OUR CARS The To­tal MX-5 fleet

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The Rock­e­teer V6 con­ver­sion is com­pleted, whilst our early mk1 re­ceives some dev­as­tat­ing news

If you’re go­ing to write about MX-5S it helps if you own one – and we do. This is­sue Wor­land fin­ishes off his V6 Rock­eter in­stal­la­tion, Fraser (Mrs) suf­fers a huge sad­ness, and Ben­nett’s mk3 keeps him heartily oc­cu­pied

SI­MON’S ROCK­E­TEER PART 2

Last time, we left Si­mon Wor­land’s en­gine­less mk1 loom­ing over the Jaguar AJV6 engine that was about to take up res­i­dence in its engine bay, at­tached to the orig­i­nal MX-5 gear­box and the brand new Rock­e­teer sub­frame. The engine was ready with its beau­ti­fully formed tubu­lar ex­haust man­i­folds, its freshly painted cam cov­ers and its di­men­sions cal­cu­lated to fit per­fectly into its new space.

Mid Fe­bru­ary (re­ports John Simis­ter), I joined Si­mon and re­storer Adam Red­ding, in whose work­shop the trans­plant was hap­pen­ing, to lend a hand for the big mo­ment. Adam op­er­ated the two-post lift to lower the MX-5. Si­mon made sure the sub­frame was lined up prop­erly and moved pipes and other im­ped­i­menta as the body de­scended. I made ready with the prop­shaft to stick it in the back of the gear­box as soon the po­si­tion was right.

Easy does it…stop! Ev­ery­thing slot­ted in with­out catch­ing. I loosely bolted the pow­er­plant frame to the gear­box, while Si­mon and Adam tack­led the sub­frame bolts. One was re­cal­ci­trant, even with care­ful lever­age, so Adam en­larged the bolt-hole in the sub­frame with a Dremel tool. The orig­i­nal sub­frame has big­ger bolt-holes to al­low for body vari­a­tions; per­haps the Rock­e­teer peo­ple were flat­ter­ing the Mazda’s pre­ci­sion of build.

Next, Si­mon and I bolted-up the wish­bones and the steer­ing rack, after sev­eral at­tempts to get the steer­ing wheel cen­tred. The lower wish­bones’ align­ment was set to where it had been be­fore, with a trip to an align­ment shop planned for fine tun­ing once the Rock­e­teer was run­ning. The ex­haust sys­tem – the sin­gle-tailpipe Rac­ing Beat sys­tem that Si­mon was al­ready run­ning – lined up per­fectly with the man­i­folds and new cat.

But, when fit­ting the an­cil­lary drive belts, we could see that the power steer­ing pump’s pul­ley wasn’t in line with the crankshaft pul­ley. Si­mon made a spacer to put that right, upon which the pipework then fouled things it shouldn’t. At which point we called it a day.

Two days later, Si­mon had made a 6mm spacer to put un­der one engine mount to im­prove the ‘sit’ of the engine, give bet­ter pipe runs and stop the sump protruding be­low the sub­frame’s cross­mem­ber. He’d mod­i­fied the power-steer­ing pipework, re­fit­ted the gear lever, im­proved the fit of the al­ter­na­tor, tight­ened up all the sus­pen­sion bolts and fit­ted the elec­tric wa­ter pump and the ra­di­a­tor. With the two car­bon­fi­bre plenum cham­bers

and their air fil­ters in place, and with pipes and ca­bles also con­nected, the Rock­e­teer was very close to com­ple­tion. With one ex­cep­tion: still no ECU.

On 10 March, Bruce Southey fi­nally ar­rived at Adam’s work­shop with the vi­tal ECU, hav­ing been tear­ing his hair out over the map­ping: even­tu­ally he changed the sys­tem from an ME221 to a much more so­phis­ti­cated, and twice as ex­pen­sive (at no cost to Si­mon) ME442. With the ECU fit­ted and plugged in, Si­mon turned the key. The starter chuntered briefly, the engine caught. It was alive, at last! Re­lief all round… But should the ex­haust have that un­even beat?

Time for a run around the yard, keep­ing the revs down.

The rev-counter read­ing was low; it showed three-quar­ters of what should. That’s be­cause the four-cylin­der engine uses wasted-spark ig­ni­tion, four pulses per crankshaft revo­lu­tion. The V6 gen­er­ates three per revo­lu­tion. A tweak to the ECU cor­rected the read­ing.

