With it being Mental Health Awareness Week this week, it can be very easy for us fellow petrol-heads and car people to feel lost in this world. With a lot of us distancing ourselves from the outside world due to being fixated on these inanimate objects, it can be very easy for us to feel down from time to time. For a lot of us, our cars are pretty much one of our only things in life that we have left as sad as it sounds. This is where Driven Escape comes in.
As a fellow petrolhead with Epilepsy as well as mental health problems due to my illness, on a lot of occasions, my C70 project car is pretty much my only saving grace. I use my C70 to fight my epilepsy and while a majority of the time it’s not an issue, on some occasions it can be a pain in the backside. While that may be typical project car ownership issues, when mental health is involved and you’re only way of fighting it is in a right state it can certainly get to you. Driven Escape helps out with this in a truly wonderful way.
Driven Escape is a fairly small but brilliant Non-Profit Mental Awareness social media platform that helps out with mental health in the car community. Ran by a lad called Connor, he decided to set it up after going through quite a bad patch of issues himself, and just like a lot of us, he always had his cars to lift him up and help him fight it more than most people actually realised. Spurred on by this, he decided to create Driven Escape to give fellow car people going through similar issues a place to come together as a community to help people get through whatever issues they may be facing.
Even though the community and following are fairly small compared to other groups out there, Driven Escape combats this by being a very close-knit community that looks after one another. Unlike other groups that are just for classics only or just modified cars, Driven Escape has a large array of vehicles in the group ranging from MGB GT’s to Austin Metros even up to a very rare but equally lovely Isuzu Piazza. Regardless of what car you own, you’re welcomed in with welcome arms.
Alongside the social media platforms over on Facebook & Instagram, there is also a website that deals with merchandise like stickers and clothing items. Unlike other places that deal with merchandise to branch out their business, Driven Escape does something a little bit special. All the money spent that goes towards the clothing items and stickers goes to various mental health charities in the UK, a simply incredible gesture to do for the numerous amounts of people going through a bad time with mental health issues.
I’ve been lucky to speak to Connor himself and he is so welcoming to people regardless if they’re new to Driven Escape or not. Even during this pandemic that we are currently facing, Connor has been acting on it by holding live check-ins and virtual car meets over on Instagram so he can both meet new faces as well as regular faces as well as get to know the cars and any updates made to them.
Everyone who currently follows and has joined the Driven Escape Community Zone Facebook group are also brilliant people who help out regardless of what is wrong with either the car or the person behind the wheel and it really is a lovely thing to see, especially in circumstances like we have in this day and age.
The best bit about Driven Escape though is the people who follow it. In a day and age where mental health is ignored in our society simply because it isn’t entirely apparent, to see a group in the car community come together and help out fellow petrolheads is something to admire.
With the car community and the people in it being quite a bittersweet place to be in this society, it can be very easy for people to show hate for no valuable reason other than either jealousy or their own hidden issues. With Driven Escape and everything that they do, it brings back the car community and spirit of old where regardless of what you own or what stuff you do to said cars, people give respect regardless. Even if it isn’t something you’re into, respect is always given.
With a vast array of owners and cars who are part of the Driven Escape family, there’s bound to be people, cars, or even styles out there that you can get involved with. Whether it be American muscle cars or small French hot-hatches, there’s a community within a community to get involved with, add in the respect you get, and the lack of hassle you get what isn’t there to love?
Connor has really done an amazing job by creating Driven Escape and building it into what it is today. It’s not every day that you get someone from the car community going out of their way to create such a hub for fellow car people. Add the generous amounts of money given to mental health charities with the sale of both stickers and clothing items, Driven Escape really is in an element of its own. Just remember, It’s Okay Not to Be Okay.
It is well known in the car community that we as petrol-heads like to go above and beyond for fellow car people. Whether they are in the classic car groups like RPM365, general car groups like Motorheads International, or manufacturer specific car groups like VolvoTuning.net, we as car people both see and do this on the regular. Since owning my C70, I have seen this happening first hand in many groups that I’ve joined but one group and especially one member in particular instantly comes to mind and his name was John ‘Nosh’ Ronie and he helped run a group called VolvoTuning.net or ‘VT’ for short.
The word Legend gets thrown around a lot in the car community these days, too much in fact. Nosh, as he was known by his friends and peers due to owning a chippy in Sheffield, was a bonafide Legend. Ever since buying my C70 in 2015 I was looking for help and a community to be a part of, and through a friend of mine, I joined VolvoTuning.net and was instantly introduced to John. Within seconds of joining, he made me feel welcomed into the group and instantly fell for the car, I’d never felt more welcomed into anything before in my life. Throughout the 3 years of knowing John we got on brilliantly, jokes were made and help was given by both sides. Even though we both had different Volvo’s, we both respected each other regardless of model or power or anything. Granted, my C70 was more of a Volvo than his FoMoCo V50 estate but that didn’t matter.
