It’s VANOS Time; And Yes, You can Do this on an M3!

It’s funny really.  Sometimes you see a minor problem and hope that it goes away.  On a few occasions however it will linger like a bad smell. This was certainly the case for my VANOS!  It started during autumn during an oil change. Not a kiss as Hot Chocolate put it.  There I was checking away the car’s diagnostic system using the much-fabled INPA system. All was well until I checked the engine’s codes.  Two codes came back.

P0012 (BMW 72, 0x48): Vanos intake timing over retarded
Pxxxx (BMW 184, 0xB8): Vanos intake position control

Crumbs, crap! This is not a set of codes that I wanted.  After doing some research it did seem that something as simple as an iffy connection to the VANOS solenoid pack could do this!  With that in mind, I cleaned out the connection, refitted it, cleared and codes and waited to see what would happen.  To my relief, the codes did not come back after running the car. Not then anyway.

However, come a week before I put the car away again for the winter period I was greeted with a very flat feeling engine!  Sure, it was not dead slow but it was felt very flat for an M3!  On top of that I also had an EML light make an appearance!  Once again, I got my diagnostic kit out, INPA for those wondering.  If you have a BMW this software is well worth the purchase price!

Like before, the codes came back.  Also like before, I tried to clear the codes!  This time however, code 182 refused to go.  Great!

After doing some research it became apparent that these codes are common codes to get on an E46 M3, even from many years ago!  It pointed to my VANOS seals and my solenoid pack going.  With that in mind I ordered a set of Beisan Systems Viton VANOS solenoid seals in addition to their refurbished solenoid pack, all of it coming from Hack Engineering.  With those things ordered it was time to crack on with the job with the help of a trusty teaboy.  OK, I lied, I meant a friend.

How easy is it to change these seals?  Very!  With the Beisan Systems guide, this job is a doddle.  The instructions for changing the components can be found here.  But I’ll take you through it, just in case you are having your doubts,

Once I took off the all too familiar engine dressing parts with nothing more than a screwdriver and a pair of pliers.  With that done I took the opportunity to loosen the VANOS pressure regulator. I then carefully removed the solenoid connection and undid the VANOS solenoid bolts.  With rags underneath the solenoid to catch any lost oil, I put the valve block and solenoid assembly onto the bench.


This is where the real work began!  I started by separating the solenoid pack from the valve body.  One thing the Beisan guide omits is that these solenoid bolts can get rusty; I’d purchase a set of these from BMW at the same time as getting the revised valve body bolts.  It will simply make life easier.


While my friend cleaned out the valve block as best as he could with a can of highly pressurised carb clean in addition to a magnet (allowing the valves to open for further cleaning), I cracked on and removed the seals from the sealing plate.


It was fair to say that my seals were shot!  You can buy a complete sealing plate from BMW for around £30. However, considering that the Beisan seals are cheaper and made of more heat resistant Viton I went ahead and installed the Viton items into place:


With the valve body clean I attached the refurbished solenoid pack onto the now cleaned valve body.


With the Solenoid,Valve block and Sealing plate assembly all done it was time to put it back into place!  Not only did it brighten up the engine bay a little it also would end up cleaning the codes for good!  For £170 all in including the revised bolts from BMW it was a good result all in!  I didn’t change my VANOS filter as I previously did that almost a year ago.  I did however change the pressure regulator seals to the Viton items; the inner seal was already going square surprisingly!


The CTEK was put onto the car since the poor car had been off the road for a month with all of the salt about on the roads!

Another job I got around to sorting was the appalling handbrake!  With the entire assembly stripped down I went ahead and cleaned everything!  Armed with some Ceramic grease I carefully applied it, reassembled the brakes and all was well again!


I know what it sounds like! The car has broken again! I did however do some fun stuff!  But that can wait until the next installment.


At Times like These: Travelling Yorkshire in an M3


Sometimes, just sometimes, you hope that a problem will go away. This was certainly the case after a routine diagnostic scan during Autumn! Thankfully, I cleared the codes and they didn’t come back when I checked a week later.

