Tuesday 2 April 2024

Out At Last

 It was an action-packed long weekend with my girlfriend, Good Friday was Wheels day - as reported, Saturday was a beer festival at the excellent & local Disruption brewery where the house band included one of the stressmen from work - look up "Stone Soup" on YouTube for their brand of heavyish, bluesish rock. We walked there & had intended on getting the bus back, but it was a nice day, so we strolled & then cut back through the woods without meeting so much a single axe murderer.

On the third day of the holiday we got up not quite so early & this time succeeded in attending a car meet in the Stylus. it's the first time it's had two people in it since I took the back suspension apart & replaced the tyres & the was a slight rub over some of the larger undulations, but a small adjustment of the Panhard |Rod should've fixed that. But here you go, enjoy some pictures from Blackbushe.

Not Actually a Fiat - It's a Puch

Almost a Fiat, it's a coachbuilt Arbarth Fiat

That Pop is lovely

Should've Bought Dry Tyres...

 ... because it's been raining since I bought the Rainsports.

The Stylus has hardly left the garage unfortunately. It was supposed to be transporting my girlfriend & I to the Surrey Street Rodders "Wheels Day" show on Good Friday. We got up early, had a quick breakfast we got my good lady nicely ensconced in the car (strapped down), my plan was to then put the hood up (notice how I've avoided the word "erect") & move the car out into the drizzle, thus keeping her as dry as possible.

However, try as I might the hood wasn't going to fit. It's usually a tight fit after not being used for a while, but I obviously wasn't going to get it on at all. 

Sensing my frustration & impatience, it was suggested that we move everything into the other car & go in that. It meant we wouldn't be part of the main event, but that was OK. She was absolutely right of course & after a quick re-arrangement of belongings we set off in the Cactus.

In spite of the forecast weather, there were a lot of cars on the show field - I'd guess at about 4 - 500 & the rain held off longer than forecast, but inevitably rain it did & we retired to the car to eat our picnic.

So - no Stylus, but enjoy the photos anyway.


We all know I like a 100e

That's a Pinto hanging over the back axle - go easy in the wet!

More Willys

Mid Mounted V8 - yes really

Thursday 14 March 2024

More Tyred

 The wheels are back - so of course it's raining. It was a lovely spring day when I picked them up four hours ago.

here it is when the 185/60s were new

And this is it today. You'll have to take my word for it that it looks MUCH better with the narrower, taller tyres on.

It's also raised an inch, so when I have time I need to re-adjust the speedo & lower it 1/2" to reduce the arch gap even more. To do that I may need to buy shorter springs for the front, but that's a job for another day.

Thursday 7 March 2024


 Yes, yes I know I've had all winter to notice, but I've been "distracted" & it wasn't until I took the Stylus into work after taxing it (£££££££££) that I noticed the front tyres were down to the wear bars. This was chiefly because I'd swapped them with the rears after noticing the limited slip diff was wearing them rather quicker than I was expecting. The rears (was fronts remember) are fine, but unfortunately I need to replace all four as I'm getting the tyres I want, replacing the ones that came as a deal with the wheels.

So off will come the Yokohama 185/60x13s & on will go Uniroyal Rainsport 175/70x13. Half the price, twice the life, more or less as good in the dry (In road conditions), much much better in the wet. Also 10mm narrower, 25mm bigger in diameter.

Anyway, here it is in the car park at work. I took it in after checking the weather forecast as I rolled out of bed at 06:00. No rain.

By 09:00, the rain alarm on my phone went off & the weather radar showed a whole storm coming from the south. So I moved it into the underground car park whose ramps are too narrow for the leviathan electric 4x4s that infest most of the parking spaces. Why do seemingly intelligent people spend £100k on a car that doesn't fit in a parking space??

But the big news is of course that the Stylus is back on the road & I'm having a few of those "sh1t this really is fast" moments. Nothing scary, just squeeze the throttle pedal & it's doing 70 before I've had time to look down at the speedo.

