Saturday, October 23, 2021

Another Mazda


The MX5 is gone, but not forgotten.

The replacement is a pleasant machine. It drives well, is extremely comfortable, and some of its characteristics (gearshift and road manners) remind me of the MX5. 

It's a whole lot easier for a septuagenarian to access, and I don't have to make agonising decisions about preserving its value by not driving it in the rain, and keeping the kilometres low

I thought I knew a bit about Mazdas, but this car has provided a few surprises. Despite the smaller Mazdas having a bad reputation for road noise, I haven't found it a problem. Perhaps the tyres (almost new Michelins) help.

Whilst the seats feel hard and basic, I can drive long distances without developing the dreaded numb bum syndrome.  

Seats folded, it can shift a surprising amount of kit, as I discovered when helping my daughter shift her gear after her return from the UK. It also will accomodate a road bike, as my son discovered.

Existing audio. Works well, but way too many buttons.

These things come equipped with a good amount of tech, (GPS, bluetooth, voice activated calls) but I am replacing the stock audio setup with a touch screen with all the bells and whistles. The new audio won't do anything the old one wouldn't do by pairing it with a phone, but it's less fiddly and Apple Carplay is a good thing.

And with this car, I no longer am a worshipper on the "keep it original" altar. It's quite liberating.

It's mechanically very sound, although one problem with buying sight unseen is that unbeknownst to me prior to purchase, the paint had a few nasty surprises. Previous owner must have owned a cat which had fun climbing all over it and leaving minute scratches in the clearcoat.

I've removed some of them, but others are still noticeable under some light conditions. 

Next post I'll review the new audio kit. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Goodbye and Hello


It's gone.

I sold it to a bloke in Melbourne for $7000 more than I paid for it three years ago, and it arrived via truck yesterday and was collected by the new owner this morning.

He phoned me and told me he was wrapt in the car. I'm glad. He bought it sight unseen, based on my description, and I would have felt bad if he had been disappointed.

I sold it because it had ceased to be an object of enjoyment (although it remained a lovely little thing to drive) and had become an artifact to be preserved. This meant that every time I wanted to drive it, I was considering how many kilometres I would put on it, and how that would affect its value. 

The fact that my degenerating spine (a consequence of humping a military load in and out of choppers and for ten weeks at a time fifty-one years go) was making it increasingly painful to access its cockpit was also a factor.

Whilst all low-kilo NBs are holding their value well, this one, because of its Jasper Conran interior, is a collector's item. It probably should be on display in a museum, and a car like that is no good to me. Cars are for driving, not looking at.

I researched its replacement carefully and looked online for the most sensible and practical low mileage Japanese sedan with a manual six-speed gearbox. I found a 2013 Mazda 3 with 40000kms and (as the cliche goes, one lady owner). I bought it from a dealer, taking advantage of my TPI GST free concession. 

The plan was to deliver the MX5 to its new owner in Melbourne and to collect the Mazda 3 from the dealer and bring it back to Queensland.

Then the lockdowns happened.

In the end, the buyer had the MX5 trucked south, and I had the 3 sent north. Shortly before my car arrived in Pinkenba (the Brisbane depot of the logistics company) SE Queensland was locked down, and I couldn't pick it up without being quarantined at home for two weeks, so I had to shell out for the Brisbane-Toowoomba leg.

So the savings I'd made buying GST free were canceled out by the trucking costs. The car should arrive home today or tomorrow.

The blog will remain, despite the lack of an MX5 to write about. It will continue to cover matters motoring.

Watch this space.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

They Don't Build Them Like They Used To - Fortunately

This crash test involving a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air vs. a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu reveals how much progress has been made in vehicle safety during that fifty years.

Further progress has been made since 2009, and the statistics confirm it.

The cliche holds - they don't build them like they used to.

Thank the Good Lord for that.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

David Hack - Post Covid

The David Hack meet, probably the most thoroughly representative display of classic cars and vehicles in the country, was staged last Sunday, after a pandemic-induced gap in 2020.

