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    CAR LAMBORGHINI ISLERO

    SAFETY FIRST FOR RAGING BULL

    RUN BY Dougal Macdonald
    OWNED SINCE October 2004
    PREVIOUS REPORT April

    / #Lamborghini-Islero / #Lamborghini / #Lamborghini-V12

    Since my previous update, I have managed to sort a few problems with the car. I took it back to Colin Clarke Engineering to try to find out why the headlights wouldn’t raise or work beyond high beam. I had removed the centre console panel, where the window and headlight switches kept disappearing because their mounting brackets had broken. Some new ones are on order, but a consequence of their repeatedly being pushed into the dash was that I had inadvertently knocked the earth cable off the back of the switch. Not very clever.

    The headlights’ refusal to rise caused the motor to overheat, so we have now bypassed it and I can slowly raise them manually. The early Islero has only one motor, putting it under huge pressure because it also has to lift a cross-bar for the offside light. So do I add a second, as per the Islero S, or does that make the car non-original?

    On the recommendations of several members of the team, I took the car to Quickfit SBS in Stanmore to have the seatbelts in the front changed to inertia reels, and to have belts put in the rear for my children. Stuart Quick and his team did an amazing job: I love the neat chrome slits in the parcel shelf, and the front reels are hidden behind the B-pillar trim panels. I can now release the handbrake on a hill start without having to slip the belt off my shoulder, and can have the seat further forward and more upright to give a better driving position. Unfortunately, it wasn’t ready in time for the Festival of Speed, but it meant I took the train for once and saw the Red Arrows flying to Goodwood over Arundel Castle. On collecting the Islero from Quickfit, I drove to Biggin Hill to see Larini Systems. Now I love my car, and I love driving it, despite the fact that the engine produces enough footwell heat to remind me of driving my Land-Rover 90 in east Africa. However, the M25 on a Friday afternoon is frankly scary: I’m endlessly being cut up by thoughtless moderns, and the brakes pull sharply to the right under heavy braking. I think I need to have them looked at during my next visit to Colin Clarke.

    Haroon Ali and David Clark at Larini Systems were the first people I went to after I bought the car, although nowadays they focus on more modern cars such as Aston DB7-9s, Ferraris 550s and the like. Back then they were just doing classics, and they handmade me the most beautiful exhaust with a straight-through back box. If I had the choice today I’d probably have a quieter system, but at 6000rpm the V12 does sound amazing. I always promised that once the car was finished I’d bring it back for some photos. It might be 12 years on, but better late than never!

    It was 4pm by the time we were finished and I took the back-road from Biggin Hill to the motorway – well worth a blast if you find yourself with the choice. I think by the time I reached my brother’s home in Hampshire, where the car is kept, I had covered about three-quarters of the M25 in one day.

    I was delighted to get an email from Iain Macfarlane (Letters, September), who owns the Islero featured in the 2001 C&SC article I mentioned in my previous report. That story was the reason I bought a Lambo, and my hope is that we can get the two cars together soon.

    From top: Islero pauses with the aircraft at Biggin Hill after a hair-raising M25 run; superbly neat seatbelt installation, with new rear belts; front reels are concealed; interior looks unaltered.
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    / #Lamborghini-Islero / #Lamborghini

    In March I to the car up to Colin Clarke Engineering for the guys to have a look at a problem with the headlights. It turned out to be the wiring to the switch, and this led to the discovery that the headlight motor was overheating; early Isleros only have one motor, later cars two.
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    RUN BY Dougal Macdonald
    OWNED SINCE October 2004

    CAR: #Lamborghini-Islero / #Lamborghini / #Lamborghini-V12

    TURNING A DREAM INTO REALITY

    I blame the September 2001 issue of C&SC. Aged 26 and working in Hong Kong, I was living a life of long hours, little sleep and no cars. Then a story by Richard Heseltine on the Lamborghini Islero started a dream that took 17 years to bring to fruition, and life has now come full circle with a role on the magazine. Four years and multiple re-reads of the article later, that dog-eared issue of C&SC and I returned to the UK. I had always fancied a classic, but why an Islero? I wanted a fast four-seater with a boot, good for drives to the Highlands or southern Europe – in other words, a proper GT. And this restrained express has always been overlooked. Which was exactly why I wanted one. Insurance was the main barrier.

