As some of you out there may know, I own a Volvo C70 Coupé known as ProjectC70. for those that don’t, in March 2015 I bought said Volvo as my first car for a measly £1200. Out of those 4½ years of ownership, a good 3½ years have been as a long-going project car, hence the name ProjectC70. A lot of people know about my car and the changes it’s had but one thing I have never said about it was how it ultimately saved my life from a truly horrible bout of Epilepsy.
Now before we get onto the car, I want to start from the very beginning. From a very young age, I have had health issues. From the age of 1½, I have had Kidney issues that meant for a majority of my life and even up to now, I was always having checkups at hospitals and for a good 14 years, I was also on a high-calorie milk feed to make up for the lack of food I was able to process. Since 15 years of age, this was pretty much my life and I was used to it. I was told what I could & couldn’t do and kept at life proving doctor after doctor wrong. By the time I was 15 I was lucky enough to have my last ever operation regarding my kidneys and this entailed me not needing to be on a high-calorie milk feed every night.
After that, everything was perfect, I was able to live life as normal for pretty much the first time in my life and I was so elated. I was so new to it that it felt strange to just do things that everyone else took for granted. It was going well and I was enjoying life, I was able to leave school at 16 & take up college doing the Mechanics course I loved. This was until April 2014 came around. This was when the worst thing to ever happen to anyone happened to me, this was my first seizure.
It was a normal college day and everything went normally, maybe a bit tired and stressed to some account but nothing out of the ordinary for a typical college student. I remember coming home and going to sleep for about an hour or so and by this time, this was a relatively normal thing for me to do. After waking up from my small nap that’s when everything got threw up in the air. I was shouted for my dinner and withing 5 minutes of waking up, I experienced my first ever seizure at the dining table in our house.
While I don’t remember a lot of what exactly happened, I remember getting sent to the hospital to find out what the hell had happened. After originally thinking it was a heart murmur, they soon took a brain scan and that was where they found out I possibly had Epilepsy. It was only until the second fit about a month later that they actually officially diagnosed it as Epilepsy. This is where something inside me just started to click, this was when I decided to fight the long difficult battle.
When in the hospital, I was told that the kind of seizures that I’d had were known as ‘Tonic-Clonic’ fits, the worst kind of epilepsy you can have. What that means, in short, is that when a seizure hits me, I go unconscious and start to convulse all my muscles. While they last for maybe a few minutes, the recovery is by far the worst. The headaches are futile and the pain in my joints is even worse, for me, it takes a good few weeks to actually get back to full health. For the first few hours, all I want to do is sleep.
As I said, with the news of this coming as a shock to all of us, I decided to fight it the best way I could and that was to buy a car, this is when the fight within me started. From August of 2014, I saved as much money as I possibly could to buy my very own C70 and I wasn’t going to give up without a fight and on March 6th the following year, ProjectC70 came into my life.
When the car came along I was elated once more. It was everything I’d ever wanted in life and to a young 17-18-year-old, I never realized that it’d be possible for someone in my situation would be able to have this happen so soon after my recovery. Even from the start of C70 ownership, I knew that there was a different feeling inside me about this car, it wasn’t just a box on wheels, it was my shield from my horrible brain injury.
Even though I was elated, I knew that I had to try my hardest to keep my fits at bay and try as I might, I did just that for over a year and a half but in October 2016 they came back with a vengeance. Instead of having one fit one day then another maybe a few weeks later, this time I had two fits in the same night one after the other. With that happening, I was back to the beginning again.
No fear though, I had my beloved C70 outside to get me through it all and regardless of what I had to personally go through, as long as my C70 was there I was prepared to fight with all the might I could muster. This is when I started to fix the C70 up and when it started to become a project car of the highest proportions. With ProjectC70 sitting outside in desperate need of work and me being at a bad point health-wise, I felt as if I could take on the world one bolt at a time.
When working on the car, regardless of how I might have been both mentally & physically, It never once phased me that I had this condition that could rear its head at literally any moment without any real signs. When working on the car, it was just me at that moment fixing something I loved, for those few hours I was normal.
All in all, I’ve probably had over 10 fits in the 5½ years I’ve had epilepsy and throughout it all, the C70 has been there by my side as my reason to fight the condition. It must’ve worked as I’ve not had a fit for well over a year now and to add to that, slowly but surely the C70 is also taking shape as well and for that, I couldn’t be happier.
Many people think that cars are just a piece of metal on wheels with no real purpose but to get us humans from point A to point B but for me and many others, certainly for those who are in really bad situation health-wise, cars are so much more than that. Recently I have been told to get rid of the C70 for something else but with everything I’ve gone through with it, I could simply never sell it.
By Alex Jebson
When it comes to cars, a lot of people love them for certain reasons. Whether it is their dream car or even a car they saw belting around racetracks, everyone has a reason why they like certain cars. For me and the C70, it was simple, I had a massive love for GT cars so when given the opportunity to own one as my first car I jumped at the chance. Add in the S80 that we had prior to me saving, this added the fuel to the fire so to speak, I simply had to have one. For my mate Junior, it was a very similar story but with a very different car manufacture. Whereas a lot of people might lust after a BMW M3 or a Jaguar F-Type, Junior has an undying love for Ssangyong Musso’s.
So, why is this and what makes Junior of all people like these cars so much? Well, simply put when he was growing up, his dad bought his first-ever Musso. Unfortunately Junior can’t really remember much about it apart from the fact it was silver, regardless of all that though, it sparked something inside him that he simply couldn’t shake however hard he tried. This was the start of Junior’s obsession with these true underdogs of the 4×4 world.
