The Tale of the Trevor

The sorry tale of a TVR

I once bought a TVR, it was a rather special one, a 420 SE AC and it went like stink.  It was, as usual, an impulse purchase and was mainly the fault of a friend, a local garage proprietor, who persuaded me to buy one when I showed him a magazine article about how fast it was going to be.  He knew Peter Wheeler, the then owner of TVR, and arranged for me to purchase one of the early cars.  Of course I paid too much, don’t I always when it comes to cars?

Crikey it was fast, and loud and bloody awful on a long journey.  At the time I believe it was the fastest production car available, an incredible amount of bang per buck.  It was however very badly built, the term Jerry Built would not do the workmanship justice.  The wipers failed in their primary purpose, the windscreen washers had all the power of a geriatrics bladder, the heater just didn’t and I don’t think the horn ever worked. It did look pretty though

Of more pressing concern was the engine management electrics.  They were fastened to a hatch in the nearside footwell, mounted on a rectangular piece of thin, sharp metal held in place above the passenger’s legs by a couple of catches.  Under hard acceleration the catches would open and the entire caboodle would fall onto the legs of  the passenger with the sharp edge threatening to lacerate the shins.

But it was chuffing quick; the noise of the cross plane V8 under load was awesome and the ability to thrash it down a winding country lane just intoxicating. For the first service the car was returned to Blackpool and I took the opportunity to apprise Mr Wheeler of some of the vehicle’s shortcomings. He listened to me in his office, wreathed in a cloud of cigarette smoke, paused to light another from the stub of the old one and then told me to eff off; I’d bought the car and it was tough. Great customer service I thought.

The car was left at Blackpool for a couple of days for some remedial work as well as its service and I received a phone call from a magazine, Performance Car. They were in Blackpool for an article on TVR and they asked if they could borrow mine for some photographs around the town. I was assured that the car would not leave town and would only be driven carefully so, after agreeing that I could have copies of the photos, I gave permission.

When I went to pick the car up a couple of days later it was buggered. The engine had started smoking a little, the rear tyres were well past their best and the diff seemed to have a slight whine. Mr Wheeler was noticeable by his absence and any calls to Performance Car were met with no knowledge of our agreement. When I later got a copy of the magazine there was what amounted to a full road test and through thrashing around the Lake District. I never even got the photos!

The time came a little while later to sell the car, it was a real ‘head turner’ and attracted small boys and petrol heads wherever it stopped. Should sell easily!

Meh! I advertised it far and wide at ever reducing prices and elicited zero interest until finally a dealer from Bristol offered a derisory £20K to which I reluctantly agreed. He arrived on the train at Harrogate, took a test drive and then proffered a bankers draft drawn against the Bank of Baroda. Never heard of them and this was long before the internet so anything Google was out of the question. I rang the number on the cheque and was assured by an earnest foreign sounding chap that the bank was indeed real and the account kosher.

TVR420

Went like a bat out of hell!

Private Number Plates

Some years ago I recall seeing an advert in a motoring magazine where they boasted that every car came complete with a private number plate, their lead example was a rather mundane Mini Metro with the number plate BZY 234 T. * Their point was that every registration has to be unique.

*( it wasn’t that exact number, it was many years ago and I use that number for illustration!)

I have owned a couple of Cherished Numbers over the years and the first notable one was NAS7Y.

Performance Car October 87I bought this number whilst it was on a Range Rover, a black 4 door 3.5lt petrol V8. Fabulous car, I ran it for a few months and then I bought the ill-fated TVR 420SEAC. (a separate blog on this will follow soon.)

At one point I had the number on both vehicles simultaneously and it may have gone unnoticed until I inadvertently parked them together in Harrogate and Mr. Plod gave me a lecture.

I even had my car featured in a car magazine with the number plate on.  If you look carefully at the image you can even see my name on the number plate!  Happy days.

Some months later I was in my local pub, lightly oiled, when someone asked me how much I wanted for the plate. I answered that it was not really for sale unless I was offered a ridiculous amount. What, he inquired, was ridiculous? I answered £20K and he said yes!

That sum funded a rather nice Lotus Elan Sprint and another number plate: 8 POO

This was a great car but so tiny, even by the standards of the 90’s when I owned it. This is not the exact car but mine was the same colour combination.

This number stayed with me for some years, unlike the Lotus which found a new home after only a short while. 8 POO was on several cars (not all at once!) and I reluctantly sold it when I needed to get my finances on a more even footing. I did make quite a good profit though.

I missed that number and regretted selling it, even though I was ‘clocked’ wherever I went.

Recently I have been thinking about another number and this came about through an Ebay search, they sell loads of registrations, who knew? I started looking and one caught my attention, fairly rude; F4CKK. That sold for quite a large sum, more than I was prepared to pay. I tried the DVLA website and searched through a huge quantity of numbers that they have available and was informed of their forthcoming auction, one of several they hold each year.

B16 POO was available with a guide price of £550. Lovely! Within a couple of hours of the auction (on line) getting underway the price had risen to £10,100 and I was out of the running.

Back to the DVLA site and I found F4 CKF was for sale at £599. Bargain!

Almost certainly a Police magnet.

I’ve bought it and I am happy to sell it on… I’m not sure I have the cojones to put it on my car.

An Epiphany (sort of)

I have chuntered elsewhere on this platform about the escalating use of keyless ignition and the ubiquitous START button which I really don’t like. Mainly the issue is that when I clamber aboard and I have the keys in my hand I struggle to find where to put them, as I have already sat down it is then difficult to get them in my pockets. In the centre console they have a tendency to rattle so I often ended up with the keys on the seat between my legs. This often meant that I would exit the car and leave the keys behind, sometimes in full view whereas stopping, turning and removing the key ensures that it is in my hand upon leaving. Simples!