    At 29, with no insurance history for five years, that barrier was firmly down: I remember getting a £5200 quote for cover on a BMW 520i. In a moment of madness, I asked one insurer for an Islero quote. After liaising with the classic department, she said: “How does £600 sound?” I almost fell off my chair.

    The chase was on, but how was I going to find and finance my unicorn? The latter was answered when my grandmother passed away and left me some money, but the former proved trickier. Just 255 of this lesser-known Italian were built: 125 first-generation cars, then 100 of the ‘S’, uprated from 320bhp to 350bhp and easily identified by its bonnet scoop and flared arches. I prefer the earlier model and they were a little cheaper – about the price of new Ford Mondeo – but engine fires and crashes took their toll on survival rates. Then, in February 2004, I saw an advert in C&SC for a 1968 car with Joop Stolze Classic Cars. I struck out for The Netherlands to find the car at the back of a barn, covered in dust and looking unloved. I had planned to drive home so was disappointed, but bought it nonetheless.

    A friend gave me the number of a Putney garage, and the car arrived on a dark and rainy night. I can’t explain the thrill as I got in, turned the key and it fired, but after a few seconds of chattering chains the garage owner told me to turn it off.

    I didn’t know then, but that was the last time it would run for 14 years. The engine block was sound, but the rest of the car was knackered. Eventually, a deal was done: I would do the laborious and non-technical work; they would train me and do specialist work when they had time. And so began the next four years. My first job was removing nearly four decades of dirt and underseal over three weeks of hell. The more I took off the Islero, the more problems I found. One rear quarter was full of rust, which had been filled over and took five days to remove, and the passenger footwell was so rotten that I put my foot through.

    By the end of the year I’d stripped and rebuilt the engine. By the end of the four years, though, the time had come to get back to work and I left for Africa. Over the next seven years the car was resprayed and the suspension reattached before, in 2013, the garage owner asked if I’d return to London to help sell his stock of exotic cars. I packed my bags and the following Monday I started my new job.

    Focus returned to my beloved Islero, and major jobs were done when money was available, including a handmade Larini exhaust. By 2015 it was time to move and I was unsure it would ever get finished. I was given the name of Lambo specialist Colin Clarke and we agreed a figure to complete the work. Finally, in May 2018, I picked up the car and my wife and I went away to the Cotswolds for my birthday… marred only slightly by a terrifying drive to the hotel in the dark with no headlights.

    Further scares have included a return trip from Goodwood with only full beam – so I had to hold the stalk all the way – and driving back from Bicester in 36ºC with the windows stuck up… explaining to my brother why I arrived with no trousers on took some explaining. But the Silverstone Classic gave me a tick on the bucket-list when I got a parade lap of the circuit for the Islero’s 50th anniversary. The V12 at 4000rpm in fourth still gives me goosebumps, and moments like that make it all worthwhile.

    Clockwise from top left: at Colin Clarke Engineering, with the engine about to go in; reassembly begins at last after the respray; finished interior; glorious V12 is now as good as new.

    Main: the Islero has been taken back to exactly as it left the factory. Above: as found in Holland. Below right: at Silverstone for the model’s 50th anniversary.
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    ESPADA AT ABBEY ROAD

    Lamborghini has celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Espada by taking a 1976 example on a tour to London. The Series III Espada visited the HQ of the RAC before travelling to Abbey-Road where, 50 years ago, the Beatles recorded Hey Jude at the famous Abbey Road Studios.

    / #Lamborghini-Espada-Series-III / #Lamborghini-Espada / #Lamborghini / #1976 / #1976-Lamborghini-Espada-Series-III / #Abbey-Road / #Abbey-Road-Studios
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    What I’m about to tell you is a good example of why you should never give up on a project. Back in the early ’80s a friend of mine had a sports car he wanted to get rid of. It was a #1967-Lamborghini-Miura . It had been pretty well thrashed and the engine needed a bit of work. Fortunately it had never been crashed, just used hard and put away wet. It was an extremely early car with wind-up windows and a wooden steering wheel.

    the car also had a fascinating provenance. It had been bought new by the famous singer Dean Martin, the story goes that Martin bought it for his teenage son to drive to school. To the boy’s credit he never hit anything, but apparently he went over some speed bumps way too enthusiastically, cracked the sump, the oil drained out and you can imagine the rest.