It's booked into "Wheels Day", the Surrey Street Rodders annual display of anything interesting on wheels, this year it's in Newbury - not actually in Surrey at all then. In fact, I've only known the Surrey Street Rodders hold it in Surrey once. It's on Good Friday & is usually a fantastic car show if you want to attend. 

Monday 12 February 2024

Two Wheels

 I may have mentioned I'm slowly refurbishing the bike I built when I was 18. It's a bespoke-made touring bike made for me, so while it's cost a hideous amount of money, it is one of my favourite things.

One of the difficulties was the brake lever "hoods" - rubber items that go over the brake levers. They were pushing 50 years old & shattered when I took them off. Replacements are available, but out of stock, but I managed to find a pair BUT, the cable adjusters that poke through the rubber hoods are supposed to have rubber covers. mine were similarly brittle & strangely - in spite of being a much simpler shape, are not available at all.

However, I've recently been experimenting with flexible 3D print filament & the OnShape on-line CAD system & the upshot is.......

Pretty good I think

Other Things

 With the Stylus back on its wheels, once again other things have come to my attention, mostly visits to places.

I've been to Duxford to look round the planes with my girlfriend, arriving before the sun was properly up & getting some good photos as they wheeled a Mustang out
Yes, that's frost in the far fields, it was freezing.

We walked around the main hangar - the one we missed last time, then into one of the flight sheds where as my girlfriend is a member of the Catalina Society (& strictly speaking so am I now), we were invited behind the ropes for a chat with one of the pilots, which was interesting, then back to the main hanger for a talk about photo reconnaissance - which we'd missed because I'd loused the time up.

But, one of the nice volunteers gave us a good talk about a pilot called Warburton who flew 400 PR sorties & took some of the most important aerial photos of the war.

More recently we went to the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar where they make / restore / fly Spitfires, it was a Christmas present to my Girlfriend & she thoroughly enjoyed (other girlfriend's opinions are available). It was supposed to be a 3 hour tour, it actually took 4 1/2 hours which meant we missed out bub tea & by the time we got back to my house it was midnight & we were "really quite hungry".

A very interesting trip though.

Quite a lot of engine

Tuesday 30 January 2024

Ground Clearance - It's A Good Thing

Firstly the titanium skid plates are fitted on both trailing arms, painted & ready to fend off anything that comes their way. Also the newly refurbed Protech shocks are back on the car, with the the brass spacers my lovely girlfriend re-drilled on my Brother's lathe. They had been bored to 1/2", so when fitted to a 1/2" bolt they seized on just enough to stop the bolt coming out at all, meaning I had to take the trailing arm off the car & put the whole thing in a vice to get some proper pressure on them. Shouldn't be a problem now they're 13mm bore (sigh).

Also getting done this week, was the Panhard rod. It's been a bone of contention since I bough the car. Jeremy Phillips designed a beautifully elegant Panhard rod chassis mount, a previous owner decided they knew better & welded on an ugly fork fitting which hit the ground at regular intervals. I suspect this is the reason the car had REALLY stiff springs on the back. I'd already shortened it by an inch, but it was still catching the ground at full bump. A look from the side showed it was bent & ground off at an angle by asphalt the length & breadth of the UK. It was only a matter of time before it either got ripped out of the car, or started grinding away the rod end.

It looked like it might be easy, there was already a big bolt through the original hole in the rear bulkhead & the bracket - presumably someone didn't entirely trust their welding. All I needed to do was put a 2degree bend in the Panhard rod & bolt it on as JP had intended. No, the big bolt that came out looked different because it was an M12. The reason for that was because the 1/2" hole in the bracket & the 1/2" hole in the chassis didn't quite align. There wasn't space to drill or ream it from the inside of the car & I didn't want to start from the outside because the cutter would be pulled into line with the 3/8" thick bracket.

I called into the fantastic Margnor Fasteners & bought a 1/2" UNF bolt 6 1/2" long & took it straight to my Brother's, where I turned the head off the bolt & turned it down to 12mm & cut an M12 thread on it, I now has a shaft with a 1/2"parallel section for the rose joint, a 1/2"UNF thread on that end, a step & a 12mm dia section for the chassis & an M12 thread on the other. It fitted perfectly, so I cut the horrible fork bracket off & bolted the Panhard rod up. At full droop, there was 1/4" clearance between the Panhard rod & the diff & everything lined up nicely. As a bonus there's much more clearance around the shock absorber - it was a bit close to the old bracket.