Start Button

This is the Mercedes version, but most manufacturers are using something similar. Push once to start, once to stop. As simple as a key really.

The other evening Number 2 son dutifully came to pick up his aged parents from a pub. He arrived in my car and whilst he waited patiently for me to finish my beer I mentioned, not for the first time, my dislike of stop/start buttons and why could we not use a simple key.

The Button

As we got in the car he reached down and removed the offending button with a simple click and inserted the Mercedes key in time-honoured fashion!

To misquote PG Wodehouse: Never has my flabber been so gasted! It was an epiphany.

A key in a lock

This is how it should be! Good old Mercedes.

White Goods, the Future of Motoring

Someone observed to me the other day that he considered cars are now just white goods and because we are both hardened Petrol Heads we mourned the passing of motoring as a pleasure, a pastime, a way of life, a source of endless conversation, an interesting method of travel, a trove of stories but above all an endless stream of expense, frustration and joy. I now consider the golden age of motoring to be over and it has gone beyond the usual arguments of traffic, cost and the uniformity of current vehicles.

M25 traffic jam.

Ask any motorist, commuter or someone who drives for a living, what their main issue is and the answer is usually traffic. Hold-ups on the M25, accidents on the M62, road works on the ring road (of any city) and they all contribute to delay, frustration and cost. There are also the stringent rules and regulations that have one overriding objective, financially milk the motorist.

The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a vehicle is an exercise best avoided if one wishes to retain one’s sanity, especially depreciation, but even the everyday running costs can make one squirm. Public transport is touted as a panacea to our travel problems, especially by left-leaning liberal Londoners, but I do not enjoy sharing my personal space with a stranger whose hygiene may be questionable and their taste in music or politics or religion at odds with ones own.

15 Years! Is that all?

And now the Government, in its misguided omniscient way has concluded that battery power is the way to go, having learnt nothing from its disastrous diesel decision. 15 years! That’s all we have apparently to massively upgrade the electric infrastructure and build immense new power stations. We are so poor at building huge civil engineering projects on time and on budget, look at how HS2 has increased in cost!

There is a wealth of information on electric cars on the internet but a very interesting take on the current viability of a Jaguar i-Pace is given by Harry Metcalf (YouTube Video). Harry is a keen Petrol Head and in this video he makes some astute observations about motoring in battery-powered cars, not least that the charging system is very poor (unless you have a Tesla).  Electric vehicles are least economical on motorways at a constant speed, they seem to work best in stop start situations.  The speed of recharging is currently woeful and I understand that these vehicles cannot be towed so running out of volts on a busy road is to be avoided.  In conclusion Harry will use the Jaguar for short town journeys but if he needs to go some distance then it’s the Range Rover!

More power!

Now I am not sure what the answer is, but I do believe that we are headed in the wrong direction. The infrastructure is not there and not just the lack of power generation although several Hinkley Points are not the solution. In the village where I live the grid will need to be upgraded if just 10% of the residents decide to install a 7KW charger, the power lines will not cope. We are also told that gas and solid fuel will soon be verboten and so everyone will have to use electric heating. Madness!

The most likely answer is Hydrogen. These people seem to be leading the way, but there will be others. Quite a good Autocar article here. The future is bright if market forces, driven by demand is allowed to be given its head, just keep the politicians out of it.

Hooray, it’s another Merc.

It’s been a while since I last posted, sorry.  The BMW has moved on to another owner and I have returned to the Mercedes fold.  The vehicle in question this time is a C43 Estate, and it is almost everything a car should be. 

Merc C43

This could possibly be my favourite Mercedes (so far).

It has a 3.0 litre petrol engine, turbocharged to give 362 BHP which gives it quite amazing performance.  The way the engine picks up is staggering and I would argue that it is realistically quicker than the C63 that I used to own.  The 0-60 times are slower but on an overtaking manoeuvre with kick down, the twin turbos spool up very briskly and shove the old girl in a blur of speed and sound. The noise is different from the old V8, that was a delicious rumble that stirred the dangly bits, this V6 sounds like a swarm of angry hornets buzzing around the rear. It is actually very good but I don’t have the optional Active Exhaust ‘loud’ button that would certainly improve things.

Twin Turbos

Because two Turbos are better than one!

On the practical side, it consumes Shell’s finest petrol at the rate of 33 miles to the gallon, it has a full panoramic roof, an excellent sound sytem and is very comfortable ploughing up and down the A19 at a steady 65MPH*. As I travel around 800 miles every week it is perfect.

There are a couple of niggles: I am not enamoured of the gear selection on a stalk similar to an indicator. I worry that I may mistake the lever for the windscreen wipers and put the car into reverse at 65MPH, I am sure that it will be impossible but I’ve not yet dared to try it. The previous owner seemed to lose his bottle with the options list, there is no Apple Carplay, Adaptive Cruise control or Proximity Sensors in the door mirrors.

Mercedes-Benz

Possibly the finest cars – In the World.

All in all it is a splendid car and covers my every need… However it has done over 33,000 miles and I need to change it very soon before its value plummets even further.

The chase is on, fire up PistonHeads and Autotrader!

*All cars seem to have a mechanical resonance where all the moving parts settle in a sympathetic alignment and with this vehicle it is at around 65MPH. It is also very relaxed at 85-90 too but I have just acquired 3 fresh points from the Scottish Constabulary.