It is just as well as I decided to go on yet another little road trip! This time, somewhere a little closer to home. That is the much coveted Buttertubs Pass in the Yorkshire Dales, sitting between Hawes and Thwaite. It is also a road revered by Jeremy Clarkson, which may be why some of you have heard of it. For many years I had been meaning to try this road, right from the moment I read about it and then saw it on the big screen! If my balls were bigger over a decade ago I would have taken a previous car that I enjoyed & owned. The cult classic, the one and only Peugeot 306 GTi-6:

What do you do with a great car?  Sell it?  That was the story with my 306 GTi-6!

So I had a great car back in 2008. What stopped me from progressing beyond the drawing board? Fear. In that case, it was the fear that the car would have a lift-off oversteer moment and send me down the valley to my untimely death! The cost and being in the midst of a recession probably didn’t help either!  In hindsight, it was a silly reason, but probably wise, given my lack of talent and then a little lack of restraint at times! But anyway, let’s go back to 2017!

After doing the necessary things like booking a hotel and coming up with a plan of what to do, I finally made my voyage up to the Yorkshire Dales. Before I even hit the Buttertub’s pass the scenery was quite stunning along with the roads! As was the drop in temperature from 7 degrees Celsius to a chilling -1!  Yes, the elevation was quite high as I got there!  The roads, and view, however, were more than worth it!



Like many I planned the route thoroughly, looking at Google Maps previously to see where the Buttertub’s Pass started from Hawes.  It was wonderful driving through the idyllic towns!  However, as always, I almost missed the turning for the very spot I wanted!  Climbing that elevation however soon had me on the road that I wanted.  What did I make of the road though?

Honestly? It’s a great road but maybe not for an M3 in the depths of winter with its tight twists and turns. The scenery is beyond stunning; you forget about the beauty present within the UK when you reside in the Midlands, and boy is there plenty to admire! It is fascinating driving down a very thin road but with nothing except a hosepipe to save you from slipping and falling down a 200-foot drop into a valley!  It is terrifying yet somehow exhilarating!  Do I get why the Buttertubs is revered by a few people?  Absolutely! Once I got there it wasn’t a case of ‘why did I do it’, it was more one of ‘why did I leave it this long?’. I am very glad that I took the 150-mile trip up North to give the famous pass in the Dales a drive and in a spectacular car to boot!

But as always, the Buttertubs was only part of my journey there.  Not far from the Buttertubs is an old relic, a treasure showing what man and achieve and how magnificent it can be.  It is also a stark reminder of what cost it comes at.  In this case, it wasn’t just a monetary cost, but also a human death toll.  I am talking about none other but the Ribblehead Viaduct in Ingleton.

I did spend a couple of hours admiring the structure it has to be said.  Soon however, it was getting dark and so I went to my humble abode in York to stay and get some much-needed rest  With the car put into Auto, and me making light work of the traffic I arrived in York being tired but relaxed; I guess I did travel half of the country, leaving from Warwickshire! But hang on a second, I hear you ask, York is miles away from the Dales!  You’d be quite right there!

The truth is I had a few things to see in Yorkshire, with it being a 3 hour trip up to the Dales from my place! One such thing I had put off for a long time also was the Yorkshire Railway Museum; Yes I do have a thing for Yorkshire it has to be said! Upon entering the train haven I was enjoying it but thinking it was a little small with a few trains up right at the entrance. Little did I know, this place would be the equivalent of a train collector’s tardis!

There were not just a few trains dotted around the place, but something of a secretive lair about the Railway Station!  As you in the main entrance hall with the always surprisingly massive trains you cannot help but just stand there in awe! Every walk through a doorway proved to be an expansive trip into yet another hidden part of the museum, including stumbling into a Coronation themed railway station! It is fair to say that I loved my trip to the Railway Museum; this is a destination I can recommend going to, especially considering that it is free! With York left to explore it really is somewhere you truly can make a great weekend of!  Did I drive away a pleased man?  Absolutely, especially considering that the main focus of my trip was the Buttertubs Pass, which mothballed into much more!

And what about the M3?  Like the trip to Spain, the old girl really proved itself in being competent, yet being a fun & comfortable accomplice for my trip up North! The trip proved something however.  As a great bloke I know once said, it’s not a case “If only you were closer”, it’s more a case of “If only I was there!”.  Here is to taking a more proactive approach to exploring more places, be it a trip to the North or outside of the country with whatever cars I have!

With Christmas done, how would the New Year treat me?  That can wait until the next update.


Stagnation ; It ain’t Pretty!

