It’s fair to say the car could look better. Someone has obviously customised this with the wind deflectors, colour coded foglights, darkened rear lights with fly eye wrapping, in addition to the wheels! Obviously alot of this will go. However, the car would need one thing to go forwards. A clutch

Stupidly, when I bought the car, I thought I would be able to get a clutch. However, this foolish mistake would soon become apparent. I suspect this is why the car has seen a number of clutches. This is one case where I wish I checked the Facebook groups a little more. You wouldn’t have thought a Mondeo would have a rare clutch, would you? It seems the MTX-75 gearboxes do!

I searched and searched and searched to no avail. This included the following

  • Ringing up Schaeffler UK (Umbrella company of LuK)- They confirmed that they do not list a 5 speed clutch
  • Checked Sachs Catalogue. Only a slave cylinder for a 5 speed
  • Speaking with Helix Motorsport – They knew of the problem, and due to no demand, they would not make one. This issue also affects the ST200
  • Speaking with ATS Speed. They could get one, which I suspect was a TTV item, but the clutch and flywheel which come as one would be £1.2k. Ouch!
  • Rang up South East Lotus Parts ; They could not believe that I couldn’t get a clutch for an ST220. I explained that the gearbox was not used for long. I went with the Noble Angle here.
  • Searched eBay ; A Ford clutch was £300 without the slave cylinder. Upon calling Ford with my discount, that was £240, albeit with an £80 slave cylinder. Great!

With this, I admitted defeat and went to Ford. A shame as I wanted to keep the budget reasonable with this car. But I guess relatively rare cars will always have parts issues. I’d imagine there are less than 400 5 speed ST220s left, given that 50% of ST220s appear to be no more.

Further searching since then has revealed that Schaeffler have never sold a 5 speed ST220 clutch in the aftermarket Today, I have learned that one chap has fitted 2 5 speed ST220s with 6 speed DMFs and clutches with no ill effects. This does open up a potentially pricey but a good avenue.

The message no one wants to see.

Thanks to the clutch, the spend of the car would now stand me in at around £1k. This however would not stop me finding other parts.

Bumpers now appear to be very hard to find in good condition. I’ve seen repaired ones offered for £150, which are not much better than mine! Decent bumpers appear to be held on by folks who break the cars. I did debate buying a tired ST TDCI for parts, but it seemed I’d be spending decent money to buy one with good bodywork. As a result, I’ll be repairing this using a plastic weld kit of sorts. A first for me, but I have done bodywork before with good results, so this will cost me time, and probably alot of it!

Some money would be saved however. The broken mirror baseplate? £40 would secure me a set of Stardust Silver powerfolding mirror in great condition. I would also see some wheels locally too! £160 would secure these with the all-important centre caps, and them being straight. Sure, they need a refurb, but £80 at City Powdercoaters in Bright Sparkle Silver will have them looking great in no time. With some Goodyear Eagle F1s, it should be spot on!

Obviously these parts being fitted on will not finish things on this car. Not by quite a way. But at least it is getting there.

While rummaging through the boot, I found the old clutch. Annoyingly, the clutch part numbers do not cross reference into another LuK kit for a Ford. However, I did find some floor mats for the car, which are always welcome.

Oh another thing. The LuK box in the car? That’s for a 6 speed clutch. It seems this is the reason why the release bearing may have failed. Cars. They can be fun and games eh?

Clutching times with the ST220

As I said previously, this car was at my local garage for some time. It went in as the clutch pedal kept on dropping to the floor. The owner was hopeful that it was the clutch master cylinder that was gone. With this changed, the pedal was no different. It was obvious that it was the concentric slave that had gone.

In that time, the chap got taken into hospital with a brain aneurysm, and sadly passed away. This is why this car was moored up at my local garage for quite some time. In the end, the family got in contact and basically gave the car to Mick (my MOT tester/garage owner), who then kept it for some time before selling it on to another garage locally.

Fast forward 5 months ago. In that time, Gaz, the second garage who bought this car would have fun and games with the car.

Firstly, the interior was cleaned out by a valeter. Unfortunately in that time, the bumper took a knock while being parked up too. He would then proceed to change the clutch. This is where the problems would start.

With the first clutch in along with the new concentric, or as far as he told me, the clutch was slipping badly. This apparently came with the car, but at the time I didn’t notice it being in the car, along with a couple of other parts. Obviously, this acheived nothing. After this, another clutch was put it, but without the concentric being renewed. After all, that concentric was only 3 weeks old! After this, the pedal was fine for a week, but then, it started going bad again. It was mad! After two clutch changes, the car was no different! This is where I would enter the equation.