But that un­even ex­haust note was a worry. Wiring? Check. Coil packs? Check. Fuel-rail block­age? Try an­other one. Still no joy. So Si­mon grit­ted his teeth and re­moved the plenum cham­bers to the spark plugs. One came apart in his hand, prob­a­bly cracked from new.

In went a com­plete re­place­ment set, just to make sure. And, now, the engine sounded deeply sweet, silky smooth and re­ally quite men­ac­ing, that Rac­ing Beat ex­haust giv­ing just the right note. Feel­ing de­lighted and re­lieved in equal mea­sure,

Si­mon drove his Rock­e­teer home in late March, hav­ing dis­cov­ered by then the un­likely truth that both road tax (cal­cu­lated on this post-2001 engine’s emis­sions) and in­sur­ance are cheaper. And when he took it for a sus­pen­sion re-align­ment, no more than small ad­just­ments were needed.

De­tailed fet­tling fol­lowed. In the­ory the elec­tric wa­ter pump dis­penses with the need for a ther­mo­stat, but in prac­tice there needs al­ways to be a flow oth­er­wise the heads might get too hot and the heater will stay cold for too long after a cold start. So Si­mon has in­cor­po­rated an in-line ther­mo­stat from a Land Rover Dis­cov­ery and re­set the pump’s pa­ram­e­ters. It pumps at half speed up to 70°, three-quar­ter speed up to 90°, full speed after that. ‘It was a guess but it works per­fectly,’ Si­mon con­firms. ‘There’s warmth from the heater in half a mile and the engine is fully warmed up in two miles.’

This mod is one of sev­eral sug­ges­tions that Si­mon has made to Bruce, who will also mod­ify the power steer­ing bracket to al­low for the vari­a­tions in Jaguar block cast­ings he has now iden­ti­fied. Other planned evolutions in­clude a longer ECU har­ness so the ECU can be placed in the orig­i­nal’s po­si­tion in the footwell rather than un­der the bon­net, and re­vised plenum cham­bers which won’t crack, as Si­mon’s have, where the throt­tle bod­ies’ pipes join the cham­bers: the new de­sign has throt­tle bod­ies nearer the engine.

Si­mon re­mains im­pressed. ‘It’s amaz­ing what two peo­ple – Bruce and his col­league Tom – have done on their own with none of the re­sources of a big com­pany. There are no com­pro­mises in the re­sult, not a sin­gle down­side. The way the nose lifts un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion now… I’m de­lighted. I just need to stop watch­ing the fuel con­sump­tion.’

Si­mon reck­ons the project has cost around £8500 all-in. ‘I took the view that it would give an al­ready good car a new lease of life. I’ve al­ready had six years’ use out if it, and now I have es­sen­tially a brand new car. Looked at that way, it’s some­thing of a bar­gain.’

WORK IN PROGRESS

It was one of those al­most hu­mor­ous ‘I can’t be­lieve that just hap­pened’ mo­ments. Went to check the oil level and the top of the dip­stick just snapped off. Made men­tion of it on­line and was in­formed that it’s a fairy com­mon oc­cur­rence. Sev­eral makeshift re­pairs were sug­gested but there’s still enough of a plas­tic stub on the stick that I can pull it out with my fin­gers. It’s still an ab­so­lute pain, though.

Also an on­go­ing pain is the sus­pen­sion. Mainly in the butt. Lit­er­ally. I have had an­other crack at ad­just­ing the set­tings on the Koni dampers, twist­ing them all the way around to full ‘firm’ and then eas­ing them back one full ro­ta­tion of the ad­just­ment knob. The ride is now the best I’ve had with the car, but the re­bound re­mains way too fast and harsh, to the ex­tent that you have to back off the pace on bumpy sur­faces, and while the com­pres­sion stroke is im­proved, it’s still far from ideal.

Just re­turn it to stan­dard sus­pen­sion is the oft-re­peated rec­om­men­da­tion, and log­i­cally I know it is the best thing to do. But I re­ally like the stance of my car and am pre­pared to ride out the rough stuff un­til I can find/af­ford a de­cent com­pro­mise.

On the sub­ject of an­noy­ances, the whole time I’ve owned my MX-5 I’ve grazed my knuck­les against the col­umn stalks when twirling the Momo steer­ing wheel. I’d won­dered if a pre­vi­ous owner had bent the stalks for­ward, but Michael Cleverley as­sured me that it’s a com­mon prob­lem when peo­ple fit late model mk1s with early is­sue steer­ing wheels. The peak of my dis­gruntle­ment co­in­cided with a press re­lease from Mount­ney, the Bri­tish man­u­fac­turer of af­ter­mar­ket good­ies for the clas­sic Bri­tish sports car mar­ket (mount­n­ey­clas­sic.co.uk), launch­ing a new deep-dish, 340mm di­am­e­ter, rally-style steer­ing wheel as part of its M Range.

