2018 British Car Show, Sydney

The 2018 British Car show was held on Sunday at the Kings School.   This is probably the best car show of the year in Sydney.    As usual all the British marques were there.   Also as usual was the lovely display of cars.    Overall it was a great day with excellent weather and interesting cars to see.   Having said that, the Kings School made some changes this year that were not for the better.

This year the Jaguars were moved from the top paddock to the middle one.  This pushed clubs like Rolls Royce and Daimler down to the bottom paddock.  In itself this isn’t so bad, but it has a few flow on effects.   Firstly, the Jaguar display felt a bit cramped and smaller in numbers.    There was a nice line up of E-Types and MK II’s, but other models were in smaller numbers.  Secondly, all cars had to use the same entrance which resulted in traffic gridlock.   I’m surprised there were not more cars overheating trying to get in.   My engine fan was to fail later in the day, but luckily it was still ok at this point.   What was worse was that the cars needed to move over a series of about 5 speed humps that scraped the exhaust system on my car quite badly.

They made better use of the bottom paddock to account from going from three to two, but I’m not really sure to what end.   Instead of the Jaguars on the top paddock there was a food truck and some stands for car dealerships.   It was a bit of a nothing use for a great space.

I can live with the two paddocks, but if they keep up the same route into the event, it would force me to stop bringing my car.   I did have my car on display this year, and ideally would at future events as well.

The two displays I was most impressed with this year was the Triumph display, which had a great turnout of all sorts of interesting triumph models.   And of course perennial favorites Rolls Royce.   This year they had a number of older vehicles that were in stunning condition that I had not yet seen before.  I think a couple of them were Silver Dawn’s, but I am not an expert in 50’s Rolls Royce.    Even though it was at the shannons display, I got to see a Derby Bentley too!  As a coupe, they want serious money for it at the auction coming up in November.

For the first time since I can recall, 3 litre Rover P5’s outnumbered v8 P5Bs.   The P5 was eclipsed by the P5B, and its nice to see the P5 survivors.  There was also a great little MG from the 50s with a dolls house style caravan.   Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a photo.   In the Daimler section there was a very impressive older Daimler, I think from the 20s, with a sleeve valve engine.

I also spent some time trying to see if I could find a match for the interior light in my Traction Avant in other British cars.   I’m sure it would have been a standard part used in other cars but I have not yet been able to identify it.    In summary, the 2018 British Car show was a great event and hopefully I will be back in 2019.

2018 OzBenz National Meet

The OzBenz forum is one of the online resources I use to maintain my Mercedes-Benz’s.   The forum has evolved over a 15 year period, starting with the Mercedes Veterans mailing list, branching off to the OzVets mailing list.   This became the OzVets forum and then later the OzBenz forum.    I joined very early on and found this a great set of resources to attempt small jobs on my then 230E W123.   This included things like troubleshooting the central locking myself, quite a saving as a university student.    Over the time I got to know a bunch of people, some of which I have met over the years and some I have not.

This Saturday, John Green, proprietor of MB Spares & Service and one of the original instigators of these websites arranged a national meetup in Canberra.  I was quite keen to go after participating in the forums for so long.  The event coincided with the ACT Mercedes Concours on the Sunday, which I was unable to attend.        The plan was to attend the lunch and cruise Saturday afternoon, then head over to MB Spares for the dinner event before driving back to Sydney that evening.

I was able to join up in a convoy from MBCNSW, which was a nice way of heading down.    I took the 250SE as it was a while I had taken it on an extended road-trip.    It was a lovely day and I was able to drive all the way down with the top down.

MBCNSW Lineup

We were accompanied by a W108 280SE 3.5, a W123 230E, and W126 420SEL and 560SECs.      We also saw a W111 230S going down at the same time but that driver did not seem to be interested in convoying with us and was really flying.  This was a nice selection of cars for the drive.   My favorite was probably the 280SE 3.5.

The drive down was uneventful and the 250SE performed well.  One thing I did notice is that it is probably getting time for a steering box rebuild as the steering wanders at freeway speeds.   After an estimated 450,000km  it is probably due.   We took our time on the drive and made a couple of stops which made the drive more enjoyable, bit it did cause us to miss the start of the OzBenz cruise!    The upside was that it gave us time to have a break before the BBQ at MB Spares.

I had never visited the workshop, even though the 250SE carries its share of parts from the recently closed parts side of the business.   The workshop was a lot bigger than I imagined and it was good to see some of the major restoration projects under way.  Amongst them was a brake booster change for John’s 280SE Coupe.   I saw this car a couple of years ago at the 2015 ACT Show.   This car was likely the motor show car of that year and would look great next to my 250SE Cabriolet.   Sadly (for me) the owner is rather attached to it and is not going to send it up to my home for wayward Benz’s.

