Midweek Motoring Meander

Caffeine & Machine, Morgans and Diddly Squat Farmshop.

We spent 3 days last week touring round the countryside south of Birmingham. We had tickets to a tour of the Morgan factory at Malvern and to make the journey worthwhile we decided on a couple of other stops.

The first day saw us at Caffeine and Machine just south of Stratford Upon Avon. In their words they are a ”Coffee house, licensed bar and restaurant, boutique b&b, and living art gallery, C&M is designed very simply as a place to go, a destination if you appreciate moving things.”

Caffeine and Machine
Petrol Head Heaven

Although it was quiet when we visited I think it would be an excellent day out when there are events on. The pizza I had for lunch was superb!

We stayed at a hotel near Kidderminster and the next day saw us going to Malvern to visit Morgan Cars.

The tour is around 2 hours and is an extremely interesting and absorbing time. We also enjoyed an excellent afternoon tea. As a day out I would recommend it.

We also saw some early production cars, the Super 3. This is a new version of the 3 wheeler with a 1.5 ltr Ford 3 cylinder engine. This engine replaces the Vee twin motorbike engine, apparently it could not conform with current emission regulations.

Super 3 - Hairy and Lairy.

The cars we saw were being released to the press. The tour guide said that soon it would be possible to hire one for the day; yes please! Despite the small engine it promises to be hairy and lairy.

Our third day saw us venturing to Chipping Norton, the home of Diddly Squat Farm.

Now to be honest I was a little disappointed, the shop was really small and crowded, of course. The ‘Big View’ cafe would be quite pleasant on a warm day but I think it could lose its appeal in a blustery wet weather. It didn’t deter the crowds of Clarkson groupies though (me included).

So we bought some Clarkson Sausage, case of Hawkstone beer, an empty milk bottle and 3 tea towels. Almost £70. The chap on the till informed us that as they could only sell ‘local’ produce and the tea towels were not local then we should buy a potato and get the towels free! Genius.

Boozy cat
8 out of 10 cats…

The beer’s not bad though!

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.

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.

BMW 1 Series joins the family

BMW 1 Series joins the family

“Oh Gawd, now I’ve gone an’ done it, I’ve only gone an’ bought a Beemer…”
Well, it’s a 1 Series to be precise. A BMW 118D Sport. The word Sport has pushed up the insurance a little, but my views on insurance costs are well known.
Any way, the new beast is a 5 door white 62 plate Beemer, BMWExterioronly the second one I’ve had, although Mrs S’s X5 is still the best car we’ve ever owned. I used to have a BMW535i, a fantastic saloon, Y reg, that was more than capable of eating up the miles and petrol. This one is a little more prosaic, being only 2.0 Litre and also a manual.  It is claimed BMWInsideto do 62mpg, and I shall be reporting back here as to the veracity of the claim.  I will say that the soon to be departed Merc 350 petrol returned an average of 28.6mpg, which I though quite remarkable for a V6 3.5 Litre engine running an automatic ‘box.

I am quite looking forward to driving it, I am sometimes called upon to drive long distances so we shall see how good it is over the long haul.

Diesel Engines

Diesel Engines

Been having a ride in a BMW 1 series today, more precisely 2 cars, a 1.6 petrol automatic and a 2.0 ltr diesel (118d).  The old C350 Merc is starting to show her age and number 2 son is also starting driving lessons so I have decided to ‘downsize’ to a manual car so that No. 2 can practice his skills.  BMW116PetrolThis one here is the petrol version, and a jolly fine car, although it is automatic so cannot really be considered for the junior offspring.  I was pleasantly surprised by the performance, in my day 1.6 litre was considered a little pathetic, but diesel was never an option in this sort of engine size.

Next up was the 118d, the salesman suggested it as a contrast and I had some time to spare…

WOW!  The 2.0 litre engine has some punch, smooth, pulls well from 1500rpm and goes like a train.  This is not what diesels are supposed to be like, where was the death rattle, the harsh vibrations, the black smoke?  60mpg!  What’s not to like.  If I can find one with climate control then a sale is made.  No. 2 will not be allowed near it.