In­trigued, I started up a di­a­logue with Mount­ney’s Dan Kimp­ton: he didn’t want to dampen my en­thu­si­asm, but did think that the depth of the wheel’s dish com­bined with the depth Mount­ney’s boss kit would push the wheel too far into the cabin to com­fort­ably sit be­hind. Try some­thing with less of a dish, he sug­gested, from the com­pany’s Clas­sic range. I had my heart set on the rally wheel so Dan al­lowed me to mea­sure them both up in the car. And while the Clas­sic wheel looked good, the rally wheel was bet­ter and proved not to

in­trude too much into the cock­pit space.

For me, at least, it’s ideal, its ex­tra close­ness forc­ing my arms into a more kinked po­si­tion than I would nor­mally drive with – if you bring the seat closer to the wheel then your legs bunch up – giv­ing more lever­age and con­trol at the wheel rim: just have a look at how close rally drivers sit to the helm if you doubt this. The lever­age ad­van­tage is par­tic­u­larly use­ful when you don’t have power steer­ing.

The smaller di­am­e­ter of the Mount­ney wheel also gives greater clear­ance for my legs, which is use­ful, too. And I’ve def­i­nitely got a bit of room be­tween my knuck­les and the col­umns stalks now – they’re al­most too far away, but I can live with that.

The Ferodo per­for­mance brake pads I fit­ted to the front of P874 last is­sue have worked a treat. Much ear­lier bite and then pro­gres­sive when they do, and re­ally gutsy stop­ping power when you stamp on them com­ing hard and fast into a cor­ner. Ferodo’s claim of low brake dust lev­els aren’t hold­ing up, though – there are days when it’s hard to tell that my Ro­tas are pur­ple. And I can live with that, too.

Fi­nally, Michael Cleverley re­placed my al­ter­na­tor belt after it had be­gun to squeal in­ter­mit­tently – you can see the process on our How To pages. Be­fore putting the new belt on he checked the bear­ings of the al­ter­na­tor and wa­ter pump by giv­ing their spin­dles a quick spin. Un­for­tu­nately he reck­ons the spin­dle of the wa­ter pump is slightly bent – now that I can live with­out…

TEARDROPS EX­PLODE

Ah, that long, hot sum­mer. Per­fect weather for Mx-5ing. Only not for me. I run a small gift shop and a choco­late shop in ru­ral Suf­folk and con­stantly need to shift stuff from home­based stock­room to shop shelves – haulage isn’t re­ally an MX-5 strength, so my poor Mazda hasn’t moved at all dur­ing the best sum­mer since the leg­end that was 1976.

But when things qui­etened down in the shops, the big orange orb was still in the sky, and I was de­ter­mined to get UHO taxed and out on the road to en­joy at least a lit­tle of that sum­mer sun­shine. There was just the small mat­ter of the MOT to sort out, but that wouldn’t be a prob­lem. Though in­ac­tive, UHO had been un­der cover, so after jump-start­ing the poor old gal I drove her out into the day­light. And she looked like a barn-find… A thick coat­ing of har­vest dust, spi­der webs and last au­tumn’s leaves gave the im­pres­sion that this was one very unloved MX-5, but I prom­ise that’s not re­ally the case. Un­for­tu­nately there was no time for a spruce-up be­fore we were due at nearby Cleverley Re­paired Cars for the MOT: per­haps the jour­ney there might blow off the worst of the of­fend­ing dust.

An­other task for the short jour­ney to the MOT ramp was to clear some of the sur­face rust off the discs by brak­ing sharply a few times. I started off do­ing that at low speeds and then built up some pace, at which point I dis­cov­ered the near­side front wheel was lock­ing up. But at least UHO was pulling up straight, which was re­as­sur­ing.

Over at Cleverley’s, Vince was be­mused at how scrotty the car looked: he’d pre­vi­ously only ever seen her gleam­ing. But never judge a book by the cover and all that, and a check of the emis­sions showed that UHO’S engine was run­ning very sweetly and ef­fi­ciently. With the brakes sec­tion of the MOT loom­ing I told Vince my con­cerns about the lock­ing front, but he reck­oned that lots of mk1s do the same as that cor­ner of the car is lightly loaded – any­way, the brake bal­ance equip­ment would re­veal the truth.

