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Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5 Published: 23rd Sep 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Mazda MX-5
Mazda MX-5
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Whether it’s commuting or touring, the Mazda MX-5 takes it all in its stride

The last time I wrote about my MX5 in Classic Motoring I boasted that I was so confident in its abilities, after I had had to do a lot of remedial work to bring it up to scratch, that I would happily drive it to the South of France and back – preferably at someone else’s expense. Earlier this year the opportunity to give my 1998 Mk1 1.6-litre its head in France came along when an invitation to participate in the Guild of Motoring Writers’ Euro Classic 2015 came my way.

Ok, I would have to pay my own way but I knew from past experience these excellently organised events were worth every penny and soon signed up for my wife and I to take Jo (the car) over to the beautiful Champagne – Ardennes region of France in the company of like-minded folks. Jo had been off the road over the winter months and with the post-hibernation MoT quickly and painlessly obtained, I thought there would be nothing else to do but enjoy her until the month of June when France beckoned.


Having said that, I did decide to treat her to a new hood. The old one wasn’t leaking but I reckoned it wouldn’t be long before that situation changed. After much research I settled on a company in Romford about an hour from my Essex home and for a very reasonable £345 they fitted a new hood with glass heated rear window in an incredible two hours while I drank coffee and read the morning newspaper just around the corner in a nice café.

I was and am delighted with the job they did and especially pleased with paying the extra for the glass window. No more peering through opaque Perspex and now demisting is only the flick of a switch away. The installation of the (additional cost) switch, relay and fuse block was made all the easier because Mazda had thoughtfully included the requisite wiring and dash tell-tale light in the car when it was built.

These bits added about £80 to the cost. Because I already had the ‘umbilical’ cord connecting the wiring loom to the heated rear window element, I saved around £70.

And the best bit? The hardtop which came with the car I then sold for £350 and this funded the new hood. Result!

A few weeks later a faint but distinct ‘popping’ sound from the exhaust system heralded a bit of an adventure. No matter how much I tried to convince myself I had imagined hearing these noises, I knew a day or two later that something was amiss.

By this time the decibel level had risen alarmingly and a look underneath showed that the exhaust downpipe had given up the ghost.

Turning back the clock 30 or so years, I thought the application of copious quantities of exhaust paste would do the trick. It never did back then and it didn’t this time either. That is more a reflection of my abilities rather than the product itself.


My usual parts supplier was out of stock but a computer search found an online automotive supplier in Northamptonshire who said they had what I needed in stock and if I paid a little extra it would be with me next day. Despite paying the extra money, it was nearly a week later that the part arrived. I was given about three different stories and confirmed delivery dates, but they were all false. Why do firms do that? In this case the outfit blamed a new member of staff who wasn’t up to speed with the job. Hmmm. The only bit of good news is that the parts fitted.

With peace and quiet restored and France only a couple of weeks away, I noticed that the clutch slave cylinder was quite moist on the outside. Not wanting to find ourselves stranded by the side of a French Autoroute I hastily ordered up a Mazda repair kit which came in at a reasonable £20. Fitting it was not as straightforward as I had hoped and I had to call on son-in-law Simon to come to my rescue. His limbs are a lot more bendy than mine are these days!

The following week we were boarding the lovely P&O ferry at Dover for Calais in the company of some lovely other vehicles, including a gorgeous Jaguar E-type belonging to former colleague Gordon Bruce.

Over the course of the next four days we drove around some gorgeous routes in a delightful part of France. From our base in Soissons we visited the towns of Chalons en Champagne and Epernay, had a memorable visit to the Cave of Mercier Champagne in the latter and generally had a ball. It is a part of France I would recommend anyone to visit.

Over the course of 800 miles, half of which were spent cruising at 70-80mph on motorways, Jo didn’t miss a beat. Didn’t use any oil either or require additional coolant. Not bad for a car which has now covered 115,000 miles…

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