2018 Shannons Eastern Creek Car Show

The Shannons Eastern Creek car show is probably the largest show in NSW each year.   It is notable for its variety.   Generally the cars on display are great examples of everyday models that are now rarely seen on the roads.    When was the last time you saw a Morris Minor, Ford Model A or Leyland P76?

It is also a family oriented event with double decker bus rides around the track, face painting, clowns etc.    Those who enter a car in the event get to do a parade lap around the track.  These events are also probably going to be increasingly important for politicians to see the extent of the old car hobby.   Certainly there has been pressure in Europe to do more to ‘ban’ older cars.   There will also be pressure once self-driving cars come about to restrict where humans can drive.

I went to this show in 2016, 2015 and 2013.    It is always a good event and hasn’t been ruined by the fun police like some events.   This year I was surprised to see quite a few triumph 2500 models in great condition.   Sadly this model is largely forgotten and is often seen in a rather dilapidated state.   I also saw a few nice Jaguar S-Type models.   This Jaguar is overshadowed by the MK2, mostly because of the MK2’s racing success.   Many prefer its styling too.   The S is the better car to cruise around in.

There was also a nice example of the original Saab Turbo.  I would regard this as a the pinnacle of the Saab company and it was good to see such a nice one.     It is also great to see the Micro car display!  The Goggomobil Dart is Australia’s own micro car and there were a couple of nice ones there.

2018 Concours d’Elegance of America

I have not been back in Detroit since 2011 when I moved away after four years.   As luck would have it, my first visit after seven years coincided with the date of the Concours d’Elegance of America.   I only discovered this event in my last full year living in metro Detroit, and I was blown away.   The 2010 event was (and remains) the best car show I have ever been to.    Naturally I had to go again given the opportunity.

The Concours d’Elegance of America is one of the top events in the calendar in the USA.  Perhaps not to the level of Pebble Beach, but it is certainly up there with events like Amelia Island.   Being in Detroit, gives it a unique flavor is there are normally historical concept cars from the big three on display.   This year was no different with the GM Firebird concept cars from the late 50s.

As far as I can tell, the core classes remain the same, but some special classes vary each year.   For example, this year they had a class for cars from 1958, Plymouth, Porsche, The Coachbuilder Rollston, Mercedes 300SL and others.    As with last year, the highlight for me was the cars from the Art Deco period.    Not only are these cars stunning, but the top cars had technology that was truly cutting edge for the day.   This includes vehicles from Bugatti, Delahaye, Delage, Duesenberg, Packard, Cadillac, Marmon and others.

The 2010 event was held at Meadow Brook, and some time between now and then it has moved to the Inn at St John.   The Inn is a nice venue too, but it doesn’t quite match the elegance of Meadow Brook.   It also means spectators must be bussed from remote parking sites.   As a frequent business traveler, I have little patience for shuttle buses.   One nice touch was that Hagerty were giving out free sunscreen and sunglasses.   Hagerty are a USA based classic car insurance company.  I used them when I lived in Detroit for my 250SE Coupe and Jaguar.

The great thing about this event for me is that it features cars that one does not see in Australia.   You also get to see them drive up to get their awards, and hear the drag cars start up.   There are so many great cars to look at, I was able to drain the battery in my camera.   That was before I had even looked at the historic racing Porsche’s.

It was good to be back in Detroit after 7 years.   Even better that it was the weekend of the Concours d’Elegance of America.

2018 Ford EcoSport Review

Ford announced recently they were discontinuing sedan sales in the United States.   While sedan sales have been on the decline for many years, this was still a very bold move.   Presumably this left a few gaps in their model range.   Given the market will buy pretty much any SUV car companies offer, the company has added the Ford EcoSport compact SUV to their line up.   This vehicle was sold previously in other markets but I understand is new to North America.   Compact SUVs may be popular with the public at large, but they are not popular with me.   Still, I have never bought a new car in my life, so it makes sense for the Ford Motor Company to ignore people like me and listen to their real buyers.

Ford EcoSport

I have been renting a 2018 Ford EcoSport from Avis while traveling for work in the United States.      I have the Titanium model, which I understand costs around USD $26k.   Were I in the market to spend USD $25k on a new or late model vehicle, I would not buy the EcoSport.

Apart from its height, the Ford EcoSport is quite small.   I understand it is based on on the Fiesta platform.   In the front the seats are a little narrow, but generally OK.   With the front seats adjusted however, there is no room for passengers with legs at the back.    Instead, because it is an SUV, you get height, and lots of it.    Basically this car is for drivers who like to wear a top hat and carry dual amputees in the back.