    My friend, a teacher at the time, picked up the car for next to nothing, hoping to repair it and put it back on the road. Reality set in when he realised it would cost more to fix than it was worth. In the early ’80s there was no internet and parts for a 15-year-old handmade Italian sports car were not easy to find.

    Crazy as it sounds today, there was talk of swapping the V12 engine for a Chevy small-block. Don’t laugh. It was actually done in at least one case. Years later I even bought the blown #V12 engine from the Miura that the V8 was put into.

    So the Miura sat in my friend’s garage, depression set in and he gave me the car. It was the first Miura I had seen in person. I’d seen them in Road & Track and read of #LJK-Setrights epic journeys across Europe in Car, but they just didn’t exist here. At least, not where I lived.

    When we got it to my house, I did something I don’t think anyone would contemplate doing to a Miura today: I started restoring it myself. Remember, this was before I had my workshop and we were doing this in my domestic garage. We got it running and did all the sanding and prep work before we gave it to a friend to paint. We chose Fly Yellow because of the way it looked on a Ferrari Daytona I had seen in a magazine.

    When the Miura was finished, I took it on its maiden voyage on #Mulholland-Drive above Los Angeles. I was looking in the rear-view mirror at the window above the engine compartment, disappointed that it was beginning to rain, then I looked through the windscreen and thought: it’s not raining at the front of the car, so why is it raining at the back? I realised the fuel line had popped off and was spraying the rear window with gasoline. I quickly pulled over, shut off the engine and raised the engine cover. And as I stood there at the ready with my ridiculous 12-year-old fire extinguisher, no bigger than a Coke can, I could hear gasoline dripping over the headers, making a hissing sound each time a drop landed. Luckily no fire started, so I fixed the fuel line and was on my way.

    As the years passed there were other problems, things such as slave cylinders and the electric motors that raise the headlights, then, in 1988,1 had the chance to buy a #Lamborghini-Miura S for $80,000, a far sturdier, better-built car than the P400, so my P400 got parked and somewhat neglected, then my good friend Andrew Romanowski, from the #Lamborghini Club, stopped by. It’s a support group, much like Alcoholics Anonymous: the club sits with you until the urge to sell your Lamborghini passes.

    Noticing that the #Lamborghini-Miura-P400SV had not moved since the last time he was there, he said, ‘What’s wrong with it?’ Slave cylinder, I replied. He asked me, ‘Is that a big deal?’ No, I said, looking at the ground like a five-year-old who had failed to clean up his room. As soon as Andrew left we dragged the #Lamborghini-Miura-P400 over to the shop, replaced the slave cylinder, put a new set of Michelins on it, changed all the fluids, checked the magnesium wheels to make sure they were still structurally sound, then we waxed and polished the whole car. It was like that scene in Rocky where he takes off the girl’s glasses and suddenly she’s beautiful.

    These early #Lamborghini-Miura Miuras are different from the later cars, they’re not as structurally sound as the newer ones, but they’re also much lighter. And there’s a rawness to them that I find appealing.

    they’re much better as a classic car than they ever were as a new car. By that I mean they’re more fun to drive swiftly than they are to drive fast. You never power shift a Miura; double de-clutching and rev-matching is the way to go. It’s a car that captivates all your senses. Luckily Andrew helped me regain mine.

    'IT'S NOT RAINING IN FRONT, SO WHY IS IT RAINING AT THE BAGK? THE FUEL LINE WAS SPRAYING THE REAR WINDOW'
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    Lamborghini Murciélago With one Scandinavian trip cut short but another in the offing, the big Lambo is also gearing up for a close-up down under.

    Date acquired September 2004 Lamborghini Murciélago
    Total mileage 267,838
    Mileage this month 1331
    Costs this month £225 oil and filter mpg this month 14.5

    / #2004 / #Lamborghini-Murcielago / #Lamborghini / #Lamborghini-V12 / #V12 / #2004-Lamborghini-Murcielago /

    With the exceptionally hot weather this summer it’s been interesting to see the rear-mounted ‘bat wings’ on the Murciélago almost permanently in the raised position – something I’ve seen only very rarely in the UK. On past trips to warmer climes I’ve clocked that they usually rise up to aid cooling only when the outside temperature reaches about 29deg C. Travelling south during summer on the continent they invariably make an appearance when passing the French city of Lyon, staying raised from there on until reaching Lyon once again on the trip back.

