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The Gymkhana Brake Test

Right, so we’ve done all the introducty/explainy bits, lets get down to the results.

Gymkhana brake test

Michelle brake tests the MGF from 60 mph

Gymkhana brake test

The might Toyota GT86 getting ready for her run.

Just as a reminder, there were two criteria we were testing.. how well would our £2,500 sports cars do, some nearly 20 years old, against a brand new £25,000 sport car AND how well would we do against the Highway Code, from 60mph:

Highway Code Stopping Distances

Well, the results may surprise you.

Gymkhana Brake test results

First of all there wasn’t much in it. With the exception of the Mercedes SLK. But then, as Neil pointed out, he should probably have taken all the camera equipment out of the boot.

All of our cars easily beat the 55 metres the Highway Code considers typical, so you’ve got to wonder what rust buckets they used to measure that.

What was surprising was that the GT86 didn’t win. Now, this test was in no way scientific, so we can’t say with absolute certainty that if we did it 100 times over this would be the result every time. But on the day, this is what happened. It got beat by 4 other cars.

The winning cars were in fact the oldest and newest in the Le Mons fleet. They are also, both, the only cars wearing very sticky -track day- rubber. Now, what does that tell you. Oh, and the FTO? No ABS, unlike all the other cars here.


Next time – the Slalom.


We asked Neil to write a few words about his experience of taking the SLK around Blyton Park, on our track day.

He came back with about a thousand words extolling its virtues and its surprising ability not to fling itself onto the grass out of pure protest at having to do something as gaudy and below its standards as drive fast. But most of all, he wrote about its resounding capacity to genuinely amaze all of us on the day. And amazed we were.

He also mentioned serious brake fade and smoking disks. Didn’t we all?

Anyway, rather than read all that, how about that old adage ‘a picture tells…’

Sure it seems a bit wallowy at times – keep in mind it’s carrying it’s own roof in the boot, but every single one of us was surprised by how well it took to the track, and how much fun it was to drive. Biggest surprise of the day? Definitely!

Blyton Track Day Cars

Obviously we couldn’t have done this without the team at Lotus on Track, whose generosity allowed us to raise £200 for our charities.

And thanks to Blyton Park, for their fantastic hospitality!

Blyton Track Day Stickers Blyton Track Day Stickers Blyton Track Day Stickers Blyton Track Day Stickers




So, as you know (and if you don’t, then shame on you!) our next event is our Concours d’Lemons. Apparently this is based on something called the Concours d’Elegance which is basically a very fancy car show.

Ours won’t be that fancy. That said, everyone has to show up with the cars looking as good as they can, and we’ll all judge each other’s ride.. plus we’re going to drive them too, which I’m very excited about, as I’ve not driven any of the others, except the awesome FTO.

So, how do you make a £900 MGF look as good as possible? Well, she’s going to get a proper clean, but that’ll be closer to the date, no point with all the rain and road muck.

In the mean time, however, thanks to my friends at the T-Bar Forums and a gentleman called David (MissionMGF on ebay) I picked up some awesome new blingy parts.

I started by putting on a new gear knob, to match the interior trim.

New Gear Knob

New Gear Knob

And a new clock to replace the broken one, which was covered up by a small digital one. That was a pain, taking the whole centre console out, losing screws and everything!

Put a new clock in!

Put a new clock in!


Then it was time for some shiny bits!

I got both the interior and exterior kits from David, a value of about £80 (which should be a good 8 points at the next count). So, here’s part 1 of the blingfest.. the interior kits.

MGF Bling Before 3

Demister Vents Before Blinging

Demister Vents After Blinging

Demister Vents After Blinging

MGF Logo Before Blinging

MGF Logo Before Blinging

MGF Logo After Blinging

MGF Logo After Blinging

Lighter and Ashtray Before Blinging

Lighter and Ashtray Before Blinging

Lighter and Ashtray After Blinging

Lighter and Ashtray After Blinging

I also had vent surrounds, but seemed to be missing one, so have left those off for the moment.

Lastly I had a bunch of stickers that needed to go on as well.