Sophocles once said, “there is nothing more demoralising than money”.  He was almost right.  It was the lack of it!  This was certainly the case with the MGB!  It was 2006 and I had received the unfortunate news that my painter had died.  This was unfortunate for many people and it affected me personally as well as his friends and family!  Why does it seem to be the good guys that are taken?

This left me with a bit of a predicament regarding the car.  I had a car that was almost finished on the bodywork but still requiring alot of legwork to finish!  I mean, how bad could it be?


The truth was quite bad!  One painter with a very variable reputation offered to take the car on, but they wanted £1000.  For my dad and I it was about our limit to commit to!  We then had recommended faces come over.  That was a predictable outcome; they all took one look at it and replied “it will cost you £2,000 and whatever else we find along the way”; they wanted an open chequebook for the car!  For both me and my dad this fee seemed extortionate!  There was no way that we could commit to that!

To put it bluntly, we had a car that seemed like a lepar to most painters and with the costs to match something perceived as untouchable!  With this in mind the car went under a tarpaulin for probably the best part of 6 months and the project stagnated completely.


The thing under the Blue Tarp?  That’s the MG!  The Ka was one reason for the slowdown, but that can wait for another time, as Ted Mosby said

Of course, with something seeming as doomed for eternity procrastination kicks in, and boy did it kick it hard with the MG?  This is a theme that has run in many a retro owner’s blood, with me being no exception!


What did I do in that time?  Quite alot, just not anything really related to the MG.  OK, not directly?  Part of it involved me going to Spain with a few mates in a £260 Volvo, messing around on the said Volvo, and tinkering with my then new daily of a Focus 1.6, in particular its audio system!


If you need to console yourself with a procrastinator I am all ears!  Don’t, however, expect any productivity to come at the end of it!  It’s all good and well procrastinating with a black cloud over your project like a rash!  Of course, the uninitiated people of restoring would often laugh and joke about the lack of progress my car was making.  Were they helping me however?  Most didn’t, probably because deep down they knew I faced a big task.  That was to either give a half decent bodyshop an open chequebook to completing the Sebring conversion or for me to get off the sofa and actually crack on with the task.  Time would tell however.

Seeing as I was still in my first year of University and hardly rolling in cash I decided to embark upon embracing all aspects of the car!  For a first time restorer you really do pick things up thick and fast!  I did however have help!  Come Spring 2007 and progress was being made with the bodywork, much to the dismay of my neighbours!  The weekends were progressing nicely however:

It’s funny really!  Sometimes to make progress you do have to do it yourself!

By the time the summer of 2007 had arrived it was looking a more complete, albeit very brown!  It wasn the finish or brown that I envisaged either!  But when you are working to an impossible budget, compromises have to be made!

In this case, it was sticking to the car’s Russet Brown!  I originally planning to go with more of a modern chocolate brown as used on the R56 Minis.  However, yes, that little matter call a budget would me I’d stick to the brown!  Over the course of the summer of 2007 my painter friend and I kept on chipping over the available weekends it seemed we were doing alot but acheiving very little!  He was paid of course for a bit of the work he did!


In this time the engine still hadn’t been fired up since 2002, the battery was truly dead by now, where even Unipart’s lifetime warranty couldn’t save it; some of you will remember the Samson batteries warranty out there!  I also cut my teeth into the welding aspect of this car!  And sure enough with the crappy MIG gas canisters from Halfords, it wasn’t pretty! Ah. the joys of fixing a car on a shoestring!  Somehow, my perseverance did eventually pay off!

I finally had something that began to look like a car at least!  Being in a cash strapped situation after graduating from university in 2008 and looking around for jobs during a recession I had a bit of a brainwave!  Get a donor car!  That way, that will have all of the parts that I need to complete things!

And this would be it!

Yup, I got my hands on a very sorry looking, but complete MOT failure of a 1973 MGB GT during Christmas 2008!  Surely with all of its spare parts it would provide all of the pieces of the puzzle!  After all, it was £400 for an automotive wreck!  Well, yes it would, but simply not in a manner that anyone expected.


The Sebring Conversion Begins!

For the first time ever with the MGB project it looked like I was finally making progress!  I finally had a plan, a tangible one at that, my painter was keen and being local to him, communication could be kept much better between the pair of us!  He had been given £400s worth of Smith & Deakin’s finest panels.  But as you know from the previous post that was not the case!