EcoSport

The EcoSport is equipped with a 1.0 liter 3 cylinder engine that puts out a little over 120hp.   Unlike the Seat Ibiza that I tested earlier in the year, the EcoSport does have enough power and is able to cruise happily at 80mph.   The engine works very hard and the fuel consumption numbers are poor in the real world.   This car is available with a four cylinder engine and I’m sure this car is much better.  Happily, compared to most economy models, the Ford EcoSport is equipped with a real six speed automatic transmission rather than a hateful CVT.   This makes the world of difference.   Even with the a very small engine, it is not bogged down trying to raise RPM and is actually quite responsive.

As I rented the Titanium model, the EcoSport is fairly well equipped.    It has leather seats, sunroof, alloys, rear camera, blind spot monitoring, keyless go, navigation, USB ports for your phone, cruise control and probably more.   It also comes with the Bang and Olufsen sound system.   There was a time when B&O stood for high end audio systems.   Sadly, that is not the case anymore and it seems they are the Donald Trump of audio companies – they will put their name on anything.    Even the tinny little speakers in my HP laptop have the B&O logo on them, and they sound terrible.     I also don’t get the point of the Keyless go system.    You get this massive keyfob that you need to carry around with you, but now there is nowhere to put it except for the cupholder.    You also can’t turn on the car without depressing the brake pedal even if the car is in park with the handbrake on.

As with many SUVs, this car has blindspots galore.   Thankfully this is alleviated somewhat with the reversing camera and blind spot monitoring.     It also manages to have a front blindspot.   Since the car has somewhat of a bubble roof, even when the seat is at its lowest,  a tall driver’s eye line is right at the top of the windscreen.   This means you cannot see traffic signals when stopped at the lights unless you crane your neck forward.

So far this car isn’t sounding great.   But the worst part by a mile is the ride, which is Terrible.   The suspension is shockingly bad.   Even my $230 Rover with disintegrated bushes was better than this car.   Every tiny imperfection in the road is fed back to the passenger compartment.   On a road with minor cracking it is like driving on Belgian pave.    Even a road that looks perfectly smooth has the noise of the rear suspension going up and down to sound like the clickety clack of a train as it runs along the rails.     I know Ford can do better than this.     Even the biggest fan of the blue oval can find better ways to spend $26k.   The most obvious is a run out model of the much maligned Ford Fusion.

Rating: 2/5.

2018 French Car Show Sydney

My car show season normally kicks off with the French car show.   The show is timed for Bastille day, so always occurs mid July.  It was a lovely sunny day for the 2018 French Car Show, so the turnout was great.   This was in contrast to 2016 (the last one I attended) where poor weather kept the numbers down.

I took the DS for the first time since 2014.   It was looking great in its new paint job, the Rouge Massena really coming alive out in the sun.   I’ve noticed that since DS values have more than doubled over the last 5 years or so, people are spending a lot more on the cars.   There were about 10-15 cars this year and they were all looking great.  I’m in two minds about this.  While the increased values have helped people justify improving their cars, I hope the values don’t go up too much more or like with other marques, the cars will end up as garage queens for ‘investors’ rather than enthusiasts who drive them.

For the first time since I have been attending there was a real Chapron Cabriolet.    You can really contrast between a real cabriolet and the ‘replica’ cars that have attended in past years.  All the D’s in attendance this year were 3rd nose variants.   Sadly there were no 1st or 2nd nose cars on display and no Aussie built ID19s.   These cars have a special place in DS history and have been spotted in prior years.

There were four Tractions on display.   A Big Six, A Big 15, an 11B and a cabriolet conversion.   Quite a surprise to not see an 11BL or Light 15 since they were by far the most common model.

In addition, on display at the Citroen section was a nice lineup of 2CV, a GS, a CX and some moderns, including two nice C6.

Outside the Citroen display, there were a number of rather nice Peugeots and Renaults.   The highlight for me though was seeing the Bugatti Type 44.   The car was apparently bodied in Melbourne (both times) firstly with an open body and the later with a closed body after the owners new wife didn’t like traveling in an open car.   There was also a 1909 Delahaye as well as a few other early French cars.  I understand both the Bugatti and the Delahaye made it to the show under their own power.   It’s great to see cars like this on our roads.

My old W123 280CE is for sale

I owned a 1982 W123 280CE for just over a year between mid 2013 and mid 2014.    I hadn’t planned to purchase this car, but I saw it on ebay with Mercedes mis-spelled and nobody else bid on it.    The car was described as needing a new radiator, but actually it needed a new water pump.   This was better for me. While the labour to change the water pump is orders of magnitude more than the radiator, the part cost is a lot less.

Around the same time, my brother was in need of a car and wasn’t looking to spend a whole lot of money.   As a previous 280CE owner, he was keen on the car so I agreed to sell it to him for a sharp price.   We did the last few things needed to get it on the road and registered.   This can all be found on this website.  At the time I sold it in mid 2014, it had just over 310,000km.   It now has almost 340,000 and has been used daily during that time.  He also put in a rebuilt steering box about a year ago.  This made a big difference to how it drives.

