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Articles By Mike Rooth


Mike's Vehicles

Oh well, if we're on this tack.....time to show my age, I suppose:-) First vehicle, 1931 MG J2, (no Dixon, it *wasn't* a current model when I had it..). Had to rebuild the doors on this one, they were wood framed. Lovely little two seater, with solid shock absorbers, and a flexible chassis. Cost me twelve quid at the time, and double that to insure it. Next, a Triumph Mayflower. Urgh!Three speed wonder, and drove like a top heavy bus. Ran it on three cylinders for a month, before I got round to replacing the exhaust valve. Then i dropped the feeler gauges down the valve chest (side valves), and had to take the sump off. Prat!

Then I had a MG ZA Magnette, which was a "nice" car, leather seats, walnut dash etc, but under the bonnet was a *horrible* BMC OHV cooking plant. A great disappointment. It would have been a really good motor fitted with the MG twin cam engine, but they never did. This was still in the days when you could write to MG at Abingdon, AND get a reply. Very helpful they were, too. This went in exchange for an MGA soft top, which didn't have a heater. They were optional extras. I fitted it with a heater from a scrap Riley 1500, which not only heated the cockpit, but pressurized it too. Again, bit of a "cooking" power plant, but they *were* insurable as tourers, rather than outright sports cars, so I could afford the premiums.

Triumph Herald after that(I *had* got married in the meantime), but we draw a veil over that car, except to say that access to normally inaccessible bits was achieved by bolt on (or off) panels so that maintenance was a dream. It was the first car I ever had with fully in dependant suspension, via a De Dion rear axle. The rear spring was a transverse leaf. Pretty much a la Spitfire, I suspect.
After that, a half timbered Mini. The most bloody awful abortion of a vehicle it has ever been my misfortune to drive. The inevitable armful of oil every time you change the filter, a ten foot screwdriver essential to remove the bottom radiator hose, driven in the typical knees knocking the chin position, and Land Rover bum is *nothing* to the aching spine you suffer in a Mini. Added to that, a gear lever you have to*lift* off the floor, thus putting your shoulder out of joint, true, I did it!You can keep 'em. The wife loved it though...Strange people, women. No accounting for them at all.

Swopped that after six months for a Morris Minor. Now its almost axiomatic(look it up), among people of my age that we all, at some time or other, had a Moggy Minor. And without exception no-one ever had to take a spanner to them in anger. They were(and still are) light on fuel, easy to work on, utterly reliable, and spares were plentiful and cheap. They have no boot(trunk) to speak of and the worst brakes in the world. Unfortunately the wife got a headache(alright, I *know* that joke, too)on a journey of any length, which was finally tracked down to low frequency vibration, which couldn't be damped out. So it had to go, in favor of a Triumph 1300.

Front wheel drive, VERY luxurious. The only snag was that due to a design fault in the front suspension, the front tyres lasted an astronomical five thousand miles. Two sets a year. The back ones lasted for ever. In common with most Triumphs of its era, it rusted enthusiastically. In fact, it committed suicide, rather than rusted. I replaced that by another Triumph, a 1850cc Dolomite this time. This had the slant four engine OHC, which was originally built for SAAB by Triumph. Rumour had it that SAAB were rejecting so many engines that Triumph had to use it themselves, just to get rid of the surplus. Be that as it may, it was a *lovely* power unit when on song, and the car was a dream to drive. I replaced the pistons and bearings at 90,000 miles, and it would see off anything on the road, just about. The "sprint" version was faster, but introduced "BMW disease" to the British motoring public, ie warping heads. They didn't leave enough metal in the head, with the four valve setup. There was precious little in the normal two valve head, but it didn't warp as much. Mine didn't at all.

When my father in law died(leving me to inherit the title of the worlds worst electrician), he also left me a(gulp) Ford Escort Mk11. I *hated* that car. It had *nothing* going for it at all. AND it was far less economical than the Dolly. A 1300cc afterthought. Its only humorous feature was that when you switched off, the engine ran on. Backwards. I checked everything timing the lot, but it still ran on backwards. Thought it was a steam engine, I guess. Wish it had been, coal was still fairly cheap.

That dog went as soon as decently possible, and I bought a Citroen GSA Special veeeery cheap, only done 14000 miles. Flat four air cooled engine, front wheel drive;sorry, traction avant;hydro-whatsit suspension, inboard front disc brakes, mechanical ABS. Well at least ABS was the effect the braking system gave. In many ways this was a superb machine, the brakes were phenomenal, the ride lovely, but the car was a collection of good ideas, badly put together. The french, it seemed had never heard of things like Nyloc nuts, or locking washers, or, come to that, conventional fasteners at all. It took half an hour just to change the plugs, and the heater worked well at town speeds, but heat fell off at anything over 50mph, due to the exhaust jacket cooling in the slipstream. I got the impression that the Citroen people had started with a clean sheet of paper when designing the car, and asked themselves questions like"Why do wheels have to be round?". Unfortunately the thing was an impossibility to maintain at home, due to the incredible number of special tools needed.

ence the Land Rover. And I've had *that* longer than I've ever kept any of them, and I'm not planning to get rid of the old girl anytime yet. If I had to have a favorite, Rover apart, I think the old MG J2, and the Dolly would win. I cant decide between them. But they both would come second to the Land Rover. Ah well, that's got you all well and truly bored, sorry 'bout that, and its still only Monday:-).

   
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