I am ashamed to confess that I have not been as brave as MX5 Owner’s Club member Ady, from Essex, who went out in the heavy snow this month. In my defence we have had four weeks of blizzards here in Whitby and all I have done is to run the engine of my trusty steed every three days and charge the battery once a week. However, today the roads are clear at last and I have just driven 30 miles with the roof down and the heated seats keeping me warm. The car went well and I feel really rejuvenated but I was horrified by the state of the tarmac. Many of our roads were not repaired after the ravages of last winter and the very low temperatures and ice of the past month have produced some spectacular potholes:
My wife has a ten mile drive across the moors to work in her Mazda 2 and has already had a front tyre replaced before Christmas after a huge crater tore the sidewall out of the front nearside boot. Yesterday she drove thirty miles to our Mazda dealer to have a rear shock absorber bush replaced, I can’t be sure it was a pothole wot dunnit but I think its very likely! The other hazard I came across today was the huge amount of loose stones and grit on the road; my neighbour found out the hard way yesterday when he had a home visit from Autoglass to repair the large chip in the windscreen of his nice new Landrover. If you get hit just click on the logo for help:
So the message is: keep a very sharp eye open for these huge potholes and avoid driving through large puddles at all costs, they can hold a very expensive surprise. At best you may need a new tyre, possibly a new wheel and certainly a suspension and tracking check to make sure there is no secondary damage. Secondly, keep your speed down and stay well clear of the car in front to save your bonnet and windscreen. If the county councils don’t get their act together and start repairing our roads we could soon see more of this:
Finally, a really big pothole can be extremely dangerous and can cause major damage to your MX5. The situation around the country is now critical and if you need advice on how to claim damages, would like to report a pothole, or just want to know more about what is going on then visit Potholes.co.uk, its not as daft as it sounds:
I am about to lose my readership with one quick post! Ok, I know I am an ancient pensioner and millions of fans across the world can’t be wrong, but I have watched every single episode of this programme since it began in 1977 and loved every minute of it, until suddenly last night I found myself thinking, “This is really naff!”
This was not just because the tortured MX5 in the Christmas Special didn’t win, but more that the young spirited lads who came together in 2002 are now a fat, middle-aged, self opinionated bunch without a new idea between them. We have seen the same tired scenario played out time and time again with an increasing disregard for both the local people of the countries they visit and us, the devoted viewers.
Twelve months ago the programme’s executive producer Andy Wilman admitted that the three presenters were now “playing to their TV cartoon characters a bit too much.” and he went on to say,”This incarnation of Top Gear is nearer the end than the beginning, and our job is to land this plane with its dignity still intact.” Well Andy, you were absolutely right, another year has past so let’s find a new format closer to a proper car show and leave these old blokes to pursue a second career in pantomime.
This 1937 Bugatti was found in a barn last year, where it had stood since 1960. It later sold for around 3 million pounds.
This burst of terrible weather has kept me off the road for ages and it reminded me that many people who don’t use their MX5 as a primary means of transport lay their cars up for the winter months. I decided not to do this because there is a school of thought that it is better to keep using the car than leaving it stationary. However, if you decide to mothball your motor there are some preparations you should take to keep it in top condition until the spring. The well respected Beaufort Restoration Company has produced a checklist of actions to guide you through the procedure and you can download it by clicking on the Bugatti picture above.
Ideally you should keep the car in a dry garage with a dust cover once you have completed the work and you can order this breathable cover from S G Petch at a great sale price. One thing I have done is to install a 4ft tubular heater in my garage, it is only 180 watts and it is just sufficient to keep the temperature above freezing and take the dampness from the air. There is a good selection on Amazon and they are easy to install and very cheap to run. Click on the photo for details:
The Beaufort Company also produces a spring recovery guide which details the procedure to be followed to wake up your car from storage, it is primarily aimed at older classic cars but is well worth reading. Just click on their logo:
This is the view I like! Speed and performance from a reliable car with the backing of a major manufacturer. However, when I am not driving I spend a lot of time on line, writing this blog, shopping, sending emails and downloading stuff. Unfortunately the company which provides my broadband service doesn’t quite match up to Mazda’s standards of speed, performance and reliability.
The trouble is that the fall-off in internet performance is insidious, you don’t notice until your speed is down to dial-up levels and then you are faced with hours conversing with Bangalore, pleading with them to do something and arguing that it is not the router. I have just spent three days going through this process and at last something seems to have happened! The level of regulation in the broadband industry is apallingly low and the few good companies around do not cover country areas, so you are stuck. My advice is to never take no for an answer, grind them (politely) down until something happens. Email your complaint as a follow-up to your calls and monitor your line regularly with a simple speed tester. Here is a well proven one from Speedchecker.co.uk for you to try out:
The jungle drums continue to beat with rumours of the next generation of our favourite car due to be launched in 2012, and here are the latest rendered pictures to appear. The Mazda MX-5 will remain a rear-wheel drive compact sports car with the exterior inspired by the new Kodo design language, “Soul of Motion” which has been created by Mazda’s new design chief Ikuo Maeda.
The fourth generation Mazda MX-5 will feature a large five-point grille and fluid lines, headlamps will get LED light technology and everything will be a combination of sportiness and elegance. The interior will get improved seats and instrumentation but Mazda will focus on reducing the total weight to less than 1,000 kilos. There will be a newly developed four-cylinder, direct injection engine with up to 160 hp equipped with a start-stop system. Buyers will be able to choose from a six-speed manual or a dual-clutch semi-automatic.
If you are a sceptical of all these rumours then take a look at the Shinari four-door concept car shown in Milan earlier this year that illustrates the direction Mazda will be taking for the design of their future cars. This car is the result of a collaboration between Mazda’s styling studios in Germany, the United States, and Japan and is based on the new Kodo design theme.