I’m also not the only one who loved and respected the big man neither. Everyone that knew him and met him all have fantastic memories of the guy. From holding a mini-meet at a Volvo Owners Club only meet VT weren’t allowed at to others watching and laughing at him walk out of a Scottish Harry Ramsdens restaurant at the Forth Railway Bridge a few years ago with a face like thunder, everyone that ever had the chance to meet him loved his charm and his ability to simply light up a room. On one occasion, he took a fellow member on a long old jaunt around Yorkshire trying to find an ice-cream shop of all things.
Aside from the silliness, Even though Nosh was built massive and looked scary and unapproachable at first, he actually had a heart of gold. He was an avid supporter of numerous charities and always done something each year for charity, whether that was a VT meet or even a Shoebox Appeal at Christmas, he did it all and he loved it. He was also there for his numerous friends and family as well. From inviting friends over and feeding them and giving them drinks in return for a bag of sweets to giving mates around the area lifts to certain places if so needed. No one even asked for it all, John simply done it out of the kindness of his own heart. If anyone had car issues at meets or even needed parts delivered or even fitted, he’d be down and helping them out without even asking.
As well as being an avid Volvo & overall car guy, John was also a family man as well. He had a wife called Sam, two sons & a step-daughter called Skye who he absolutely adored. He also had 7 grandkids between his two sons and Skye that he’d do anything for as well. To the ones that knew him best, he was one of the greats. Whether that was family or even close friends, no-one ever came close to the love John gave out and received back.
Unfortunately, in early 2018 Nosh was diagnosed with terminal rectal cancer and when the news came out, everyone stopped in their tracks and cried. It was if the world had stopped spinning on its axis, that’s how bad it hit us all. For those lucky enough to have money spare decided to set up a JustGiving page to help out the hospice care look after him as he got worse. The overall outpours of love came flooding in and after everything had seemed to settle, the fund was up to well over £15K raised by fellow VT members and the Volvo community in general. After the news came out of his diagnosis, many people who made merchandise for the group decided to dedicate numerous stickers and mug designs to both show support and help the fund.
John ‘Nosh’ Ronie passed away on the 23rd April of 2018 after only 6 weeks of fighting his cancer, up to the day he passed he fought it with grace, a good laugh, and a brilliant heart. Even though he was fighting something absolutely devastating for both him & everyone involved, he still put other people first. This was a typical John Ronie thing to do and that was why he was so respected in the Volvo communities.
When he left us and the funeral was arranged and sorted out, Sheffield, where he was from, quickly became full to the brim of multiple Volvo’s lining the streets and the car park of the crematorium where everyone started to say their goodbyes for the last ever time. For such a small community, everyone rallied together to say their final goodbyes and it was a real tearjerker to see.
After the funeral, It was John’s wish to have his near 500bhp V50 wagon stripped for parts and sold to other members to help finish or upgrade their builds. While it was sad to see his car to go like that, John knew that it’d go towards other cars and also to the family to cover any costs they may run into. This was a completely selfless thing to do, anyone else could’ve easily sold their car on whole and just let things be but not Nosh, he really was a legend in his own right.
Even two years after his unfortunate passing, Nosh is forever remembered by numerous Volvo community members and friends of his. Recently, for example, Teddy bears have been made up by a Volvo Community member’s wife using some of Nosh’s old clothes with capsules of his ashes put inside so that he is remembered. I myself never got to meet John in real life due to either distance issues or car problems but even with that, he was one of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of talking to and laughing with.
No one did things like John ‘Nosh’ Ronie, to everyone that knew him personally can even back me up and agree. When he left us, he left behind a massive legacy that will never be filled by another individual. He is thought of every single day by everyone in the community and for obvious reasons. The Volvo community lost a gem of a bloke two years ago today and it shows.
When it comes to Japanese cars, it is very easy to remember the numerous amounts of Japanese metal that came over here throughout the ’90s. Think of the ’90s and you instantly think Skylines, Supra’s, Celica ST205 GT4’s, Mazda RX-7’s, and even the underrated yet amazing Mitsubishi GTO/3000GT. Out of the numerous Jap cars that graced our UK shores, there is one that stands out from the rest for very good reasons and that is the 8th generation Mitsubishi Galant/Legnum.
So what was the Galant and what made it so special? Well, the Galant was the flagship saloon and wagon throughout the ’70s, ’80s & especially the ’90s. Throughout the years it was instantly evolving from a good, well-rounded Japanese car into one of the best in my opinion. This especially came into effect during the majority of the ’90s where the Galant became somewhat of an underrated beast. Before we get onto the truly phenomenal 8th gen VR-4 though, first of all, I will go through the standard model first so you can get an idea of how good it actually was even in standard guise.