When I say that these are underdogs in the 4×4 world, I really mean it. The Musso exists due to a partnership between SsangYong & none other than Mercedes-Benz. Simply put, SsangYong was to build a car using the running gear from Mercedes and the Musso was the outcome. Engines available were a 2.9 non-turbo diesel which had a low output of 98bhp and a 0-60 time of 19.7s making it the slowest 4×4 on the UK market. after that, you had a 2.9 turbo diesel with 120bhp and an improved 0-60 run of 14 seconds. If you wanted a petrol-powered Musso, there was a 2.3 N/A 4-cylinder with 146bhp and then the mightiest of them all, the king daddy if you so wish. I am of course talking about the GX220. Because of the Mercedes underpinnings and the large bay that the Musso had, the mighty 3.2 M104 inline 6 was slotted in place giving the Musso a healthy 220bhp and a 0-60 of between 8.5s and 9-5s depending on reports. as mentioned, this was the engine in the GX220 which also so happened to be the top-spec Musso available at the time. The 3.2 powering it was so mighty that it was even known as the fastest 4×4 on the UK market for quite a substantial time even beating out the V8 Range Rovers which is actually surprising to hear, especially considering that a V8 Range Rover is one of my all-time favorite 4×4’s. Transmissions available for the Musso’s were either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed auto.
Designed from scratch by Ken Greenley, it isn’t actually too terrible in the looks department compared to other SsangYongs to come. With SsangYong being known throughout the Millenium for building truly ugly cars, the Musso stands proud as a 4×4 that actually looks rather good compared to the rest of the lineup. Even though these cars don’t appeal to a lot of people in regard to their design I actually like some of the design details they have. For example, the front door kinks down towards the front wing giving the car a rather nice side profile. Add in the rear-end and the way that it meets at an angle in the middle is also a nice touch and looks very Range Rover-ish but with an obvious stronger rake. Add in the 6-spoke wheels that come standard and it looks alright for a 4×4.
Getting back to Junior and his out & out obsession with these cars, it properly started for him when he was given his first Musso in green. Originally bought as a family car, it got replaced by another Musso so instead of part exchanging the old one for the replacement, it got given to Junior to play around with and that was the one Junior started to fall for. Unfortunately in 2009, the green one Junior had been given had to get stripped & sent to the scrapyard due to the overall condition of it. Shortly afterward, his dad sold the second green one with all the spares from the one Junior had.
After being without a Musso for about 4 years, in 2013 Juniors’ dad was looking at another 4×4 to tow their caravan they had and this is where the silver one came about. After being told about it sitting in a garden for about 4 years they eventually bought it for £350. Surprisingly after 4 years of sitting, it started the first time and only really need a few wheel nuts and new brakes to pass. After getting it roadworthy they used it for everything including a move from Bristol to Dumfries, Scotland. It was used daily up until July of last year where sadly Junior’s dad, unfortunately, passed away. Since then it was put into storage where it sat until March of this year when junior himself took the car over and brought it home to the driveway where it now currently sits.
Due to both his and his dad’s love for these underdogs, Junior decided to keep his dad’s memory alive by buying himself a red GX220 to remember him by. His original plan was to restore it but due to quite severe rust, it, unfortunately, got scrapped as it was too far gone. This is where his new one comes in. With junior feeling bummed out by the condition his red one was in, he decided to buy a white 1997 Musso GX220 as it’s replacement. Named ‘Harley’, this Musso is an Australian Import GX220 with the 4-speed auto fitted to it. White is a rare colour for Musso’s, especially here in the UK so to see a white one is quite a sight.
In the late ’90s, Daewoo bought out SsangYong which meant that there was also a Daewoo variant of the Musso, major differences between the two were new bumpers, new lights and a new front grille. Apart from that they pretty much stayed the same all the way from 1993 to 2005, not bad going for a 12-year life span. The Musso name came back recently but instead of getting applied to a 4×4 it was put onto their new pickup truck instead.
With everybody loving cars for different reasons, It’s nice to see people like Junior not just keeping these cars going but also keeping his dad’s spirit alive as well. All the rare parts and money in the world means nothing, especially if it’s getting preserved to keep a long-lost family members spirit alive and Junior is doing exactly that and good on him. anyone in that same situation would do that if given half the chance, including me!
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
When it comes to project cars, there can be good times and bad times. I know this all too well due to the shenanigans ProjectC70 has put me through. What if though, instead of getting a relatively good example of a project car, you decided to get a car that had been laid up for a good 17 years or so? Well, that was what my good mate Joshua decided to do.
Instead of buying something relatively popular and easy to fix, in 2017 he decided to go out and buy a 1971 Triumph Toledo 1300. Known as ‘Lucille’, the car was in a right state when he bought it, it was so far gone that it was almost falling in half when he got it, this was due to the strengthening bar down the driver’s side being pretty much non-existent. Along with even more rust in different places, Josh only had one real option and that was to buy a donor car.
Josh had been looking for a classic that needed some well-needed love and attention as he was wanting to do his first-ever restoration with his dad as their first joint project. He found Lucille up for sale and with some help from his late grandad, the rest was history. With Josh wanting to go down the fast road route with his Toledo, it was time to get to work.
The first job was to strip down the donor car and fix or replace the panels on Lucille for better ones. Amongst the numerous amount of cutting out old rust both visible and under layers of undercoat and welding in new pieces, one of his big jobs was a new front end taken straight from the front end of the donor car as the old one was completely gone.
