OUR CARS The To­tal MX-5 fleet

Total MX-5 - - CONTENTS -

You should never go back, some say, but John Simis­ter didn’t lis­ten and has re­claimed his old mk1

MX-5S are in our blood and, just as im­por­tantly, on our drive­ways. This is­sue John Simis­ter wel­comes back into his life a mk1 he sold in Feb­ru­ary 2014, Ben­nett read­ies his mk3 for win­ter, and Fox’s mk1 has its nose wiped…

WHAT GOES AROUND...

Have you ever owned the same car twice? It’s a strange feel­ing, al­most as if the time in be­tween never hap­pened and the car never went away. My par­tic­u­lar bit of time-dis­ap­pear­ance hap­pened be­tween Feb­ru­ary 2014, when I sold the 1989

Eunos that I’d bought in 2011, and June 2018 when I bought it back for the price I’d sold it for.

As soon as it de­parted, on St Valen­tine’s Day, I knew I would be bro­ken-hearted. Why did I do it? Be­cause I’d just bought a new daily driver and some­thing had to go. I made a mon­ster loss, of course, hav­ing spent over £4000 on that Eunos by then, in­clud­ing buy­ing it, re­plac­ing the rip­ply near­side front wing and hav­ing the whole car re­painted, sort­ing out its sus­pen­sion, re­plac­ing the hood and a hun­dred other lit­tle jobs.

The in­ten­tion had been to buy a cheap but sound MX-5 for some care­free open-top fun, and this one fit­ted my stip­u­la­tions that it should be early (so clos­est to how its cre­ators in­tended it to be), a Eunos (less likely to be rusty, bet­ter equipped and some­how cooler), and Mariner Blue (the per­fect mk1 colour, and the hue of the first one I ever drove when they were new). How­ever, I should have fac­tored in my in­abil­ity to leave cars in a sub­op­ti­mal state. Don’t be fooled by the F-plate, by the way, which is a great con­ver­sa­tion piece in MX-5 cir­cles: it’s an Oc­to­ber 1989 car and should re­ally be a G-plate, but was mis-reg­is­tered on im­port in 1999.

It had un­der­gone some vis­ual ‘en­hance­ment’ which I quickly re­versed, although the front lip spoiler, and the Nardi steer­ing wheel and gearknob, stayed be­cause they are nice things and Mazda of­fered them as ac­ces­sories. So did the Toyosports ex­haust man­i­fold, the de­cat pipe and the

Scor­pion ex­haust sys­tem. The cheapo Rokkor coilovers had to go, though – too harsh, too bouncy, even when raised back up to a sen­si­ble ride height – and were re­placed by a set of Gaz ad­justa­bles.

They later went, too, be­cause

I just could not get the ride quite right. In their place came a set of Sachs Su­per Tour­ing dampers, plus stan­dard-spec springs from the ex­cel­lent Au­tolink. Re­in­stat­ing this Oee­quiv­a­lent sus­pen­sion set-up was the best mod­i­fi­ca­tion I made, helped by a pair of Per­for­mance 5 frame rails.

Then the Eunos de­parted.

To­tal MX-5 was launched, I con­trib­uted some sto­ries and I found my­self feel­ing a bit left out. So when I heard that F850 KGP was for sale, I could hardly not buy it back. It had lived in a garage and cov­ered few miles in the in­terim, so I knew it would be fine and sent the money via the pain­less mir­a­cle that is in­ter­net bank­ing.

The mind plays tricks at times like this, and the eyes don’t see all they should. The rear arches were still im­pres­sively free of rust, but the hith­erto pris­tine lower rear wings, the parts that cover the sills and trap wa­ter be­cause they have no drains, were not. I’d had the left one re­paired in 2011 but it was now bub­bling slightly, and the right was now a touch scabby at its ver­ti­cal junc­tion with the sill.

So these needed fix­ing. So did the off­side front wing, which had gained a small kink and dent and some bub­bles on its bot­tom edge. And so did the bootlid, which had ac­quired two bumps where it had been shut on some­thing too big for the boot. Off went the Eunos to the bodyshop of Adam

Red­ding, a re­storer friend who does mar­vel­lous work on E-types, As­tons, Lan­cias and, well, any­thing. In­clud­ing MX-5S.