    They certainly weren’t seen in action in beautiful but bitterly cold Norway, which is where I last reported on the Murciélago from. I actually called time on that trip a day prematurely because the heater called it quits. After catching the ferry back to Frederikshavn in northern Denmark I endured a rotten journey south late at night: sea mist hanging thick in the air and no street lighting or catseyes. It wasn’t fun and I was glad to cross the German border near Flensburg some 220 miles later, where I bunked up for what remained of the night. I promise I’ll never complain about UK motorways again…

    That stretch and the horrific road-works around Hamburg aside, I enjoyed my Scandinavian road-trip experience immensely – so much so that by the time you read this the big Lambo and I will be back there again. This time, however, the plan is to miss out Denmark (nothing personal – the Murcie and I just have a thing for car ferries) by planting the Lamborghini’s rubber on the boat that travels from the German port of Kiel directly to Oslo in Norway, before taking up where I left off last time. I’ll let you know how it goes soon.

    Talking of travel, another epic trip is looming courtesy of a US film production company. During October the Murciélago will be strapped inside a Maersk shipping container before docking a couple of months later in Nelson. That’s not Nelson in Lancashire, you understand, but Nelson, New Zealand. The movie company had been looking for a Murciélago SV to star in the first few minutes of the remake of an early 1980s classic – the original also having a certain V12 Lamborghini in it. I’m not actually privy to which movie it is yet, but I don’t think it’s that difficult to guess. Let’s just say that back then the Lamborghini in question sported a huge rear wing (and a dreadful front-mounted one, too) plus a set of carburettors and had two particularly attractive female occupants.

    Apparently no SV owners were willing to have their pride and joy cross the Pacific in a metal box (not surprising really given SVs are now exceptionally serious money), so SG54 LAM will be transformed into an SV lookalike complete with an enormous rear wing, wider side skirts and a glass engine lid. However, rest assured it will be returned to standard afterwards, the wing possibly becoming a useful garden ornament.

    Unfortunately, I’m unlikely to be behind the wheel during filming (I look awful in a jumpsuit) but I hopefully won’t be far away either, since the plan is then to add another two or three thousand miles of Kiwi roads to the Murciélago’s long-suffering V12. It’ll soon be ready for clutch number eight at this rate… Simon George

    Above: the Lambo’s active air intakes have been called into action a lot this year; bodywork will soon be given an SV-like makeover – with good reason.
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    Everyday Espada / #1970-Lamborghini-Espada-Series-2 / #1970 / #Lamborghini-Espada-Series-2 / #1970 / #Lamborghini-Espada / #Lamborghini /

    I’ve spent the last few weeks having an affair. The mistress in question is an Italian model who’s a year older than me. To make matters worse, she normally lives with my father. Around three years ago, I was fortunate enough to acquire both a new BMW i8 and an early-1970 #Lamborghini-V12 Espada Series 2. The i8 has been my main car since then and the Espada, after a light restoration – when the car was pictured alongside Mark Dixon’s silver example in Octane Cars [above] – moved into my dad’s garage.

    His affection for the car was marginally greater than mine, since one had been at the top of his ‘wish list’ in the 1970s, and it therefore seemed fitting that she should move in with him.

    The i8 is a truly remarkable car and I honestly can’t think of what I’d replace it with for everyday use. However, the Espada has never been far from my thoughts. When my father announced that he would be spending five weeks out of the country, a thought entered my head: how would the Espada perform as an everyday car in the modern world?

    The first thing that struck me was just how similar the Espada and the i8 are in size. The Espada is only 4cm longer than the i8, but it is a full 10cm lower, and it’s this that gives the impression of length. They both weigh about the same, but it really doesn’t feel that way behind the wheel. The Espada, with unassisted steering, provides a real work-out at parking speeds and still feels very heavy up to around 25mph, after which everything lightens up considerably. The physical effort required to drive it is almost shocking if you’ve just stepped out of a modern car, but you quickly get used to it and it becomes an important part of the overall experience.

