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    Diving deep / Running Reports

    CAR #1971-Lamborghini-Espada / #1971 / #Lamborghini-Espada / #Lamborghini

    Harry Metcalfe

    It seems 2019 is my year to do engine rebuilds. First it was the Alfa Duetto that needed open-heart surgery just before its trip to this year’s Mille Miglia ; then my boat’s engine blew up (an 800bhp, 14.9-litre MAN twin-turbo V8 – don’t ask about the bill); and this month it’s the turn of my Espada engine to be stripped.

    An engine rebuild has been on the to-do list for the Espada ever since it developed a serious addiction to coolant on last year’s Espada 50th Anniversary Tour, but then the budget I’d set aside got inadvertently spent on a Lancia Fulvia Sport 1600 – easily done, as I’m sure you’ll understand – so I put the rebuild off until more funds became available.
    But as the months ticked by, I became increasingly concerned that the wait might be causing more internal damage to the engine, as I didn’t really know why it was consuming so much coolant in the first place. There was no give-away steaming exhaust, or emulsion inside the filler cap to indicate that oil and water were mixing. I needed to know more, so decided to get the Espada up to Iain Tyrrell’s amazing workshop on the outskirts of Chester, which is where I bought the Espada from originally, back in 2012.

    Once it arrived, Iain turned detective and performed both a compression and leak-down test on each cylinder, plus a pressure test on the coolant system. The good news was that the pressure test showed the coolant wasn’t leaking anywhere it shouldn’t, but both the compression test and the leak-down test (where each cylinder is pressurised via the spark-plug hole) showed several pots were below par and losing pressure under test quite quickly.

    The diagnosis was possible headgasket failure and maybe worn piston rings as well. There was nothing for it but to remove the engine for a full strip to find out. This generation of Lamborghini engine is magnificent to behold, with its quad cam-covers, tubular manifolds, all-alloy construction and delicately finned aluminium sump. It’s also a bitch to extract from the engine bay because a) the front oil pump housing hits the front chassis member, and b) the gearbox needs to stay attached, and that includes the chromed gear-lever that constantly gets fouled on the transmission tunnel. Fortunately, Iain has been doing this for over 35 years and makes it look relatively easy. About three hours later he had the engine out, on the bench and ready to strip. Next month, I’ll let you know what we found.

    From top Harry’s Espada rests up during the 50th Anniversary tour in 2018; at speed, in between top-ups with coolant; engine out for stripdown at Iain Tyrrell’s workshop.
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    DALE’S #1971 / #Mercedes-Benz-W114 / #1971-Mercedes-Benz-W114 / #Mercedes-Benz

    Name: Dale Materman
    Job Role: Sales and marketing executive, events coordinator and resident paint nerd.

    I’ve spent an awful lot of time in front of the telly watching endless hours of American car shows with my dad, so that’s where my passion lies. But we don’t live in America and we’ve already got a Crown Victoria on the fleet, so I’ve decided that the Mercedes W114 shares some of the same characterises of the big-old Yank cars I love.

    The car might be German, but the styles I will be drawing from will be from across the Atlantic.

    I’ll be focusing on the stance, styling and overall theme of creating an oldschool show car. Anyone who knows me will know I’m obsessed with paint finishing, so the paint will be pretty special – I’m that guy who’s constantly in the Meguiar’s detailing bay! They guys I’ve entrusted to bring the W114 back to its former glory are Kustom Kolors. No pressure guys, but yours and my reputations rely on this!

    Dale’s going to give his W114 a Yank flavour
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    SM provides sniff of affordability / #Citroen-SM / #Citroen / #1971-Citroen-SM / #1971 / #Citroen-Maserati / #Citroen-Maserati-SM / #Maserati-V6

    There seems to have been a recent easing of Citroën SM values, which has to be excellent news for those of us who still harbour semi-realistic dreams of owning one some day in the future. Classified asking prices have yet to budge, but several have struggled at auction lately on both sides of the Channel.

    Most significant was the #French-registered car recently sold by #Historics-at-Brooklands . Billed as one of the best SM’s available, it looked indecently good in a Flat grey with an even Finish and good panel it, and came with an encouragingly full history folder. Our guide price supported Historics’ £38,000-£44,000 estimate, but the bidding only made it to £34,000 – an amount the seller proved willing to take.

