Marcos Diary - Trials and tribulations of living with a 30 year old car!
Subj: 2001 - The time has come!
Well, you may have noticed that the report prior to this is dated 1998. Sadly, there's a good reason for that...
1999 seems a long time ago now, but the car did get some use after my Puma arrived. In June, I took the car along to the British Sportscar day at Brooklands. 1999's event had a theme of British Racing Green and the idea was to get one model of each marque present, in the appropriate hue, arrayed in front of the clubhouse. Being one of only two Marcos present that day and being the very appropriate Brooklands Green, CLE 100H was shepherded into the paddock to rub shoulders with the great and the good.
The weather forecast was not good, but as it turned out, aside from one or two very brisk cloudbursts, the day was warm(ish) and sunny. One elderly lady made my day by asking if 'that beautiful car' was mine - After checking she really DID mean the Marcos (I know it's not everyone's taste and there were some other cars worthy of the title, even in my biased view), I confirmed it was and chatted with her for a while. The owner of the MG next to me told me the story of how his father had purchased the car new and then it had passed onto him when his father died, which I thought was a nice story - the car was immaculate. All in all, and including a run up the famous test hill and onto the little of the banking that remains - what must that have been like to race on?, it was a wonderful day and the drive back through the Surrey lanes completed the day.
The next event in 1999 was a classic car event at Mapledurham House, near Reading. This is a lovely location, but the weather that day refused to play - it JUST poured, non-stop. Even I had trouble enjoying the day and I didn't stay late. I've not seen any events here again, which seems a shame, as the actual venue was very picturesque.
Final run, as it turned out, of 1999 and since, was to the Loseley House classic car and country show. As I was busy digging CLE 100H out for the drive down on Sunday morning (A quick check on Saturday had confirmed the engine would fire), I suffered that horrible feeling of the brake pedal sinking with no resistance and the car refusing to slow. A hasty bleeding of the brakes restored some pressure and I set off, albeit with somewhat spongy brakes.
This event was always good, with a nice mix of classic vehicles (the classic fire engines always popular pumping water from the lake and firing it back in) and craft and events, but, sadly, the 1999 edition was the last, with the event reappearing in Leatherhead in 2001 (which I didn't get to, so I don't know if the great atmosphere was retained).
A few days later I checked the braking system over, but could find no obvious leak and with little real incentive to get the car back on the road, I left the car to gather dust, simply firing it up from time to time.
The inevitable followed. With no way of driving the car, I found I always had better things to do than fix it and a couple of abortive attempts to get it fixed by mobile mechanics just deepened my apathy. After all, if I couldn't PAY people to fix it, where was I going to find the impetus to do it?
Fortunately, Dave Lewis (a fellow Marcos owner, whose car, let it be said, has been off the road much longer than mine!) bullied me into some action in the summer of 2000. He and a couple of other Thames Valley Group regulars appeared one night and successfully got the car fired up and running on at least 5 cylinders. I then knuckled down and discovered the brake fluid loss was due to a leaking rear cylinder. The cylinder was finally replaced the following Spring (2001), over a number of weeks, but on refilling the system and beginning to bleed it, the cylinder promptly exploded, firing the piston out and pouring brake fluid everywhere. That was the final straw. Totally demoralized, I left the car in the garage for another summer and nothing happened.
Over that summer, though, a trip to San Francisco (this time on business) had refired my love of classic cars with a trip to Sears Point to watch a historic race meeting and a meeting with fellow Marcos owner, Mike Denman, whose 1800 Volvo engined car is a fine example of how good a classic car can look without being over-restored or, worse, customised. A visit to Paul Stephens and a run in a V8 Mantaray and a 470BHP supercharged Mantis coupe, also rekindled my enthusiasm for being behind the wheel of one of these cars.
One of the big preoccupations of 2001 has been plans to have our house extended and, as this involved demolishing the garage as step 1, when work finally was scheduled, it prompted the removal of the car and the time had come to get CLE 100H back on the road.
Over the years, former Marcos kit agent, Alan Fereday has done some work on the car and the car has never been better than after his attention, so he was the obvious person to get to sort the car out. The trouble is, Alan is now a Ginetta man and kept busy with work on those and his own project, the Vario. However, after a visit, he agreed that he'd take the car over the winter, firstly getting it road worthy again and then looking at some ideas for improvement that I had. I've never been a big fan of over-restored and customized Marcoses, but there are a couple of changes which others have made, which I'm sure will make ownership of a V6 more pleasant, whilst retaining the period feel of the car, which I so enjoy.
So, that's the story with CLE 100H as it's 32nd year draws to an end. A week ago, Alan and I loaded the car up onto his trailer and he took it away. The garage is, currently, gone as the builders start constructing the new, built-in (and slightly larger :^)) one and I'm looking forward to the Spring of 2002, when (hopefully) I'll have a healthy Marcos 3 litre and a larger house! I've changed jobs after 6 years with my previous employer and I'm also looking at replacing the Puma, whose late delivery led me to drive the Marcos as a daily driver for a couple of months back in late 1998.
How time flies...