280SE Coupe

I parked next to an immaculate 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet and it was good to compare the two cars.    The 280 was white with red leather and had some great period accessories.

Pair of Cabriolets

At the workshop we were also able to see some other great cars including a few being prepped for historic rally duty – a W123 with a v8 and a 250/8.    It was also interesting to compare two almost identical W123 230Es, one from Victoria and one from NSW.  They had both travelled for the OzBenz meetup.  As well as the W123’s there was a 250SL from Queensland, a 250SE Coupe, a nice 450SLC and more.   230E's

It was then time to return back to Sydney, and the 250SE performed well on the return journey as well.   It did manage to pick up its own fair share of the insect life on the way back.   I was lucky the 250SE has a loud horn as I was almost forced off the road by white van man!

250SE

Overall it was a great trip and I would do it again if I could.   It also proves what great cruising cars these 60’s Mercedes are and what a shame it is that more of them don’t get as much use.   I know there are a reasonable number of W111 Coupe/Cabriolet in Australia but it always seems like comparatively few get active use.

Citroen DS front end wiring – part 5

After all my hassles with the DS wiring, I wanted a better solution.  Not only were the existing bullet connectors old and brittle, but their colours had largely faded.   Instead of replacing the bullet connectors with new ones, I decided to use multi-wire plugs.   In this case, Deutsch connectors.   Instead of eight wires on one side and six on the other, there would be a couple of simple connectors to unplug each time the wings are removed.   On the DS, the wings are removed for many service jobs, so they come off every year or so.

 

Wiring in progress

I had to be careful to label each wire as I added it to the connector.   Getting one wrong would mean starting again.    The passengers side had 8 wires, so has two four wire connectors.  I had meant to wire them so they could not be mixed up (i.e. female/male on one side and male/female on the other).   However I used the wrong connectors and so they are both the same.    They should not get mixed up as the wires are different lengths.    The drivers side will use a single six wire connection.   Some of those wires are actually redundant as the headlight wiring in this care is non standard and goes through relays on the drivers side.

DS connectors

While not strictly correct, the connectors are a much better solution.  Neater, and will be much easier to use each time the wings are removed.   To protect the paintwork on the wing, I had all my tools laid out.   It looked like one of those backyard surgeons you see in mob movies.

Tools

The front wings will be coming off soon, as the front suspension boots need replacing.   This wiring upgrade should make it much easier.    A quick test showed all the front end lights/accessories working correctly.

250SE Battery disconnect switch

I like to fit a battery disconnect switch to all my cars.  It ensures the batteries don’t run down and prevents fires.    Fires are a real risk from cars with old wiring.   I had put one of those cheap on terminal switches on the 250SE when I got it a few years ago.   Of late it had been playing up and was difficult to reconnect each time.   I also wanted to close the bonnet on the car when connected to the trickle charger, but the alligator clips were too large.

Most of the battery disconnect switch models available online were quite ugly.    They also required holes to be drilled to mount them.   I wanted to come up with something that is:

  • Completely reversible, with no holes or modifications to the car.
  • Unobtrusive
  • Provision for a quick connect for my battery charger
  • Added security

I figured that I could create a housing for a switch that would sit next to the battery.   Summit racing had one online that is operated by a key and could be mounted inside a small housing.   I also bought a Ctek comfort indicator which is a charge port for the Ctek chargers that also incorporates a battery charge indicator.   I didn’t want to cut the factory battery cable, so I crimped another.    The plan was to connect the new short one from ground to the switch, then the factory one from switch to battery.

Battery disconnect switch components

The first step was to drill the necessary holes in the housing.  I purchased a housing normally used for computer parts.   It is plastic, but it is not near the hot engine so should be ok.  The housing came from ebay.   I needed holes for the Ctek adaptor, the actual switch and the two battery cables.

Battery disconnect switch housing

The components needed to be fitted in order.   First the switch, then the Ctek indicator then the battery cables.   The ground cable for the Ctek indicator can connect to the battery side ground post.   the positive side needs to connect to the battery.

battery disconnect switch components

The unit looked reasonably neat once it was fully assembled.   battery disconnect switch completed

I had originally planned to mount the unit black side out.   However it worked much better the other way.

battery disconnect switch mounted

Overall I am pretty happy with how it turned out.   It would have been better if I could have attached it to the side of the battery, but the mounting post was in the way.   The good thing is that the solution is completely reversible.    The key operation will provide a little added security, although a dedicated thief could bypass it with their own ground cable.

If I find this works well for me, I will build a similar battery disconnect switch for the DS.