    Keep an eye on these – there are limited numbers of good ones about and it is hard to imagine them ever looking other than futuristic.
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    DAVE KINNEY’S CAR OF THE MONTH

    1971-Mercedes-Benz-280-SL Gooding & Co, Amelia Island, USA 9 March / #1971-Mercedes-Benz-280SL-W113 / #1971 / #Mercedes-Benz-280SL / #Mercedes-Benz-280SL-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz /

    It’s dark red with Cognac MB-Tex vinyl, a hardtop and a new soft top. It has the desirable four-speed manual ’box and Becker Mexico radio. The body was restored ten years ago, the interior was refreshed more recently. It looks to be a solid example and a good driver. So, what is it worth? We’ve seen this phenomenon before, the sudden price spike followed by a settling-down in value, and it’s been happening a lot with the W113 ‘ #Mercedes-Benz-Pagoda ’ SLs built from 1963 to 1971. The spike usually happens at a high-profile auction, where lots of potential bidders see it and it takes hold, for a while. Great examples of the SL reliably sold in the $50,000-60,000 range for years, then suddenly they were making over $100,000. One year later, they were back at $60,000-80,000, less for 230s and 250s, more for 280s. What has happened?

    Simple economics. It’s a supply-and-demand issue. Higher prices not only bring more attention to the make and model, they also bring more cars to market. The car that was not for sale when it was worth ‘only’ $50,000 might just be for sale when the seller is reasonably expecting twice that price. More examples will also get restored as it becomes more financially viable. Supply goes up but demand remains the same – or edges up, at best.

    Right now we are in that second part of the sales cycle. A large number of W113s are on the market so values are a bit down, especially for examples less than pristine. It’s time to take advantage of the market and buy on the dip. As for our Cognac SL, it sold for a good-value $66,000. Point proved.

    Dave Kinney is an auction analyst, an expert on the US market scene and publishes the Hagerty Price Guide / BRIAN HENNIKER
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    Certain facts in the automotive world are irrefutable. Number one, the #1971-Citroen-DS-Pallas / #Citroen-DS / #Citroen / #1971-Citroen-DS / #Citroen / #1971 / , especially the #Pallas / #Citroen-DS-Pallas model, is the most comfortable car in the world. You may not be crazy about the four-cylinder engine, while the transmission’s not the smoothest, but the seats combined with the padded floor truly make it the most comfortable car on the planet. People sit in my DS after I’ve told them this, and they all say the same thing: why can’t all cars be like this? And why can’t they? When you get behind the wheel of a DS you literally fall into a big easy chair that wraps itself around you. Some manufacturers try very hard; two of my favourite Mercedes-Benz models are my 1972 600, which has hydraulically operated seats, and my ’1971 280 SE Coupé, with its big, overstuffed leather chairs. These are the last of the truly handmade #Mercedes-Benz cars. Yet even with the finest leather, they’re still not as comfortable as the DS.

    The only car that comes close is my #1931-Bentley-8-Litre fourdoor Mulliner sedan. Even though its suspension is primitive, the big, down-filled leather chairs are something you’d be proud to put in your library or sitting room.

    When I was in England recently, a friend collected me in a beautiful Rolls-Royce Phantom. It is an amazing car – quiet and smooth, with an unparallelled sound system – but still I felt like I was sitting on the seat rather than in it. Shouldn’t a Rolls be at least as comfortable as a DS? And why does the leather in today’s high-end motors have the texture of vinyl? My 1968-Mercedes-Benz-6.3 has 327,000 miles on it, but the constant application of hide food has given the leather a patina and suppleness that just can’t be found in modern cars.

    And can we stop with the Recaro racing seats? One of my favourite cars to drive would be the Aston Martin Vantage with a manual gearbox. It’s fast and sexy, but it has the most uncomfortable racing seat I’ve ever sat in. I love everything about the car except the seats. They’re slaves to fashion trying to look cool. Astons are for driving long distances across continents, which should be done in the most comfortable way possible.

    With these Recaro buckets, after an hour I had to pull over to get out of the car and stretch. It felt like it was cutting off the circulation. Even in my #McLaren-P1 I replaced the standard seat for a slightly wider one. It’s a little bit better – but not much. I have a Shelby Mustang GT350R. The first thing I did when I ordered the car was to ask for the stock Mustang seats to be put in, instead of the standard racing buckets. If the goal was to crack walnuts with my buttocks, I’d have kept the Recaros. It’s hard to drive if you’re not comfortable. Where’s the fun?

    When I was restoring my DS, I took great pains to deconstruct the seats and examine what made them so comfortable. The secret? Foam, and lots of it. Of course, Citroën never took the DS to the Nürburgring. That has a lot to do with it. The Nürburgring has probably done more than anything else to make luxury cars uncomfortable. Any suspension perfected there is designed to handle loads and speeds the average driver would never see in a luxury car. Along with low-profile tyres, which are so popular and have absolutely no give, the combination means cars simply aren’t as comfortable as they should be. My Tesla had 21in tyres. In 1000 miles I hit two potholes and blew out two tyres. There’s not enough sidewall to take the compression, so you split the sidewall. There’s nothing else you can do.

