The Final Curtain : MGB Sebring is No More

So, where was I last time? Ah yes! Speaking about the MGB and the chassis changes I had done. What did these changes entail? Well, the chassis setup was as follows:

-2″ 550lb lowering springs up front, with 2″ decambered leaf springs on the rear
-OEM V8 lower arm bushes up front, with Poly bushes on the upper arms. Rear was all SuperFlex Bushes
-Spax telescopic damper conversion all-round
-8Jx15″ Minilite wheels shod with Kumho 711 tyres in 225/50R15

Some would argue that such a setup would be dreadful. With mid-range tyres, big wheels, and Poly bushes, albeit good quality items, I was made to think that I wasted my cash.

How wrong I was! It drove lovely! The SuperFlex bushes worked wonders on the rear! From a solid rear-end, the back of the car was suddenly pliant, comfortable,yet very well controlled. It was a revelation! Nowhere near as bad as the scare stories made out! It was absolutely brilliant!

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It was finally spot on! The interior was near enough new, the drivetrain was very good, and I had the suspension dialled in to make it drive better than when the ‘B left the factory! It should have been peachy, right?

Well, no, was the answer. It seems crazy to think I put alot of work in and I’d be happy with the result. But I was also aware there was alot of work still left to do! What was left I hear you ask? Quite alot was the answer! The problem with striving for perfection is that the cars soon become a never-ending story. A project that is never finished. As someone who used their cars alot and was then still fairly new to the restoration game, that took me some getting used to. What exactly was outstanding?

  • Seat subframes ; I may have got the seats cheap, but the subframes would soon tot up the cost
  • Engine Transplant: I really really wanted to do a Rover V8 swap into this. I researched it enough to know what I was letting myself in for. But honestly, the days of cheap Rover V8s were ebbing away, and with that, so did my idea of one. Yes, I could K-Series it or Supercharge the factory boat anchor, but all of them entailed costs
  • The paintjob. I know, I heard all of you saying that was obvious. The truth was that I had quotes for over £2,000 to get it painted and then, I had no facilities in which to paint the car with, and considering I sunk a load of cash into it, I could not bring myself to put that much more into getting the car looking spotless from a paint perspective.

So with that, the sales pitches came out. Even from people who did Sebring conversions, I had laughable offers. I’m talking £1.4k for the car. That’s when I had it up for £2.5k. Yes, that’s all an MGB was worth back in 2011. Those who drove it loved it, and tried to haggle me very hard for a deal. One guy saw the car 3 or 4 times, but he could not drum up the cash. While I out of desperation mentioned things like the car having road tax in the sale, as cars did back in 2010, he retorted back with obtaining a tax-exempt V5. He even said there was another car just like mine for less cash ; there wasn’t. It was a waste of my time, and a waste of his time. I soon was getting ready to accept that I might just have to keep it.

So what would happen? Would I keep it? I almost did, until a restorer came to look at the car. After a drive aroung the block and a good going over, he decided to offer me £2250 for the car. A fair price I felt. He couldn’t quite understand why I was getting rid, thinking that paintjob being done would result in a higher asking price. But I didn’t really care. He offered me what I wanted, and after a tickle with the welder to get it another MOT, off I drove the car for him down to Gloucester.

 

 

 

Yes, my welding could have been tidier, but at least it was solid and welded the correct way.

And with that, I mark the end of my time with the ‘B! I sold it back in 2011, after owning it for almost a decade! At the same time, a Triumph Stag would come up for sale. Yes, I thought a £2,000 Stag would be an easy project. But would it be?

While I was pondering over the Stag, this is what became of the ‘B’d Sebring.

 

It’s funny, for years, I didn’t miss this car. In recent times however, I have come to regret not pursuing this car. Will I ever learn my lesson? We shall see.

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!

Benidorm Leg (1 of 8)
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!

It’s time for Destination Nurburgring 17. In the Right Car.

