Sunday 1 October 2023

The End is near?

 I hugely enjoyed building Zedster and I have loved the numerous trips and run outs since I finished the build in 2017.


I am not enjoying the continual repairs and work needed to keep Zedster running. Maybe it's old age but I'm getting lazier and the limitations of my single garage really don't help. I recently fixed the broken ball joint/wishbone and it exhausted me. A lot of that is because of the blood pressure tablets I am on now - a side effect is weakened muscles - but even without that, I don't have the enthusiasm to even get started. I'm really worried that something major will go wrong, I'll not have the impetus to fix it and Zedster will spend the next 20 years in my garage until my grandchildren call Car SOS. The thought of that is sadder than selling up...

So, I have been doing the unthinkable recently; considering a Zedster replacement. I decided it needed to be a 'normal' car - no point in another kit car as I'd just have the same issues. It needed to cost no more than I'd get for Zedster (around £10k), it had to be a convertible and it needed to be 'sporty' ie. reasonably quick.

I can't afford an Elise and an MX5 just doesn't have the oomph. That left a BMW Z4 and a Porsche Boxster but really, the beemer had no chance against a Porsche. I had a Z3 many years ago and it was nice but a very under-powered 1.9 and maybe it's old age again but I've been eyeing 911s in recent years. I can't stretch to a 911 but Boxsters are said to be very good, despite some calling it a poor man's Porsche (fair enough, I am a poor man).

So, after much research, a 2005 Boxster S (3.2 litre, 280 bhp) seemed to be the thing that fitted my criteria. I joined a Porsche forum (I do like my forums) and started reading up.

Then, last week, I did the bad thing; I started looking at cars for sale on Auto Trader. At first, there was very little I was interested in but then, kapow, an almost perfect ad which was suspiciously cheap. I checked the MOT history (very good, hardly anything on it) and I couldn't understand why it was a mere £8.5k, when most others were £1500 or so more. I called the private seller and it turned out he was selling the car for the widow of the owner - he had died suddenly a couple of months ago and she just wanted the car sold.

Long story short, 2 days later I found myself travelling home in this:

With 88k miles, full service history, recent service, new discs and pads, recently repaired hood (the elastics go on them) and for just £8.5k - how could I say no?

It drives amazingly; solid and damn quick. Acceleration is a little quicker than Zedster (0-60 in 5.5s, Zedster was 6.2s) but its the smoothness while doing it which is lovely. And unlike Zedster, it certainly doesn't stop at 90 - I found myself doing 120 on the motorway without trying (top speed is 160!). With the hood down, I can still easily hear the stereo at 80. And it has air con and heated seats...

Also, I've never been a badge snob before but waking up in the morning and seeing a Porsche on the is a thrill.

So it is not definitely the end of my kit car adventure - I've got a trip down to Cornwall at the weekend to test it out - but the writings on the wall.

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Another year, another Wales

 The annual Rogues tour of Wales came round again and it was only slightly less great than previous years; the weather wasn't stellar and politicians are conspiring to ruin the country (more than they normally do).

Yes, the weekend we had booked for our trip became the weekend that Wales introduced 20mph limits in all towns. Personally, I'm not a religious follower of speed limits (if there's a school and/or lots of people, I'll happily do 5mph but when the 20 zone extends half a mile either side of a village in the middle of nowhere where we don't see a living soul, I'm less keen) and we never spend much time in towns but it was the new, average speed cameras that were the real party-poopers.

Anyway...the trip started on the evening before, with a drive to the hotel in Cardiff. For me, an uneventful and remarkably clear run saw me there at about 8.30pm, the last to arrive and to a surprisingly nice Premier Inn. A stream of fluid from underneath Zedster caused a slight panic but it was my windscreen washer bottle which had come unclipped and fallen over in the engine bay - took a few minutes to clip back on.

Day 1 - Cardiff to Mold, 243 miles

Getting out of Cardiff seemed to take forever - the huge road schemes that were there last year are still not finished and some weird satnav shenanigans from the start meant it was a good hour before we were free of traffic. And then the first shock of the trip; average speed cameras on the Black Mountain road!! It's like painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa....disgraceful; ruined one of the best roads in Wales. I was so annoyed, I flew up as normal and slammed the anchors on before the cameras to drop my average down, just to be difficult (this rebellion may backfire if I get a message in the post soon). Interestingly, on the other side there is only 1 camera at the bottom and the top one is before the car park we always stop in: you can happily drive that like normal, as long as you start/stop in that car park - result. Also, the cameras have scared everyone away - the road was very quiet and we were the only ones in the car park, so it is even easier to drive like a lunatic on the road. Well done, speed campaigners...

As you can see, the weather was great; dry and partly sunny. I'd taken my drone this time and we stopped to do some filming - would have been great if I'd remembered to put an SD card in the drone! Recorded nothing - great.

The rest of the day up to Mold was great, through the Elan valley as always. However, there were some new average speed camera sections to annoy us, although strangely, some of the average speed cameras on the Horseshoe pass have gone - they weren't making enough money from fines?