When the 8th generation came round in 1996, just like the previous models before it, it was vastly improved in pretty much every aspect. Instead of the curvy and rounded looks of the 7th gen, the 8th gen car was a whole lot sharper-looking, especially at the front end where it got the nickname of ‘Shark Nose’ due to its mean-looking bumper, grille and headlamp setup. Compared to a similarly aged Accord or Camry, the Galant was leaps and bounds ahead when it came to overall exterior looks.
Interior wise, they were built really well with good solid materials used all around and tons of practicality available. If you decided to specify leather seats, you got full piped seats all round that was unbelievably comfy. If you bought the Wagon like most did then you also benefitted from a massive cargo area equal to the size of a Volvo wagon. Above all of this, it gave the owner the feeling of actual class that a lot of other cars couldn’t even come close to.
Engines available ranged from a 1.8 GDi ‘4G93’ to the 3.0 V6 ‘6G72’, in the UK we got the 2.0 4 cylinder ‘4G94’, the 2.5 V6 N/A ‘6A13’ producing 163bhp, the 2.4 GDI ‘4G64’ and the 2.5 V6 ‘6A13TT’ solely for the VR-4 weapon. All the engines available suited the cars well, with power raising from 134bhp in the 2.0’s to a whopping 280bhp for the VR-4, there was an engine for everyone. Out of the bunch, both of the 2.5 V6’s were the ones to go for. They both made great power with decent reliability and pretty good MPG for a V6. Out of the three V6’s available, one stood out from the rest and that was the ‘6A13TT’ unit used in what has to be one of my favorite ever affordable dream cars – the Galant/Legnum VR-4!!
With the spotlight solely focused on the Lancer Evo’s of the ’90s, it was very easy to forget about the Galant/Legnum VR-4 and Mitsubishi knew this so, in the late nineties, they made sure the Galant was not to be forgotten – the VR-4 was back with a vengeance!! Now, this wasn’t the only VR-4 to be created, in fact, the VR-4 badge was first seen on the 6th gen Galant of the late eighties as well as the early 90’s 7th gen as well. When the 8th gen VR-4 came out in 1996, It was basically a grown-up Evo 5/6. with VR-4 standing for Viscous Realtime Four Wheel Drive, This gave the 8th gen Galant the grip of the Evo, as well as some of its features onto a bigger platform car. The engine was also seriously upgraded as well. Mitsubishi took the already brilliant 2.5 V6 ‘6A13’ from the normal car, added a couple of cheeky turbochargers as well as a massive intercooler thus creating what can only be described as a bit of a beast in automotive form.
Power was upped from a respectful 163bhp to a whopping 280bhp. this was due to a bore/stroke of 81.0 x 80.8 mm, this also gave a compression ratio of 8.5:1, not bad for a 2.5 V6 engine. Derestricted, the 8th gen VR-4 could hit 150mph which was crazy for a big saloon/wagon. 0-60 mph was dealt with within 5.7 seconds for the INVECS-II 5-speed semi-auto and a crazy 5.3 seconds for the 5-speed conventional manual, that’s still fast even by today’s standards, not bad for a car that is over 20 years old!!
With the Evo, GTO/3000GT, and now the Galant VR-4, during the ’90s Mitsubishi simply couldn’t be touched. Whether it was on the rally scene, the Sports Coupé scene, or even the super saloon scene, Mitsubishi went from being a dependable but underrated company to a manufacturer of some of the best cars for sale during the ’90s. In fact, the 8th generation Galant was so good it was awarded the ‘Japanese Car Of The Year 1996-97’ award for the second time.
Production stopped for the UK market in 2003 due to expensive build costs and overall lack of interest in the model which was a real shame considering how well built the car was and how well the VR-4 was received. Since it’s disappearance in 2003, the Galant has never been sold here in the UK and it’s highly unlikely that Mitsubishi will bring the name back, nevermind make a performance model again.
Reliability on these old Galant’s are second to none, these cars were made when Mitsubishi made their cars properly, so much so in fact that it is very easy to see one of these cars hit well over 200k miles and still drive and feel as tight as a drum. Bodywork issues aren’t too bad, now, of course, every Japanese car of this age will suffer from rust and the Galant is no exception. They tend to rust over the rear wheel arches near the door shuts so watch for that. Suspension issues can also become noticeable, especially on the VR-4’s that have a multilink setup on them.