Firstly, my naughty sticker!

Firstly, my naughty sticker!

Then, of course, the actual Lemons sticker!

Then, of course, the actual Lemons sticker!

Can't forget Lets Race, who are awesome!

Can’t forget Lets Race, who are awesome!

And lastly, my other naughty sticker!

And lastly, my other naughty sticker!

I’ve now still got the exterior kit to do, and, with my recent success on the MPG challenge (details to be revealed soon) I have high hopes for the MGF..

– Michelle


It’s been a bit of a ride. Sorry. No pun intended, obviously.

So, as we’re closing in on the end of the year I thought I’d do a quick update on some of the bits that have made my MX5 ownership experience all the better!


This Ain’t No Disco!

The MX5 came fitted with an after-market Sony head unit. It sounded great; punchy and detailed, it brought music to life. It had all the connectivity you could need – iPod dock, bluetooth and USB. It even had a remote control, to cater for those days when you decide to travel in the boot. But despite all this I hated it, passionately, for one very simple reason – it looked dreadful.

I’ll be more specific – it lit up like a Christmas tree. If a light was needed to signify something it didn’t just glow, that would be too easy. It flashed, it pulsed, it scrolled – it urged you to notice it, like a spoiled child. Remember the tacky sound-to-light unit in front of the DJ in all those ’80’s wedding videos? You do? This was worse. If Halfords ran a ‘design a car stereo’ contest this would have been runner-up in the 5 to 8 year-old category, with a special award for using all the colours in the felt-tip bumper pack. If you lived in the right part of town you could strap it to the front of your house at Christmas and sit back a happy man. It had to go.

I set about the hunt for a replacement with three simple criteria; it had to have a radio, the ability to take a 32GB SD card and to use less power illuminating itself than, say, Bristol. It actually turned out to be a simple search, a Blaupunkt Adelaide fit the bill perfectly. It’s mech-less (who uses CD’s?), has an internal SD slot, receives Radio 4 and, most importantly, is discreet and suits the car. Naturally, being a Blaupunkt, it sounds ok too. What’s even more satisfying is that I sold the Sony on eBay for more than the very reasonable £49.99 the Blaupunkt had cost me. I love it when a plan comes together!


The Anti-Candle Procedure

As the dark evenings arrived I noticed that the MX5’s headlights were pretty poor. Actually no, scrub that, they were awful; like I’d got candles for Christmas when all the other kids got swanky LED torches. The other day the passenger side dipped beam went out completely so the time had come to do something about it. I removed the bulb to double check the type and discovered that the bulb itself was fine, but the connector had melted – clearly something wasn’t right. I suspected an earthing problem and my multimeter confirmed it, so I ordered a new connector and when it arrived set about sorting it all out.

MX5 Lights 1

The melted connector

First step was to remove the lights entirely and check the earthing points underneath them. The passenger side was badly corroded and no longer making good contact with the body work. I removed it, ground off the corrosion and reassembled it with a new bolt and plenty of ACF50 to keep new corrosion at bay, then repeated on the job on the other side.

The driver’s side connector was fine, so after soldering in the new passenger side connector I refitted the lamp housings and all the bulbs and tested everything. Wow, what a difference… both sides are now not only working but much, much brighter than before, back to how they should be. No more candles for me! At a total cost £2.99 for the connector and just over an hour of my time I think that’s a pretty good result!

Let there be light!

Let there be light!

Looking forward to many more happy motoring miles in 2015!

– Duncan






So October is drawing to a close, Halloween is here, the clocks have fallen back and we have been plunged into a world of darkness, we leave for work in the dark, we come home in the dark, it’s pretty miserable, and on top of all that it’s cold and wet…

But there has been some light this month, I fact it’s been a pretty awesome month with our trip to Santa Pod. We’ve all done a mini blog on our drag racing experiences, so I’ll not dwell on that here, but it was awesome. Instead I’d like to have a little natter about the build up to the ‘big day’, after all, to me this is more than just a few handfuls of days that we just turn up to, but pre event preparations and post event blues etc all become part of the journey…..