This really was the best place for the wings.  In the bin!


Since we’d be salvaging the original wings as a base for the arches to be grafted on my painter and I agreed on that!  However, he’d need some wheels quickly so as to know how to mount the arches but also deal with the inner items!

With that in mind, I tried searching and search for a cheap set of 8J wide wheels in around 14 or 15″ diameter.  Given that the MGB has a PCD of 4 x 114.3mm such wheels are not common now even with banding taking off!  You can imagine what my situation was like in 2005!  It was poor!  I really did not want to spend a fortune on wheels.  But sometimes you have to swallow your pride and just go with it!

As a result I ended up buying a set of genuine 8J x 15″ Minilites with steel inserts and the magical ET0 offset (i.e no offset for the dish) for the sum of £540!  Wow, that did hurt at the time!  Or so I thought it did!  But then I needed some tyres.  Again, I’d search, search and search even more to find fruitless results secondhand due to me wanting an uncommon size.  It was either going to be 215/60R15, 225/50R15 or 225/55R15s!  In the end I went for the 225/55 in Kumho Ecsta 711 flavour ; This added on another £240 onto the bill which to be fair was quite reasonable!

With that done there was nothing left for me to do except pop into the painter’s a few times and see how things were going!  Now that I had the parts these bits progressed very well suddenly!


Firstly, the wings were offered up.  Next, the car was cut up for it to accept the wings.  Would this please most MGB owners?  Somehow I doubt it.  But when the result was looking to be finally taking shape I could not really care what they thought!  Finally this car looked like it may one day see the road again!

What he had done was fillet out the inner wheel arches towards the wings and then have that as a strengthener.  However, having a fibreglass to metal join is never an easy task to undertake: just ask any Ford Racing Puma owner about that!  That is why the car had a bit of filler on it so as to disguise the join!

One day it really did look like it was a car again!  It was great news for me, the painter, and all involved!  The car was now only weeks away from seeing paint thankfully!

The panel gaps were spot on, any visual sign that the wings and arches were two different materials looked like they would be gone once the car to paint and all was looking superb.  However, it was not to be.

I remember being at university at the time when I got a phonecall from the painter’s solicitors.  The news was something I never thought I would expect, and something I really didn’t take in for some time!  After all, the painter soon became a friend of mine and was a great pillar of the community, to both the Sikhs in Leamington Spa as well as many of the VW folk!  I say was as he had passed away!  It has been said that 2 pack paint doesn’t do painters any good and this was a stark reminder that the paint fumes were not a force to reckoned with!  Unlike radiation it may have had a smell and taste.  The fumes however were invisible and deadly even with precautions taken!

Why stop the project again?  But also, why take one of the good guys away in his 50s?  That’s no way for such a bloke like him to go!  With that in mind I got the car out of the shop ASAP for his family’s sake and yet again I had the car back on the driveway, but not as expected.  I almost lost the vision for the car again, but worse still I had lost a friend!  Just what would be the thing to do now?  Would the project stall again or would it be kickstarted once more?


A Change of Direction with the ‘B

Tests.  They can get you stressed, anxious and even at times depressed.  Looking back, it seemed like my MGB was just one massive test.  After all it began looking like a simple project but after one setback or another beyond my control it seemed like it was a project that was deemed to fail going by my tribulations from the previous MGB blogs.  This however looked set to change once I dropped the car off to the bodyshop of my first choice from all those years ago.  Since then I had used him for a few cars for minor panelwork and strangely I even bought a 1970 VW Beetle off him which gave its own challenges.  The “grass is always greener” strategy also entered my mind with me buying a horrorshow of an MG Midget with its share of problems.  But I had to do something with the wreck of my MGB, and so I got in touch with Sagoo, the first painter I asked to work on the ‘B.  It was fair to say that he was a known entity ; if there was a chance of getting the car done this was it!.

A familiar face to a few Leamington Spa people here ; Sagoo and his apprentice.  

The brief like all things started off simple.  Restore it back to original.  After all, we had a tailgate, a set of rear quarters, a pair of wings and valances to boot.  However, with having a blank canvas and seeing magazines written by people who modify cars would soon change this.  From tinkering with cars to mildly pepping them up I was about to throw myself into the deep end, more than I would realise.

