Balancing real life with a classic hobby
Since my initial report in the last issue, the Peugeot 306 project has been moved on to a new owner and whilst I have not replaced it with anything yet, I do find myself scouring the classifieds and online auctions for old Citroëns. One Citroën should be enough, but I could really go for an early XM. Which of course makes little sense because allocating enough time to work on the current fleet along with the demands of a full-time job and a young family is already quite a challenge. It is, though, a very worthwhile one, not least because perhaps the children will develop an interest too if I take them to enough classic car events.
In fact, I recently took the youngest two along with me in the trusty BX to the Great North Classic Car Show at Beamish in County Durham. It was encouraging to see a look of genuine excitement on my twoyear old’s face as we queued amongst a line of MGs, TVRs and a particularly nice Morris Minor. The event was well attended and demonstrated to me that the local classic car scene is thriving in this area. A particular highlight for me was a lovely original Metro, and it was great to see this in use as a family car despite being a near concours example.
The BX proved its worth once again as a most practical classic, swallowing a double pram, two car seats and the associated paraphernalia that accompanies any young family on a day out. The boot also doubled as an effective picnic area for the two young children and myself, and as we sat there, quite a few people commented on the practicality of the car. Several also recounted fond memories of owning BXs when they were new and an understandably popular family choice.
Of all the cars on my small fleet, the BX has seen the most use this year, and whilst it has been running well in general, a slight hesitation is sometimes present at low revs. To my knowledge the carburettor has never been serviced, so I intend to strip this down for investigation over the winter once the car has been taken off the road at the end of October – I am keen to maintain the BX as a rot-free example, so usually take it off the road once they start getting salted for winter. Another job in the pipeline is to have a look at the gearshift mechanism, which seems particularly recalcitrant at times and there is also a lot vibration transmitted through the gearstick. I remember the gearshift on a BX GTi I owned previously as being much more positive, so I think there’s possibly a bush in the selector mechanism which needs replacing.
The Puma has not seen much use this year other than recent
shakedown miles following the repaint and recommissioning work undertaken over the past six months, work which included having a new timing belt and water pump fitted along with a change of all the fluids. It was noted whilst changing the timing belt that the lower pulley was a little worse for wear, with the rubber element deteriorating. A call to the parts department of my local Ford dealership was made and the required item was listed on their system for a not inconsiderable £272 plus VAT.
I baulked somewhat at the cost, but reasoned that because the 1.7 Yamaha-derived engine was only produced for the Puma, that may explain why it commanded such a premium. Having bitten the bullet and placed the order, I then got a call the following day from the Ford parts desk telling me that the pulley had in fact been discontinued and as such I would have to look to the aftermarket for a replacement.
This left me feeling initially somewhat relieved at not paying out so much for what is a fairly basic component, but that relief was short-lived when, having tried about 15 different suppliers, it became clear that the aftermarket couldn’t offer a pulley for this engine either. I then set about ringing around several breakers to source a usable secondhand pulley, and eventually found a company in Wales that had a good one available. They posted it next day for a very reasonable £25, after which the car could finally be reassembled and put back into use.
The little Ford is so entertaining to drive, and having invested significantly in it recently, I have purchased a selection of rust proofing products to help preserve it.
I will set about cleaning and treating all of the rust-prone areas of the chassis soon, work that I will cover in a future update.
Meanwhile, the usually faultless Mazda MX5 has been plagued by an intermittent drain on the battery this year, the cause of which I think is the electric aerial which seems to continue drawing power after the car has been turned off. As a result, the OE spec Panasonic battery has failed beyond reconditioning and my faithful CTEK charger can’t bring it back to life. This is a shame as the car hasn’t seen much use at all over the summer months, and realistically I’m not going to get it through next year’s MoT without major surgery on the sills which have been patched up during previous ownership to a fairly poor standard.
I have reasoned with myself that despite the car being the less desirable Mk2 with the smaller engine option, the enjoyment which it has provided during my ownership means that the necessary bodywork repairs will be completed properly, with the rot being cut out and new metal let in.
I am morbidly fascinated by poor quality bodywork repairs and look forward to seeing how much rust and filler is concealed in my car’s rear wings once the work begins. This job is beyond my skill set at present, so I will be entrusting the restoration work to a specialist, but I will document the progress and report back. I might just buy a replacement battery and disconnect the electric aerial first though, and enjoy some open top motoring while I still can to remind me why I’m going to spend so much money on a rusty little sports car.