There’s quite a mix of people taking part in this years Lemons365 Challenge and I find it a little sad that to some, taking part in these events means just turning up in a car, arsing about for a day, and heading back home in the Sunday evening traffic jams. It seems the mere thought of even washing the car pre-event is a bit of a chore, let alone spending time individualising the car, or carrying out some preparations to better the car for the individual challenges we have to face.

To me that’s not what this is all about, we are supposed to be embracing the emotions and involvement that we as a group of car loving enthusiasts really stand for.

The level of personal time and effort that has been put into the cars that surround us at events is immense! The club displays at Santa pod were mesmerising, the same could be said of our trip to The Lotus Festival at brands hatch a couple of months ago.

I’ve really been taking this onboard, and instead of simply giving my MR2 a little bit of a wash before I leave Sunny Wales, I’ve been getting down and dirty with the old girl. From the simple basic servicing essentials, to some tasty little mods to help maximise our performance as a car/driver combination, but at the same time, ensuring that the spend on her is kept to an absolute minimum!

So we’ve done the rolling road already, that brought a new carbon fibre wing and a full engine service, a back to basics if you like with a styling twist. The results were very pleasing!

For Santa Pod though I though a little more of a change was required, it is after all a day at the drag strip, so some personalisation was most definitely in order!

A few phone calls around the UK MR2 specialists came up with a second hand De-Cat pipe from for the sum of £20, thank you very much! A bit more digging came up with some mild steel exhaust sections, a 90 degree bend and a straight section, I need to find the receipt, but I think they came to about £18… Not bad at all, about £40 all in for a full straight though set of pipes!

A work in progress shot..

Simon's October Blog

On starting her up the noise, well, it was immense! It resonated around the valley with a very purposeful, if not a little bit fluffy, roar….. Pressing the throttle was a totally different story, it was as if all hell had broken loose, the noise was awesome, ear bleedingly loud, or more to the point, PERFECT for a trip down the strip! I have to admit I did pretty much instantly start searching around for a decibel reducer for the 360 mile return journey! Luckily I found a slip in unit by SIMONS ironically!

Simon's October Blog 2

Did I stop at the exhaust system though? Hell no!

With a notchy change from 2nd to 3rd, it was time to take a look at the gearbox and clutch. Pretty simple job to firstly change the gearbox oil.

Jack her up, run the engine in gear for a few minutes to help warm the oil through and so that any metal particles are held in suspension in the oil before draining into out the old stuff.

4 quarts of Redline MT90 ordered online, as recommended by pretty much everyone who’s running an MR2, a funnel and a length of clear tubing to assist in the filling.

Simon's October Blog 3

After less than 3 quarts though and the box was full!

Simon's October Blog 4

Now I was both pissed off and very excited at the same time. Pissed off as I’ve now got a bottle of Redline MT90 that I’ve no use for except for bonfire night, and it’s not cheap stuff, but also excited as this quantity of oil pretty much confirmed that my car has a LSD (Limited Slip Diff), something I had a pretty good hunch about anyway. I later 100% confirmed the LSD with one wheel partially on the ground and the other in the air whilst throttling the car in gear! I’m completely over the moon with that, as the previous owner had no idea it had a factory fitted LSD and they are quite sought after!

Next up, clutch fluid… I opened the reservoir cap and found the fluid looking like this:

Simon's October Blog 5

Now that’s not good…. It should be a clear light golden colour and you should be able to see the bottom of the reservoir easily! I think that bit floating around fell in when I took the cap off.

A simple renewing of the fluid would not have fully cleaned all that crap out, so I firstly removed all the old fluid with a straw, then completely cleaned the black deposits out with a cloth. Result, a brand new looking reservoir ready for new fluid!

I’ve not taken any photos of the filling and flushing of the clutch lines, time was pushing on, but I used a Sealy pressurised bleeding kit which makes the job a simple one man task.

Simon's October Blog 6

There’s not much else I can do for the gearbox now except for strip it down and replace the syncros, and on the basis that it works perfectly unless you are flat throttle shifting there is really just no need at all.

One other thing that is popular on the MR2, indeed on many street modified cars, is stiffening of the engine mounts.