This would start from me picking up a copy of the RPM magazine, which has now morphed into Practical Performance Car Magazine (PPC).


I shall look into whether I can get my hands on a copy of it but in short, the magazine outlined how you could build an MGB Sebring V8 for £4,000!  OK, £4,000 bought you a few nice cars back in 2004 but all of the same,  an American derived V8 in a quintessentially British everyman car.  Throw some big wings into the mix and some fat wheels and all should be well!  Sounds easy eh?  In short, it wasn’t.  What I didn’t prepare myself for was the frankly shocking fitment of the wings from Smith & Deakin ; I wondered if Stevie Wonder had created the moulds for the wings!  They were miles and miles off from fitting right.  I struggled to put them on myself and Sagoo the painter dug his heels in here when it became apparent at just how much work faced us.  Of course, I felt he was sandbagging a little.

Remember that internet forums were only just beginning to kick off at this stage and information only came from car clubs and even then only those who tried to fit the parts on. I was very much on my own as was strangely my painter.

What we decided to do was go along to the MG Car Club show at Silverstone to see other MGs.  In short, we noticed that any MGB with fibreglass wings had compromises made in terms of how it fitted the car.  Some cars had the wings catching the doors so as to fit, others were just as shoddy as ours, while others were pin straight.

This was one kit suggested for my car instead of the Sebring kit. Out of the Max Power days its appear is a little lost

Why were some pin straight?  The others had grafted the arches on from the Sebring wing kits onto an existing wing.  This of course presented me with the first of many hurdles with the Sebring conversion.  I had to source a set of Chrome bumper wings.  Truthfully, the secondhand rubber bumper wings had been questionably repaired and were not really suitable.  When new wings were £225 each new this was a hard pill to swallow; suddently the £4,000 budget was looking threatened of snowballing up!  But like all events you make some great friends.  Somehow, I got a set of wings and an Ivor Searle 1500 engine for my MG Midget for £100!  Yes, that figure is correct!  Sometimes, going to shows can really open up an avenue of people more than you realise and it’s one reason why we should all support the right events.

With that said there was only one thing left to do ; let my painter get on with it and put my feet up.  But as we all know, it’s never that simple.

The first sign of hope in this situation.

All Good Things…

You know how the tale goes.  You find the right person, they come recommended,  and so you send it to them.  Within a few months your car comes back.  In some ways I wish I could tell you that!  But we are all too wise to know that dealing with classic cars is like being in a fairy tale world.

I left the last blog on this car with me handing over the keys to a bloke in Coventry in 2002.  Over the months my dad kept calling up the bloke .  He would often say “yeah, the second coat of primer is on”.  To cut a long story short this saga lasted a few years!  Why?  There were many things going on away from the car.  In that time businesses were sold, people lost jobs, other classic cars were bought and sold, people got jobs again, other people went to university, we somehow got a sheddy MkII Astra as a courtesy car to drive around in while the MG was being repaired; yes really!   Yes, it was a little convoluted at times.


The MGB GT being at the bodyshop for all that time sat like a beacon of hope even though we hadn’t seen the car for two years!  In 2004 my nagging with my father had come to an end.  He decided to call the garage who were the custodians of the MGB.  We were simply told “Come on down to us”.  It sounded ominous to say the least.  After all, it’s not like I had been ridiculed for this car not being roadworthy and taking seemingly an eternity to fix.

When we went to the garage the owner appeared to have disappeared, with only the foreman left to run the place!  I saw no MGB there either!  And so off we went on a convoy to see the MGB.  I was looking forward to seeing the car semi-complete.  What I would see however would shock me to the core.

Err, yeah, the coats of primer are on fella.  Yeah, it looks it.

The car was not at all how I pictured it.  Previously solid areas of the car that I knew were solid had been subject to a trigger happy shotblaster. Worse still it had patches in places that would really throw a spanner in the works.  Inside patch welding on a floorpan anyone?  Another patch slapped onto rust on a window aperture?  The car looked like an abandoned shell without any running gear.  Everything of the car was all in boxes.  Not in any real order but it was just there.  Would I even have all of the fixings there?  I guess at least the good running gear was present right?