Events. They can be funny old things. When you book the events 6 months prior to go and spend the remainder of the time preparing for them they seem so far away. Little do you know the event you have booked has crept up on you like a warm kitten and it’s your time to shine. Only then do things seem to slow down.

It was no different for me here.   After previously being invited to one of Darren Langeveld’s superb Destination Nurburgring (DN) events a few of us decided to go along to one! Here we would see what makes his events so different to a Terroristsfah., I mean, Touristfahten (TF) event.

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They say the sun shines on the righteous.  It’s a shame it didn’t that day.

What was so different about about a DN event? Quite a lot.  A lot of it is down to being briefed in a great and understandable way before hitting the track. As is less traffic and the emphasis of having good etiquette on track. Oh and free breakdown recovery should the worst happen, even if the expense of crashing is still present, albeit far less so. This was just as well as the meeting up for the driver’s briefing a day before had one word being said quite a bit. Rain.

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Yup, it was a wet one!

For a few track days rain can make or break the event. In a 340BHP rear wheel drive car it did not sound like a great combination. But I did at least have experience of driving wet track days previously and refreshed my memory by looking at a few known YouTube video guides including Rent-RSR’s mistakes, and Dale Lomas’ driving the ‘ring in the wet with a RWD car; The only wet track day I had done was at Oulton Park. Didn’t someone say fail to prepare and prepare to fail?

With that in mind it was time to hit the 13.5 mile circuit. With it being dry for a part of the morning I went around relatively calmly, trying to get a feel for the car in the dry. I looked forward to seeing what it would do in the dry after a few laps. Before I knew it there was drizzle present. This would soon turn into a very wet track and have me being a little fearful of crashing!

Another perk to a DN event is getting tuition by following an instructor in their car in with walkie talkies to communicate with. At least I would be prepared for the conditions.   With a few laps of tuition my fear of the track slowly began to ebb away with caution present. The chap gave me some great pointers and certainly helped me in getting to grips with the track. Every time I go to the Nurburgring I always learn more and more and notice more things about the track. This tuition certainly helped there! Enough for my lap timer in my glove box to claim that I did 10:29 BTG lap by following him. In Auto mode (D4) for the SMG owners wondering; Yup I admit I wasn’t taking chances. Quite a step up from my 12 minute laps when I was bothered to check the lap times after going out!

It was then time to see what a proper driver could do in the wet. Who? None other than Nigel Pinder with his superb Pinderwagon. While on the face of it this car may look like it has crashed through Halfords and the Demon Tweeks catalogue it is actually the result of 10 years blood, sweat, tears and cash culminating into one fantastic package:

Breidscheide Pinderwagen
If you can grab a lap with anyone at the ‘ring make a B-Line for this man.  Nigel Pinder is great behind the wheel.

Want to know more? You can here: http://pinderwagen.com/

With him taking me out for a lap it was a real experience. Here was a car with no driver aids and full wet track tyres I would not have been anywhere near as brave as him in the wet! Man this guy was quick in the wet! It seemed that we were overtaking everything! M3s? Not a problem. 991 GT3s? Eaten alive! This car was a seriously good contender! In the dry he puts down a mid 7:30 to around 7:50 depending on traffic. In the wet? 9:30. My rather slow time didn’t seem too terrible after than (I was more in the 12s for the rest of it!). But seeing how smooth he was in the car was an absolute joy! If you get an opportunity to have a ride out in the car you really should! It’s a testament to Nigel and his immense skills behind the wheel!

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Instruction with an SLS?  You get that with a DN event ;).

Driving the wet ‘ring (silence now folks!) was interesting. I was very glad that I had new Michelins all round with the suspension and gearbox improvements in place; the car felt at home! That said I was a lot more cautious and seemed like I used my indicator quite a bit to let others overtake! I even had the track all to myself on one lap as others started to go home!

 

By the end of the day I actually did begin to overtake a few others and was having a good time behind the wheel while not going idiotic! Although Darren did claim that I wasn’t trying hard enough! The cheek!