There are several avenues that can be taken to achieve this. Firstly, you can replace the whole engine mount with a new hard polyurethane item, secondly, there are some polyurethane inserts that can be used in addition to the original mounts, but are removable for road use when a little more give in the mounts is desirable…

Both of these options involved spending money, and I’m doing this year on as little money as I can get away with, so I chose a third option, which is to inject your original mounts with liquid polyurethane, filling all the air voids within the rubber mount and thus providing a more ridged fixing.

Why the need for this? Well, when you accelerate quickly from standstill, the initial torque of the engine is taken up in rotating the engine within its own mounts, once the play in the mount is taken up, maximum power is transmitted to the wheels. Great right? Well no not really. See when the wheels subsequently break traction with the ground (wheel spin) the force on the engine mounts reduce a little so they relax off, then as the wheel regains traction, the mount is compressed again, the wheels spin, yada yada yada. End result is what’s knows as tramping, with the engine bouncing violently around in the engine bay and the resultant loss of the efficient delivery of power from the engine to the road….

Stiffen up the mounts, removes/reduces the tramping, which improves the immediate traction, which in turn results in a better take off and acceleration. Still with me?

Anyway, I had a few tubes of polyurethane in the garage, as you do, and went ahead and removed my mounts.

The front mount:

Simon's October Blog 7

And the rear mount:

Simon's October Blog 8

Now my tubes of polyurethane were very old and the ends had set solid, so I couldn’t use a normal caulking gun, I had to improvise! Voila, a couple of pieces of parquet flooring and a g-clamp!

Simon's October Blog 9

After many hours of of squeezing and manipulating with a knife and following a LOT of mess the end result were a pair of semi rigid engine mounts! They may not be pretty, but they are functional! The second turned out better than the first, but overall very much worth the effort and a completely free mod, happy days!

Simon's October Blog 10

All that effort and absolutely none of it visible, such a shame!

What next? I’m a bit a of a Lotus fan as I may have mentioned a few times already this year, and what better way to pay homage to my beloved plastic car company than to follow their very own ethos of “Simplify, then add lightness”

For this I turned my efforts into stripping the whole car of anything that wasn’t needed. This meant passenger seat, carpets, sound deadening material, spare wheel, jack, bonnet and boot linings, exhaust system all got removed, anything that was bolted in that wasn’t needed was relegated to my dining room! The result is an estimated 50kg saving. Or about the difference in weight between me and Becky!

Simon's October Blog 11

Lastly a bit of bling was in order.

I um’d and ah’d about this and that, a flamer exhaust was top of my wish list but as this was a day event I thought the effort would be wasted a bit, so decided on some vinyl, but what? Again flames were an option, or maybe a tribal theme? Having scoured the net, I really couldn’t settle on anything, then all of a sudden I had it!

I’ve removed weight and made myself an MR2 Super Lightweight, or more appropriately SUPERLEGGERA…..! As it happened the car was already fitted with a set of OZ Superleggera wheels, perfect.

Hitting the Internet again I fell in love with the Lamborghini based script and just had to have it on my car, but with the Lamborghini sticker sets in their several £100’s even on eBay I had to find another option…..

I stumbled across a website who specialise in custom graphics and they had the logo I wanted in their system ready to go! Awesome!

I opted for a boot mounted emblem and a pair of custom cut yellow stripes to add to either side of me car. The results were better than I expected, they look amazing and really set the car out from the crowd, perfect for a day at the races!

The day came to fit them all and the heavens opened. I’ve not seen rain like it in quite some time! But the show must go on!

Not to be defeated by the weather I laid my old garage door against the car for some shelter and went about fitting them, whilst shivering cold and wet!

Simon's October Blog 12

Simon's October Blog 13

Simon's October Blog 14

The old girl is now looking really smart, the graphics have really finished her off perfectly.

The journey to Santa Pod was a noisy one, I’ll not lie to you, the exhaust is definitely not something you’d want to live with on a daily basis. I opened her up in the Newport tunnels and the grin on my face was from ear to ear it was all I could have hoped for, as for the lady in the SUV along side of me, well, how she didn’t crash with the shock I’ll never know!

