Run by James Elliott
Owned since April 1998
Total mileage 66,208
Miles since September 2016 report 743
Latest costs £94
ANSWERING THE CLARION CALL
The C&SC Reader Run to the Le Mans Classic is one of my favourite things in the world, but it does have its pitfalls. Number one is that, for readers meeting the C&SC fleet, or certain elements of it – ie, my cars – it must be a bit like comparing the limp greasy kebab they have just been handed to the picture above the counter of a beautifully packed pitta overflowing with crisp, fresh lettuce and succulent meat.
It’s not that we doctor the photos of the cars in Our classics (we don’t), just that we don’t tend to print shots of their worst bits – unless we are actually working on that area. And, besides, small pictures of cars in magazines don’t tend to show an old one in all its ignominy.
There is always, therefore, a certain amount of desperate sprucing up before an event such as this. That’s despite the fact that the worst bits of The Beast are so bad – rot everywhere, many different shades of Cactus Green and none of them good – that I always end up trying to divert attention from them via the medium of noise anyway.
There were plenty of things I could be getting on with between trips to Goodwood and Ally Pally (via the Ace Cafe, natch). Ages before I had removed some of the horribly faded carpets, but not got around to doing anything with them. So, finally I invested in some cheap dye in a suitably in-yer-face red, did them up and reinstalled them. This time I used the underlay that has been sitting on a shelf since I put in a new set of carpets years, perhaps decades earlier. They’re far from perfect, but for a tenner instead of hundreds of pounds, I’ll settle for that at the moment.
I also did an oil change (putting it back onto 20w50 for convenience’s sake) and did a lot of tidying up under the bonnet, reattaching the airbox and sorting a load of other stuff. I even gave the Triumph a T-Cut, but it made no difference.
It was only a matter of time before I had to confront the elephant in the room. That wasn’t the dead diff (regular top-ups would sort that), nor the gearbox so desperately in need of a rebuild, but the lack of both an overdrive (crucial to preserving that diff just a little bit longer) and a hi-fi (essential for drowning out the wailing banshee of a diff when at speed).
The overdrive has been dodgy for a while, and I was convinced it was the wiring, so on the day I was due to take the overnight ferry I decided to rewire it, which, with the gearbox in place, was a bugger. Even so, you know that feeling when you come across a wire and connection and just get that hunch that you have found the problem?
Well, I had that when I did the earth running off the top of the ’box. Nightmare it was to get at, so it was a dead cert. Drove into the office. Still no overdrive. Bum.
Just before setting off, I fitted my spanking-new Clarion CZ315E with its Beast-appropriate Phantom Menace look, all stealth black with red lighting. Yet easy enough for an idiot like me to use. This low-priced but high-spec Bluetooth and USB equipped (though still able to play CDs, hooray) item can cope with newer iPods/iPhones that don’t need a Firewire lead for charging.
The standard DIN meant that fitting it took a matter of minutes before I set off. But when I did, still no hi-fi. It wasn’t a great start to one of my favourite jaunts, but then came some Le Mans Classic magic. First, as I got up to speed on the A3, the overdrive clicked in. When I finally summoned the guts to flick it back out and in again, it still worked and has done ever since.
Then, after a bit of campsite fettling with Port, we soon had the speakers blasting out Led Zep for the whole of the Porsche Curves to headbang to. Things were looking up and, best of all, I then had two options whenever people got too close. I could distract them by revving up the Triumph or by blasting music out of my new stereo.
THANKS TO Clarion: www. clarion. com
The Beast in its element, howling along deserted French D-roads towards Le Mans. Elliott had even T-Cut and polished it up for the C&SC Reader Run.
Confused of Putney, with crimping set… …new Clarion unit neatly fitted in console. Obligatory stop at the Ace Cafe by A406. With Scott Fisher’s 912 at Hotel de France.