The car is now back on it's wheels, but looks a little high. I'll leave it a day or two to settle before I start adjusting things.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

New Year

 For the reasons expanded upon in the first of this year's posts (& because it's been 'kin chilly), not much has happened in the garage, but there are stirrings.

This evening I've re-built the shocks ready to go back on the car & done something about the rear trailing arms. They pass under the axle to both connect to it & the rear shocks. this means they're not far from the road. Unlike the Panhard rod bracket, they move with the axle, so only hit the ground if for example a wheel drops off the paved surface into a gully. They have however got quite scraped up since they were painted only a year ago. So the solution was to make up a pair of titanium skid plates.

I've only done the first one as the other is still on the car, but it's bonded on with tiger seal & has four chicken rivets just in case. So next time a wheel drops off a kerb there could be an impressive shower of sparks.

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Protech Shocks Recommendation - Again

 Last year I took the Stylus' front shocks back to the makers - Protech - for a re-build as the front suspension was clicking as the rocker arms changed direction. I was very impressed both with the service (both shocks re-built while I waited) & the price. As I'm messing with the rear suspension this year I arranged to take the rear pair in. I called them up "would you be able to service them this afternoon while I wait?" "yes sir I should think so". We agreed a price & I set off at lunch time, arriving at Melksham about 1:45.

I explained that I'd had to free off the adjusters as they were stuck & that they'd been set up for track use, so I wanted them re-valved to factory settings, then set off in search of coffee & cake.

Around 3:00ish the phone went with a message that the shocks were ready to pick up. I drove back to collect them & the chap said "We've had a bit of a 'mare with these, the adjusters were seized onto the brass valves which were seized into the bodies. We've sorted it all out, but we've had to put on all new bodies, adjusters, etc as well as all the seals & oil, so you've really got a new pair of shocks, only the top mounts & shaft are left"

I took a deep breath "OK, how much do I owe you then?"

"Oh there's no change to the price we agreed"

It's not often you get service like that. It's even rarer in the specialist car parts market.

Some years ago I replaced the factory Spax shocks on the Fury with a set of Protechs & immediately noticed a difference - I'm not the Stig & things really have to be noticeable for me to notice. Many people who passinged & followed that car commented on how it seemed to float on it's suspension - while still cornering like a bastard.

I was very pleased indeed when I found out the Stylus also had Protech shocks. So I was already impressed by the product, but on both occasions I've returned shocks for re-build, the service has been fantastic. I can't say fairer than that.

New Year - New Post

There's not been too much going on car-wise to report. That's not to say nothing's been happening elsewhere in my life, I've actually been very busy, I had a long weekend in Yorkshire with M'Girlfriend, Northumberland with M'Girlfriend, Wells with M'Girlfriend. We had days out to museums many & various & it's all been very very lovely. But today I shall report on the Brooklands New Year's Day Meet - that I attended with M'Girlfriend.

Open to anything interesting (at least more interesting than the Cactus), the event is very good except that they charge everyone - even those bringing "exhibits" full entrance fee - which is a bit of a cheek as Brooklands is very expensive to get into & would be deserted on New Year's Day if it weren't for the meet cars.

However, it's a museum, so we would be spending the whole day there & would only leave when even the souvenir shop had shut.

As soon as we cleared the entrance hut the cars were lined up, with Hot Rods to the fore.

A black '40 Ford Pickup & a '33 Ford Tudor. Being British we tend to pronounce this "Chewda" as in Henry VIII, but it's a two door & the four door version was called a Fordor, so I suppose it should be pronounced Twodor.
Still in the subject of UK / US pronunciation, this is a Merc.

Not in fact a Mercedes, but a Mercury - Ford's up-market brand. It's been chopped & lowered, shaved, skirts added etc, so it's not how it left the factory, but it is a thing of beauty.
Borgward it said.