On top of that, the running gear was been completely stripped down and now has a rebuilt 1300cc engine with a stage three highlift cam, stage 3 racing head and a stage 3 racing flywheel built by an ex triumph specialist. to run alongside that it now also has a stage 2 racing clutch. The carburetors were ripped out for Dolomite 1850 ones and now also runs a twin chain timing gear. The bottom end has also been rebuilt with a balanced crankshaft to make it even smoother when running. With all that being done, the next thing to do is to pair it to a Spitfire 1500’s gearbox with overdrive. The last touch in the drive train is a new exhaust made up from both Dolomite & Spitfire pieces, this is due to the fact that is going from a 4-1 into a 4-2-1 setup.
Suspension wise, its getting poly bushed all round as well as a disc-brake conversion on the front. originally Toledo’s had drums all around until discs became standard in ’73 and because Josh’s car is a ’71 it still has drums fitted. When finished, the car will be sitting on a set of Carmona Engineering Mod Mistral Minilites to set the car off.
Differential wise, it is going to have a 1500 rear axle & differential fitted for now until Josh gets enough together for a potential LSD setup. an LSD can be used in them but due to costing around the £1000 mark, they’re definitely not cheap to pick up.
Lucille is also going to get resprayed in its original color of Mallard Blue, on top of that it is also going to get front fog lights fitted and a heated rear windscreen as well. Interior wise will mostly be original apart from a custom made steering wheel made just for the car.
Now, for those of you that may not know that much about the Toledo, simply put it was the successor to the 1300 & 1500 and the predecessor to the Dolomite. You had two engines available and these were the 1300cc unit and the 1500cc unit. The main difference between the older 1500 and the Toledo was the front end arrangement. see, Triumph 1500’s had twin-headlamps whereas the Toledo had rectangular units set in a grey plastic grille.
The main difference was the move to rear-wheel drive with a live rear axle. Power outputs for the 1300 engine were 58bhp whereas the output for the Toledo 1500 engine was 61bhp for a single carb model and 64bhp for a twin carb setup.
The Toledo came in two body styles, a 2-door saloon, and a 4-door saloon. Even though the 4-door model was longer and larger than the 2 door model it only weighed 50kgs heavier, this meant a curb weight of a lowly 890kg, impressive for a 4 door saloon.
The main differences between the two body styles were as followed. in the 4 door, you had two extra ashtrays in the rear doors & radial tires instead of the cross-ply’s the 2-door came with. Even though the two body styles looked similar, there were subtle changes made for both models. These included non-wraparound front & rear bumpers for the 2-door and also under riders as well whereas the 4-door got wraparound bumpers from the start. By 1972/1973 these were later changed on the two-door models.
By 1976, the 2-door model faded out while the 4-door stayed on for its final year when it was produced alongside the then all-new Dolomite. This was the only time where they got a facelift that consisted of black & silver grilles instead of the grey, mirrors were also added & so was chrome trim down the lower part of the door as well as on the rain gutter.
Like a lot of people who know, project cars are never easy to work with, but with the path that Josh is going down with his Toledo, it is sure to be a little firecracker when finished. With the work that has already gone into it and the work that is due to be done in time, Lucille will be a Toledo like no other. With cars and owners like these, this is pretty much what keeps the classic car scene continuing even to this day and long may it continue.
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
When it comes to dream jobs, there’s a lot to choose from. Whether it’s becoming a musician or even a comedian everyone has their dream job. One of those dream jobs for a lot of people is to become a pilot, I mean what exactly is cooler than flying a plane and seeing the world from a completely different perspective? Well, for my good friend Keiran, he is lucky enough to be in a position to be a pilot. Because of this, he needs something a little extra special to drive around in when he’s not in the air. Thankfully for him, he has such a car, a 1971 MGB GT.
Now personally, I love the MGB GT and I always have since the day I first clocked eyes on them but for some reason, I’ve never had the notion to own one. Keiran, on the other hand, had to have one. See like a lot of people, the MGB GT was one of his dream cars. With an E-Type Jaguar out of reach, Keiran settled on his affordable dream car instead, this 1971 MGB GT.
Lovingly named ‘Molly, Keiran has owned this MGB for exactly a year now and as mentioned above it has been a car that he has cherished pretty much all his life. Being around classic cars and immersing yourself in that community is an amazing thing and Keiran has done exactly that, he lives & breaths classic cars. No surprise really when his Dad started up a company manufacturing knock-off spinners & hubs.
Now originally the MGB was a two-door roadster to compete in the ever populated ‘British Sports Car’ craze of the late ’50s & ’60s. rivals included the Triumph TR-series as well as the Sunbeam Alpine. originally powered by an enlarged 1.8l tuned variant of the MGA’s 4-cylinder B-series engine, output was measured at 95bhp & 110 ib-ft torque. By 1965 MG released the MGB GT which was a two-door coupé based on the roadster. With the rear hatch designed by Pininfarina, it certainly looked fantastic and due to it being a coupé it was both weathertight & also benefitted from a large boot area. With later models being both powered from the C-series 3.0 i6 and then the 3.5 Rover V8 unit, there was an engine for everyone.
With this in mind, the MGB GT soon got the title of “Poor Mans Aston Martin” and I can see as to why. See unlike a DB5 or even an E-Type the MG was by far cheaper to buy and run. In fact, in some cases, you could have two MGB’s for the price of one DB5 or E-Type. It wasn’t as if you were even lacking in anything really as even the interior & build quality on the early models were on par with anything considerably more expensive.
