and robbing the paint of its full, glossy potential. I knew something had to be done so I booked the Six in with Barrett Motorwerks for a three-stage paint correction session. Barrett Motorwerks is run by James Barrett, who many of you on the UK scene will know, and the company has two elements to it; the first is the tuning and styling side of the business, with James able to supply everything from grilles to exhausts and suspension to superchargers, and the second is the mobile valeting that James also offers, which is so popular that I had to book my slot with him almost a month in advance.

    James kindly offered to come to me in Kent but as that’s a bit outside his Essex valeting patch I was more than happy to drive to him as a) it’s not far and b) any excuse to take the 630 for a drive is a good excuse. With the weather against us, James had secured a unit for the day that would ensure he had a dry environment within which to work and he began with a thorough wash. The car was snow foamed, with this being allowed to dwell to help lift the dirt from the paint before it was blasted off with a pressure washer and then James got busy with his fluffy wash mitt, giving the body a good wash and washing the wheels with a second, dedicated wheel mitt. He then pulled the car into the unit and dried it with an ultra-plush microfibre drying towel before taping up all the trims around the car and claying the paint to ensure it was silky smooth and completely free of bonded contaminants in preparation for the paint correction.

    This was carried out using a dual-action machine, a Rupes Bigfoot, considered one of the best on the market, and three progressively finer polishing compounds. You start off with the most abrasive one to deliver the strongest cut in order to remove the maximum amount of surface defects, before switching to a milder cutting compound to refine the finish and then onto an ultra-fine polish to give the paint maximum shine and gloss. Correcting paint is a long, slow process that takes many hours and requires a lot of patience as you can’t rush any of it; you have to take your time, working the machine slowly and methodically over each section and then you have to do it all again another two times if you’re doing a three-stage correction as James was for me. Watching him work you can see that he is passionate about detailing and applies the same level of care and attention to his customers’ cars as he does to his own, which is exactly what you want when you hand your pride and joy over to someone. James worked carefully and methodically, inspecting the paint after each pass with the machine, switching to the progressively finer compounds and once he’d use the ultra-fine finishing polish and was happy with the results the paint was now ready for its last-stage protection. Personally I am a bit of a wax addict, with quite a large collection, and I love trying out new waxes and seeing how they perform but James is very much a 21st century boy who’s all about sealants. Sealants are liquids that often contain man-made and synthetic polymers or resins; while they don’t deliver the same depth of shine as the very best waxes do, they do deliver unrivalled long-term protection, with James’ sealant of choice capable of lasting up to 12 months, so it’s easy to see why he’s such a fan and it’s the perfect choice for a daily driver like the BMW 630i Sport E63.

    The end results were absolutely stunning, with the 6 Series looking the best it ever has during my time with it; the paint looked so much better than it did before and the massive reduction in the massive amount of swirls means that the pearl really pops now, while the sealant has delivered impressive levels of gloss and I’m totally sold on how durable it promises to be. James really did an exceptional job on the Six and I can see why he’s so popular and so busy, so if you’re looking for a mobile valeter in the Essex area to look after your pride and joy, give him a call, you won’t be disappointed.

    THANKS AND CONTACT Barrett Motorwerks barrettmotorwerks.co.uk 07930 433427

    James began by snow foaming the car Snow foam was left to dwell, jetted off and the car was then washed. Wheels were cleaned with a dedicated wash mitt. The paint was treated to a three-stage correction process. All trims were taped-up. The finishing touch was a coat of sealant The results speak for themselves. The car was dried and then clayed. The 630’s paint looks so much better now.
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