Duncan‘s face when I pulled up alongside his little MX5 at the gates of Santa Pod was priceless… Especially when I opened the door and all he could see was black shiny metal where there was once a magnolia leather seat and luxurious carpets….

These were a few comments about cheating as I’d modified the car, but it’s tough really, everyone had the opportunity to do the same and they chose not to, not my problem sorry and like I’ve already said, not doing these things to our cars is kinda missing the point somewhat in my opinion.

The girl did well, the results spoke for themselves and showed that putting in that extra bit of pre-event effort really pays dividends and there were a number of the crew who, by the end of the day, wished they’d spent a little time lightening their cars for the event. 0.22 seconds off my target time and a lightening quick 0.10 seconds reaction time to boot.

Happy days!

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It’s just occured to me that I’ve now owned my car since the beginning of May, that’s 5 months…5 wonderful months. Just looking back (and at the points) I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been with my car. I love it. The perfect car for me right now!

So how is my SLK 5 months on?

I knew what I wanted from day one. I wanted a car that I’ve never actually wanted to buy, why? cause that’s in the spirit of Le Mons Challenge, doing something you wouldn’t normally do!

Initially, it was going to be an SLK 230 and put all my energy into searching for one, but then I started to ponder. I hadn’t actually driven a 320 yet, what if that’s the car to have? No, stupid idea, a V6 engine? Really stupid! Fuel in the UK is horribly over priced and I just can’t risk running in a year long competition where I am getting 5-8mpg on round the famous Brands Hatch or Silverstone!

But, I should try one just to say I had covered all the bases….

And then I saw her, in a garage 40 miles away reduced in price from £3300 to £2494 for that weekend, a silver 320, blue leather interior, everything working, service history with 96,000 miles on the clock. I’d say about £1000 to £1250 lower than any other V6 on the market at the time. There must have been a catch!

I called up, it was still there (of course it was…buying a £2500 V6 is stupid), so perfect for me! I sprinted the 40 miles around our horrible M25 London circular motorway to Kent and after a 20 minute test drive I happily accepted the asking price and paid my deposit…..a very excited 40 year old child was going to have a few sleepless nights until he could go and pick up ‘The Pig’ as she’s now affectionately known!

So, 5 months on, she’s cost me nothing more than fuel. She’s about 20bhp down on Mercedes Quoted figures and was great fun to race along the strip at Santa Pod. She’s also starting to return a very respectable 30mpg and is constantly borrowed by my wife (something that never happens with my Lotus Elise).

2000 miles in, what have I spent? very little actually, I’ve bought some replacement front lights off ebay for a mere £50 second hand (they are new, never on car and part of an unfinished SLK rebuild) so managed to do a blinding deal there. Wheels and Rust will get a look in next year. I never wanted an SLK, now I wonder why not! The car is great fun, very compliant and ultimately a competent and enjoyable sports tourer. She’s not out and out performance, but that’s part of ‘her’ charm….yes, she’s a female pig…make of that what you will.

Looking forward to seeing how she deals with the wet/cold UK winter…


Santa Pod - MichelleI had a great weekend at Santa Pod!

I was surprised at my nerves to be honest. Really nervous sitting in the queue waiting to do my run, butterflies in my stomach and the adrenaline was immense.

Did enjoy it but wanted to keep going round and round to really get the hang of it without all the waiting around in the queue. Once I finished my first run I was shaking like a leaf! I did another two runs and my last was the fastest time which I am pleased with, my reaction times were the slowest among the group but hey, it’s another experience I wouldn’t have otherwise had!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASanta Pod - Michelle In Her MGFSanta Pod - MGF ready to do battleSanta Pod - MGF getting her number

Good to meet the guys from the charities too and one of the T-Bar members, Kevin, made a special journey, two and a half hours away to come down as he had some goodies for me!  Kevin kindly donated, and fitted, a new steering wheel as my one was ripped at the top, a new gear knob and gaiter sleeve, which he also fitted and a new working clock as mine has stopped!!