Getting back to Keirans car again, his MGB GT is a 1971 MK2 model, you can tell this by the toned-down chrome around the grille and lack of wire wheels. Originally built at the renowned MG Abingdon factory in Oxfordshire, Keiran’s model is a very late MK2 model with the older styled dashboard and center console carried over from the MK1. When the MK3’s were released, the interior, along with some exterior features were changed.
Being an MK2, Keirans car has what is known by MGB people as the “Fish Mouth” grille, named aptly due to its recessed nature. Add in the chrome bonnet trim and it is a very rare feature to see these days. In fact, this grille was the first attempt by MG to break into the American market before regulations changed. by 1974, every MGB was given new black bumpers known as “Rubber Bumpers” due to the material used.
Along with the rubber bumpers, the US cars got their ride height increased by 1.5 inches and also a detuned engine producing a lowly 60bhp. This made the MGB a bit of a flop in the US market when launched which is rather unfortunate.
With every classic car & owner story, Keiran absolutely loves his MGB. Even though he’s only owned the car for 1 year, he says that he feels as if it’s been about 10 years. It evokes a feeling you just don’t get in a modern car, whether that be the smells or even the view you get from behind the steering wheel, owning an MGB is a magical experience to behold. With the long bonnet and the Mota Lita steering wheel that is fitted to Keirans car, it feels special before you even start it up and take it for a drive.
Repair wise, Keiran has done a fair amount to his MGB GT to make it outstanding. These include a new stainless steel exhaust system fitted, re-chromed bumpers as well as numerous mechanical parts fitted. Mechanically speaking he has replaced the condenser, fuel pump, fuel sender & rocker cover to make sure that the 1.8 B-Series purrs along nicely and doesn’t give him any untoward aggro.
In the year of ownership, Keiran hasn’t been afraid of using his car to its full potential, trips have included a convoy around the Peak District with his mate and their S1 Jaguar E-Type. It’s recently been on show at this year’s NEC Classic Car Motor Show down in Birmingham which is a massive car show here in the UK. On top of that, it has also been driven around the BBC’s ‘Peaky Blinders’ set which is undeniably cool. It has also spent some time driving around the Black Country Museum as well.
Next year, Keiran wants to take it on even more adventures, these include the Beaulieu National Motor Museum as well as the small village of Goathland on the Yorkshire moors. Goathland for people who don’t know was the home of the TV Drama Heartbeat which also happens to be one of Keiran’s favorite TV programs.
Even though Keiran is only 21, he is already a committee member of the MG MG Car Club Young Members Branch where owners and young enthusiasts of both classic & modern MGs under the age of 25 can come together to enjoy these cars. With a lot of young people not getting into classic cars, Keiran and his branch try their utmost to keep the classic car scene alive by getting members to sign up. Simply put, if no one does anything, these cars and the scene that comes with them will simply disappear into the history books if nothing is done about it. Keiran is so passionate about classics that he will take 5 or so minutes out of his day simply to let people come up and chat about his car to passers-by.
For anyone wanting to look into buying a classic car and are considering an MGB, go and take a look at the ‘MG Car Club Young Members Branch’ as you’ll find a lot of like-minded people who’ll take you under their wing so to speak and help you out with anything you may need.
Hope you Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
Being in the automotive journalism scene, over the years of doing this I’ve been able to join a good amount of car groups through social media. Now for me being a massive lover of classic cars, it was only right that my Facebook newsfeed was pretty much covered in classic car groups & their posts. Through these groups, I’ve been able to meet some very good people with equally as good classic cars and make some good mates in the process and recently I have been able to do that. So, with that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to my mate Harley and tell you the story behind his Triumph Herald.
Harley is a 16-year-old lad who has a love for classic cars and just like a lot of classic car enthusiasts when it came to picking his first car he didn’t want a Corsa or a Fiesta, in fact, he had something completely different in mind. Instead of buying any of them, he decided to buy a 1966 Triumph Herald instead. So what is a Triumph Herald you may ask? Well, during the late ’50s Triumph decided to build a replacement for their Standard 10 to compete with both Rover & Riley and the likes.
The Herald was released with 5 body styles. These included a 2-door saloon, a 2-door coupé, a 2-door convertible, a 2-door estate & last but not least their 2-door van known as the courier. Originally powered by a 948cc engine, they were soon updated and powered by a 1147cc unit in 1961 giving the car a massive 39bhp. Compared to the old engine, the newer 1147cc unit had a power increase of a truly incredible 5.5bhp.
As I’ve already mentioned, Harley’s example is a 1966 1200 Saloon and is in incredible condition for a 53-year-old car. With hardly any rust or paint issues to be seen, this Herald has to be one of the cleanest ones going. To keep it being one of the cleanest cars going however hasn’t been an easy task at all, like all cars it has had a lot of work done to it to keep it in tip-top condition. These include new driveshafts, new brakes all round, some snazzy yellow headlamps, a restored interior, a tuned-up engine with a rebuilt carburetor. On top of that, it has had new parts fitted like a new lift pump, fuel lines and last but not least some really rather lovely banded steels with wider tires.
So, as you can already tell, Harley loves this little thing but there might be a question you might be wondering and that is this. Why exactly did Harley go for a Herald and why does he love them so much? Well, simply put, Harley has had a fondness for Heralds ever since he was 13. He knew someone with one and simply fell in love with it and vowed to own one when he was older. His Herald isn’t actually the first one he looked at, see like any other petrol head, it took him quite a bit of time to find the perfect example within budget and with his car, the wait certainly paid off.
Another reason why Harley got the Herald is due to the simple yet innovative mechanical setup. Being a small, low powered car everything is easy to get to and fix and it is even easier to drive and that is no surprise really, with light steering and its small size, it made the Herald such easy to drive.