The car was advertised on Facebook Marketplace as I said for £1k, with a basic description around it, and with the offer of it being broken up for spares. Maybe that line and me knowing the car vaguely made me want to rescue the poor thing. After speaking with Gaz, he mentioned that the bumper had one crack, and that the clutch pedal was poor, but that he saw a puddle form on the driver’s side With this, I cycled down to the garage and took a look at the car.

It was a bit of a dissapointment. The interior despite being cleaned did not look great, the exterior was quite flat on the paint, and the car looked a little unkempt, especially with that cracked bumper. That’s before I get to the hideous wheels! To top this off, the bellhousing and sump were damp in that area, with an occasional drip. Great, the concentric looked to be gone! But then again, it’s an 18 year old ST220! The car however, did have a number of good points beneath the rubbish.

-It wasn’t too rusty at all underneath, after briefly looking it. This is surprising, given that the car originally lived in Devon!
-The interior had no rips in it at all, and it all looked to be working
-The engine sounded very sweet!
-The car had 97k on the clock, with a FFSH up until 60k, and servicing until 88k.
-It was on a private plate. I do not intend to keep this, as you’ll find out later

With this in mind, I went away to think about it, and what to do. I wasn’t going to give over £1k. If it was tidier, I would done. With this in mind, I called the seller back, stating that I’d have to assume the worst case scenario; it would need another clutch. With me lowballing him hard, and us two agreeing on a price quickly, a deal was done. All I had to do now was collect it.

With it being Covid times, and the hassle of driving a car back with no clutch, I decided to have Mick, the MOT tester, trailer the car back to my unit on a low loader. With this, I could borrow a 4 poster and really check the car out.

It became apparent that this car really is very solid underneath! It’s also apparent it’s a little tarted up too with rubbish! But anyway, let’s not muck around, let’s show some shots.

Oh yes, I forgot to say, the mirror baseplate is cracked too, and not repaired very well.

With this in mind, I set about acquiring a set of mirrors for the car, wheels, bumper and a clutch.

While I’d get a set of mirrors for £40 delivered to my door in Stardust Silver, I would struggle more with a cheap set of wheels, almost give up with the bumper, and run into serious issues with finding a clutch. More will be revealed next time.

Not Another Ford!

Memories can be a funny thing really, The same can be said for circumstance.

Many years ago now, I had a Mondeo 3.0 V6 Ghia X Estate. This was not the car to have for if you were doing 5,000 miles a year. However, with diesels back then seeming to have a plethora of issues from dying injectors, fuel pumps, and EGR issues, especially in the Mk3, the V6 was chosen and it converted to LPG when my dad and I used to carry out such conversions.

It was great. OK, it wasn’t the most economical and certainly not the most powerful 3.0 out there with a wopping 201BHP, but it was creamy smooth, made a decent engine note and had a great response about it. The fact that it was an estate meant it was super practical, especially with the high(ish) roofline continuing to the back. It had a lovely gearchange that could shame many Germans, and it went down the road well. A good memory of mine was thrashing it down from Warwick to St. David’s in around 2.5 Hours I am told. I personally cannot believe that, but I did really enjoy the drive down there, especially once I got past Newport. It also did a few LeMans trips too, before finally doing a trip to Lille for NYE shennanegans, before it got written off at 262,000 miles.

On the flipside, my dad had a green 2.5 Ghia X 5 speed Auto Estate. That was a great car when it was working, but he made a mistake in buying one that had been cooked hard before, but disguised with K Seal and being sold during spring. I did learn alot about how well these V6s can go however, and what can kill a Ford V6. After all, this one had almost everything go wrong on it! It meant that my 3.0 would be kept in good condition and not suffer the usual issues these Duratec V6s are associated with.

Fast forward 5 years on, and it seems many cars I now want are very expensive. A £3k Mini is now an £8k one, Z3s seem to be firm on price, even for a 1.9 139BHP narrow body, and alot of hot hatches from the 80s are no longer £2k for something reasonable. I won’t even go into W124s! My S124 E320 5 speed Estate went for £5k 2 years ago, and it seems those days are gone. OK, I may be tight and like a moan, but who doesn’t. But there is something getting a cheap car, and making something of it. Not financing yourself to the eyeballs to get something cool and investorworthy. After all, you still have to maintain it

That’s what appealed about classic cars before the investors entered the game. However, it seemed my chance would appear.

Without even really looking for a car, a familiar car popped up on Facebook Marketplace. An ST220 estate that sat for a year at my local garage. I recalled this car being in quite good condition.