Check the body kit on the VR-4’s for scrapes and cracks, due to the lowered suspension it is very easy to get the front bumper especially caught on high curbs. Apart from that, the 8th generation Galant is a very reliable yet capable underrated saloon & wagon, especially in VR-4 trim. If you want to get one then now is the time to buy as they’re getting really cheap for what they are. If you want a JDM Import Wagon then get searching for a Legnum VR-4, these are pretty much the same as the UK Galant but with a slightly different rear-end styling, a few more bits and pieces from the Evo’s of the generation as well as a Momo Steering wheel and Recaro front seats.
With a lot of Japanese cars from the ’90s being loved by every petrolhead going, the 8th generation Galant/Legnum stands underrated by the JDM fanboys of the world. With this being the case, prices are possibly the lowest they’ve ever been. They’re very rare as well so getting a good one won’t be easy but once found, you’ll be forever smitten with it. If you can get the even rarer VR-4 then you seriously are winning at life, In wagon form, these cars are really all you’ll ever need in life. So the next time you see one of these on the road, show a little bit more respect to one of Japans forgotten about legends.
Well well well, how time flies! Can you believe I have owned you for 5 years now? Yeah I know, I can’t quite believe it neither but here we are. After tirelessly searching for a C70 like you for well over a year, I honestly thought I’d never get one but then after searching high and low on a nationwide search, I spotted you, a little diamond in the rough. From that point on I knew I had to take a punt on you and bring you home.
I still remember the day I clapped eyes on you, unlike the pictures taken of you by your previous owner, you looked absolutely gorgeous in the flesh. Your slick Saffron Orange Pearl paint instantly caught my eye, add in your factory 17″ BBS Propus alloy wheels and you looked like nothing else in the Cul-De-Sac where you once lived. It was 6:30pm at night when I saw you but my excitement started way before that. Even though I had been saving for a car similar to you for well over 8 months into an academic year, It never quite hit me how special buying you would be. See, before you came along, my life wasn’t going that well. College staff at the time was being difficult to work with and It felt as if they tried everything in their power to stop me from getting what was my dream first car.
See, unlike some people I knew, I never had the money to get a new car on finance so, with that, it meant I had no choice but to buy a used car. The thing is though, as, with old cars, it wasn’t easy for me to pick a definite answer. There were so many nice cars and also scrappers with numerous owners out there for sale, I could’ve gone for anything I was looking at. If it wasn’t for my parents buying a MK1 S80 of a similar age, I would’ve never even found either you or C70’s in general. See, Volvo’s were never my go-to car choice. Like a lot of people, I simply preferred other marques over the Swedish giant that built you with love, care, and attention all those years ago.
Originally, My intention was to acquaint myself with a car like you after having a couple of smaller cars beforehand but when I noticed the prices that cars like you were going for, It was very difficult to get you out of my mind. With prices equal to a similarly aged Vauxhall Corsa or Renault Clio, you came in completely out of the blue with way more to offer than those two cars for pretty much the same price, this was what got me hooked. My decision was only finalized after doing an insurance quote and getting a very reasonable but unexpected price back. For the same price as a Corsa for insurance, I could get you and save about £200 on insurance and considering what you came with as standard, it was very easy to finally make my decision on what I wanted.
As soon as I got the green light from my parents, I got to work saving up every single penny to find what would be you, a very lovely but underrated little Swedish meatball. As soon as I joined back up to the college in August of that year I instantly started saving my college money together to buy you. All I had on my mind was you, nothing more & nothing less. For me to save as much money as I could, I asked my parents if they could help me save a bit of money on certain things so I could get you. Knowing how much a car like you meant to me, they obliged pretty much straight away by helping me pay my phone and also sort out packed lunches instead of paying out for food.
With this arrangement sorted out, I was well on my way to buying you. As mentioned above, It wasn’t easy going due to the staff at the college trying as hard as they might to pretty much throw me out months before getting enough money together. With them putting that amount of pressure on me with my Epilepsy, it was very lucky that I was able to keep relatively cool and focus on other things instead. With the way the staff was going, on certain occasions, it felt as if I’d never be able to live out my dream of buying a car like you.
This is when the beginning of March rolled around. My life was about to change drastically and for the good. After keeping my head down the best I could and getting on with my college work, I was able to save up a pretty decent £1700 out of a £2500 limit, this gave me enough money to find a car like you and also tax & insurance deposit as well. At the beginning of the week dating from the 2nd-9th March of 2019, it was pretty much a blur, to be honest. I was never expecting to be buying you so quickly and this was because I was originally planning to buy you in the summer of 2015 instead of the spring but with the way the college was going, I knew it wasn’t going to be long before I was either thrown out or pushed to the point of leaving out my own free will, It was now or never.
I come across the advert for you over on Gumtree on the 5th of March late at night and instantly went to show you off to my parents. After getting an answer from your previous owner, we settled on checking you out at 6:30pm the next night after both college and your previous owners work. I couldn’t keep my excitement at bay however hard I tried which was strange, especially after being able to keep it a secret to a lot of people over the 8 months of saving up. I was literally counting down the hours as they went by and the excitement got even more intense the closer it got to the end of the college day.