The only real issue with the early Heralds and other Triumphs of this age was the handling characteristics. See, early Heralds had a tendency to be a handful at high speeds, to overcome this issue, Triumph came out with what they called the “Swing Spring”. This was a “limited” independent rear suspension setup that made the car a whole lot more planted. Thankfully there are many companies that do Swing Spring Conversion Kits to make the earlier examples handle like the later cars for not much money. They also promise easy fitting even from a home mechanic with no bodgery involved.
It’s never easy buying a classic car for your first car simply because there are so many cars for the taking. With so many of them being out of reach it is great to see one you’ve always dreamed of owning still being easy to get into and with the Herald, they are still at a price where they are relatively affordable and really easy to own.
Harley here really fell on his feet with his Herald, it has to be one of the cleanest examples in the country and even with the modifications done to it thus far, it’s not been ruined or distastefully modified. On top of all that, it has been really looked after well both by Harley and its previous owners. This is a car to be proud of and with Harley working on it, I can see this Herald being something even more special than how it currently is.
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
So we all know the story with the Lexus LS400 right? If not, here is a brief rundown on it. In the late ’80s, Toyota wanted to build a full-sized luxury car to rival the best from Germany, America & The UK. The only issue that they had was their image, see at the time Toyota was known for building cheap, reliable and long-lasting vehicles with no other real attributes apart from getting the occupant from A-B in relative comfort. this was a major problem for the brand, especially when they wanted to build a luxury car, simply put Toyota simply couldn’t bring a luxury car to the market and expect it to sell to either current SEL or XJ40 owners due to badge snobbery and on the other hand, they couldn’t sell it to the humble Corolla owner as they simply couldn’t stump up over the equivalent of £60,000 on what was a Toyota product. Not wanting to give up, Toyota decided to take a leaf out of both Nissan & Honda’s book and create a luxury sub-brand, thus creating what we all know as Lexus. This is the story of both the beginnings of Lexus and the LS400.
With Lexus standing for ‘Luxury Exports to The U.S’, this name worked out well, not just was it to the point, to people who didn’t really know or didn’t really care, the brand ‘Lexus’ pretty much rolled off the tongue as a manufacturer with a bit of caliber. With the name figured out, Toyota went on to build its first-ever Lexus branded car. Originally named Project F1, it stood for ‘Flagship One’ before eventually getting known & released as the LS400. The simple task of the LS was to be the best car the world has ever seen. Unlike its rivals from Germany, America, and even the UK, the Lexus was unbelievably reliable. Like a lot of Japanese cars of the time, it was built to work day in day out without falter or hassle. With Toyota and Lexus slowly getting customers through their doors with the original LS400, they decided to move on to the 2nd generation model in 1994.
While the second generation may have looked similar to the original, pretty much everything was updated and upgraded. It was longer than the previous generation but somehow shaved off 95kg compared to the MK1 it replaced. Add in the updated 1UZ it had carried over from the original car, it made 260bhp & 270 Ib-ft torque which meant an upgraded 0-60 time of 7.5 seconds.
With a lot of Lexus’ these days, the LS400 came equipped with an absolute ton of fancy equipment as standard and the MK2 was no different. Dual-Zone climate control was added as well as rear cupholders, in regards to the entertainment system, an in-dash CD changer was also added as well as an option. The best part though was the electric memory steering wheel, it would come out and greet you when you turned the key and then go back once you got out the car to make it easier to get in and out. Compared to its rivals, for the amount of kit it got as standard, it was by far more than the equivalent Mercedes or Jaguar, add in the lower price and its no real wonder the LS400 flew out the showroom.
What made the MK2 so good though was its packaging. See, with the likes of Mercedes or Audi or even Jaguar, the Lexus never had an LWB option which meant that it never went crazier in the price for a bit more legroom. They were able to make it longer thus giving it better interior legroom while still retaining the same wheelbase as the original.
The MK2 also got enhancements in safety with larger crumple zones and 3-point seatbelts at all possible positions. On top of all that, it also got a collapsible steering column making it one of the first cars to ever have an electrically operated collapsible steering column. While in Europe and in the US it was badged as a Lexus, over in Japan it was badged as the Toyota Celsior and with every JDM spec car, these came with even more options than the equivalent Lexus badged models. These included reclining rear seats, a GPS system as well as more exterior colors.
In 1997, the LS400 was facelifted to give it a fresher appearance, this included new headlamp units, a new grille and refreshed rear lamps as well as new front fascia, new wing mirrors and a new set of wheels. Interior wise it got retractable rear headrests, a trip computer, reading lamps and ultraviolet tinted glass. Mechanically speaking, it got a new 5-speed automatic gearbox and a new state of the art VVTi system raising power to 290bhp and a 30Ib-ft increase in torque which meant that acceleration times & fuel economy was vastly increased.
By the early ’00s, the LS400 got even more equipment thrown at it, these include the option of the CD-ROM based GPS system taken from its Japanese cousin, front side airbags, HID headlamps, a traction control system and brake assist. In Japan, the Celsior got the first-ever laser adaptive cruise control system which was big news back then. Unlike modern systems where it controls the throttle and brakes according to the vehicle in front, the Celsior’s version worked off throttle control and downshifting.
What To Look For.
While Lexus’ are uber reliable compared to its rivals, like every car they do have their issues. While Toyota & Lexus took home many a reliability award during the time of production, don’t expect these to be perfect.
First of all, due to all the equipment onboard it is no doubt that after nearly 30 years on the road something will come up and one of these is the LCD screen for the clock & climate control going black.
