Total MX-5 - - OUR CARS -

Dur­ing the past four or five weeks my lit­tle car has done more miles than it did in the pre­vi­ous 12 months. Which makes me happy. I hate to see it lan­guish­ing.

Its pre­vi­ous in­ac­tiv­ity wasn’t the re­sult of any con­scious de­ci­sion to limit its miles, it’s sim­ply that it isn’t re­ally the right shape or size to shift stock to and from my gift and choco­late shops. More re­cently, though, I’ve man­aged to catch a few ‘good weather’ days and rekin­dle my love for my perky blue road­ster.

As well as be­ing thor­oughly en­joy­able, spend­ing more time be­hind the wheel also alerted me to a lit­tle an­noy­ance that may or may not have been around for a while. When brak­ing gen­tly at very low speeds, there’d be a slight clunk­ing sound from the front of the car: the brakes seemed OK, but any type of clunk­ing can’t be good in the long-term, can it? I hap­pened to men­tion this is­sue to our tech­ni­cal ex­pert, Michael Clev­er­ley, dur­ing a visit, and by the time I’d turned around to leave, he al­ready had a trol­ley-jack un­der the front end of the car and the near­side front wheel was off.

His first guess as to what might be wrong turned out to be spot-on – the pads mov­ing about in their car­rier. Within min­utes he had the whole brake as­sem­bly in pieces, cleaned, greased, re­assem­bled and thor­oughly tight­ened up. Adios clunk! Michael as­sured me there was no threat to brak­ing per­for­mance, but it’s nice to si­lence wor­ri­some sounds.

Job jobbed, I was just about to jump back into the car when Michael no­ticed some­thing else he sim­ply couldn’t leave alone – the head­light cov­ers. They weren’t sit­ting flush with the bon­net. In­tol­er­a­ble, in­sisted Michael. So off he went to find his special piece of sturdy wire, slightly hooked at one end. This he slipped into the gap be­tween the trail­ing edges of the head­light cov­ers and the bon­net, then used the hook to bend them up­wards to as­sume their right­ful po­si­tion.

Mean­while I’ve been in­trigued to read about Mazda in Ja­pan of­fer­ing its own restora­tion ser­vice for mk1s (see page 6). As part of the Re­store pro­gramme the com­pany has ar­ranged to have sev­eral com­po­nents from the orig­i­nal car re­man­u­fac­tured, in­clud­ing the vinyl roof and early-spec Bridge­stone tyres. Also be­ing re­made are the Nardi wooden steer­ing wheel and gear­knob and hand­brake lever: these I re­ally fancy.

I have sim­i­lar ac­ces­sories in my car, but they were sourced by Mazda UK when the MX-5 was new and aren’t quite as el­e­gant as those pro­vided by Nardi to the Ja­panese market. Al­though the fac­tory restora­tion pro­gramme will be ini­tially re­stricted to Ja­pan, I’m hop­ing that Mazda will al­low the rest of us ac­cess to items such as the steer­ing wheel. If the an­swer’s ‘no’, I hope you’ll join me in a cam­paign to get them to change their minds.

Never one to shy from im­me­di­ate ac­tion, Mr Clev­er­ley was straight on to in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cause of our clunk

The cul­prit: the pads mov­ing in­side their slightly worn car­rier

MK1 1.6 Run by: He­len Fraser Owned since: 1992 Total Mileage: 63,893 Lat­est costs: £30

He­len now prefers a Nardi wheel

Pulling up the head­light cov­ers

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