Hav­ing chopped off the rear wing bot­toms and es­tab­lished that the sills them­selves were per­fect, Adam’s panel man in­vis­i­bly welded clever re­pair pan­els which in­cor­po­rate drain channels, so en­sur­ing they will never trap wa­ter again. I sup­plied one (which was all I thought was needed at first), he made the other. Adam also fit­ted a new front wing from Mx5­parts, re­paired the bootlid (now with­out the ex­ces­sive rear spoiler which I had un­wisely re­tained last time) and, to my slight sur­prise, re­painted the whole car, ex­cept for the bumpers and wind­screen frame, ‘to make sure it all matched per­fectly’.

It looks truly lovely, but once again I have spent far more than in­tended. Worse, I have had to put right things that should have been kept on top of dur­ing the past four years away from me, but some­how weren’t.

So I have fit­ted new braided brake hoses, the trans­verse rear brake pipe and a wiper blade to match the one (yes, just one) re­placed for the last MOT. The brake fluid ap­par­ently had a high wa­ter con­tent, noted dur­ing that MOT and ser­vice, so it’s good that I have changed that, too. Ditto the an­tifreeze, noted as ‘very weak’.

Fi­nally, I have ditched the ‘si­lenced’ de­cat pipe be­cause I got fed up with the noise and smell. With a cat­a­lyst re­in­stated, the Eunos is odourfree, pleas­antly rorty in­stead of anti-so­cial, and goes just as well as it did be­fore. So what, you may le­git­i­mately ask, is the point of a de­cat pipe? For a stan­dard-tune road car, I have ab­so­lutely no idea.

WIN­TER READY

As I scrib­ble this, it’s early De­cem­ber and so far win­ter has been kind, with only a few light frosts and lit­tle salt on the roads. No doubt it will strike us down with great vengeance after Chrimbo, but that won’t stop me from us­ing my MX-5. It is, pretty much, my only car, after all. And with the odome­ter near­ing 143,000 miles, there’s lit­tle point in be­ing pre­cious about it ei­ther. That equates to get­ting on for 8000 miles in my care since I brought it in March 2018. Looks like it will be av­er­ag­ing out at about 12,000 miles a year, then.

Last is­sue, it was MOT time (which it passed), plus new front discs and pads. Prior to that I had a new clutch fit­ted and sorted the sus­pen­sion with Eibach springs and anti-roll bars, plus I fit­ted new tyres. Now, I’m hap­pily reap­ing the re­wards of re­li­able mo­tor­ing both lo­cally and fur­ther afield as and when big mileage, so­cial and busi­ness trips crop up. It’s not the great­est mile-muncher, but it’s not in­tol­er­a­ble ei­ther and it’s cer­tainly a step for­ward from pre­vi­ous mk1 and mk2 MX-5S.

It’s even got the mk4 cov­ered, thanks to greater in­te­rior space, which is a good thing when you’re a six footer with legs like a gi­raffe. My only real grum­ble is back­ache after long pe­ri­ods at the wheel, which is some­thing I’ve never had in my other MXS, with their seem­ingly more ba­sic chairs.

With all the me­chan­ics sorted, I’ve been able to de­vote some time to cos­met­ics and the hood. The lat­ter I was prompted to tackle after bump­ing into an Mx-5-own­ing chum in the vil­lage, Rob, who I en­coun­tered busily treat­ing and re-dy­ing the hood on his own mk3, with a Ren­ovo kit. It re­minded me that I had a Ren­ovo soft top kit in the garage, which I had bought for my mk1, prob­a­bly four, or even five years ago, but never got round to us­ing. How­ever, with the hood on my mk3 in great con­di­tion, I was de­ter­mined to keep it that way. A mk3 hood is rather more ex­pen­sive to re­place than a mk1/2 hood.