The power steering fluid can leak which can then go all over the alternator failing it in the process. if this does happen you’d need to fork out on a new alternator & power steering pump.
Bad spark plugs can cause a shuddering on these cars, with a V8 you, of course, have to buy 8 of these but due to plugs not being too expensive these are relatively affordable. While you are there, change out the ignition coils as these can also cause similar issues.
Catalytic converters are also an issue on these cars and replacements aren’t exactly cheap, quote a good few hundred pounds for them to be replaced. For these, it’d be easier to get these from the main dealers as aftermarket ones don’t last too long on these.
Check both the seat rails & the seatbelts as these can get tired & blocked over time. Thankfully there are a good few guides on how to fix these issues so they aren’t as bad as first thought.
The main issue really with this car and with every Lexus it seems are the eye-watering parts prices & labor costs from the dealer. Even though it runs Toyota parts, Lexus charges a good chunk more for their parts and a lot of these can be crazy expensive. Thankfully the Lexus LS400 & Toyota Celsior don’t have too many issues compared to a lot of big cars so it shouldn’t be needing these parts all the time and with Lexus & Toyota specialists all over the place, it is easy to find places that can fix stuff cheaper than the main dealers.
With prices for these hitting a very low bracket, it is very easy to find yourself lusting after one of these brilliant cars and with Toyota’s impeccable reliability record it makes perfect sense to buy one over an equivalent Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz or Audi A8. As long as you can find a perfect one in an amazing condition they’ll be bound to last for millions of miles. Parts prices and labor are expensive, especially at main dealers but with a lot of specialists around the place, it really isn’t difficult to get a majority of the issues fixed a whole lot cheaper.
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
In this day & age, it is very easy to go out and buy a large and rather powerful saloon car, go into any high-end dealership these days and pretty much every company offers one for sale. These could be anything from a brand new E-Class Mercedes-Benz all the way up to a Bentley Flying Spur. With many different manufacturers offering a big saloon in their line up, it seems strange to remember a time when a company known for making normal cars created something rather special. If you go back in time to the swinging ’60s, however, you’ll see a different story.
See, back in the ’60s if you couldn’t afford the likes of a Rolls Royce or Bentley then you had no other option than one of two brands. From the UK you had Jaguar with their wonderful Mark II and from Germany, you had Mercedes-Benz with their 300 SEL. Now, these two cars were fantastic and have had a cult following ever since release but what if I was to tell you that there was a 3rd option in this list? Well, this is where humble Rover comes in. See, in 1958 Rover released the P5 as the replacement to their P4, at the start of its life it originally came with a 3.0 straight-six engine that pretty much stayed with it through a majority of its life until the late sixties when ultimately the best version of the P5 came out, I am of course talking about the P5B.
The ‘B’ moniker stood for Buick and this was significant as it meant that the P5 was now powered by the now legendary Rover 3.5 V8 engine taken pretty much straight from Buick. Buick used this engine under the Buick ‘215’ moniker in some of their cars as it was very lightweight and could get some decent power figures but after a few years, it got dropped due to reliability issues & cooling problems.
This is where Rover came in. See, at the time Rover was wanting to experiment with a gas turbine-style engine but due to funding, they could never make that dream a possibility. It was only until Rover decided to send Mr. J. Bruce Williams into looking into purchasing a small V8 that they came across the Buick lump. With an all-aluminum design, the new Rover V8 wasn’t just more powerful than the 4 cylinders it was replacing, it was also lighter & smaller too. Power was rated at 160bhp with torque coming it at 210Ib-ft and with a top speed of 115mph that may not sound like much these days but in the late ’60s early ’70s, this was a relatively quick car.
The P5B came standard with a Borg Warner Type-35 Gearbox as it was the only gearbox Rover had at the time that could handle the power of that big V8 and with the gearbox and the big V8 powering, it slowly but surely became the newest sporting saloon ever to grace the roads. Now may it not have been the quickest sports saloon going nor the most direct, the Rover made up for in its cruise ability, this was a car that could easily reach the speed limits on the then-new motorway networks and happily sit there burbling along.
So, what made the P5B actually cool then? Well, first of all, it looked absolutely stunning, especially in Coupé form. While it wasn’t exactly a proper two-door coupé, it was the first-ever 4 door coupé and that has gone on to bring us some rather good looking cars, including the SD1, the Rover 800 Fastback & the Mercedes-Benz CLS. Secondly, it epitomised the ’60s and the era it was in, even though the P5B came out nearer to the ’70s, with its chrome & black Rostyle wheels and its added extra fog lights made it a stylish icon of the ’60s. With the V8 from Buick now fitted instead of the older 3.0 straight-six, it made a wonderful noise and because of the engine’s lightweight, it meant it was significantly quicker as well. By far the best feature, however, was the interior. It was truly gorgeous, the inside was befitting of royalty and high ranking officials. Whereas the likes of a Jaguar MK2 went down the line of sportiness, the Rover was like stepping inside a gentleman’s club.
The P5B was so undeniably cool that it was the car of choice for both the UK royal family and the UK government for well over 10 years or more. It’d always be a common sight to see a high ranking official to be seen getting chauffeured around in the back of a P5B going from place to place. It was so cool that even Queen Elizabeth II has one, in fact, it was the same one that appeared on an episode of Top Gear in 2003.
These days if you want a P5B you’ll need relatively sized pockets as these are going up in price day by day. for a good coupé, you’d be looking at about 13,500 upwards whereas its £6500 upwards for a similarly aged saloon.