And it did. And it was ugly. The pres­sure of one of the rear brakes was woe­fully adrift of what its part­ner achieved. A fail, right there. Vince was non­plussed: most likely an easy enough fix, let’s do the rest of the test and see what else might need do­ing. Not the head­lights, be­cause they both shone in the right di­rec­tion and had very clean bowls. Time to hoist UHO sky­wards for a glimpse un­der­neath.

You didn’t need to be an

MOT tester to see things didn’t

look great. It was as though the car had been parked in a salt bath for six months. Vince in­stantly spot­ted a bro­ken rear spring, freshly snapped – I think it may have hap­pened on the last cor­ner be­fore Cleverley’s, and it’s the fifth bro­ken rear spring UHO has suf­fered. Much worse suf­fer­ing was to come…

Vince was al­ready vis­i­bly winc­ing at the amount of cor­ro­sion he’d seen on the sills, in­ner rear arches and other crit­i­cal ar­eas. Then he no­ticed a block­age in the off­side drainage tube. He stuck in some long-nosed pli­ers to pull it out, and when he did murky wa­ter jet­ted out from the depths of the sill. ‘Oh,’ mut­tered Vince as he dried his face and arms, ‘that’s not good, is it?’

Game over as far as the MOT was con­cerned. Par­tic­u­larly as the near­side sill was rot­ten, too. But it’s not game over for UHO. This was my first wed­ding an­niver­sary present from my hus­band (ed­i­tor Brett), and we’re cel­e­brat­ing our 25th this Septem­ber, so there’s huge sen­ti­men­tal value at stake. We’re set­ting up a restora­tion fund and I’ll let you know how it’s go­ing next time.

THERE TO BE DRIVEN

In the last is­sue I in­tro­duced my new, bar­gain, MX-5 2.0-litre, mk3. Bar­gain, be­cause I hap­pened to be in the right place at the right time to bag it for a mere £1000. A bar­gain, also, be­cause it had 135,000 miles on the clock. That now reads 140,000 and is rapidly ap­proach­ing 141,000. So, as you might gather, I’m not shy about high mileage, or putting the miles on my­self, although I con­cede that for the money it was worth the risk.

In a fit of new car pride and joy, I quickly at­tended to any is­sues, both me­chan­i­cal and cos­metic. Mk3 MX-5S have com­edy sus­pen­sion, so first job was a set of low­ered Eibach springs, and some stiffer an­tiroll bars for good mea­sure. The tyres were down to the wear marks, so I fit­ted a new set of Da­vanti boots and had the wheels re­furbed in a dark an­thracite grey, which looks very smart in con­trast to the Cop­per Red. What else? Well, some black wheel studs and Mazda logo’d in­serts for the wheels and a stubby aerial, plus a funky round metal gear­knob for the in­te­rior. Oh, and a jolly good pol­ish and wax and some TLC for the leather seats. Phew! All that done, I stood back and con­sid­ered my­self a lucky boy.

This is my ev­ery­day car, hence rack­ing up the miles quickly. It’s my first mk3 after a mk1 and a cou­ple of mk2s. So how does it com­pare, after a few months of own­er­ship? Well, it’s not quite chalk and cheese, but the mk3 is a very dif­fer­ent car. Whereas the mk1 and mk2 MX-5 are start­ing to feel clas­sic in their own right, the mk3 is very much the mod­ern, con­tem­po­rary ma­chine, with all the mod cons ex­pected and de­manded by mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary buy­ers. Well, most of them at least. Typ­i­cally, it fea­tures the de­sired ‘Op­tion pack,’ with leather heated seats, up­graded sound sys­tem, cli­mate con­trol, plus neat stan­dard fea­tures like the re­mote lock­ing and boot re­lease on the key fob.

It’s all a step up from the sim­plic­ity of the ear­lier cars and it’s stuff that I’ve al­ways con­sid­ered to be su­per­flu­ous, but pre­dictably am rather en­joy­ing now that I’ve got them. Like­wise the DAB ra­dio, which Michelle, the pre­vi­ous owner, kindly left fit­ted. Now I can lis­ten to 6 Mu­sic on the move!

I’m en­joy­ing the space, too, and the sim­plic­ity of the hood. Yes, it’s hard to imag­ine any­thing sim­pler than the hood pro­ce­dure on the mk1 and mk2, but the mk3, with its sin­gle latch

is some­thing else. I also love the way the hood folds flat be­hind the seats and clips it­self neatly in po­si­tion. The hood is in good nick, too, and I want to keep it that way, so will soon be treat­ing it to a good clean and a bit of pro­tec­tion. That said, I’ve got a hard­top for the win­ter.