After college finished, I instantly headed to the bank as quick as I could to release all the funds I’d had saved up to buy you and bring you home. It was time to face the music and head to the address where you were situated. Of all the C70’s similar I’d looked at all over the classifieds on a nationwide search, I found you living 25 miles away from home and only a 10-minute drive from the college where I was studying at the time, It was as if it was meant to be.
I turned up at your old residence at 6:00pm that night and I was patiently waiting for you to turn up so I could get up close to your Swedish magnificence and you certainly didn’t disappoint when you slowly rolled in at 6:30pm that night. I still remember the first time I ever saw you. I was elated with both joy and also shock due to the impact you had on me in those first 5 minutes. I’d seen many pictures of C70’s for sale on the internet but I’d never got close to a Coupé like you before. You blew me away with your beauty pretty much straight away, all I remember saying when I walked over to you was ‘That’s My Car’ and that was before I’d even handed over any money. You blew me away so much that I didn’t even knock the price down, you were honestly perfect in my eyes.
After buying you and bringing you home, I decided to get some pictures of you the next day as I was so proud of the achievement I’d done. Without even realizing it, my phone soon started to pop off with notifications as the celebrations started to come in one by one. Within a weekend away, I’d gone from someone quiet to everyone talking about me and you. By the time I came home that weekend, you were on everyone’s mind whether good or bad.
As the months and years have gone by, me and you have had to put up with people throwing both shade and good comments our way and through it all, we’ve proved that it is possible to own a car as lovely as you without paying over the odds. While some of the comments haven’t been nice, a lot of people have made some really nice comments about you and that makes me happy.
Since becoming a project car nearly 4 years ago, you have transformed into something even more special to both me and to everyone who has had the opportunity to see you up close & personal and for that, I’m glad to put the work in to make you my dream C70. while the last few years haven’t been easy, I still have that spark to work on you regardless of circumstances.
As well as being a top car to own and live with, you have also helped me on my darkest days and have proved to many people that an epileptic can indeed own, drive and fix a car of their own and not be treated any different than anyone else. it’s not the first time you have saved me neither. When I went through my breakup a few years ago that caused me to have two fits in one night and lose pretty much everything, you were sitting there with open arms to fix your little issues.
From that point on, alongside my writing, you became lovingly known as ProjectC70 and you have opened me up to your epicness in a way I never thought was possible. Every time I go out to work on something wrong with you, I am at my calmest and happiest and you make that possible by being relatively easy to work on and fix.
I have been able to have the confidence to fix major issues wrong with you and get them fixed with relative ease without stressing out on missing bolts or screwing something up. The Volvo community loves you and the work that I have been able to put into you over these last 4 years.
I still can’t quite believe that it’s been 5 years since I originally clocked eyes on you and brought you home, the years and good times have come in quick for the both of us. We’ve met some amazing people and also some people not worth mentioning but through it all, both me and you have shown that with a lot of love and determination to make things worse, we can both go from strength to strength regardless of what people say so from me to you, Happy 5th anniversary ProjectC70!
As any petrolhead knows, the car community is absolutely huge. Look anywhere on social media or online on the likes of Youtube and you’ll get an idea of how large the community actually is. For me, I’m in many groups on social media and I’m friends with many different wonderful people in countries thousands of miles away who all share the same passion; cars! So why is it a surprise then when I say that nearly every single day, yet another fellow car guy suffers from some form of mental health issue?
It’s no surprise really when you understand that the once-great community we surround ourselves in has now turned into what seems to be a massive row and argument over who has the best or cleanest or even the most expensive car at the likes of meets or even groups. When you have people behaving like that, it is no wonder that one by one people start to leave the once brilliant community behind. Now even I admit that there is more to it than just meets, even if you are like me and you fix never-ending project cars if you don’t get no help even when literally shouting from the rooftops then that can very easily turn you off fixing the car in question and can really affect your head even if you feel fine otherwise. I know this situation all too well as it has happened to me before on numerous occasions and let me tell you, it is not a nice feeling to be in a situation like that at all. It turns out that I’m not the only one who’s been like this at one point in their lives neither.
In some cases, someone could already be feeling down through other things and all the hate and lack of support you can possibly get in the current car scene pretty much tips them over the edge. With mental health issues being so broad and being very well hidden (especially those who are men), It’s very easy to judge and come out with stuff without realizing what’s actually going on inside someone’s head. I’ve been unfortunate enough to see this enough in a good few mates I’ve made through the car scene and it isn’t easy to watch whatsoever, especially when you consider them to be good mates of yours.
