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Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Rare Treat

The rightfully proud owner arrives for "refreshments"
Note the wet!

Those of you who have visited this blog recently will know that I am currently in "Blighty" attending to a much modified Land-Rover. Despite the title at the top of the page, I shall probably be writing something about this in due course - those who know me will be well aware that motor-car modifications have always been a source of fascination to me.

I am in Suffolk, and as my friend and sometime customer Robert Ely lives quite close, here was the opportunity to sample his amazing Fulvia-powered mid-engined sports car.

A couple of phone calls and today, Robert arrived as arranged at "The Plough" just after one o'clock. The weather had been pretty foul in these parts so poor Robert arrived rather cold and damp - a glance at the car will reveal the realities of Le Mans-style motoring in February in England. The car sounded a little sick when it arrived, but at that moment the priority was suitable refreshment and luncheon.

These important matters having been dealt with, we set off back to the house where in my Land-Rover client's warm and spacious garage, we could investigate. I was determined to put matters right since I wanted to experience the car, the ride home being "hiccupy" to say the least.

Engine cover up ready for examination

I expect that Robert will forgive me for telling you that he confessed to having "fiddled" with the carburettors somewhat, but I was convinced that the problem lay with the ignition system. Obviously, the clue lies in the rainwater that can be seen in some of the pictures. Sure enough, the distributor cap had plenty of moisture inside, as did the rotor arm. Surprisingly despite the cam cover being rather exposed, there was no water around the plugs - a common Fulvia problem.

The exposed cam cover may be seen in this picture;
this will be protected by a cowl at the front

I cleaned and dressed the rotor arm carefully and added a squirt of WD40 to the cap. On starting up it was obvious that things were a lot better, although not right. I therefore turned my attention to the carburettors. The special tools I have for this job are attached to my head: my ears.

Five or ten minutes with a screwdriver sufficed. I was impressed with the throttle response which I believe is largely due to the very nice exhaust manifold and the vastly better air filter.

"Road test" I said.

So off we went. Mercifully the rain held off, although I soon became quite wet owing to Robert's aerodynamic modifications... The engine sounded excellent and the car is fast - very lively indeed; with probably about 100hp and 500kg this is unsurprising! The gearchange is "back to front" but the low weight means that starting from rest is easy in 2nd gear. The chassis as far as I could judge, is excellent with a firm but comfortable ride, plenty of grip and good turn-in. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that Robert has now fitted attractive 15" aluminium-alloy wheels with very nice sticky Toyo tyres.

My Land-Rover client was keen for a ride so despite being a rugby fanatic, tore himself away from the "Six nations" on the TV.

Looking slightly wind-swept on his return, "Almost as good as my green Land-Rover" he commented!

The windswept return

This is a very serious motor-car; the especial pleasure for me was to hear that mildly modified Fulvia engine sounding like the thoroughbred it is - right next to my right ear.

Robert showed me some of the aerodynamic developments he has been working on, including special venting for the radiator at the front, and a diffuser at the rear.

There is more to come (including a paint job); I shall keep you all informed.

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