Fantastic Support I think you’ll agree!!! Thank you so much Kevin!!

But, I can’t finish this with out mentioning the only other MGF that was there that day.. you’ll agree that it’s not quite as standard as mine!

Santa Pod - Stripped out MGF VVC racer frontSanta Pod - Stripped out MGF VVC racer rearSanta Pod - Stripped out MGF VVC racer engine baySanta Pod - Stripped out MGF VVC racer seat

Go Team MGF!



SimonToyota MR2

Santa Pod - SimonHad a fantastic weekend, thoroughly enjoyed every moment, even the long wait for the track to dry really didn’t bother me at all.

To see the Jap car enthusiasts with their cars was inspirational, there has been some serious polishing going on with those cars, and the accessories stalls were well stocked and very tempting! Made me realise that my approach to my car this year is the right one for me. I really want to put my stamp on it and I think I’ve done that so far!

First time down the strip was, well, fun…. Up against Neil in his SLK, we both reported record reaction times, although the guy lining the cars up seemed positively puzzled that neither of us had done a burn out, that was to change from the next run on….

I’m happy to have won all 4 of my races, 2 against the MX5, the BMW and the SLK, but despite wanting to take on the FTO and the RX8 I never got the chance.

Spending time with our charity representatives was fun, and they all seemed very impressed with the whole fleet and our enthusiasm for what we are doing with the cars this year. Paul from KSSAA was lucky enough to get a trip on the strip, but unfortunately Angela was forced to vacate the car which was a shame, she was SO excited!

Would I do it again? Damn yes! I reckon my target time was very much achievable with a bit of fine tuning of the take off and slightly swifter gear changes, something that would no doubt come with more practice…..!

The jet car was immense, the afterburner igniting was ear shatteringly loud!

Santa Pod - Rocket Car (4) Santa Pod - Rocket Car (3) Santa Pod - Rocket Car (2) Santa Pod - Rocket Car (1)

What a weekend! What an absolutely awesome weekend!

Challenge 5 saw us visiting Santa Pod near Wellingborough, for a weekend of RWYB and the JapShow Finale. Before we get into the detail of what that meant, for us as drivers and competitors, we need to take a moment to do two things.

1. Thank the Santa Pod management team. Guys, in all seriousness, thank you! You were accommodating to the extreme, helpful beyond words and just generally the most pleasant people to deal with. We wish all the UK’s circuits, car clubs and automotive locations we’re as in touch with car culture and it’s fans as you guys. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

2. Implore you to go to Santa Pod. If you haven’t been, you need to go. It’s fantastic. As a spectator or as a driver, you will not regret it. We were all a little nervous. Worried about our clutches. We needn’t have been. Some of us want to go back with our other cars, both of the sports and family variety. If you like cars, and lets be honest, if you’re reading this then you probably have some affection for them, then you’ll have a great time at Santa Pod. And it seems like there’s always something on, too!

That said, back to our experiences. But, for a change, why don’t we let everyone tell their own story. So, here goes.


BeckyAudi TT

Santa Pod - BeckyI’d never heard of Santa Pod before becoming involved with the Club Le Mons Challenge. So what was my experience of the event? I headed up bright and early to an old airstrip near Newport Pagnell. Arriving there I was quite amazed at the normality of some cars and the artist workmanship of others. Who’d have thought nitrous oxide would make a car go so fast, no laughing included!

For a newbie testing my Audi TT on the strip it was amusing to hear the comments from the ‘boy racers’ watching. So after a reaction time of 0.5215, I guess I proved the TT wasn’t just the car ‘looking like it was waiting in a traffic jam’ at the start, as I left my competition behind!

Would I do it again? Yes probably if I was asked but I didn’t get the buzz those around me seem to get. Great to see so many makes and ages of cars being tested though, especially the granny who had the car fuelled with Nitrous Oxide and also the Hearse.


Santa Pod - The QueueSanta Pod - Roww



DuncanMazda MX5

Santa Pod - DuncanWow … what a weekend! If I’m honest I had my doubts about both the drag racing and the JapShow Finale. Racing in a straight line? Surely that can’t be fun. Looking at lots of souped up cars? Well, it’s a bit Halfords, isn’t it?

