Thursday, 17 October 2013

Time for a change... again... Caterham for sale... again

Fine. I didn't sell the little red car. I didn't even come close. I did get divorced. It wasn't about the car. But I got to keep the car. Yay! So, by way of celebration, I'm selling it.

Wait? What?

So the last post, 11 months ago, was a sad little link to Neil Garner. However, it was optimistically priced, which I knew, and there was a nagging doubt. Anyway, spring rolled around and there were no firm offers following the big Easter Open Day at Garner Motorsport, so I had the MOT done, a service and a thoroughly enjoyable summer of Caterham fun, including my first and second forays on track. I'll do a little catch-up blog on those another time.

Suffice to say, however, I was re-bitten by the bug and the one thing that stuck with me was a) how much fun it was on track and b) how long the list of upgrades was to make it into a machine that could be used predominantly on track.

In short, the list was long enough to persuade me if I really wanted to do it properly, the right thing to do was sell this well kept, road-oriented car and buy something that was perhaps little more track oriented, and as any past owner might say, something in a condition more indicative of a well used lifestyle. In doing so, I would be able to address the upgrades by simply buying a car that had already had most of the ideal items fitted. I planned to do this in 2014. And then, as you always do, I spotted the perfect car. I wasn't even "looking". In fact, my first action was to email the ad to a friend and say "For the love of God - sell a kidney and buy this". Then the next day I got an email from another Seven owning friend, containing the word "great" quite a lot and pointing to the same car. Which got me thinking - always a bad thing.

Next thing you know, a deal's been struck and the faithful 1400 is on the open market and a potential bargain to be had, as I have one garage and a new car arriving shortly.

Pistonheads ad is here: Bargain Caterham

Blatchat ad is here: Still a bargain Caterham...

Pics here:  Man alive! This IS a pretty car (and a bargain)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Time for a change... Caterham for sale...

I've had enormous fun in the little Seven, but I'm sad to say I'm simply not giving it the home it deserves. So, reluctantly, I'm going to sell it. It's a cracking little car and is stored at Neil Garner Performance Engineering in Kemble if it takes your fancy.

Neil Garner, tel: 01666577449, or call Simon on 07587 133661

Friday, 9 March 2012

The lineage is clear...

PistonHeads have written a nice little article on a 1965 Lotus Seven. I quite like the fact that the lineage is very clear. Here is the not so distant relative of my car.

Pic courtesy of/credit to PistonHeads

2012 - the year of learning

One of the draws of owning a Caterham is the ability to work on it yourself, making it a truly budget oriented car to own. From my own perspective, I don't have  lot of mechanical knowledge yet, but part of the deal I made with myself in owning two cars is to make it affordable. Paying high hourly rates for servicing on two cars just isn't on, so after fixing the seriously under-performing handbrake and failing to diagnose why the horn has died, the first on the list of proper "to dos" is a basic oil change (think I can manage this...).

In order to insure against terminal stupidity, I've ordered the Haynes Manual for the Rover 214 and 414 (princely sum of £2.80 from Amazon), with which I share an engine and I shall also be employing the rather excellent guide from A.R.S.E. or Alcester Racing Sevens Equipe, if you prefer.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Not driving the Seven leads me to ponder selling...

Wow - September to February. Time does fly! To sum up, the Seven has been sitting on axle stands and undergoing a pretty thorough paint refurbishment before I tackle some more MOT oriented issues - the defunct handbrake and the broken horn.

It's no surprise that I've missed driving the little car. However, the long layoff made me question the sense of having something that is so transparently seasonal. It's perfectly possible to drive one year round. Not so attractive to be passengered about in one year round, but the reality is that the car needs a thorough wash after every drive, not something I'm well equipped to do. So, stands and SORN it is. Stands, SORN and a nagging thought that there might be a car out there that would provide 80% of the fun, but with a roof and a more practical disposition in the cold.

Just to recap first, however, the reasons why running a Seven is such an inviting proposition:

Of course, the driving experience is second to none (or very few, at least). Add to that the high level of affordability - low tax and insurance, coupled with a simple set of mechanical parts - and very slow depreciation and it becomes very clear why there is appeal.

So, with a budget of around £10k, what falls into sight as a replacement? There are in fact a surprising number of cars that fit the bill to some extent, but none that meet all my lengthy requirements, some of which are so esoteric, so marginal and so off the wall they're difficult to explain.

Here are just a few car, pinched from PistonHeads as an example of what I've been looking at, plus some thoughts.

Lotus Elise:

At this price, you're seeing quite high miles and let's be honest, it's a Lotus of a certain era. You need to budget a reasonable sum for fault repairs alongside the normal servicing. Also, possibly a little too raw, so not a significant step away from the Seven. Conclusion - rather keep the Seven.

Lotus Exige:

 OK - a cheat. You can't get one for £10k. Or £15k. At £20k you're in a whole new territory, but it was an initial "I wonder" moment. To say I was disappointed they were so far out of range and no longer depreciating would be an understatement. I predict good ones will now start to appreciate, so the dream is getting further away. Shame.


I've never really been a fan of the M cars. However, it's hard to ignore a BMW V8 at under £10k. It's also hard to ignore the prospect of servicing costs and let's be honest, it's a massive car and not really a weekend special. I'd like to have a little pomp and circumstance when out and about. I occasionally wonder if seeing the Seven has ever been the seed that starts a mini-petrolhead off. Any kid who gets excited by this is already a car-nut.