Yes, it was not in a good state of repair

This unfortunately left us with a problem.  Here we had an MGB that we had sunk roughly £2,000 into ; bear in mind a good rubber bumper MGB was around £3,000 back then.  It looked like all we were left with was a running and rolling MGB shell ready for the scrap heap.  What looked like an ideal father and son project was now looking like its future was bleak.

At that moment in time we didn’t know what to do.  It couldn’t be driven in that state and it was clearly going to take alot to get it right again.  It’s amazing how £600 cars start out isn’t it?  Scrapping the entire car was something I suggested.  My dad vehemently went against that idea; I was 18 at the time.  I don’t think he truly estimated the scale of the work ahead of us.  Maybe it would have been the wise idea ultimately despite the pain.  But that is not the point of such projects.

We had some quality time in and on the car.  And we hate to lose.  It would also be a shame to have a project dissappear purely due to one person.  Did I mention that I really hate losing?

Is there a moral to this story?  Yes.  Always check up on the progress on the car in the flesh.  Yes the guy may appear trustworthy, and he may be saying all of the right things.  But people lie, pinch things from cars and generally don’t care about you.  I hope that no one else has the above happen to them.

With weeks to go for the car to be dropped off to us its fate would be decided.




A Different Kind of Event : Roadkill Show at EBC Brakes, Northampton

It’s funny. I never thought I would ever see myself going to EBC for any reason at all; I never had a reason to. That was until two weeks ago when something would change that. The small announcement make by two blokes called David Freiburger & Steve Dulcich, stating that they would be hosting a small show at EBC in Northampton:

There were a few more crumbs dropped along the way but not much at all.

There was only one thing for me to do. Turn up. Given my crazily busy Saturday it was nice to have more a chilled day. Which is why I got up and ready to be there for 9am, an hour earlier: I had visions of parking miles away! But to be fair all was well and it was well time, especially since I got to meet up with Dean and check out what the fuss was about his Dodge Dart. This car is also for sale for £6500: Not bad for a quirky V8. Who said roadworthy American motoring was extortionate?

Coming along early however was no bad thing. I got to see a few familiar faces.  It’s always good to meet a very familiar face of Retro-Rides.

Since EBC stuck rigorously to only opening their doors at 10am we decided to have a scoot around the area surrounding EBC to see what cars were about. After all, a capped 200 car limit isn’t a lot of space within EBC’s grounds.

There was plenty of interesting stuff about mind you, and variety too! When have you seen a Dart, a clean Volvo 244 and a Nova all in the same place?

This Volvo was interesting: The queue was too that was already building up at the gates!

There was plenty of dedication from this Mini owner. Why? He took his bonnet off in order to get it signed by David Freiburger. More on that later…

The Roadkill theme was strong for sure! Just take this tidy Orion!  If it was any more obvious it could almost be the UK promotional car, with the Roadkill spirit showing.

Despite the eccentric and Roadkill themed cars, a clean looking Amazon made it down:

By the time we had our walk around the queue had grown. This was just before we were let in! Did someone say underestimate?

Before we knew it, we were in. And truth be told it was worth the wait. The hour long Q&A that the duo did certainly wasn’t lacking people. It was a very down-to-earth vibe, even with those who got the brief chance to meet them.

Now for the bit your have been waiting for. The cars. There were familiar Fords about:

German and Scandinavian machinery was there too:

The Volvo 960 looked to be running a Toyota 2JZ engine with the Mercedes W123 being on throttle bodies using a later twin cam engine:

One day I’ve love to build something like this from an old Ford. The Anglia had so many things right about it. Maybe one day I will build something like this.

The MX-5 Rear Wheel Drive Clubman. Or rather the MX-5 with a Clubman body ;):

Amazingly, that crowd was still present around the Engine Masters gang an hour after they started their question and answers session.  The end did not seem to be in sight with the audience absorbing the duo’s responses like a sponge:

As always Pipey McGraw’s triple rotor Wankel engined Jaguar E-Type was met with a mixed reception.  However, the controversy did not stop there.

What was met with an even more mixed emotions was the Dodge Charger.  This was down to the car having been fettled with by Diesel Pump UK.  But what would a diesel tuning outfit want with a Dodge Charger I hear you ask?  That’s simple.  This one was a sporting an increasingly popular engine swap ; a Mercedes OM606 Turbo Diesel engine as found in W210 Mercedes E-Classes.  Except this one was churning out a lot more power ; around 750BHP.