I’m very happy to say I was utterly wrong on both counts. Despite all the waiting around for 15 seconds of fun I now completely get drag racing; how accessible it is in ‘Run What Ya Brung’ format, how addictive it can be and how friendly and approachable the people doing it are.

As for the JapShow, I seriously underestimated it. The cars ranged from the sublime to the frankly ridiculous, but, unlike so many car shows, there were no beard-twiddling experts. There was no wringing of hands at the thought of non-standard modifications. Nobody was ostracised for what they did; everything was accepted in the spirit in which it was done.

Whether it was to have killer ICE, the biggest turbo or the most capacious tailpipe, the skill, effort, money and passion that had gone into creating the cars was evident everywhere. They were enthusiasts in the truest sense of the word.

Santa Pod - Yellow Car Santa Pod - Red Car Santa Pod - Fiat 124 Santa Pod - Engines


JennyCharity Director

Santa Pod - Smiling MiaWhat a weekend!

The support Santa Pod offered Club Le Mons completely exceeded our expectation and we are indebted to the team for all the help they gave us across the two day event.

The highlight for me had to be the infectious enthusiasm Luke, the commentator, had when talking about our Challenge across the PA to all the spectators.


To watch two of our cars, shiny and wrapped with all our branding, race down the drag strip in front of us with a captive audience listening to what we are trying to achieve gave me such an amazing feeling. This year is going to be a hell of a ride and one that will stay with me for the rest of my life! (thanks to the audience member who shot this on their phone – you’ll have to wait for the episode to see what we shot!)


Check back in a few days for Part II

So, my little MGF has been in the capable hands of my own private mechanic and has had a bit of work done. As per my previous blog post, we mentioned quite a long list of things to be done.

Well we’ve now replaced the coolant pipes and radiator, drained the whole system, replaced the coolant and got rid of the air lock in the process.

The new MGF radiator New coolant pipes in place on the MGF

The work took place over two evenings and in lieu of the age-old method of putting the car on a ramp, our mechanic used what he had……

Raising an MGF when you dont have jacks


The coolant pipes and radiator that came off were less than shiny, unlike the new ones!!!

MGF Coolant all over the floor

The old MGF radiator

The old MGF coolant pipes rusted away

How much did this cost? Well, £50 for the radiator and £60 for the coolant pipes, all from your friendly online marketplace. The labour and forklift were all free of charge. Thank you Ben!

Next job is a full service, including spark plugs, and put the K&N air filter on ready for the quarter mile at Santa Pod……

Well September is very quickly coming to an end, and with that means the next challenge just around the corner…

So what has September brought to the ownership with my MR2?

Quite a lot actually. My previous daily drive is now but a dim and distant memory, the lease was up end of August so now it’s just me and my MR2. Well, that and the van, so she now has a real purpose, no longer is she just a toy….

September has also brought around a few changes to the car, me, not so much.

1st off, I’ve decided to really put some personality into my car. It’s not something I’ve done since I tossed over the keys to my old 205GTI, too many years ago. You see, owning a brand new car, something which I’ve done pretty much ever since, brings with it issues of manufacturers warranties that need to be satisfied, a resale market which looks for clean, marketable vehicles with very little personalisation which they can sell on easily, the clean magnolia walls of the used car world if you like, and to this I’d really become, well, a bit of a slave if I’m honest. At least that’s kinda how it feels to me.

So what to do with my new found automotive freedom…… Well, what else….? Carbon fibre…. Yes, clean raw carbon fibre twill, that’s what I really needed in my life, and by hook or by crook, I was going to achieve that small goal.

Now, bearing in mind the main ethos behind this 12 month “Lemons365” challenge is ‘affordable sports cars’ I really didn’t want to go and break the bank, to me that’s not what this year is about and as, such I set my sights on finding something within budget, that would provide maximum grin factor for me from an aesthetics point of view, and with that in mind I hit eBay. A few days passed by and there it was, my carbon dream, a second hand Revision 5 reproduction spoiler in full carbon fibre, not just the aerofoil section itself, but also the sculpted uprights upon which it is seated.