OK - so in terms of driving, it's a totally different proposition to a Seven. Literally light years apart in design and philosophy. But I so badly want this car. I'd love it so much I happily apply man-logic to the servicing: Petrol is so expensive, I'd barely do any miles, so the servicing costs will be low... See? Man-logic.

In actual fact, I like this so much, have two pics.


For the inner hooligan. I'm sure it would be fun to drive and certainly eye (and ear) catching. But currently the UK "car tax" or Vehicle Excise Duty, is unrelated to mileage. This car puts out a lot of CO2 and so attracts the highest rate of duty - over £400. For a car that would do less than 3,000 miles, that's ridiculous. I shan't get into the argument in this post, but suffice to say, it's off-putting.

Integra Type R:

The fact that the newer version (DC5) is selling for less than this example says a lot about how good this car is. A friend has one. It's brilliant. However, they way I like to drive and the way these demand to be driven just doesn't gel. It's a shame, but there you are.


Seriously tempting this. Reasonable service and running costs, classic front engine, rear wheel drive layout, a V engine. I thought long and hard, but it just doesn't tick an undefinable box labelled "want one". Makes sense in the head, but not the heart.

The inevitable Impreza:

The P1 was a limited run of 1000 specials, specifically tuned and prepared for the UK roads. An unmodified one with these low miles is rare and the price reflects this. This too is very tempting, though there's a nagging thought that I could have 90% of the fun for 10% of the cost. How? With this: Shed of the Week.

Now, the final coup de grace, and one that for a while, I had my heart set on. If I were ever going to replace the Seven, I think I'd go this way. I have to point out that it only meets a few of my specified requirements. However, with precisely the opposite feeling of the 350Z, this has "want" written all over it. It's a lot of car for the money. I can't help but feel that this is another car that won't depreciate much further either, so getting in now feels about right.


In fact it's so much car for the money, as soon as I saw the ad above, I wavered again. However, I have ultimately decided to keep the Seven, for the next few years at least. I'll no doubt harbour some wants. I do want to own a proper V8. I'd love to own a Ferrari, even if it's just for one wallet-crippling year, but for now, it's back to the land of warm jackets and revvy 1400cc Rover engines.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

It's been a while...again...

So, in summary: Ankle mended and summer holiday done. I'm back in full Caterham mode. So, of course, the British weather has become decidedly Autumnal. 

To combat this I have in fact bought what is affectionately known to readers of  PistonHeads as a shed - a car that costs under £1000 - for the wetter months of the year. This brings me to the next task - winterising the Seven. I've never kept a car for good weather driving only, so have little idea of what I should be doing to ensure the battery doesn't go flat, the whole thing doesn't rust to death in the garage over the winter and the tyres don't get a flat spot from sitting still. When I have a list I'll let you know.

And now for something completely different: Here's a blog being written by and affable young man called George and his friend Ewan. George until very recently worked for me and then made the bizarre decisioned to give up his desk and bugger off to distant climes. There's just no understanding some people. Anyway, they write very well and both being of the artistic persuasion, will no doubt furnish their tales and adventures with interesting photos to keep the attention deficient reader entertained. Enjoy.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Twitter Newbie...

As I've not worked out how to add a photo to a tweet yet, or possibly as my phone if from the 90's, I'm putting this here in response to @C12UFO and @harrismonkey on the subject of exhaust shapes...
A happy spot in Monterey. Not on a Ford. Tidy.

Three weeks of no car is a long time...

Clearly I'm going stir crazy. I've joined Twitter. Though I should point out it's mostly for keeping up with and commenting on car and car sports type stuff and not detailing what I'm having in my sandwiches.

I was persuaded by two (sad) things:

One. A mate who works in finance pointed out that he was more able to follow the Japanese tsunami crisis via Twitter and form swift opinions via the same better than through what I'd style as 'trad' news outlets.

Two. Via again, a mate, I found out about the death of Amy Winehouse via Twitter. A quick flick to BBC1, BBC News 24 and Teletext showed nothing. New era then. Yeah - try not to mock. I just realised.

I shall endeavour to be more open minded then....

News is different.

And now for something not entirely completely different.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Just Caterham

Apologies for the lack of posting.

Top tip of the day (year?) would be if you wish to enjoy the use of your Caterham, or indeed any car, during the nice dry weather of the summer, do avoid breaking your ankle.

Things I have discovered:

It hurts to break an ankle. Even a tiny wee avulsion fracture. Especially when you have to walk over a mile on it before getting any first aid.

It's illegal (or at least invalidates your insurance, which amounts to the same thing) to drive with a cast on your foot.

Even if I could drive, the cast is too damn wide for Caterham Seven pedals.

Damn and double damn. 23 days until the cast comes off and counting.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

If I had £2,000 and needed a new car...

I wonder what could I get from here.


80,000 miles£2,000

Rare Sunflower yellow ph1 Clio 172 (2001)

88,000 miles£2,000

1990 TVR S3c (1990)



46,000 miles£2,000

Subaru Impreza WRX (1995)

80,000 miles£2,000


159,000 miles£2,000

MG Midget 1969 (1969)

12,800 miles£2,000


66,000 miles£2,000


114,000 miles£1,995

Renault Traffic Camper Van B-REG 1.7 5-Speed (1984)

48,000 miles£1,995
It seems there's rather a selection.