The kit is su­per-sim­ple to use, with three sep­a­rate pro­ce­dures/treat­ments. First up it ob­vi­ously needs to be clean, so after brush­ing off any loose dirt I set to, us­ing a large paint brush to ap­ply the so­lu­tion. Ren­ovo rec­om­mends leav­ing it for 20 min­utes or so, be­fore then scrub­bing with a sponge to cre­ate a lather, to draw out the dirt. Then, fi­nally, I blasted it with the jet wash to get all the cleaner so­lu­tion out and then let it dry, which on a

breezy, sunny day, didn’t take very long.

At this stage I could have used the Ren­ovo Soft Top Re­viver, to re-dye the hood, but I de­cided it was look­ing pretty black enough al­ready, so went straight in with the Ren­ovo Ul­tra Proofer, which it is claimed re-es­tab­lishes the orig­i­nal wa­ter­proof weather bar­rier and pro­tects against UV and pre­vents mould and mildew. Ap­plied with a paint brush and work­ing from the cen­tre of the hood out, Ren­ovo rec­om­mends two coats, which the 500ml bot­tle just man­ages to achieve.

Job done and the hood looks like new and is well pro­tected for the win­ter. Which is why, of course, I folded it flat and dragged the hardtop out of the garage. Well, if you’ve got a hardtop, then you might as well use it, and it means my soft-top will es­cape the rav­ages of win­ter, and emerge in per­fect con­di­tion in the spring. There’s method there some­where...

The hardtop was a pig to get off back in the spring, so I gave all the fix­ings a good squirt with WD-40. Also treated all the rub­ber seals with a rub­ber care stick, which I swear by for pro­tect­ing and rein­vig­o­rat­ing any kind of rub­ber trim or seal. It has the slightly un­for­tu­nate name of Gummi Pflege Stift, but then it is Ger­man. I’ve never in­ves­ti­gated a trans­la­tion, but take it from me, it works and it’s easy to ap­ply. Search it out one day on­line.

There are those MX-5 fans who de­ride the hardtop as the devil’s work, mainly be­cause it pretty much puts pay to get­ting the top down on those sunny, win­ter days. That’s true, but I’m happy with the cosy pay-off that comes with the hardtop. Of course, with a MX-5 mk3 coupe, you can have your cake and jolly well eat it at the touch of a but­ton, and you don’t have to worry about where to store your bulky hardtop ei­ther. It’s no won­der they sold so well...

Fi­nal win­ter prep? To give the paint­work a rig­or­ous pol­ish, wax and fin­ish off with a sealant glaze. I used to be a bit of a car care perv, but in re­cent years

I’ve just stuck with good old Au­to­glym. How­ever, this time round I tried some prod­ucts that came rec­om­mended by an­other Ger­man out­fit by the name of Klasse. I’m not that both­ered about uber-ex­pen­sive car­nauba waxes and the like, what I’m after is a long-last­ing shine and fin­ish, which will gen­er­ally be syn­thetic. So, I used Klasse all-in-one pol­ish, topped off by Klasse sealant glaze. That said, I have learnt a lit­tle trick, which is to then use a good qual­ity wax on top of the sealant.

Works ev­ery time for a deep shine, and when the wax does even­tu­ally wear off (which won’t take long in the win­ter), there’s still a cou­ple of lay­ers of shiny pro­tec­tion left. That said, after a cou­ple of months, the paint­work is still bead­ing well. Oh, if you’re into all this stuff, then I can’t rec­om­mend mo­torgeek.co.uk highly enough, for all your car care needs.

Fi­nally, what of win­ter tyres? Well, I have a spare set of mk3 al­loys, but I’m not sure I’ve got a spare few hun­dred quid for the win­ter tyres, though. I’ll keep an eye on the long-range weather fore­cast and be­sides, the house­hold Citroën Ber­lingo has just had some new win­ter boots, so that will prob­a­bly have to do.

Simis­ter has kept the Nardi wheel and gearknob be­cause ‘they’re nice things’

MK1 EUNOS 1.6 Run by: John Simis­ter Owned since: 2011, off and on To­tal mileage: 132,400 Lat­est costs: ap­prox £2500

Hood re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion in three handy Ren­ovo badged bot­tles

MK3 2.0 Run by: Steve Ben­nett Owned since: March 2018 To­tal mileage: 142,800 Lat­est costs: £0

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