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Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5 Published: 29th Apr 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Mazda MX-5
Mazda MX-5
Mazda MX-5
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Jim Patten tells of his latest MX-5 experiences and how young blood is alive and well in the classic car market

“The youth of today. Can’t tell them anything what with them stuck in their Facebook pages and computers. Weren’t like it in my day!” Says the old boy in the bar reaching out for another beer. His father probably said the same thing about him. It’s nothing like that in my world. Of course there are teens that fit the stereotype but hasn’t there always?

We were wondering how to approach the underneath of our MX-5. I certainly didn’t fancy stripping it all out just to repaint it. Enter Jack Dockray aged 16. He is one enthusiastic youngster. By his own admission his father placed a spanner in his hands as soon as he was able to grip. Dad Simon had been in the car industry for some years preparing Lola race cars and took Tom along at every opportunity. Tom couldn’t get enough of it and as soon as he is able will be following in his father’s toolbox tracks. Simon is a friend of Les Ely at CL Classics (01376 327000) and as the MX-5 was going to have the usual rear sill section attended to, it made sense to beautify the suspension too. Les mentioned it to Simon and Tom volunteered.

In At The Deep End?

We couldn’t throw Tom in at the deep end, although I suspect that he would have loved that. So Les arranged to have the car on a ramp alongside experienced engineer Ray Smith. Tom’s brief was to strip everything that looked tarnished out of the car one section at a time. Ray ran through everything first and then kept an eye on what Tom was doing. Tom was an absolute natural and a spanner in his hand looked like it was in the right place. First job was to pull the front suspension down. It had already passed the MoT but even so we still wanted to examine what we had. Fortunately all of the right tools were on hand and Ray was only too pleased to share his tools with the enthusiastic youngster. Tom seemed to be a naturally worker too as Ray explained how to store the components as they were removed. We were on a roll now as we looked to the rear. As is the way of things to do this right we had to take out the complete rear suspension along with the axle. As dismayed as I was nothing would stop Tom and he was soon in there with the air ratchet on full assault.

A thorough examination of the oily bits was positive with no wear in anything so it could all just be refinished and refitted. And my part in all of this? Well, holding the camera of course…

We ended up with a pile of Mazda components, all looking dodgy with their surface rust. So it was with some trepidation that I took it along to Maldon Shotblasting & Powder Coating (01621 841100) for blasting. I did consider powder coating but I had to stop somewhere. Owner Trevor Lodge smiled when I collected my blasted metal pile and said not to worry as it was all in amazingly good condition. So it was straight back to CL Classics for the repaint ready to go back on the car. But before that CL would have the small matter of the rear sill section to attend to.

Fill a Sill

I reckon this has to be the most common body fault on the MX-5 and probably the most easily bodged. But the guys here have done more MX-5 sills than I have fingers or toes and for them it is routine. Unfortunately I wasn’t around when the work was done on my car but they have promised to let me know when the next MX-5 arrives so at least we can record the work and report back. Tom was as good at putting everything back as he was stripping it out so my concerns of a tatty looking underside has now been addressed. Rather disappointingly there is an extremely small tear in the otherwise perfect soft top. I’m hoping there is a way of affecting a repair otherwise it will need a replacement hood. For obvious reasons I’m keen to avoid that but we’ll just have to see how it goes.

When I ran the Mk 1 I used to deal with a company called Ka Yu Autos in the Midlands and found Dave easy to get on with. Now I’m completely out of touch with things MX-5 and Ka Yu have obviously moved on to better things. Guess I’ll have to find out who is out there today. Hopefully I’ll return with the next update soon, which will deal with the obvious steering and suspension geometry checks, needed after the strip down.

Some of the Rest of Our Fleet…

It’s been a while since we wrote about our project Zephyr which Classic Motoring has had for a decade – doesn’t time fly! – simply because little seems to go wrong; a true old school Ford!

To recap, this Mk3 6, which is seen at many shows and has won awards, is a bit special insofar we got it with only 8000 miles from new (it’s still under 20,000) as was once part of a museum collection. It was unearthed in Essex, nestling in a garage surrounded wall-to-wall with by pin ball machines! After re-commissioning and a respray it’s as good as new. Modifications have rightly been kept minimal to an uprated Radtec radiator and electronic ignition – stuff any classic car owner should consider. The only concession to more power (and appearances) has been fitting a twin pipe Zodiac exhaust set up. The intention was always to fit overdrive which was an option when new. However this has been thwarted by problems with the (older higher mileage) replacement gearbox jumping out of gears but we hope to get this sorted this year. Other than that the only other snag has been a leaking radiator due to a split header tank neck. Midlands-based Radtec says it will repair this once we despatch it to them. Not bad for 10 years of classic motoring don’t you think?

We’re still yearning for some snow to put our spendthrift Shogun to use – even more so now we’ve cured a bout of cutting out and stuttering until fresh fuel was added into its big tank. These were classic symptoms of fuel starvation but as the gauge is unreliable, it could simply be that this juicy V6 off-roader was simply consuming too much…

Anyway, we fitted another fuel pump to play safe and for now all seems well – but thank goodness the price of unleaded has plummeted!

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