    It’s only when you live with a car on a daily basis that you really get to know all of its idiosyncrasies. The magnificent engine is exactly as I’d expected, but it’s the way the Espada covers ground at high speed that really stands out. Genuinely you can feel everything coming together; the car relaxes and that means you can relax too. It’s almost like an aircraft: clumsy on the ground, but entirely at home when it’s in the air.

    Also unexpected were the quality of the ride and the space inside the cabin. The Espada glides over the ground with a smoothness that exceeds that of any of the modern cars I drive – the very tall profile of the Espada’s tyres goes a long way towards explaining this. It also has more rear legroom than many modern saloons, let alone 2+2s, and a boot that will happily swallow a week’s shopping.

    It’s not all sweetness and light, though. The handbook tells you how to start the car when it’s cold and also how to start it when it’s hot. Get it wrong and it’s all too easy to sit there with starter whirring and absolutely nothing happening. When you do get it going, you have to feed-in the throttle carefully below 2500rpm to avoid spluttering progress and you need to rev the engine well beyond this point if you want spirited performance. This is no chore, but it does mean that mpg hovers somewhere in the low double digits. Combine this with an inaccurate fuel gauge and the complexity of filling the twin tanks to capacity and you end up with a real-world range of less than 200 miles – hardly ideal for a grand tourer.

    And yet… after living with it for a few weeks – it’s pictured [above] in my office car park – I’m happy to report that the Espada is entirely useable in the modern world. It can soothe or excite according to your mood and can turn heads like no other. I’m going to miss her a lot when she goes back to my dad’s house. Just don’t tell the #BMW-i8 .
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    / #McLaren-720S & #Lamborghini-Aventador-Roadster

    The ‘digital’ McLaren heads to Italy, where the Brit aims to put one over on its ‘analogue’ rival

    / #Lamborghini-Aventador / #Lamborghini / #McLaren-720S / #McLaren-720 / #McLaren /

    The re-emergence of the sun meant it was time for the year’s first proper road trip, and therefore the Black fleet 720S’s toughest test yet: a jaunt from Monaco into Italy, with Woking’s McLaren going head-to-head with one of the home team’s star players, the Lamborghini Aventador Roadster.

    The route was set to include motorways, viaducts and tunnels through Italian countryside, and the most picturesque of roads carved into the mountains, to get a real sense of each car’s capabilities. Some friends would be there, too, in an M4 F82, AMG C63 W205 and a 911 GT3 (991.2), and the agenda was simple: have as much fun as possible over two days, enjoy the performance and drama of the cars, but also try to nail down the emotions that they evoke in mere mortals like us.

    The first part of the route was filled with those tunnels and sweeping viaducts, where first blood went to the Aventador based on pure aural intensity. There’s nothing that sounds quite like the feral scream of that naturally aspirated V12, particularly when run out to the red line, before slotting another gear (with a fearsome jolt) in Corsa mode. With the roof stowed, the full range of that high-pitched wail that rebounds off every tunnel and slab-sided truck could be enjoyed, providing an intoxicating hit of automotive hedonism. I never tire of that experience, which induces manic grins every time, and demands that the formula is repeated.

    The McLaren, by comparison, is a much more calculated technological tour de force. It’s a scalpel to the Lamborghini’s sledgehammer, providing the driver with a scientific instrument to extract the maximum performance in any conditions. My friend driving the M4, who became utterly besotted with the McLaren, likened the 720S to a classically trained ballerina, and the Aventador to a rugby prop forward at the top of his game. He also described the 720S as ‘creamy, magical – it felt like my favourite friend was helping me down a tricky road’. And he loved the instruments rotated to the minimalist display, deciding it was far from a gimmick, but instead took away distractions and added to the purity of the drive.

    My GT3-owning friend, on the other hand, was much more taken with the Aventador’s charms. Like many, he characterised much of the appeal and charm of the Italian heavyweight being in the emotion and drama. He reckoned that ‘supercars shouldn’t drive as easily as a Ford Focus – rampant performance should be built up to’.

    There is undoubtedly a huge skill factor in driving both these cars nearer the edge, and none of the drivers on this trip would claim to be able to assess the cars’ capabilities in the way that many of the journalists in this magazine have so deftly described. But we have been able to gauge the approachability of the performance, which is undoubtedly more accessible in the 720S.

