Marcos Diary - Trials and tribulations of living with a 25 year old car!

Subj: 1997 - A Year Of Marcos Ownership

1997 was a funny old year and highlighted the need for old Marcii, especially, to have regular exercise to keep them in fine fettle.

With the arrival of our second child, Ryan, and working in Bracknell (involving a journey to work which doesn't encourage the use of the Marcos), I've really not used the car that much this year and I've suffered the results of that and a lack of expenditure in both time and money on the car.

Ryan and the Marcos' MOT both arrived in March and, although he arrived with no trouble, the MOT centre insisted upon a new steering rack before they'd sign the bit of paper to let the Marcos out to play.

The first real trip the car undertook in 1997 was to the British Sportscar Day at Brooklands on 1st June. This proved to be a very enjoyable day out with a great mix of old and new sportscars and a chance to take a spin up Brooklands test hill and on the remains of the infamous banking.

Unfortunately, a fairly severe vibration on the M3, let me know that one of the front brake calipers had seized on. The car was, barely, drivable, but it would, clearly, need some attention.

Le Mans came next and, although the car remained at home, I went along to cheer on the two car Marcos effort, hoping for a strong showing in GT2. Sadly, one car had failed in qualifying and the second car expired in a dramatic cloud of smoke within the first hour (reaping lots of TV coverage on Eurosport, but for all the wrong reasons). A short event for Marcos supporters, leaving me wondering if the Marcos effort really has sufficient funds to attempt the 24 Hour race.

Next event on the schedule was the local Classic car show at Loseley House. This has become a regular event for me now and is great for the family as it includes craft stalls, a farm and the local ice cream.

By now, I'd also noticed that the fuel gauge was refusing to register anything. At first I thought the problem may be with the gauge, but quickly discounted this. The next obvious place to look was the sender and removing it showed that the float was holed and full of fuel. I tried to obtain a replacement float, but was unable to. I asked Rory McMath to provide a replacement sender and float (thinking by now the sender, too, was faulty), but as he forgot to send it, I cancelled it.

In the end, I fixed it by soldering up the holes in the plastic float (thanks to suggestions from an Internet mailing list) - Saved myself 50-odd quid too! However, I managed to run out of petrol on the approach road to Loseley and got Mandy to bring me an extra can of petrol when she and the kids arrived later in the day. Unfortunately, this year the event suffered from rain, but it's a good show and gets bigger every year, whilst maintaining its friendly atmosphere.

In 1996, I attended a classic car show at Breamore House, near Fordingbridge in Hampshire. This is quite close to my parents' home and falls on the weekend closest to my mother's birthday, so I went again in 1997. I'm not sure why, but I didn't enjoy this show as much this year as I did on my first visit. With hindsight, I guess the problem is that it's a bit too small, with little to keep exhibitors interested for the whole day. Perhaps next year (if I go), I'll make a point of touring the house, which I've not done since I went there on a school trip, over 20 years ago!

I then phoned Dave Lewis, the Thames Valley Club Marcos International representative, to find out what was going on regarding the Auto Trader Auto Sunday. This big car show, held near Bracknell, Berks, has been running for years, so I was a little taken aback when Dave told me the organisers of it went bust after last year's event.

Fortunately, Auto Trader had transferred their allegiance to the Wokingham & Reading Show, held in fields just off the A33 between Basingstoke and Reading. Mandy, Lauren and I had visited this show the previous year and enjoyed the mixture of country fair (Cattle, sheep, goats and horses on show, craft tents), fun fair (small, but including the all important dodgems!) and classic car show (Honest, I didn't have any idea, in 1996, that there would be cars!).

Dave's organisational skills sometime leave a little to be desired, so I ended up driving to the event with no entry tickets. However, Dave is good at working in a crisis and made the point of being their early to hand out the entry tickets on the gate. The show was a great sucess. We had 3 Marcos Coupes (A Volvo 3 litre, John Lancaster's much re-engineered '83 3 litre coupe - now running a V8 and my car) and a Mini Marcos and Mini Jem, courtesy of the ever enthusiastic Mini Marcos Owners Club. The sun shone all day and Lauren won a cuddly whale on one of the stalls, despite wailing 'I never win on these' pitifully as she drew out her tickets.

As I wandered around the cars on display I noticed a couple of cars I've encountered on previous events. There was the beautiful Alfa Romeo Montreal which I'd seen at Breamore the previous year (and is owned by people a couple of miles from my home) and I got chatting with a very amiable gentleman with a beautiful 1920s Lagonda, who was more than happy to show me over the car. It's great to see cars like this out at classic car events as the word 'Classic' is much abused these days (see my comments about Ascot!), but there is no doubt that his car was a true 'Classic' in anyone's books.

Almost at the last moment, I came across the information that the London Classic car show had been moved from Kempton Park to nearby (to me) Ascot Racecourse for 1997. I tried to find out if there was to be any official Marcos representation, but it seemed that there was not, so I registered as a private exhibitor.

Despite being late September, the weather was, once again, glorious. There were many cars, including an official Mini Marcos Owners Club stand - I didn't think of checking with Richard Porter about whether they were going. I also spotted Richard Partridge's immaculate V6 coupe.

The show was large, with many trade stands to keep the exhibitors busy for the day. I almost bought a new bonnet badge for 30, but decided that I wouldn't really have a use for it, although it was a bargain. Instead, I collected numerous magazines with Marcos related articles, to add to my collection. I even got a couple of magazines for free for helping one exhibitor move his table.

Amongst the truly classic (That Lagonda was also at Ascot), there was the truly bizzare. The strangest had to be the Escort Cabriolet club. These rather ordinary cars were being jacked up and owners were painting the tyres black. The Escort may one day be a 'classic' in the same way the Anglia is today (ie people get nostalgic about the cars they, or their parents, once owned), but that time is a long way off. This stand looked as though it would be more at home at the 'Max Power - Phwoooar' show than a classic car show, and it rather dented the show's claim to be the 'best Classic car show in London'.

Still, overall it was a good show and I intend to return in 1998, hopefully with some form of CMI representation.

The contact Dave Lewis had made with Richard Porter and the other MMOC members was continued with a pub meet near Maidenhead. Once again, the MMOC guys turned up, along with Dave (his car, at last, back on the road) and John Lancaster. This is now a regular meet, but has moved to the Leather Bottle at Mattingley (near Hook, Hampshire) and is held on the second Sunday of each month.

I, on the other hand, barely made it. As I got the car out of the garage, I noticed the clutch pedal flop to the floor. As I filled up with petrol, I checked the fluid level and found it was empty. I topped it up, which helped a little, but on the way to the pub the clutch got less and less operational until pressing the pedal made no difference at all. I managed to get home by blipping the throttle on downshifts.

A week later, I attempted to bleed the clutch, but the nipple broke off the the slave cylinder. Attempting to remove the slave cylinder simply resulted in that breaking off where the hydraulic hose feeds into it.

Time to rectify all those years of neglect and spend some money on getting the car into a healthy state, with a view to getting to Le Mans again in 1998, my 20th visit to the great race.

Mark

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