All is not lost however, all the stuff I mentioned above is easily reversible, in fact, it’s one of the easiest things to fix. First of all, and I know this sounds daft but if someone you know needs some help and they live close by then simply suggest and ask if you can give them a hand, not just will this get you busy but it’ll also help out the people involved.
Don’t ever put anyone’s car down, whether that be to someone’s face or even behind their backs. The main issue with the car community is everyone’s opinions bouncing off each other and once they become conflicted causing an argument that’s when things get bad and it’s simply not needed. Regardless of if it’s to your taste or not, its not a nice feeling for someone to put hours and hours of blood, sweat & tears into building their dream build just for it to be shot down in flames because one person doesn’t like a certain part or a certain way someone has fixed or modified something.
If someone you know is feeling down and needs taking out of their slumber they’re in, there is a lot of things you can do that can & will instantly boost said person(s) mood pretty much tenfold. Whether their car is on the road or not, one of those activities you can do is take the person to a well-known petrol-heads place of interest, whether it’s ‘Caffeine & Machine’ in the UK or even to a ‘Cars & Coffee’ event, these types of places are brilliant for talking to people and sharing the love of cars.
Even a simple convoy with a few like-minded mates to a well-known tourist attraction has been known to boost people’s moods pretty much straight away. Nothing makes a car person feel better than going out on drives with good mates on good roads, the memories stick with everyone involved for years on end as well which is a pretty good feeling as well.
If like me you are involved in a lot of amazing car groups, get to speak to some reoccurring members of the groups to find out where there might be some events you could both could go to, regardless of size it gets a gaggle of people out from the current situations they might be in and for a day or so, they forget about everything that is currently wrong and embrace themselves in the moment and for that, they’d forever be thankful. Groups I would personally recommend are both ‘Motorheads International’ or ‘RPM365’ due to their wonderful helping, caring members creating an equally amazing atmosphere. There’s hardly any hate in any of these groups and the admins are always on top of things if things start to get iffy, these two groups alone feel like a massive family instead of a typical car group.
The last point I’ll make is a simple one but yet so poignant. If you really want to help anyone who is having mental health issues regardless of what it is, simply sit down and listen to the person affected and support them the best you can. whether it’s by joining them in a game on a games console or even being around them in other ways, listening and support go a long way to help someone fight their insecurities and current issues. It’s very easy to try and make out that it’s nothing important and that it’s just a phase but for a lot of people, it is a whole lot more serious than just that so instead of trying to be the big man by ignoring desperate pleas for help, simply listen to them and support them the best way you can.
While writing these days, it is not every day I am given the opportunity to help out others in need. Most days I sit here typing away at my keyboard listening to music at way too loud a volume inadvertently winding people up. More recently, however, I’ve been given the opportunity to help out some people in need and that is by fundraising for a charity close to my heart called SameYou. While this is a fantastic charity and one I’d love to help out, due to never fundraising in my life, I have no clue where to start or what to do and this is where I need your help.
For those that may not have heard of the charity SameYou, they’re a small UK-based brain injury charity that is run by the one & only Emilia Clarke from HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones’ series boxset. It was originally set up by Emilia and her team after her own personal fight with a brain injury at the young age of only 24. This was one of the many reasons why it hit me personally. With me having Epilepsy from my late teens and writing more in-depth about it here only a few weeks back, I thought it’d be a brilliant idea to write to them about fundraising. After a few weeks of no reply, I finally woke up yesterday to a reply from them with a couple links for setting up a GoFundMe Fundraiser event for them, the thing is, as I mentioned above, I’ve never fundraised before for anybody.
With this blog, website and all the social media pages that run alongside it all being about cars, I feel as if the fundraising should be car related in some way or other. The only issue is that my mind is drawing a blank when it comes down to using the art of cars to help fundraise. Of course, you can do the classic Car wash and raise money that way but with the weather being sketchy at best around here recently, I can’t see that ending well for anyone.
Now while I may not have many ideas flowing, I do have one idea that is a possibility but would need a lot of physical & mental training as well as permission from numerous doctors & professionals in the know before it could even go-ahead. I am of course talking about pulling one of our cars over a certain distance. Not just would this need to be overlooked by doctors and medical professors, I’d also need to get the right apparatus to pull the car in question. with both ProjectC70 and our 2007 Seat Altea XL both being about 2 tons in weight, the apparatus would need to support both my weight and the car’s weight as well. On top of that, I’d obviously need a location as well as space to do it in. This is of course just an idea, for now, that might not even come to any fruition but it is an idea nonetheless.
Is there anything else that could possibly be done through the art of using cars to fundraise other than that?. With my memory not being great at the best of times, it is at this time where I could be doing with some help to put something together to put this wonderful charity on the map a little bit. Brain Injury is and can be a killer for many people and for it to hit young people before they even get their lives on track is simply awful, so with some help and some suggestions, I’d be willing to help out where needed to fundraise.