    Does it make it the better supercar? Not necessarily. Whilst one friend claimed ‘I tried and felt something approaching greatness in the 720S today’, another suggested that the McLaren was ‘almost anodyne. I wasn’t excited by how it feels and what the car does. It’s capable, but it felt almost digital.’

    As I’m sure you can imagine, the debate raged on over many glasses of good Italian red wine without any real conclusion. Perhaps next time we’ll have to invoke some sort of eCoty scoring system, but I’ll sign off this month with my thoughts on which is the more ‘evo’ car for me.

    I’ve mentioned before my ambition for each car in the Black garage to have its unique circumstance to shine, and these cars justified their acquisitions for quite different reasons, but what this trip brought into stark relief is the role they each play in the fleet.

    The 720S is truly a car of the digital age: the way in which it makes the most rapid progress is intuitive, easy and accessible. It’s a huge feat and McLaren should be applauded for making such a magnificent supercar experience available at this price point; I love it. However, the Aventador feels like the epitome of the supercar event for me. It’s not as quick, it’s clunky in comparison and the technology and interface is seven years old, but it has such a sense of drama and makes the heart beat a little faster and the adrenaline flow a little quicker.

    Oh, and the Italian Tifosi test? There was only one car that men, boys and women wanted selfies and pictures seated in, and it wasn’t from Woking. Until next time…

    John Black (@john_m_black)

    Lamborghini-Aventador
    Date acquired November 2015
    Total mileage 4897
    Mileage this month 332
    Costs this month £0
    Mpg this month 10.2

    McLaren 720S
    Date acquired November 2017
    Total mileage 921
    Mileage this month 365
    Costs this month £0
    Mpg this month 12.3

    ‘The trip brought into stark relief the role that each of these cars plays in the Black fleet’
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    In for a spot of sword sharpening

    CAR: #1970-Lamborghini-Espada / #Lamborghini-Espada / #1970 / #Lamborghini /

    OWNER: MARK DIXON

    There aren’t many car restoration shops in the UK where you can find not one or two or three, but four Lamborghini Espadas in for work. That’s how many I counted at Cheshire Classic Cars when I popped up recently to check progress on the car I share with friend and colleague Richard Heseltine. There were about the same number of Miuras, too; proprietor Iain Tyrrell knows these V12 Lamborghinis intimately and it was his company that restored the famous Italian Job Miura that was our cover car in #Drive-My .

    Besides being a Lamborghini expert, Iain is a thoroughly nice bloke, so choosing his company to sort a few jobs on our Espada – which is the silver car on the ramp, above; the gold ex-Australian RHD example has just been sold to a customer – was a no-brainer. There’s nothing majorly wrong (we hope!) but there are a number of minor defects, including a couple that came to light during our trip to Le Mans Classic in 2014.

    Among the most serious faults are the rubbish front dampers. The car would ‘porpoise’ at speed on a motorway yet, should you hit a pothole, the relevant damper would seize solid and send a most appalling crash through the car’s structure. It was so bad that we were afraid it would crack the windscreen.

    Then there’s the exhaust system. The centre boxes are genuine Lamborghini and may have been on the car since new – it has covered less than 70,000km since 1970 – so they’ve started to perforate, while the pipes aft of them have been badly crushed by clumsy jacking. It’s amazing the car has been performing as well as it did, considering the restriction in gas flow. We’ve asked Iain to replace the centre boxes with straight pipes, partly for cost reasons but mainly because we’d like to liberate some more #V12 howl – the Espada sounds just a bit too refined.

    Structurally, the car is in amazingly good condition. It’s had one repaint, probably in the early ’90s, to a very high standard, but there are a couple of rust bubbles on wheelarch lips that need catching now before they get any worse. It appears to be perfect underneath, as the picture, right, of the nearside front inner arch shows, and Iain assures us that it is an extremely good example.

    And that is causing us some heartache. Do we keep the car a while longer or sell it now, in the hope of realising a return on what we paid for it two years ago? Both Richard and I are contemplating house moves this year – different houses; we’re not that good friends! – and money is tight. On the other hand, we’d really like to do a proper European road trip and live the dream.

    Whatever the outcome, it will be a tough decision, because we’re both still utterly besotted with this sexy, fabulous, underrated machine.
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