Hatzenbach 1500

With the DN being held the same day as my birthday I decided to go and celebrate with a meal and a few beers in Adenau. With a hazy head it was time to go to sleep for the 5AM start the next day. The only thing? I wouldn’t be leaving at 5AM!

I woke up in my humble abode at 7am, two hours later than I should have, giving me 2 hours less to get to the Eurotunnel!  It’s a good thing that Haus Sonja in Adenau provided a great night’s sleep and at a great price.

I had to be at the Eurotunnel by 12:25 the latest. A bit of a tall order when Google Maps tells you it will be a 5 hour trip!

With the car stuffed full of my gear it was time to set off:

M3 Ring Preparations (26 of 27)

But with a 1/3 tank of fuel in a tired state I was never going to make it to Calais on time! With than in mind I made a dash to the Aral. While meaning to pickup some 98 I ended up filling up with 102 RON! Whoops! I guess it is only money!

However, I took an executive decision to not stop. With a 2 litre bottle of water and a bag of Haribo sweet and sours I was set! This would be a bit of a test of man and machine!
Going through Germany wasn’t too bad at all! The roads while being very wet were clear. From doing a steady 75MPH on the motorways I soon easied my speed up. All I will say is that when I had the cruise control set it was set to less than 100MPH. Sure, the contraflows, traffic etc. slowed me down but they would anywhere in the world in busy areas! With me getting closer and closer to Brussels I could see the traffic building up and up! However, the car soldiered on relentlously, running surprisingly smoothly.

What did annoy me at times much to the amusement of the proper ‘box fans was the SMG’s auto shifting in auto mode. Say you were going up a hill on the motorway. I’d put my foot down and it would go to 5th when I wanted to stay in 6th. I initially found this annoying. Right until I put it back into manual and found my mistake ; the engine doesn’t really want to do much at 50MPH in 6th while climbing a hill on the Autobahn to overtake a few people. Yup, it was careless throttle action and user error in my sleep deprived state.

But when I got my head around that I found the car as a package an absolute joy to bring back to Blightly. I was eventually toggling in auto for the roadworks and reverting to manual elsewhere, a perfect combo and certainly a quick and relatively relaxing drive. Yes if I had a more careful foot I wouldn’t have needed to but I guess we as humans are flawed things.

The car was wonderful. It proved that as a complete package it did have elements of a GT car about it! And what a soundtrack to come back home in! By some miracle I managed to get back to the Eurotunnel in Calais for 11:55! Not bad for rush hour at all! I did not even feel tired! I did however need the toilet, badly!

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Yup, the ‘ring and the return trip really had me bonding with the car more! It seemed that my hard graft on the car had been worth it! The rear end being planted gave me the ability to put my foot down as did the Michelin’s performance in the wet passing trucks where the spray thrown off them could have you barely seeing where you were going! Yup, maybe that expenditure was worth it after all. It wasn’t even that taxing on the fuel count!

How untaxing? If the trip computers are to be believed:

-The M3 did 28MPG ; it did drop on the laps but rose again ; it averaged 29MPG on the trp when I did the calculations on pen and paper! That includes it doing 15MPG on track ; it was wet remember.
-The Clio 220 Trophy EDC did 31.3MPG ; No I am not joking and that was with him doing a sedate 75 all the way back ; he left before me remember
-The Clio 172 Cup however unsurprisingly was ahead of the M3 but surprisingly ahead of the 220! 38MPG! Man I miss those figures for the power!

It seems then that after this trip the M3 certainly had earned its respect from we as well as proving itself very well! Damn, I guess I was getting a little smitten with the old girl!

No Timewasters, Dreamers or Test Pilots

Car buying
TV Shopping.  No one really likes shopping but we do it anyway.  Your current TV is OK but it is getting a bit long in the tooth.  Or you’ve moved house and now the TV that was OK for your flat looks a little lost in your more spacious house.  So begins the journey of getting a TV.