It was the most well-attended David Hack Meet I've seen, and I have been to all of them in the last five years. Sunday was a typically crisp autumn day, but very pleasant in the sunshine.

I took random pics of a few of the cars (and one aircraft) and I'll attempt to caption them correctly. If I get it wrong, please let me know.


These things are springing up everywhere.

A very special 404 Ute.

The blue ute is the product of a twenty-one-year-long rebuild and retro-mod of a Peugeot 404 "Bakkie" (South-African built ute) imported in the 60s. The engineering is brilliant, and the presentation remarkable.

It features a fuel-injected 504 motor, a shortened and 504 equipped rear end, and all mod cons including A/C. the vehicle is a true labour of love.

Count the engineering mods on the placard.

Looking her best for the MX5 display.

A rather special Merc.

Fiat 125 - mid-sixties - I think.

Aero L 39 Albatros VH - SIC

Ford Capri


The Anglia reminds me of a very frightening journey in 1965 with my cousin between Kilcoy and Landsborough, during which he attempted to kill us both whilst he showed me how well it cornered.

It didn't - but we survived.

107 Series SL Class Mercedes Roadster
Alpine A110

Renault 4CV motor view

Renault 4 CV (Saigon Taxi).

Volvo 122S

Fiat Abarth 124 Spyder (MX5 in mufti)

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Chinese Alternative


Chinese vehicles are beginning to arrive in numbers on the Australian market. Frankly, I would never buy one for two good reasons.

The first is, I don't buy new cars. The fact that they lose a very large proportion of their value when you drive them out of the showroom explains that.

In the case of vehicles produced by Chinese companies, recent behaviour in their treatment of our exports is reason enough. Having said that, the research and development undertaken by SAIC, the Chinese company that owns the brand, takes place in Longbridge in the UK. The cars are actually manufactured in China or Thailand.

I had occasion to hire a car last week, and my promised Toyota Yaris somehow morphed into an MG3, so I'll write a brief review.

The MG logo is everywhere.

The car was fun to drive, as steering, handling, and road feel were all of a pretty high standard compared with its rivals. Build quality was so-so, being let down by fit and finish and lots of hard plastic.

The bells and whistles were all there, including a graphically excellent eight-inch touch screen, which handled the installed Apple Carplay very well. Bluetooth was simple and clear. Seating was basic but comfortable, although my trips were all short, so I can't say how it would fare on a highway run.

It was also reasonably refined considering the price point, and road and engine noise were generally subdued. The power steering pump made a yowling noise which was only present on the first start-up of the day. Once warmed up, it disappeared.

Engine is 1.5 litres.

The engine-transmission combination, whilst old-tech, works well. The auto is four-speed only, but preferable, in my opinion to the CVTs that are becoming commonplace in this market segment. It also used very little fuel. I didn't measure it but paid $8 to top the tank up after three or four trips from one side of town to the other.

The seven-year warranty and entry price of $17490 are pretty convincing, and these are the factors that are persuading buyers. That's a lot of car for not much money.

It seems to me that some Chinese manufacturers are following the pattern established by the Koreans. Their first offerings were pretty horrible, but they are learning quickly.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Basic Motoring

 Thinking about it, I begin to realise that I've spent a great deal of 
unnecessary dollars on motor vehicles. 
 I've owned nearly thirty at last count. 

At the moment, I'm looking after two vehicles belonging to offspring, 
one because she's overseas, and the other because he cycles to work 
and doesn't need it, but won't sell it because he might be transferred 
to a situation where he does.

Because my garaging and custodianship includes, as a condition, 
the right to drive the cars, I had  the choice of four cars to use in 
my recent excursion to Canberra and back.

Now the MX5 is fun to drive, and would possibly have been first 
choice, but it's appreciating in value, and I'm trying to keep its 
distance covered low. Besides, it is not all that enjoyable on a long 
run down a highway. It's an interesting car, built for interesting roads.