2011 Coldwater Car Show

One of the last car shows I attended in Michigan was the Coldwater Car Show in 2011.    As the Coldwater Car Show is held in May, it is quite early in the season.  I left Michigan in early July of the same year – this was probably the last decent road trip I did in my 560SEC.   The SEC was a great road trip car and I put a lot of miles on it in the roughly three years I owned it.   The drive was about two hours, a nice distance in that car.

At least back in 2011, this was a smaller regional show.   Looking at the website, it appears bigger now.   The bulk of the show in 2011 was American Muscle cars and Hotrods.  There were two rather rare cars at this show:

  • Pontiac GTO “The Judge”
  • 1971 Dodge Challenger 426 Hemi

The 426 Hemi was equipped with the pistol grip shifter made famous by the moving ‘Vanishing Point’.    It was quite cool to see one in the flesh.  It is much more common to see a 440 Challenger than a real Hemi.

At the time I attended this show, I did not have this website.   This is the last of the USA shows I attended that I had not uploaded.   Had I not moved away, I probably would have attended this show again if I was free on the day.

The Gosford Car Museum Revisted

I first visited the Gosford Car Museum a bit over two years ago.   Back in 2016, the Museum had recently opened.   Since it operates as a hybrid dealership/museum, the collection slowly turns over.   This means a return visit two years later provides a lot of new cars to see.

I would estimate that at least 50% of the collection has turned over since that visit.    It is still a very impressive museum, although the collection is now 10-15% smaller.   In addition, there are probably fewer jaw dropping cars than before.   For example last time in the Mercedes Benz section there was a Gullwing, a 300Sc, 300SE Coupe etc.   This time there were a couple of Pagoda SL and a LHD W111 Coupe.

Some of the highlights for me:

  • An Aircraft engine car with a 10L De Havilland engine.
  • A Chrysler 300F
  • A Rolls Royce 20HP with a sleek tourer body
  • The Bentley 4.25 liter

The Gosford Car Museum is a great half day trip.  I got lucky today as the museum was having a free entry day.   I went in my brothers E63 650i, which really came into its own on the old Pacific Highway.   If only there were fewer packs of cyclists that ride 2-3 abreast.

I will probably go again in a couple of years to see if the collection has changed further.

2004-2015 Toyota Fortuner Review

My latest rental car was the Toyota Fortuner.   I’m not sure the exact year, but it was the previous generation model.    I needed a seven seater for a holiday in Thailand and the Fortuner was the largest car offered by Thai rent-a-car.   The Fortuner is based on the Hilux with the SUV body instead of the pickup truck.  The name sounds like it should be on a Pirate ship rather than a car.  I get mental images of swashbuckling pirates seeking gold and fortune.  Instead I’m driving a glorified Hilux.    As as seven seater the Fortuner works OK, although cars like the Tarago are superior people carriers.

Toyota Fortuner

This Toyota Fortuner is the 3.0 turbo diesel model.   Unlike the last couple of woefully underpowered rental cars, the 3.0 diesel has plenty of power, especially around town.   It has loads of torque down low and the transmission is geared for economy.   This leviathan gave me about 11l/100km which is excellent.  Those numbers included some extended idling to keep the A/C running.   This is better than the 3 cylinder hatchbacks I’ve had as previous rental cars.    The only downside of the engine is that it doesn’t like to rev so its fairly poor trying to overtake on the open road.   The acceleration from 60-120km/h is fairly average.

The A/C in the car is quite effective.  The only time it didn’t quite keep up was idling for about 20 minutes at 38C.    It has a separate button for rear A/C, which I left on the entire time we used the car.

The suspension is quite soft and the ride quality is only average.   Interior comfort is reasonably good, although it doesn’t have much in the way of tech.   It took me about 20 minutes to connect my phone to the bluetooth after much trial and error.   I had to first go deep into the setup and delete the previously connected phone.    Some people like the high driving position but I just found the ride quality substandard.

The biggest problem with the Toyota Fortuner is to do with the rear seat setup.   We had two child seats in the middle row.   This meant that 3rd row passengers have to enter the car from the tailgate which is very high.   We had a pensioner and a child in the 3rd row.   This meant the pensioner had to attempt to climb in through the back with one half of the rear seat folded up.   Then, the other half was unfolded, the booster seat passed over the back and the child lifted over the back into the booster seat.   It was a major pain.    Once the 3rd row is set up there is very little luggage space at all.

Overall the Fortuner has a good engine around town and is surprisingly frugal.   It’s a bit of a pain as a seven seater and only average to drive.

Rating: 3/5

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.

UPDATE 4th October, 2018.  Jalopnik did a review of this car.  They liked it more than I did, except they had the four cylinder engine.   Even so, they couldn’t work out why people think it’s better than the Focus.