By 1973 it was placed by the ever-popular P6 V8 which went on to further stamp Rover as a manufacturer of really good, slightly left-field sports saloons. The P6 was idolized by many compared to the P5 and P5B and that was due mainly to the P6’s world-class construction and ease of maintenance. It was only until the mid-’70s that Rover would come back with a coupé like design with the SD1.
Even though the P5B was only ever out for a few years before being replaced, it set a trend for the Rover company and helped them build some truly fantastic V8 powered beauties over subsequent years and for me and many others, it remains as an affordable dream classic car.
Hope you Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
For those who are new around here, I have owned a Volvo C70 Coupé MK1, lovingly known as ProjectC70 for well over 4 years now. Over those years it has been on quite a journey to bring it back up to a standard befitting of such a brilliant little car. Now when you are so busy fixing up cars you tend to sometimes forget certain elements of ownership issues like birthdays and anniversaries, I know I do. So when it came to my C70’s 19th birthday I just had to celebrate it the only way I could.
Recently I have hardly been posting or writing and that has been due to lack of actual work happening on the car to be quite honest. While not a lot has actually been happening regarding the car, I have still got plans in my head and I am still following them through slowly but surely. Now my C70 has officially hit its 19th birthday, the best way to celebrate it is to buy numerous amounts of car parts and get them ready for fitment. In the last few months, some of you may have noticed that I had removed the dashboard from the car to fit chrome rings around the dials, on top of that I also removed a majority of the interior to clean it all out and dry out after a spurt of water ingress started to show its leery head. Now they are done I am now going to move on to some far more exciting jobs and tasks. These include getting some money together to get the steering wheel refurbished, the seats refurbished and possibly retrimmed as well as the main CD player fixed as well as numerous other small fixes. At the moment I am going to be going out on a whim and buying parts for the car which will need to be custom-made to fit, I’m not going to say too much on what they are in case they don’t fit but expect it to be a first if they do.
On top of all the interior jobs I have done thus far and the ones I still need to do, I have also recently done a coolant change on the C70 so that it runs cooler now it’s getting into the colder months. While doing said coolant change I changed over a few rusty clips so there is no risk of any of them failing and causing the car to overheat or worse – blow up! My next mechanical job will be working out why the cruise control isn’t engaging, If I can’t work out how to fix it I’ll more than likely go on to replacing all the old suspension components with new stuff both front & rear.
Apart from the Suspension, the cruise control issues, and the bodywork/metalwork, ProjectC70 is in a very good state for its age, with a majority of small jobs needing doing I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel which is something I’d never even consider on saying a good few months back.
Even after 4 years of ownership, my love for ProjectC70 is still there and as long as it runs, drives and puts a smile on my face I’ll be having it for a long time. For now, I’m currently fixing up the parts I’ve ordered hence why the work on the car has stopped but that in itself hasn’t stopped me loving it any less.
I hope this explains why a lot of posts & articles about ProjectC70 have slowly come to a halt, as soon as the weather starts to clear up the best that it can I will start to get back to work on fixing it up and making it the best it can be. Considering that ProjectC70 has now officially hit 19 years old it is only right to get back to work on it again and making it the best it can be. For now, though, I’d like to raise a glass to the C70’s 19th birthday. It is not every day a modern car can reach even 10 years old without too many issues let alone nearly 20. Volvo really did create a well-built product with the C70 and it shows.
Hope you Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson
Aston Martins have always been truly amazing cars. all the way to the engineering of them to the gorgeous looks, everything about them is impeccable. One of those cars which fits the bill is the original Vanquish. Now, of course, everyone knows the original Vanquish from the James Bond film ‘Die Another Day’ however, not everyone remembers the Vanquish I’m about to re-introduce you to. I am of course talking about the 2004 Vanquish Zagato Roadster concept.
When the original Vanquish was released in 2002, it was met with a very warm welcome, it was a completely new platform with a then-brand-new 6.0 V12 powering it, on top of that it was absolutely gorgeous and in some ways, it started the mold for Astons during the early noughties. When Aston Martin brings out a new model, they tend to bring out a Coupé first and then a convertible model known as the Volante and they have been doing this for years. With the Vanquish, however, for some reason unbeknown to the general public, you could only get it in Coupé body style. Now while this never really bothered a majority of Vanquish owners, a good few Aston aficionados were desperately waiting for a Volante-esque model to appear. While Aston themselves never released an official Volante variant of the car, a very well known design studio decided to collaborate with the brand to create a now one-off roadster variant of the Vanquish, I am of course talking about Zagato.
Now the relationship between Zagato & Aston Martin goes way back to the early ’60s with the DB4 GT Zagato and has since continued with the V8 Zagato of the ’80s, the DB7 of the early ’00s and more recently the second-gen Vanquish Zagato. In fact, I’d personally say that the relationship they have together is synonymous, they just go hand in hand. With the relationship that the two companies have it was only fair that Zagato were the ones to create such a beautiful masterpiece that is the Vanquish Roadster.
So what exactly makes up the ingredients of the Zagato Roadster? Well, it started off in life as a pre-production Coupé that was sent over to Zagato’s headquarters in Milan, Italy. From there, an extensive amount of work was carried out to transform it into what we have here. Away goes the metal fixed roof in favor of a double-bubble affair made entirely of glass behind the front seats. The roof is a cloth style fixture with an apparent metal hardtop being included as well for those cold winter months. The old automatic gearbox has been ditched for a proper 6-speed manual affair and it’s so much better for it. The front end of it is pretty much standard barring the Zagato badge on the front wings but the rear is on a completely different level.