Any­thing else? Well, it’s sort of quite fast. Or should I say, it’s plenty fast enough for fun and plenty fast enough for me and, of course, it com­bines its rel­a­tive pace with a great reardrive chas­sis, proper wish­bone sus­pen­sion all-round, and a lim­ited-slip diff. For­get any hair dresser jibes, this is for most the de­fin­i­tive purist driv­ing setup, and the an­tithe­sis of fron­twheel drive’s cor­rupt ways.

Does it feel any the worse for its high mileage? Can’t say it does, re­ally. After all, it’s a Mazda and per­fectly ca­pa­ble of go­ing the dis­tance. It’s just that with most MX-5S be­ing used very much as sec­ond, or even third cars, they’re rarely re­quired to. Of course, the an­nual MOT is a great lev­eller and it was with some trep­i­da­tion that I booked my mk3 in with lo­cal MX-5 ex­pert and To­tal MX-5 tech man, Michael Cleverley.

Ac­tu­ally, Michael was on hols, so right-hand man, Vince, did the hon­ours. Feed­ing the de­tails into the com­puter, Vince com­mented that mine was cer­tainly the high­est mileage mk3 they had seen. He then worked through the MOT check­list, marvel­ling at its sound un­der­pin­nings, floor­pan and ab­so­lutely spot-on emis­sions and then re­placed a sin­gle side­light bulb and is­sued a year’s ticket.

It wasn’t all per­fect and smug.

The front pads and discs were rather past their best and the front brake calipers were clearly drag­ging, so I booked it in for a front brake over­haul, after pick­ing up a set of Min­tex discs and pads on ebay for a very rea­son­able £71 incl de­liv­ery. Stick­ing front calipers seems to be some­thing that af­flicts all MX-5S, no mat­ter which gen­er­a­tion. The pis­ton seal lets go al­low­ing mois­ture to pen­e­trate the caliper, which in turn cre­ates cor­ro­sion on the caliper pis­ton, so that it par­tially seizes. Left for long enough, the caliper will seize com­pletely. Strip­ping the caliper and fit­ting new seals, while at­tack­ing the pis­ton with some wet ‘n’ dry fixes the is­sue, un­til the next time.

So has there been any other ex­pen­di­ture? Well, yes, and it was a biggie. From the weight of the clutch and the gearchange, I sus­pected that the clutch was the orig­i­nal.

A lack of ev­i­dence for a change in the ap­par­ently com­plete ser­vice his­tory seemed to back up that the­ory. It was spoil­ing an oth­er­wise great car and had done well to last for nearly 140,000 miles.

So, I took a hit and got Michael and Vince to change it.

For­tu­nately it’s not a mas­sive job on an MX-5 and all-in only cost £320. And what a trans­for­ma­tion. The clutch is light and bites where it should and the gearchange is quick and slick. And yes, on in­spec­tion, the orig­i­nal clutch was knack­ered.

Any other thoughts on a few months with my mk3? Well, yes, but they ap­ply to all MX-5S; in­deed to all open-top sports cars. The best sum­mer in years has been en­hanced by non-stop al fresco mo­tor­ing, which makes ev­ery jour­ney an event to be en­joyed. It re­ally is very dif­fi­cult to be un­happy driv­ing an MX-5.

Now win­ter beck­ons, but no mat­ter. With the hard­top in place it’s a cosy place to be and the heated seats will help on those chilly morn­ings. I’ve got the orig­i­nal wheels sit­ting in the garage wait­ing for some win­ter tyres, too. Bring it on...

GET­TING IT SORTED

You may re­mem­ber that last De­cem­ber I had a plug ‘n’ play ECU fit­ted to my MX-5 in prepa­ra­tion for tur­bocharg­ing the car. The plan was to drive around with just the ECU fit­ted and no other up­grades, have some fun with a lit­tle more power and drive­abil­ity, then go back a cou­ple of months later to have a turbo in­stalled.

The turbo con­ver­sion didn’t hap­pen (it’s on hold for a few months), so I took the car to Skuz­zle Mo­tor­sports near Winch­ester to have some is­sues sorted. The first three runs on the rolling road showed the car with 108.7bhp at the wheels but, rather alarm­ingly, the air/fuel mix­ture was go­ing too lean to­wards the rev limit, mean­ing the engine was us­ing less fuel but get­ting in­cred­i­bly hot, which ex­plains the smell I’d no­ticed on runs.