I didn’t know much about the car, other than the owner died who owned it, and from there it was moved on to another garage. How much was this thing up for? £1,000. Would I resist buying this, or would I go and take a look?

I think we all know the answer to this one!

MG Midget 1500 – The Lesson Not Learnt

For as long as I dare, I am going to try and not do so many drawn out articles on the cars I own. The M3 will be the exception to the rule, mainly as I still own it. The previous motors however? Nope. I am going to aim for a 2 pager, as a means to keep the interest and see where it goes. Maybe that will make things more succinct and easier to read. Otherwise, let’s roll on.

This story will sound very familiar to many of you. Buy a cheap car, fix up a few things, and then sell it on, hopefully without too much of a loss. Forgive me if this sounds familiar, or even like a TV show. No, I am talking about Wheeler Dealers, but more about how the second car I bought was not all it seemed.

 

Hark your mind back to 2004. There was no recession, cars of all types were still cheap, even if we as people didn’t know it. So, as a young and fresh person out of doing his A-Levels, not with the best of grades, needing a bit of cheering up. Yes, some drink involved on the odd occasion, but it was nothing short of a car could fix.

 

And there it was. Out on eBay, where not everyone had it, popped up a 1977 MG Midget 1500 in what I thought was Rover Nightfire Red, with photos taken from a camera that would these days make a smartphone photo look like a Mona Lisa painting.

 

Since this was prior to the days of eBay stopping any communications with the sellers, I went to call him about it. From what he said, it wanted an ignition barrel, and that was about it, and the fact that the body wasn’t as great as the photos look. With a vague description, there I went and placed my bid of £340, only to win it. Great, I was halfway there! Little did I know, this is where my problems would begin.

 

Firstly, we needed a trailer to bring it back. That was an easy thing to sort out. Even if we did hire a deathtrap of a trailer for £40 from Ryton. We would then go and get the car.

When I saw the car, he was sort of right. The bodywork wasn’t as great as the description made it. But it wasn’t miles off. What was miles off however was just how bad the car was. The interior was a state and the steering wheel splines had completely given way. But, I bid and so I had to buy, or so eBay sellers tell you, making out you are a “messer”. So £300 later, off I left with the car. I would not know just how bad the car was.

For one, the interior was a state. But this was nothing that an interior stripdown and repainting the dash in Satin Black wouldn’t fix. It did make quite a transformation inside! But my problems were far from over with this heap.

No photo description available.
The fininshed car. Not alot had changed from outside, bar a new roof, a polish and touched-up paint here and there.

Firstly I put in the ignition barrel. Only to had my dad wailing his hands about to not start it ; the last owned shorted the starter motor out to the body with a spanner. Was this deliberate or an accident? Maybe this is why the steering barrel was ‘broken’. Once we removed that, we realised the internal part of the starter motor was well and truly broken. This car was never going to start. And so the money started rolling in, where we allowed in. A new starter motor joined the ranks. Only then did we realise that the engine had a head gasket gone. So we went about changing that, only to find the threads in the block were history. Yup, this really was a turd of a car. Any sane person would have admitted defeat and walked away. But I couldn’t! I didn’t want to lose £300 on a car at a time where I was a student! So of course, I bought a bargain of an engine from an old contact up in Bishop Auckland, who came in handy on the MGB. For £50 along with the fuel to go up North and back I was now the owner of a 10,000 mile Ivor Searle engine. What’s more, it came complete alternator and also a better set of carbs than mine had, along with a fresher clutch. Did it feel like a score? It certainly did!

Since cost was the name of the game with this engine, it proved hard to find someone who could fit the engine for me. I did debate doing it but a few things stopped me. The principle one was a lack of an engine crane. The others? Appearing be a purveyor of classic cars to most neighbours, I knew doing an engine swap on the driveway would go down as well as Paris Hilton going into a Gay bar. The problem? Most places wanted £250+. This seemed crazy for a car like an MG Midget. But it seems BL’s way of doing things like a non-removeable crossmember would not help! With this, I found a banger racer by the name of Jimmy O’Brien to change the engine for me in Coventry, for the princely sum of £160. Great! It should have been fine!

 

It almost was. The engine clearly had not run for some time, thus the piston rings had stuck. My God, that engine chucked out some smoke! But that was fine, As the rings were freeing up, and the engine settling in, I realised the syncros were gone of the ‘box; which I would later find out was a common issue on Single-Rail Triumph ‘boxes. There were other issues too.