He’s now bought a late model BMW, so the 280CE is surplus to requirements.   It also needs some brake work for its next registration, so makes sense to sell it.    Its up on carsales.com.au and the asking price is $2,500 which I feel is reasonable for the condition.   It is a Mercedes-Benz pillarless coupe after all!

Ideally somebody will buy this and spend a little money tidying up the car.   It’s a little tatty in places but nothing that can’t be addressed. The W123 is a great first classic car as its quite simple and can be used regularly.    My first Mercedes was a W123.

Citroen DS further adjustments

Today I attended to a few more minor adjustments to the DS.   I plan to take the car to the French car show in mid-July which is a good deadline to complete the most outstanding items.

The first was the bonnet catch cables.   When the car was painted, the cables were not routed correctly.   There is a channel for them to go through in the front wings.   Not being in the proper place puts more pressure on the cables.  I doubt it is enough to break them but it is worth routing them properly.

The next was re-fitting the spare wheel.   I had also purchased one of the inserts for the wheel that holds the jack.   This stops it from rattling around inside the spare wheel.    This also gives a handy place to keep the reproduction tool kit I also purchased and a litre of LHM.

Citroen DS spare wheel

I tried yet again to adjust the passengers front window.   I don’t think the mechanism is properly mounted or has been modified so I was not successful.   It is better than it was.

I also re-fitted the trim above the rear windscreen.  I had previously used Velcro to hold it up which had worked quite well for the last couple of years.   It had come down during the painting process.   I purchased so better Velcro from Clarke Rubber which seems to hold it up quite nicely.

Velcro

I also fitted a booster seat to the rear of the car.   My soon to be four year old daughter is keen to come to the French car show and is now old enough to ride in the car.   The DS has rear lap/sash seatbelts which are required for a booster seat.

I still need to do a few more things to the car, but nothing that will stop me using it.    Having it off the road for the last 18 months I am looking forward to driving it more.

W126 Transmission Mount

The motor mounts were changed on the 300SE around six months ago, but there was not time to do the Transmission mount.   It was obvious it would need doing from the condition of the motor mounts.   In addition, I was feeling some vibration from the drivetrain at various times.

changing the W126 transmission mount is generally a simple affair.  The transmission is jacked up a little, with care taken not to dent the pan.  The mount is freed via three bolts – two on the crossmember with a 13mm socket and one to the tail of the transmission with a 19mm nut.

The old transmission mount was in poor shape.  The mount had entirely collapsed and the rubber was doing very little.   This was obvious when comparing to the new one.

W126 transmission mount

The installation of the new mount was not straightforward.   For some reason, I could not get the bolts into the mount through the crossmember.   Sure enough, when I removed the mount, there were no threads in the holes!  The new mount is an aftermarket one from Meyle.   This was quite perplexing, but at 11pm I didn’t have the means to do anything about it.    I don’t know if this is because there is a manufacturing defect; I have the wrong mount; or my car has been modified at some time.    The old mount was so bad I did not want to re-install it.   When I examined it to check the threads, it was clear that only some old grease was holding it together.

W126 transmission mount

In the end I installed the new one using only the top mounting.  This was enough to gently move the car out of the way so I could drive home in the 450SLC.

A couple of days later I purchased an M8 thread tap.   This allowed me to re-use the bolts from before to install the mount.   It would have been easier if I had access to a vice and the right tool to hold the tap instead of a pair of cheap vice grips.   Once the thread was tapped the installation of the mount was as straightforward as it should be.   The vibration is gone and you can feel the difference in driving the car.   I’m not really sure if tapping some new threads into the Meyle W126 transmission mount was the right thing to do, but it did seem to be the best option at my disposal.

Next time I will try a different brand W126 transmission mount.

While I was there, I did an oil change on the car and installed a new breather hose.   The old one was rock hard and they are not expensive.   I had cracked one of the vacuum hoses installing a new air filter a few weeks ago, so I also installed a replacement vacuum hose.   The vacuum hoses get brittle with age.

Breather hose

 

Traction Avant Front Carpet

My Traction Avant has been missing its front carpet since my purchase.   The lack of the front carpet made an otherwise nice car look like a bit of a Jalopy.   The traction Avant front carpet is a single piece like the DS.   As the Traction is a front engine car, it does not need a transmission tunnel.    I was not able to find one that would match my car.

My original aim was to find a front carpet that would match the rest of the carpet in the car.    I tried a bunch of places in Australia and I wasn’t able to find one in any colour.   In the end I found a firm in the UK that was able to supply just a front carpet for me.      They were also good enough to send me a couple of colour samples to check how well it would look.