Some tin­ker­ing on a lap­top by elec­tron­ics wiz­ard and Skuz­zle owner, Nick Bai­ley, and the air/fuel ra­tio was back in or­der, fu­elling at start-up was cor­rected and power at the wheels in­creased to 117.5bhp – around 140bhp at the fly­wheel (MX-5S lose around 20% of power be­tween fly­wheel and wheels), a 10% in­crease on the power my 1997 1.8 would have had from the fac­tory.

After a few runs the power started dip­ping, so Nick re­peated the process and gave a likely di­ag­no­sis of the cat­alytic con­ver­tor hav­ing bro­ken up due to the high run­ning tem­per­a­tures from the lean air/fuel mix­ture. He checked fig­ures on his lap­top and as­sured me the emis­sions were fine for my MOT and that I’d be un­likely to no­tice any dip in nor­mal driv­ing, but it would stran­gle per­for­mance if I took the car on track. This will be sorted when the turbo con­ver­sion even­tu­ally hap­pens and I’ll likely fit a sports cat.

Trav­el­ling to and from the Good­wood Re­vival, the car was much bet­ter to drive, and while fuel con­sump­tion is go­ing to be slightly worse now the engine isn’t run­ning so lean, with 15lb ft more torque than be­fore at 4500rpm, I’m driv­ing in a higher gear, so hope­fully any ex­tra loss in fuel con­sump­tion will be com­pen­sated for. The ECU is still the best you can buy for your MX-5 and, if you’re any­where near Hamp­shire and need your car tuned, I can’t rec­om­mend Nick and Skuz­zle highly enough.

Some good news, too, for mk4 own­ers – us­ing Mx5­parts’ car for de­vel­op­ment, Nick’s pro­duced an in­take kit and is cur­rently fi­nal­is­ing pro­duc­tion.

Owner Si­mon Wor­land gets ready for the big mo­ment when his mk1’s body gets low­ered over the Rock­e­teer V6 engine unit.

MK1 ‘ROCK­E­TEER’ Run by: Si­mon Wor­land Owned since: 2011 To­tal mileage: 50,000+ Lat­est costs: tba

Sil­ver duct tape cov­ers cracks in the car­bon plenum cham­bers – they’ve since been re­designed to cure the is­sue.

Sump ini­tially pro­truded be­low the engine’s sub­frame, but was fixed.

One of the sub­frame bolts need a bit of per­sua­sion to slot into place.

The deeper dish of Mount­ney’s rally-style wheel means greater clear­ance be­tween rim and col­umn stalks. In­set: the other Mount­ney Fraser turned down

Still can’t get the set­ting right

Damn and blast!

MK1 1.8 Run by: Brett Fraser Owned since: 2016 To­tal mileage: 122,907 Lat­est costs: £125

Ferodo per­for­mance pads are great stop­pers but throw out a fair bit of dust

Re­plac­ing the al­ter­na­tor belt re­vealed a pos­si­ble wa­ter pump is­sue

Well, at least UHO has kept the lo­cal spi­der pop­u­la­tion em­ployed

MK1 1.6 Run by: He­len Fraser Owned since: 1994 To­tal mileage: 65,310 Lat­est costs: £54

The mo­ment of truth – it’s MOT time for Ben­nett’s bar­gain mk3

Cleverley’s Vince Bick­ers lit­er­ally pick­ing holes in He­len’s mk1

Sus­pen­sion com­po­nents look like they’ve been parked in the sea

Ooh look, it’s hav­ing a wee… There was much more where that came from

MK3 2.0 Run by: Steve Ben­nett Owned since: De­cem­ber 2017 To­tal mileage: 140,800 Lat­est costs: £510

Few things are more joy­ous than an empty coun­try road in an MX-5 with the top down, dur­ing a sum­mer like we’ve just en­joyed. Bliss…

Ben­nett’s mk3 shows off its solid un­der­side on the Cleverley MOT ramp

Bar­gain buy off ebay

Calipers get an over­haul

Ah, now that’s a whole lot bet­ter

Old discs very tired

Data ca­ble links MX-5 to lap­top while it’s run­ning on the rolling road

Power and torque traces show that Fox’s car is now in rude health

Strapped down and ready for a rolling road ses­sion at Skuz­zle

MK1 1.8 Run by: Si­mon Fox Owned since: Jan­uary 2017 To­tal mileage: 127,493 Lat­est costs: £300 (tun­ing)

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