Never heard of a Borgward. It's German & has dollops of Volvo coupe & Karmann Ghia in it's styling.

It would make a spectacular lead sled.
Nice Anglia.
Lotus Cortina wheels & lowered a little.
Lancia? it was very very nice & just modified enough.

Nicely modified NSU Prinz.

Not sure I've ever typed those words before.
Outside the main building was a collection of '30s cars - mostly British. This MG was nice
This (what ever it was) was nicer, it just had a better look to it
One of those cars that goes so far off the ugly scale, it comes back to beautiful from the other direction. The saggy windows REALLY shouldn't work, neither should the colours, but somehow they just do

A Bristol.

As with most Bristols, it almost looks really good, but somehow just misses.

Things like the top line of the boot not aligning with the rear window annoy me out of all proportion to the visual effect.

There was a time when these cars simply WOULD NOT be seen next to each other, each of their owners would rather poke wasps up their ar5e. But time mellows.
A GT40 is always welcome at any event, this very retro one was lovely
I wonder how many bog standard '57 Chevys there are left? Not many I'd wager
This one had the "Continental Kit" spare wheel carrier & the owner had wisely moved the exhaust outlets from through the bumper (where it just rusts the steel off the inside of the chrome) to just beneath the bumper
Will there ever be a better looking "family car"?

Looks like it fell off a scrap wagon, sounds like thunder in the mountains. Just superb.
Hmm - Weirdness on wheels. The paler one is a Thunderbird. The mid '50s T'birds were gorgeous, what the hell happened?


The Chevrolet Suburban is now a leviathan SUV & is more guilty than most of starting the appalling obsession for enormous rolling blights on the landscape, but here we see where it all began with a reasonably pretty small (by American standards) estate car.

'33 with a LOT of engine going on. Beautifully engineered too.
And at the other end of the scale ....

Not what it seems at all, this is an Allegro shell dropped over a VW beetle floor pan.

In the words of Dolly Parton "It costs a lot of money to look this cheap"

Not many MkII Zodiac soft tops left, or Consul Capris for that matter.
Every thing I said about the yellow one - again.
Might be the same type of Bristol as above? But canary yellow? Really?

Normally referred to as a "Devon" that name only really applies to the four door, which makes this a Dorset (I think - maybe a Somerset).

Whatever, I really liked this, it had been pushed just about as far as you could go without looking ridiculous. Put lairy paint on it & it go right over, but plain old English white pulls it back. Even the '59 Cadillac tail lights look right.

Lincoln Zephyr.
Lincoln was another of Ford's premier brands & in recent years hot rodders have discovered the unloved relic from the '30s & given it a new lease of swoopy life. This one looks like it's about to get some paint, but a big thumbs up to whoever bought it along.

There can't be too many '30s pick-ups left in America surely?
Just enough chrome.
Just the right stance.
Just gorgeous.
This was interesting - & difficult to photograph due the the constant 5 deep crown around it.

Obviously a real '57 Testa Rossa would be tens of millions & unlikely to appear anywhere without a heavy security blanket.
The owner of this one was saying is was a hand-wheeled aluminium body on a '70s Daytona chassis / mechanics.
Now a Daytona is not a cheap donor car, so I'm guessing that this replica is probably worth more than my house.
The other two were very nice, but the Gulf livery clinches it.

Orange wheels - It's the future.

Reliant made proper cars once.

I've always had a soft spot for a MkI Zodiac & this is easily one of the nicest.

Drag race style tube chassis, with the bodywork blended round the tubes.

Full roll cage built mm perfect into the interior even including a tube running behind the front seats connecting the door pillar tubes. All with smoothed welds & painted to match the body colour. Workmanship was superb.
And up front a "big block" 7 1/2+ Litre V8
Model B 3-window coupe. Lovely.
If you're going to waft down to the south of France, is there anything better?

Probably yes, but it is pretty damn stylish.

I do like a big Healy
V8 Pilot. '30s American styling on a '50s British Ford.
Why didn't Ford do this??

It's a Consul Capri made Lotus.

No, there never was such a thing, but will you just look at it?
That is a fantastic looking car!