With the cold dark nights slowly starting to go away and all of us recently transcending into a new year, this is the perfect time to go out and buy and modify a potential track weapon for the summer season. With car season coming into full effect in a few month’s time, this is the best time to be buying a cheap track day car. With a majority of people not being able to buy something expensive in the first place and insurance being difficult for covering track days, the cheaper the car, the easier it is to insure so think carefully when picking your perfect cheap track day car. Here are ten potential track day cars that won’t break the bank but should be great fun when modified right.
Mazda MX-5 NA/NB:
It was just typical that a Mazda MX-5 would make this list, but before thinking that this is just news repeating itself, hear me out before you scroll away. There’s a very good reason why the MX-5 is so loved on the track day scene. First of all, they’re undeniably cheap. with good examples being anywhere from £1000-£2000 you can pick one up easily. Secondly, they are a good base for modifications and with a massive scene for MX-5’s in general, you’ll have a field day getting the right parts needed to make your MX-5 a little track weapon. With early Na & NB MX-5’s having a really low curb weight, you really don’t need much to get the most out of an MX-5 really good for track days, with power being low from standard, insurance should be well cheap and fairly easy to get as well. Look out for rust on the early ones, especially the NA’s as these suffer quite bad from tin worm.
MG ZR 1.8 160 VVC:
Yes, I know what you may be thinking…….an MG ZR? really? well, hear me out on this. As the name suggests, the ZR has 160 bhp from the factory which is plentiful for track days. With a few suspension tweaks like coilovers and uprated anti-roll bars and you soon realize the full potential the Zr has to give you handling wise. Reliability isn’t fantastic, especially the fabled head gasket issues these cars suffer from but as long as you can get an uprated gasket fitted to them, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever have an issue with them going bang. With an FWD drivetrain layout, it may not be as pure to drive as the MX-5 above but what it lacks in purity it makes up for in usability. Where the MX-5 has the opportunity to spin out on a damp or really wet track, the FWD layout of the ZR means that it’ll pretty much stick to the track regardless of the conditions. Prices can be had from a few hundred pounds to about £2000+ for a minter. Insurance isn’t the cheapest, especially for really young drivers but for what it’s worth, if you can afford one and modify it properly, it’ll be a rewarding drive.
Renault Clio 197/200:
Potentially the newest car here, it’s an honest surprise that these are now becoming so cheap now to go out and buy & run. While these two are quite a bit more than the MG or MX-5 above, £3,000 isn’t to be sniffed at for a well looked after Clio 197 or Clio RS200. Because it’s a Renault, you’re almost certified to be the king or queen of the track day thanks to their impeccable handling, their fantastic grip and last but not least the stonking amount of power they both have. in Cup spec, you really get a true understanding of why Renault has a certain reputation when it comes to fast hot hatches. reliability is so-so but as long as you can get a good one and know your way around French electrics then you should be fine.
Subaru Impreza GC8 Turbo 2000:
Possibly the only AWD car on this list, the MK1 Subaru Impreza Turbo 2000 is a very good shout for a track day car. With 215bhp and an old-style AWD system, the 2000 Turbo is both quick and easy to drive regardless of weather conditions. With 4 doors on tap and a big boot, these are also very practical as well. The Impreza is a very well known contender on the rough stuff and pretty much cut it on numerous rally stages across the world making it an icon in the process. Due to that, they handle really well and with their signature Flat-4 engine under the bonnet, it makes for both a fantastic noise and a pretty much 50-50 weight distribution. Finding one isn’t that easy these days, especially one that is in a mint condition but if you search high and low, you’ll be bound to find one within budget. Watch out for rust with these as just like any Japanese ’90s car, they rust badly.
Ford Fiesta ST MK6:
This list wouldn’t be complete without the MK6 Fiesta ST or even a Fast Ford for that matter. While it may have not worn the RS badge, the MK6 ST made up for that with a stonking 150bhp from a 2.0 engine. That may not sound like much these days but considering that a Citroen C2 VTS had about 120bhp and a Corsa C SRi had about 130bhp, this Fiesta was a little firecracker. Add in the Fiesta MK6’s lightweight and it’s fantastic chassis and it’s no surprise that these can become a fantastic track car. Fast Fords are always a perfect buy but watch with the MK6 ST, due to these being owned by a good few boy racers over the years, it can be very easy to find a bad example of one. Make sure to get one with full ford service history and try and get one preferably owned by an enthusiast. If you want to make more power then there is, of course, both Mountune and Airtec to help you with that as well as a plethora of others.