My bride uses our "new" car, a Kia Rondo, and whilst she doesn't 
mind driving the 323, is happier with the Kia. This left my son's 
Mazda 323 Protege as the weapon of choice for my Canberra excursion. 
My daughter's Toyota Echo, whilst a pleasant 
little car, was never a consideration.

It was a journey for research purposes at the AWM, and no other 
family members were all that interested, so I was travelling solo. 
The 323 has a number of features that made it a good choice for a 
solo journey. 
First up, it has three music sources - the original cassette player, 
an aftermarket 6 stacker CD player, and my iPhone connected 
through a bluetooth plug-in device. There was never going to be 
any shortage of mobile entertainment.

                             Aftermarket cruise

Navigation was taken care of using the iPhone, on a magnetic 
mount which meant it was hands free and legal. I have mastered 
the art of using the GPS app and the music player simultaneously. 
A recent IOS upgrade has made this simple.

This meant that all the features expected these days on a modern 
vehicle (GPS, bluetooth phone connection, and music player) were 
all available in this twenty year old car, for the price of a magnetic 
phone mount and a bluetooth connector. All worked a treat, with the 
possible exception of the GPS, which when connected to Google maps  
had a bad habit of setting me up for a beeline journey down some 
dodgy roads if I took it literally.

The Mazda performed beautifully. It delivered 7.3 Lit/100kms at a 
cruise of 110km on the Newell. The aftermarket cruise control 
was a boon.

The air conditioning in Mazdas is renowned for its efficiency, and 
with the combination of well-shaped velour lined seats, and a steering 
column adjustable for rake and distance, ensured a very comfortable 
driving position. Cars of this vintage generally enjoy better vision, 
as the styling fashion which creates blind spots for rear vision hadn't 
arrived in 1999.

          Mountain straight, Mount Panorama
I got to drive it around the Mount Panorama circuit on the way home. 
At 60kph, that was an unexciting, but interesting experience.

These things are going for about $3500 used at the moment. 
If you can find a low kilometerage example (like my son's car), they're a bargain.

Friday, November 27, 2020

A Ghost in the Machine (II)


My MX5 is making a new noise.

That is not as worrying as when the smoke comes out, but it is not a 
good thing. 
(Cars run on smoke - 
that's why  when it escapes you're usually in trouble).

Anyhow, no smoke has yet appeared, but the noise is a worry.

It seems to emanate from the water pump housing, isn't obvious 
on idle or when the motor is cold, 
but appears with a vengeance on the overrun when it's warmed up. 

My fellow members in the local MX5 owners' club have provided a 
range of suggestions from a sick 
alternator to a problem with the timing chain tensioner.

I know nuffink.

That is why I took it to my local mechanic who had just replaced a water 
pump on my son's Mazda 323. 
Interestingly, it has covered a similar distance (about 120000 kms). 
aybe there's something about 
Mazda BP-ZE engines and water pumps at 120000 kms. Or perhaps 
here is some kind of perfidious virus. 
They shared a garage for a time. There was no social distancing.

MLM* (whom I trust) had a listen and reckoned it was nothing to worry about. 
When I asked him if it would 
be OK to drive to Canberra (which had been my plan) he said "sure".

I trust him, but not that far. I have changed my plans.

Yesterday I took a deep breath and drove it the 146 kms to Automotive Plus 
(free plug) whose boss mechanic, 
after complaining that the motor was hot (it was - after driving from Toowoomba), 
declared that it was most 
likely a water pump bearing.

It got me home, and the noise is no worse. 

So now, I have to decide whether to get the job done locally, or at the 
specialist's setup in Brisbane. 
The latter will require two days. You can't expect people to work on a 
hot motor after a 146 km highway run.

I'll keep you posted.

Hence the II.

*My Local Mechanic.