 

You do your research, look into what the TVs do and then you are set to go and get one.  At this point you walk into an electronics shop like Currys or Richer Sounds and see what is about.  After all, reviews and comments are all good and well but the reality can be different for all of us.  After all, we see things in different ways and interpret comments differently too.  As you stand over the TV that is in your shortlist to buy a salesman comes over.  While you are committed to buying the TV you wonder if the salesman is trying to push you into wanting to buy the TV right here and right now.  Suddenly you almost feel like a bit of a timewaster, and are willing to not buy the TV you wanted.  Maybe it wasn’t what you expected, or another one caught your eye there.  Did the reviews not pick up on a horrendously awkward menu structure on the TV?  And so I come onto car adverts.

“No timewasters, canvassers or test pilots”  It is a common sight on many adverts out there.  Reading such adverts you would think that car buyers have nothing better to do than just aimlessy wonder over to a car and never buy it.  Or do they?
Of course, such people exist but over the many cars I have sold I would beg to differ.  Is it the buyers who are at fault or is it the sellers?  The truth?  It’s a bit of both.
Take Exhibit A.  Roughly a year ago when I realised that owning two cars as near enough dailies on the go would not work I decided to buy a car which do hopefully do all that I wanted for the price point.  In this case it was a BMW M3, of the E46 shape for the nerds wondering which one.  This according to many sources out there should have been an absolute doddle.  “Yeah, £7k will get you a good ‘un mate, innit”?  Looking at a variety of adverts and their descriptions this certainly appeared to be the case.
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It looked so good in the pictures. I guess a photo can only speak a thousand words
With a list of 4 or 5 cars identified around the area I decided to go M3 hunting.  That’s looking to buy, not trying to race them.
“When your 250,000 mile Mondeo V6 looks better than an Audi with a third of the mileage you know that you are looking at a pup”
In short, many of the cars were tired out wrecks.  Despite all having no crash damage or finance history most looked like war victims, with rust brewing from wheelarches, brakes which would require replacement as well as patchy service history.  Oh, with them dashboards that illuminated the tatty interiors like a Christmas tree.  Of course, the sellers were more than happy to point out the faults once you got to the car and omit some obvious ones prior to you arrived.  A good car?  These were money pits that would cost thousands, not hundreds to get right!
It the same story two years ago when I was looking to buy an Audi TT.  I got sick of looking at so many wrecks I eventually decided to call off the search.  When your 250,000 mile Mondeo V6 looks and drives better than an Audi with a third of that mileage you know that you are looking at a pup, not a car which is in “very good condition, and taken car of”.
I did eventually find the right car, but it took almost 5 cars to get to it.  Whether that made me a timewaster or not I don’t know.  That is not to say that I have ever sold a perfect car either!
That said, I have been on the receiving end of it when I have sold cars.
With my Triumph Stag it had become a bit of a moneypit after being a bad purchase.  And so I tentatively put it up for a price for quite a bit less than what it owed me.  It was strong was the pricing, make no mistake.  Suffice to say I had my share of “timewasters” too.  I have glossed over a few bits because I was just getting sick of the car.  Every month I was putting hundreds into fixing the car.  I guess I was running out of steam with the venture.  That said, the car was a massive improvement from when I bought it.
The first bloke who came to see it wasn’t too impressed.  To be honest some of the offers were dreamworthy ; £3500 for a Stag with MOT and Tax from an asking price of £7000 is taking the Michael a little.  Eventually a good buyer, or fool depending on your outlook, took the car off my hands.  It’s fair to say it’s a better car now than it was before.
But with the above I guess I was partly to blame.  If I had been a little more honest maybe the buyers would have been more forthcoming.  But on the otherhand how many honestly described cars have you seen?  I know for me it is not that many.
The issue for both the buyers and sellers is interpretation of things.  If someone says a car has worn well for its age and mileage they are referring to if they had a car that they kept, not me.  Of course that creates an issue, naturally.  I will tend to change things as they wear out, not relying on an MOT to make me aware of it.  Many others don’t follow that philosophy it would seem.
This naturally leaves the car buyers and sellers of the world with a final question.  Throughout all of the searching are we simply human in having different expectations, or are we timewasters?