    Why do people buy 21in wheels? They don’t really know the difference between sidewall compression rates, they just think it looks cooler. They are willing to give up comfort for that.

    How many people would prefer to look good or feel good? Style reigns, unfortunately. BMW has just come out with the R Nine T, which is a twin-cylinder Boxer motorcycle available in three styles. The coolest is the Café bike. I drove the standard version with standard handlebars, and it was so comfortable, but I ordered the Café because it looked the coolest with the little half fairing and the lowered bar. After 20 minutes of riding, I realised I should have ordered the other one.

    The idea of selling comfort now seems to have gone out the window. It seems to be about looking cool or sporty, or Nürburgring times. Stuff like that. In the old days they used to sell comfort. American cars used to sell what they called the Boulevard Ride: the car floats down the road. Ford made a fortune selling LTDs, saying it was quieter than a Rolls. Whether it was or not, nobody really knew. It’s like you’re the captain of a ship, driving a big boat. So much of that seems to have fallen by the wayside. If someone offers you a seat in their DS, take it. It’s the most comfortable motoring experience you can have.

    The Collector Jay Leno

    ‘WHEN YOU GET BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A DS YOU LITERALLY FALL INTO A BIG EASY CHAIR THAT WRAPS ITSELF AROUND YOU’
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    In the year of the departure, three German sedans set completely new accents. The Audi 100 emancipated itself from DKW and immediately became a star of the middle class. With the six-cylinder Type 2500 BMW celebrated its comeback in the luxury cars, and Mercedes said goodbye to the bestseller dash-eight of Blechbarock and swing axle.

    / #Audi-100-F104 , 1968–1976 / BMW-2500 3.3 Li, Typ E3, 1968–1976 / Mercedes-Benz W115, 1968–1976

    / #Mercedes-Benz-220D-W115 / #1970 / #1970-Mercedes-Benz-220D-W115 / #Mercedes-Benz-220D / #Mercedes-Benz-W115 / #Mercedes-Benz-W114 / #Mercedes-Benz

    / #BMW-2500-Typ-E3 / #BMW-2500-E3 / #BMW-2500 / #BMW-E3 / #BMW / #1971 / #1971-BMW-2500-E3

    / #Audi-100LS-Typ-F104 / #Audi-100LS-F104 / #Audi-100LS-C1 / #Audi-100-C1 / #Audi-100 / #Audi / #Audi-Typ-F104 / #1974-Audi-100LS-Typ-F104 / #1974-Audi-100 / #1974
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    Victory... then defeat

    CAR #1971-Reliant-Scimitar-SE5 / #Reliant-Scimitar-SE5 / #Reliant-Scimitar / #Reliant / #1971

    Owned by Nigel Boothman (nigel.boothman@drive-my.com)
    Time owned Four years
    Miles this month 250
    Costs this month £325

    Previously Tried to get the car going. Failed.

    A sticky starter motor foiled me at the end of the last report, but with that removed, tested and replaced (having found nothing amiss) the car had no excuses left. Time to start that rebuilt engine.

    At this point I thought of all that money I’d handed to the engine builder back in 2015 and of the two years the engine had remained stationary, bar periodic rotations by hand to make sure everything still moved. So I felt the first start and subsequent break-in should be performed in the presence of someone who’d done such things before.

    Luckily I knew Leroy Grimwood, of Dunedin Performance Centre, Edinburgh. With the car transported across town, we gave it a fill of Miller’s running-in oil, span the oil pump drive with an electric drill, fitted the distributor and turned the key.

    The engine burst into life, and continued to roar strongly for the 15 or so minutes deemed adequate to break in all those internal surfaces. With finer timing adjustment and some help from Leroy to make sure the brakes and lights were MoT-worthy, the Scimitar passed its first test in three years.

    All was not well, however. A serious running fault developed as soon as the engine was up to temperature, or if it was parked after a short run and left for a few minutes. Convinced it was fuel vaporisation, I spent hours moving fuel pipes, even re-employing the mechanical pump I’d bypassed when an electric one was fitted. Still no joy.

    I gave up and took the car for analysis on a Krypton machine at the Car Tuning Clinic at Holyrood, where the intermittent death of the HT voltage was discovered. And sure enough, my fuelling problem was electrical – the little electronic ignition unit in my freshly-rebuilt distributor was expiring when it got warm. With points and condenser re-fitted, it ran fine.