There was variety between marques too.  Take these two Fords.  One is a relatively standard car.  The Capri, not so much:

Unsurprisingly for the US hosts the American theme was certainly strong over here.  It was not however to say that the few Japanese cars couldn’t steal part of the limelight:

If anyone deserves a medal at the show it’s these two. David and Steve spent the entire day chatting briefly to people and signing autographs. This includes the autograph on a Mini Bonnet. Yes, the very same one that was at the start of this post. How many people were waiting?  A lot.

This rat-rod won car of the show. Not just down to its power plant or overall vibe but also for its backstory, as told by someone who knows Rogan, his brother who was the architect behind the project:

The rat rod was built as an after-school STEM project by some lads at a boarding school just outside Stourbridge, for the disabled brother of Rogan, the leader of the project. They started it when they were about 15 and they’re around 18 now I believe. It’s been down the track at Shakespeare County Raceway a few times, and also on display at Coventry Motor Museum. The looks tend to split opinion but you can’t deny it has an impressive backstory.

As a result the access was made much easier but also hand controls added in order to use it. As for the power plant it was a different take on a used ‘rodder’s engine:

Only towards the end of the day did the queue for the signatures before to ebb away:

As a treat I also got to chat to Jeff Lutz. Indeed, the same bloke who has done all sorts of drag racing! For someone well known in the drag scene (no, not that one!) he was a very genuine and levelheaded bloke. It was a real pleasure to chat to him. Fair play for him coming over as well and mingling in with the crowds:

Jeff Lutz

But again, a lot of props to David & Steve for finally coming over but also for signing stuff for the entire day! Elena was a great sport throughout the day dealing with a number of things that occur at such shows and was a great host.

Were there not enough pictures here for you?  Fear not.  There are plenty more over here which should keep you occupied for some time.



The M3 Makes it to Benidorm!


It was fair to say that I was lovely Valencia! Like a lot of Spain you find it hard to leave the great places ; the chilled atmosphere, great food and friendly people certainly do not help here! However, the next leg would leave me with a good reason to leave!

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Not a car you much of at all!  We came across this old Sierra just outside Valencia.  It was good to see it being used!

Leaving Valencia was like most other Spainish cities. Plenty of motorways with lots of heat. However, I never remember the speed limits changing quite so frequently as they did as I was experiencing on this trip! I guess its one way the Spanish could break up the monotony of motorway driving! Not that you really need it in an M3!

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I had the car, I had the shades and the weather.  What more do you need?

However I soon saw another reason to keep myself awake. That was to turn off the A7 onto the CV790 heading towards Costa Blanca, or rather, Benidorm. This road soon renewed our vigour from a driver’s perspective. I can’t say that my passenger shared my enthusiasm on some of the bends where I enjoyed myself! It was a little like the Italian job pilot scene, albeit without the snow and the Lamborghini! I was loving many of the tight bends I was contending with but also the changing camber of the corners, even if they did catch me out on a few occasions! It’s times like these that you learn more about driving as well as about your car behaves itself!

Before we knew it we had arrived into the outskirts of Benidorm, ready to have a good night’s sleep, a few beers as what most people do on a holiday, relax! That said I did bring along another passenger for the trip, in the form of a bird that I unintentionally hit!

At this point the M3 would prove it’s worth as a practical car once again! With my friend’s car being strictly a two seater it was the car of choice whenever we left the house. Not a bad way to travel in the Spanish sun you could say! Naturally we spent most of the time just chilling out rather than driving!

Before we knew it we would be well rested and travelling back to the UK.  As always the M3 munched up the miles with ease as we cruised back doing a 2 night stop.  This involved going through the Pyrenees and many single cross country roads as well as towns, which broke up the scenery nicely initially.  It was also strange going through a tunnel where there was a 15 degrees temperature drop in comparison to outside!

It was fair to say that this trip have been epic!  So right on so many levels, yet with a lot of trepidation! It was a shame to be back home, but in another, also quite a relief given the baggage an E46 M3 comes with.  All in, the trip was superb and the car proved itself as a European tourer that can master many trades.  Here is to the next road trip of many!


From Bulls to Valencia!

With me coming into Valencia things seemed different immediately. From travelling on the Spanish motorways with barely any traffic we suddenly saw many more cars around us! The cruise control would not be all that useful now! But at least I was in the right car for the job.