The available colour was a nice red, nicer than the purple that is in my car.   I wasn’t really in a position to buy a whole set, so I went with the new front carpet only.

Traction Avant Front Carpet

I then purchased some underlay from Clark Rubber and glued it to the back of the carpet.    I’m pretty happy with the result.   It’s not a perfect match, but at least the Traction Avant front carpet is now in place and the car doesn’t look like a Jalopy without it.     It also has a heel pad so I will not wear through it when driving.

Traction Avant Front CarpetThis car has come a long way since I purchased it a couple of years ago.   The valve adjustment has restored the low compression on one cylinder, and the front suspension rebuild has made it much nicer to drive.    The correct fuel pump has also removed the horrible buzzing from the electric one that was in the engine bay.

Citroen DS rear indicator repair

As part of my DS restoration I had already replaced one of the DS rear indicator housings.   I wasn’t particularly impressed with the quality of the reproduction part.   It had been suggested to me that these are actually quite easy to repair.   Instead of paying good money for an inferior part, I decided to give it a go.   I’ve never soldered before, and the repair entails soldering the live wire back to the housing.     I found a rusty old soldering iron in a box of old tools under my house and managed to get the job done.   The solder was probably the messiest ever attempted, but it seems to work.

DS indicator housing

All that needs to happen is the rubber protector is folded back and the live wire soldered to the housing.   I drilled back the original hole as I thought it would be stronger this way.     After that it was a simple matter to re-attach to the car.

Working indicator

The indicator trumpet is a bit fiddly to get back on as everything has to line up properly.    Getting the indicators working was the last thing preventing me from taking the car for a test drive.    I also swapped over the side rear view mirrors while I was there.

For the first time in over 18 months, the car was out for a proper drive on the roads.   After a fresh tank of 98 octane, the car ran well and it was great to drive it again after so long.    I saw that I needed to further adjust the mirrors, but it ran well.     I’ll need to take it for a few more drives to make sure there is nothing else that needs attending to.

Citroen DS front end wiring – part 4

I had gone as far as I could on my own with the DS.   It was time to bring in the experts.   I had spent a number of hours trying to get the lights to work.    I made some progress, but was unable to get them to work correctly.   Luckily Jason, my friendly DS mechanic was able to sort out the mess pretty quickly.   Turns out there were multiple problems all contributing to the strange results I was seeing.   People criticise British car wiring, but French DS wiring is no better.

Firstly there were some bad connectors that needed replacing.   Next, some of the wiring inside the wings were wrong.   Thirdly there were a couple of bad grounds.    I had been mostly looking at the connections where they join the front wing.     We were aided by a great diagnostic tool that I plan to purchase.   It let you test for voltage, ground, send 12v to test a component and much more.   It’s called VGate PowerTest.

Citroen DS Front wiring

The lights on the DS are great for a car of its age, especially the high beams aided by the inner driving lights.

Since the connections to the wings are not great, in the future I plan to replace the individual bullet connectors with a single harness connection for the 8 wires on the passengers side and 6 on the drivers side.  This will make removing the wings easier.  Not sure why Citroen didn’t do this as standard on the DS wiring.

Next we fixed a couple of bad connections for the rear indicators.   I need to solder one of the connectors back, and if that does not work, purchase a new one.       The final wiring related fix that was needed was the door contact switch on the passengers side.   The connectors on the reproduction switches are not the greatest, so the 12v wire had fallen off.   I had tried for ages to get it with magnets and hooks, but apparently the trick is to use a long piece of coat-hanger with a hook bent at the end.   We retrieved the wire and put new connectors on it.     The wiring on the car was now back to working again.     In the future, I plan to put the driving lights on a relay like the headlights, install a battery disconnect switch and use harness connectors at the top of the front wings.

As we did all this work, we identified a number of other things that needed attention:

  • The door mirrors were reversed.   I didn’t know the passengers side is a few cm longer, and I had it on the drivers side.
  • Chrome trim on the side of the roof is rather beat up and can be replaced without removing the roof.
  • The bonnet release cables are incorrectly mounted.
  • Windscreen washer cables not correctly routed and one jet is blocked.
  • LHM leak from the front is caused by leaks from front suspension boots, in particular the passengers side.
  • Window rubbers/felts on the outside/inside are wrong and don’t fit well.
  • Passengers side front window needs adjustment.
  • There are some missing pieces near the top of the bonnet that help hold on the insulation mats that I am yet to fit.

I also replaced the lens for the reproduction tail light with the original one.  In my case it was the housing that was dead and the lens was very poor quality.

Tail light lens

It is hard to see from the photo, but the quality difference is immediately apparent when handing them.