    Well… it ran fine when we gave it 20o of ignition advance, though it was supposed to need only 12o to 14o. I was sure the TDC mark was accurate, but I needed some confidence for a 1000-mile ‘running in’ round trip to the Goodwood Revival. With the possibility of some unknown fault hanging over it just two days before the event, I had to take a view. And that view involved my 1991 VW Westfalia camper.

    VW camper van stands ready in the unlikely event of Scimitar failure. 3.0-litre #V6 runs, but needs 20º ignition advance.
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    / #Peugeot-204 / #Peugeot / #Peugeot-204-Cabriolet : buy one here, not in France

    VALUE 2011 £5250
    VALUE NOW £8500

    The humble Pug 204 may have been France’s best-selling car in the early Seventies but the cute cabriolet is the one we need to watch. Just 18,181 were built from ’ #1965 to ’ #1971 and survival rates are tiny. But when you do see one now their pert dimensions and rakish little canvas top mark them out as special.

    As a drop-top starter classic or cutesy convertible they look great value. Last year an Edinburgh private seller advertised one of only three RHDs ever built for £4700 – and sold it within minutes. That was a cheap car with 62,000 miles and long history. Back in 2007 H&H sold a mint LHD ’ #1968 in white for £3500, so you can see how prices have flatlined for the last decade.

    Under the skin there’s an alloy SOHC 1130cc engine, rack and pinion, independent suspension, four-speed with column shift and discs giving sharp front-wheel drive handling and a composed ride. Don’t get any ideas about performance though – 90mph is all you’ll get and 60 takes an age. But those looks are what will hike values in the future.

    I often rue the day I sold a bright green one for just £500 – and it had only covered 30,000km. But that’s the odd thing about this rare pint-sized French cabriolet – we’ve never, ever appreciated it. Prices across the Channel are much stronger and you won’t buy a decent one for much less than €12,000, with good ones up at €25k.

    There’s a Côte d’Azur elegance to this little car. Find one of those rare survivors at current market money in Britain and you’ll have a very exclusive and swish French cabrio for less than a Triumph Spitаire. I know which one I’d rather have.
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    Stalling for time. Again

    CAR #1971-Reliant-Scimitar-SE5 / #1971 / #Reliant-Scimitar-SE5 / #Reliant-Scimitar / #Reliant /
    Owned by Nigel Boothman (nigel.boothman@drive-my.com)
    Time owned Four years
    Miles this month 0 Costs this month £130
    Previously Placed new engine in engine bay, moved house, forgot about car

    When I ventured into the garage recently I found a box containing some nice Carboniferous-era plant fossils. It’s been so long since I was in there – renovating a house soaks up infinite time – that they may well have been healthy, living ferns when I last worked on the Scimitar. My pal Richard Hamer administered the arse-kick I needed, ‘I’m not doing anything next Thursday, why don’t we get your Scimitar going?’ I could hardly refuse. The engine, still resplendent in new paint from its rebuild at Brayon Engineering near Loch Lomond, was minutes away from running for the first time, or so I thought.

    Richard and I fitted an electric fuel pump and pressure regulator, plus a blanking plate for the old mechanical pump mounting. But the fuseboards had been out and the photos I took of their wiring were AWOL. Then, while fitting some expensive new silicone coolant hoses and over-engineered Mikalor clips, I discovered one of the connecting steel pipe sections had rotted at one end. I thought my luck was in when I spotted a piece of Alfa Romeo exhaust pipe of the right diameter, so I cut the length I needed and welded it on. After a fashion. Ever tried making a gas-tight butt weld with paper-thin, unevenly-corroded pipe and an ancient MIG machine with a dodgy wire feed? Having wasted two hours on this, I stopped and decided to spin the engine over with its plugs out to make myself feel better. Richard had worked out the fuseboard connections, but announced that the battery live cable seemed to be missing. Why? How? A jump lead did the trick. Or rather it didn’t; all we managed to do was release some smoke from the cable. So next time I’ll be removing the starter.

    Soon after, I was visiting my parents and had a chance to meet my father’s new pet, a patinated but very original 1938 Lancia Aprilia. The little Zenith 32 VIM carb was crusted with the crud of ages and the linkage was maladjusted, but with a hurried rebuild and most of the oil wiped off the spark plug connectors, it ran well enough for us to drive it up and down the road. Until it boiled, anyway. It’s a total joy – light, well-suspended and with such a good ‘crash’ gearbox you can almost treat it like a modern car. Now I want one too.

    Work finally resumes on the Scimitar after a lengthy break, but it’s anything but childs’ play. Nigel’s dad has a new toy: a 1938 Lancia Aprilia.
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