No photo description available.
The second engine. Not all was well here either

The fuel pumps on both engines were chucking fuel into the engine. Not a problem, a knock-off SU electric pump along with an engine blanking plate installed where a fuel pump once was overcame this issue. What’s more, I even put a new roof on the car! A cheap vinyl one from the MG Owners’ Club.

With the car actually moving, I could now look into getting it an MOT! Wahey! The fact that the car had iffy indicators, a steering column that was very stiff to the point the wheels would not self centre by themselves did nothing to kerb my enthusiasm over getting a fresh MOT ticket in my hands. Naturally, it didn’t go down this way. It failed. The MOT History file says it failed as follows:

 

  • Nearside Registration plate lamp not working (1.1.5c)
  • Hazard warning switch faulty (1.4.B.1d)
  • Steering system excessively rough (2.2.D.1)
  • Nearside Drag link end ball joint has excessive play (2.2.B.1f)
  • Offside Drag link end ball joint has excessive play (2.2.B.1f)
  • Nearside Rear Leaf spring anchor bracket nut missing (2.4.B.6c)
  • Exhaust emissions carbon monoxide content excessive (7.3.B.1a)
  • Parking brake: efficiency below requirements (3.7.B.7)

 

So yes, as a first time ‘reviver’ I hadn’t done well! In a flurry of hurridness, I got a new steering rack and track-rod ends, along with a replacement steering column from a breaker’s yard. The carbs were backed off to the point that the engine didn’t really want to pull any more and the handbrake adjustment revealed just how bad it was to replace MG Midget brake adjusters as well as even more bodges.
Eventually I got the wretched thing a ticket, and knew that this car was bad! And so I put it up for sale for £1.4k, with me willing to take £1k just to get rid of the damn thing! Naturally, a couple of people saw it and walked away from it within seconds of seeing it! But then it was a £1k Midget, not a £3k one! The Practical Classics Buyer’s guide on prices certainly helped. Eventually a guy came to view and almost took pity on me after winning it on eBay! And so it went to the new owner.

 

He would end up doing more work on it from what I could tell of the chap’s MOT history. The lesson here? Don’t be tempted by cheap crap! Would I learn? Well, I’ll let you folks figure that out. One from seeing the MGB and M3 stories, but also with the next cars I’ll bring to the table.

 

In hindsight, even as poor as I was back then, I really should have put that poor turd out of its misery!

No photo description available.

A Trip Out to Germany

Well, let’s face it. Germany is a great place with plenty to offer. But mention Germany as a holiday destination and it doesn’t exactly evoke the soul, does it?

With quite a busy year this year I had a week of holiday to take. Of course, the thought of all-inclusives, package holidays or even a break somewhere in the UK all crossed my mind. It would have been easier too, with the weekend I left on being a friend’s wedding, leaving me with 6 days to take a holiday on. So, where did I decide? Germany! Crazy I know, but I had my reasons, for which I shall come to later ;).

My plan originally was to do the following:
-Bruges
-A couple of places in Germany
-Stelvio Pass.

I soon realised this was ambitious and calmed down.

Then came the car! If I was very sensible I’d have taken the Mondeo. It’s not as dull as you think and with the Volvo 5 pot, it’s a fruity car as well. But it lacked the X-Factor. That left then the two Germans, naturally. Let’s be honest, we always knew it would be one of the two!

The Mercedes was the easiest car to dismiss! Not the RR way I admit, but considering I was driving through rush hour that day, was generally pretty shattered for what felt like a few months, and a heavy drinker @ 16MPG, that also went out. it’s a lovely cruiser, but on the busy German roads, probably not right, and definitely bankrupt worthy with its fuel economy ; France last June cost £400 in that; bear in mind this was a trip with me going it alone!

Naturally, that left the M3. It always was going to be that way. It had the look, albeit with rust breeding from the front wings, it was now working very well and ready despite the ABS saga this year, and for what I had planned, it would actually be spot on in more ways than one.

With that in mind, I booked the Eurotunnel, the Bruges hotel and left the rest as I went along on the trip. Before I knew it, months passed on by and it was holiday time!

At least the drive down to the ferry was great, with a mixture of bad traffic with the M40 closing down from Warwick, me feeling a little tired after the wedding, and some crap 80s music; a blend of Pet Shop Boys and Erasure’s Innocents album to keep me company.

Before I knew it, it was 6:30pm and I was at the docks, ready to leave for the 8pm train. Before hitting Germany, I would hit Bruges. Damn, I was tired by then!

But where would I go? No, not that silly song. What would I do? That folks, shall be announced later on in this thread.