The Beaufort Park Hotel is well past its best but vaguely reasonable because of it and the evening meal was pretty good.

Day 2 - North Wales loop, 227 miles

The weather wasn't quite as good today, grey and cloudy but at least dry. Many lovely roads to the west and this year, I finally got to see Harlech Castle!

Our usual stop at the Conwy Falls cafe:

...and our usual stop at the Ffestiniog railway was cut short as the cafe was shut for a wedding:

At one point, we stopped and I tried the drone again, this time with SD card. Looked pretty good (see the video later):

The usual satnav confusion meant I drove the last few miles alone and was one of the last back.

Day 3, Mold to Paincastle, 265 miles

Almost a reverse of day 1, we returned back through the Elan valley and the wasp-infested 2 Hoots cafe at Devils Bridge.

We stopped again at a lake for a drone shoot and while doing an arty flyover, I flew into a tree! The drone survived to fly another day...

For the last 20 miles or so, the rains came and the hoods went up, before our arrival at the remote Roast Ox Inn in Paincastle and a spectacularly good evening meal:

Day 4, Mid-Wales loop, 228 miles

The weather looked bleak at breakfast, so hoods were left on except for one brave soul. This rash decision backfired badly as the Heavens opened with some of the worst rain I'd ever driven in - at one point after a truck went past the other way, I couldn't see a thing for a few seconds until my poor, over-worked wipers had cleared the screen.

Lake Brianne looked very pretty, even in the rain:

The Elan Valley for the 3rd time on this trip was as enjoyable as ever and the 3rd visit to the 2 Hoots cafe where the continuing drizzle of rain hadn't deterred the wasps. The roads were very wet, with lots of huge puddles that actually helped to wash the sheep shit from the first few days off Zedster - silver lining and all.

The rain finally stopped before another visit to the Black Mountain road from the opposite direction and our knowledge of the cameras made it almost as good as usual - a little chirp from my tyres round the hairpin and I screeched into the car park, narrowly avoiding a 3 man trike just about to leave (it seems you can book guided tours by trike - not a great choice on this wet day).

Continuing satnav hilarity this time meant I was first back to the hotel, just before the rain started up again.

Day 5, Paincastle to home, 210 miles

Always a sombre day as we headed for a garden centre near Gloucester for a last coffee and cake before we all went our separate ways home. I stayed with the others about half the distance before I was forced to divert for petrol (the others had filled up the night before).

After our last goodbyes, I followed the original planned route back to the M4 on a fun, last blat before the usual route home that was surprisingly clear - I pulled up home at 3pm, knackered and immensely proud that Zedster had survived another marathon trip.

A wonderful trip overall, despite officialdom doing its best to screw it up - so much so, there are rumblings of next years trip being somewhere else. Personally, I can't think of anywhere better unless we go to France or Scotland, which need more time and money.

In the meantime, I have another of Roger's excellent coasters:

Video of the trip (in true Marvel style, don't leave before the credits end):

Sunday 10 September 2023

Cars in the school

 Another weekend, another car show...this one was 20 minutes down the road at Copthorne prep school. This was only the 2nd year it was on but it was very impressive; food places, a few stalls, bouncy castles and some beautiful cars...

I had a school friend back in the 80s who had one of these Alfasuds and it was awesome:

You wait for 1 Lambo and...

McLaren 720s - possibly the most lovely design of all modern cars:

A range of Corvettes from old to new:

A lovely old Elan:

A rare 4-door Aston:

I had to step well back to fit this in the frame:

A wonderful Honda S800:

A car built from scratch, Chevy chassis, part MG body work, 8.2L engine, plus a mini version built from a mobility scooter:

Don't see many Marcos's these days:

Once again, car of the show, chosen by popular vote (of all the people that came to talk to me, possibly they were pressured into it):

The organisers were trying to spell out something from a drone POV, hence the way I was parked up - not sure if it worked.

A fun day out, sweltering hot and I had a little blast down some local fun roads on my way home.

The annual Rogues trip to Wales next week...looking forward to it.

Sunday 3 September 2023

Cars in the Square

 Today was a car show which was initially supposed to be in Winchester City centre but the council obviously thought they were single-handedly going to save the planet by not having the show, so it was moved to Southampton centre.

An enjoyable 80 mile drive out there and my wheel didn't fall off even once, so that was nice...

The weather was stonking and there were some cool cars on show...

This straight-piped Testarossa sounded much better than the original - the owner of this has 40 other cars in his collection!

This guy had squeezed a K20 with turbo (just) into his Mini van:

Great paint job:

When I was younger, this was one of my dream cars - Alpine A10:

Beautiful 3.0 CSL - the owner had another one which had been trashed by a woman who fell asleep at the wheel of her car! She got a payout in 2 weeks, this owner got a broken leg, his wife broke her spine and it took 2 years to get a payout:

McLaren GT:

Obviously, the best car on show:

Lovely run back in the sun, although too much traffic to have much fun and they've put average speed cameras on one of my favourite roads!