SEAT Leon Cupra 1M:
Before anyone says anything, this choice right here isn’t a biased choice whatsoever. For those that know me, know that one of my favorite hatches is a Seat Leon. In my opinion, even though we own an MK2 Leon FR that is fantastic, my favorite Leon is the original – the 1M. Now while a Cupra R will be way out of the equation, a 1M Cupra 1.8T will be well within budget and still looks and goes just as well as it’s badder & faster stablemate. With 180bhp from its 1.8T 20v engine, you are bound to have a great time thrashing this little beauty around a track. Reliability is very good with these cars as long as you can get a good one and with aftermarket support as long as your arm, you’ll be sure to improve on any weak points the car may have. Prices for these are very cheap even for a minter so finding one shouldn’t really be an issue.
MK3 Toyota MR-2:
Here we have a left-field entry and our first mid-engined entry into track day car ownership. While the MK3 may not be the best MR-2 money can buy, what it lacks in credibility it certainly makes up for with driver enjoyment. The MR-2 always was and always has been a driver’s car even from the get-go throughout its 3 generations. With the third-generation car, the 3S-GE & 3S-GTE engine was dropped for a 2ZZ unit shared with the 7th Generation Celica T-Sport. While it wasn’t the quickest and you do have to wring its neck to get every available power out of it but that’s the charm of this generation of MR-2. If power is an issue then it is very easy to fit the 3.0 V6 engine from the Camry into the car. This pretty much doubles the power of the original engine, gives it way more torque and also has a wonderful engine note to boot. Being a Toyota, reliability shouldn’t be an issue, even with a V6 swap so mechanically it should be ok. Check for rust though as these cars suffer from it, while not as bad as other cars, if not treated it can become worse over time.
MGF & TF 1.8:
While on the subject of mid-engined cars, let me introduce you to yet another left-field choice and also another MG to make the list, this time the MGF & TF. Just like the MR-2 above, the F/TF is a mid-engined 2-door sports car with a low amount of power and also a low weight to boot. With the 1.8 fitted it creates 134bhp which may seem like a piddly amount compared to others on this list but trust me, with a car as light as the F/TF, you don’t need tons of power to get the most out of these cars. Buying & finding one of these cars is fairly easy to do as prices are cheap and there’s plenty around the place. Reliability is the same as the ZR above and unfortunately, just like that car, the F & TF both suffer from Headgasket issues, fear not, however, as you can get a stronger head gasket to fit into these cars to make the engines stronger and more capable of abuse a track day brings.
Peugeot 306 GTi-6 & Rallye:
No track day list would be complete without one of the best hatchbacks of the ’90s, I am of course talking about the Peugeot 306. In particular the 306 GTi-6 as well as the 306 Rallye. Considered by most as one of the best budget hot hatches going, it’s only right that these two variants make the list. What made these two cars great was their handling, as with every ’90s Peugeot, the 306 handled beautifully and could easily run rings around a similarly aged Golf or Astra. The Rallye is the rarer variant out of the two and for good reasons, they were lightly stripped out to make them a pure driving machine. The items that were removed consisted of the electric windows as well as the electrically operated mirrors, the Alloys were changed out for lightweight steelies and even the stereo was removed to remove as much weight as possible. Put any of these cars on a track and you’ll soon realize why they are loved the world over. Prices have not quite hit big money for these cars yet but trying to find one isn’t easy, especially a Rallye. Reliability isn’t terrible on these cars, especially considering French car’s reputation for their reliability.
Honda Civic VTi Coupé EM1:
Last but not least, we come to the Honda Civic Coupé EM1. First of all, these cars are unbelievably cheap to buy and run, with a VTi costing about £2000-£4000 depending on condition, these are one hell of a way of getting a VTEC powered track car. With 160bhp on tap, the VTi is no slouch neither and due to its lightweight, it certainly shifts. Being a Honda, reliability is never going to be an issue and with aftermarket support as large as ever for these cars, it is very easy to get bits together to make the perfect track day beast. With a very large engine bay and a small bay, it is very easy to do most modifications yourself making it so much cheaper to transform into a track car. Alongside the decent power figure is also a very low weight figure. weighing in at around a ton, it doesn’t need a lot of modifications to make it competitive. With EP3’s and FN2’s still being a tad expensive, getting an EM1 makes perfect sense as they are relatively cheaper and a whole lot lighter as well as being a very good left-field choice for a track day car.
With car season coming up within the next few months, it is very tempting to want to go to a track day, I know I’ve been thinking about them recently. Whether it’s your first ever track day or you’re a master, it is very easy to go out and buy something expensive, fast and way too on the edge for most tracks and conditions but with these cars above, it shows that you can go out and buy something on a budget, fairly quick and competitive and also capable around most tracks without being too much on the edge.
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.
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!
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.