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When it came to parking the car up however you could tell the car was hot. The temp gauge was stuck smack bang in the middle of the gauge and the viscous fan was fully locked up. Yup, it was warm alright.  But at least the car could have a well deserved rest for a few days; it even had a companion in the form of a friend’s E89 Z4 30i sDrive. It’s just as well as I had heard on the grapevine that Valencia is not what you would call car friendly. But for once that didn’t matter.

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The accommodation was spot on for the break. In the heart of the city with it only being a stone’s throw away from the main square it certainly felt like we were living the high life! Gorgeous buildings with a chilled atmosphere and variety? This is the place! Oh, and a bit of sunshine to go with it.

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But I had to be honest. Valencia is no place for a car. With that in mind a friend suggested that we store our cars at Valencia Airport while we were there. After seeing the many webs of one way streets in Valencia this seemed like a good shout in hindsight.

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Without the cars at least you can enjoy a beer in the sun.  Happy Days!

But a lack of cars between us would not spoil the fun, oh no! After all, a lot of the a places to visit in Valencia were accessible by foot. However, they were even more accessible by bike! It’s almost like Valencia is built for bike travel ; it’s matrix of cycle lanes make it a breeze to go around on bike ; I could have been there all day! The UK could learn a thing or two here in the quest to harmonise and reduce traffic. Make no mistake, I love my cars, but I also hate traffic jams and waiting!

With that in mind we were just lapping up the scenery. However, the day would come that we would have to leave Valencia. This would not be without sampling part of the Formula 1 track first. After all, when in Rome, even if it was on bike!

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Yup, my companions on the trip were loving it on Valencia’s street circuit!

The next leg of the trip would be interesting. Partly because it was very familiar territory to use. But also partly because we had a surprise in store as well.



Spain and Racetracks? Are You Sure?

It is fair to say that I was dreading the leg from Calais to Pamplona. It was a 10 hour drive with stops allowed for with almost 600 miles to cover in a day! All to be done in a car with a reputation for not being mega reliable, and high performance one at that getting on for 14 years old! You can imagine my relief that it made it down! Then again you always worry more when it is your own car.

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The descent into Pamplona was stunning!  A far cry from monotonous French routes

It was then time to explore Pamplona, and what a city it is! Famed for the questionable bullfighting as well as Ernest Hemmingway residing there during the 1920s. Yup, there was plenty to see, but we decided to try something different first, something carcentric. But in Spain? How? This one was simple. We took a 40 minute trip out in the M3 from the great city of Pamplona to Circuito de Navarra.

Experiencing the atmosphere at a clubman level in Spain was very interesting. Interesting enough for me to say that it was fantastic. Sure, there were pit girls and the usual stuff at the bike event but there was more. There were loads of people present to watch the entry level series where the youth would prove their worth by their skill level, not necessarily by what the bikes could do. The bar was rammed with people ordering Jamon bocadillos. Beers, soft drinks and the odd coffee were being ordered too, all being sold at reasonable prices! There was no overpriced bar here, just loads of people having a great time and watching the racing their mates and loved ones.

It was strange how the entry level events were more fun to watch than the bigger Super 1000s. There were more chances being taken and more rawness present during the racing! If there is an event on here it is well worth the visit.

After this day however we decided to chill out in the city itself. The second day was mostly spent looking at Café Iruna, a lovely café that Ernest Hemingway used to frequent, as well as a bar in the same square, again another one of Hemingway’s haunts.

From then on thanks to some local Spanish company we ended spending quite a bit of the day indulging in many canas and quite a lot of tapas! From mussels to strangely fried eggs it was all lovely,

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The Pamplona Bullring.  A place of alot of controversy ; it was confusing being there!

The day would come however that we would move onto our second destination, Valencia. In comparison to driving down to Pamplona this trip was quite a bit shorter! It was however as hot as Bordeaux the closer we got to Spain. At one point it did go hotter, 35 degrees centigrade to exact! The car’s viscous fan fully locked up on a number of occasions on the way down once the temperature went north 30.

However, Valencia does not have a reputation of being kind on traffic. I had heard from a few sources that Valencia could be a pain to drive in! How would we cope?  By the looks of it some cars were forlorn already at Valencia Airport!  Our fingers would be crossed.

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