Close Up of Carbon Fibre on the Toyota MR2

It turned out to be a bit of a steal, total price, including delivery from Ireland, £178!

So, I now have my carbon fibre spoiler, 1st we must weigh it. After all, the main advantage of carbon fibre is of course it’s lightness in weight and rigidity in its structure, and it doesn’t disappoint on either. From the offset, a direct in hand comparison showed a weight saving was indeed in order, but by how much?

On the scales I jump to establish a base line reading (I’ll not be divulging this) then carbon spoiler in hand. Total weight 3kg exactly. Next up, the old factory plastic item, weight 4.5kg, so there we have it a 1.5kg difference.

That may not seem very much but let’s put this in perspective, that’s a whopping 1/3rd of its component weight shed, and that’s a cheapy Chinese replica. You can see why it’s such a widely used material in modern motorsports.

I’d love to buy more of the stuff, especially a carbon bonnet, but alas, unless a used one comes up really cheap, I doubt it’s going to happen.

Verdict from my nephew, he loves it, and so do I. It looks great in the rear view mirror and adds a bit of texture to the all black exterior.

Simon's nephew approves of the Toyota MR2

So what next? A couple of weeks passes and a long time dream to knock down my garage and build an extension to my house became one step closer to reality and with budget in place out came the sledge hammer… In the process of emptying my garage though I came across an old roll of yellow vinyl. Something that I’d inherited from the kleptomaniac previous owner of my house and with that an idea hatched into my head. Why not stick it on the car? See I’ve spent the last decade hanging around the Lotus Esprit and Elise owners via and indeed have my own classic Turbo Esprit stashed away safely for when time and space allows me to get her back on the road.

As much as I’ve recently found out stripes are not very well loved in the Toyota Mr2 community, they are pretty much a standard fit item, or an essential extra on most modern Lotus’ especially the Elise & Exige. So there we have it, the idea was hatched.

Striping the Toyota MR2

One sunny morning, donned with my soapy spray bottle and squeegee, I attempted to get the vinyl laid. This took a lot longer than expected, I’d never done anything like this before and there was a bit of pressure as I had zero spare. Every inch of roll was going to need to be used! This is a lot harder than I first expected and it took a while to get the right mix in my spray bottle, but once I’d finished the bonnet and front bumper I was flying… The end results? Well I think the car looks really smart, it became impossible to find an angle from which the old girl looked anything other than stunning, the stripe, in my opinion, really finishes the car off. Just don’t look close up, especially at the rear Toyota badge, (it’s a bit shit) I kinda screwed the boot up, and with no spare, had to peel off and re-use the one piece, this has left a sub-optimal finish around the rear badge! Shame.

The MR2 Posing by the Sea

The Toyota MR2 Striped from the rear

The MR2 Spoiler with Stripe

Ultimately it was for a bit of fun and for that it gets top marks in my book, the car is getting wrapped in the corporate colours before too long anyway so she’ll be back, stripe-less, which if I’m honest will be a bit of a shame. I kinda like my wonky striped car…

There we have it, that’s September all wrapped up…. Or is it?

See none of the above will do anything to favour me or my sexy little MR2 in the rolling road challenge this Saturday and I’ve been scratching around for ideas on what I should be doing to help us along the way.


For me part of this journey will be the evolution of my little car, piece by piece, to suit both myself and reflect more about who I am, as well as to help her achieve her very best at each of our events.


So for this weekend I have planned…….


Now that would be telling wouldn’t it!


After all, as well as being a fund raising challenge, this is a competition isn’t it and as such, I’m in it to win it, and we are on track to achieve that goal. For more info on what I’ve done to my car? Well you’ll just have to wait and see, as will all my other Lemons365 competitors!


I can assure you though that it is well within the spirit of the challenge and as such hasn’t cost me much more than a decent takeaway for two. Let’s just hope my bag of goodies turns up early enough on Friday for me to get the car ready for the long journey yet again, from Wales….!