The first thing you notice when looking at the rear end of it is the DB7 AR1 style tail lamps, the second thing you spot is the integrated boot spoiler that incorporates the third brake lamp, below that is the Aston Martin crest to show off its origins. Just under that sits the rear license plate which then leads on to the simple but effective rear bumper & the exhaust tips that sit each side of the bumper. It is simply gorgeous and yet so distinctively Aston Martin. Note that there is no Vanquish or Zagato badges on the rear of the car whatsoever. If it didn’t have the Aston Martin badge you honestly wouldn’t know it was one until you saw the front of it.
The interior is typical Vanquish barring a few things, one of those being the manual gearknob sticking out the center console and the other being the red interior. The color, in fact, takes up a majority of what you see. The only real parts which break up the interior are the small but effective silver trim which adorns the door cards, the center console around the gearknob & the grey air vents. Adding to this is the two-tone steering wheel consisting of both a red & grey color combination. Now normally a Red interior like this does come across as off-putting, especially as the exterior color of the car is a really lovely blue but in the case of this car, it really works well together. a very small detail but a change none-the-less is the panel where the clock and engine button sits, now normally in a normal Vanquish, it’d seat the gearbox buttons but as this is a manual they’re simply removed as they’re not needed. to finish off the interior look, it has some rather lovely set of white dials finished with chrome rings around the outside to make it that extra bit classy.
Want to hear the best part of all this though? Of course, you do. See, unlike many other concepts & one-offs, the Vanquish here is a working car that has even been wind tunnel tested to make sure it’s as quiet as can be at relatively high speeds. Over the 15 years since it’s launch, it has been able to rack up just under 17 thousand miles which may not sound like a lot but compared to other one-offs & concepts, it shows that it is actually a useable car. This isn’t just some showpiece which doesn’t move, in fact in its early days it went to all different shows including the Concours D’Elegance back in 2004. In fact, it was actually bought a little bit after the show was over by somebody who simply fell in love with it and wanted it to add to his collection. It stayed in America for the majority of its life until it got bought & imported back to the UK in 2017 where it has been ever since.
I remember reading about the Zagato Roadster in a James Bond magazine when I was young but I never really took much notice until I recently started reading about Vanquishes in general. Out of all the special & rare Aston’s made over the years, the Zagato Roadster has to be one that has simply been forgotten about which is a real shame as it is truly stunning.
It is very difficult to make an already gorgeous car even better looking but looking at it states that with a little bit of help by a company like Zagato anything can be achieved. In my opinion, it should’ve been made as a production style model but as Aston at the time were busy releasing car after car, it was difficult for them financially to commit to such a thing which makes this the only Zagato roadster in the world, such a shame really.
Hope You Enjoy!
Are you the kind of person to be forever joining car groups but getting nowhere, do you want to join a car group with no hate, and do you want to make new friends in the process? Well, have I got the group for you! Let me introduce you to the wonderful place that is Motorheads International.
So what exactly is Motorheads International or MHI for short? Well MHI is a car page & group over on Facebook, with accounts both on Instagram & Twitter if that is your thing. It was created way back in 2011 and has been going ever since and has grown into a group of 18k members strong as of right now. As the name might suggest it’s an international group with members coming from everywhere around the world – whether you are from Sweden, Australia, America or even Italy everyone is welcome.
The best part about MHI is both the variety of cars as well as the owners who own the beauties. You’ll find people on there who are vintage race cars drivers, mechanics, tow truck drivers or even pilots who own anything from a Honda Beat to a Ferrari or Lamborghini. Everyone is really friendly and also helpful which is something you don’t hardly see in car groups these days – especially ones this large!!
If there is any hint of trouble, the admin team who run the group get onto the case straight away and get the group back to the way a group should be which is chilled, civil and above all hate free.
The group is now so large and so out there that if you search hard enough on YouTube you might even find an advert for it on some videos, the exact same can be said for Facebook as well. The group is not far from hitting 20K members so if you ever want to join then I’ll leave a link to the group so you can always get involved.
Josefin, who is a member of the admin team from Scandinavia is always out at different events both photographing & representing the group wherever she goes so that the group gets bigger and bigger and she is not the only one, a plethora of different members are doing the exact same. If you are one for going to events, you’ll find a good few getting set up by fellow members that you can always join and chill at.
On top of all that, the group has its own website which sells merchandise, whether it be clothing or even stickers for your car, you’ll find something for you. With good prices as well as a plethora of different good quality merchandise for sale, you won’t be breaking the bank neither.
I got involved in the group with thanks to an admin member called Colton who sent me an invite over on Messenger to join, now at first, I was apprehensive as it’s not the normal way I’d personally get invited or even join a group but there was no need to worry whatsoever. I was welcomed in with open arms and I’ve been in the group with ever since!
I’m in a lot of groups over on Facebook, but MHI alongside RPM365 are my two go-to groups to get involved with, in fact, I’d say that they both have very similar traits. They both have numerous active members with posts going up at any time of the day, hardly any hate and generally a brilliant group to be a part of.
As promised, I’ll post the links to the group page if anyone wants to join, lets help get this group to 20k members. If you like the sound of the group, I’d personally join it as you’ll probably not come across a group as chilled out as them.
While there, join the group chat for car-based conversations & a chilled out chat with fellow members and within no time you’ll end up making some new car friends in the process.
FB Group page link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/299872620053201/
Merchandise Shop (EN): https://shop.spreadshirt.co.uk/MotorheadsInternational/?fbclid=IwAR151cvCzObWLGjFE7sRS0zSiJMUAESRIwqPscZL1iD6CwDW05cd2NwZPDQ
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson