Camaro Running Report – Service Time

The Camaro is now due a service. It has been two years and 10,000 miles since the last one. These cars are due to be serviced annually, so in terms of time it looks late, however I’m sure it was serviced when it arrived in the UK but I just cannot find the receipt. Never mind, its still being done to mileage, with the intention of doing this annually from now, and my search for a service centre began. It turns out there is an American specialist who services all kinds of old-and-new USA stuff not too far from me called Cas Am. Happy days! The alternative was a Chevrolet specialist in Manchester but this is a fair way and my research showed that the local place does have a well respected reputation so I thought I’d try them. I gave them a call and they sounded like the knew their stuff, so I booked the Camaro in.

Their workshop was pretty cool, with all kinds of American cars in the workshop. They completed a major service on the Camaro for just £245 and gave it a full check over, reporting that it was pretty much good-as-new underneath, with brakes and tyres all having plenty of life left in them. The oil was definitely ready for servicing so I’m told, so it was good to get this done.
Whilst my car does have a very full and comprehensive history, it doesn’t have a service book – they don’t appear to have ever been produced (I don’t think the traditional service stamp stuff of the UK is typical in USA as they have the more comprehensive Carfax system). So I’ve purchased a generic book from eBay and the workshop has said to call down with it and they’ll stamp it up. So I can now start building up a UK stamped history. Hurrah!

Interestingly, Cas Am are also able to source parts (a side arm of the business) and they can fit whatever I need and have experience of this. I’m thinking front foglights to bring the appearance to SS spec on the front, and a closer replica of Bumblebee from 2007 Transformers. Watch this space! 🙂

A few pics from the Service day…

Camaro Service at Cas Am

Camaro Service at Cas Am

Cars at Cas Am

Cars at Cas Am

Pink car at Cas Am during Camaro Service

Pink car at Cas Am during Camaro Service

And that Watch…?
It lasted a month and the pin has now fallen out of the strap. 🙁 You get what you pay for I guess.. £13.

Cayenne Report – Annual Tax Time

A short and not terribly sweet blog update. The Cayenne is due its 12 months tax renewal. Here in the UK all cars which go on the road have to be taxed, and the costs of this vary depending on either the size of the engine, or the emissions its produces. The category in which you fall in to depends on the date the car was registered. Pre-2006 cars go on the engine size, rather than emissions, which means a renewal for my Cayenne 3.2 this year is £305. Ouch. Still, it could be worse, the post-2006 petrol models will be in the £535 annual tax bracket, so there is an upside in there somewhere!

Motormuse: A Perception of Car Brands – then and now!

I was thinking about this the other day, how my perception of auto brands has changed since I first became interested in cars back in my youth, compared to that of today.

This doesn’t reflect the price of the cars, nor how a manufacturer perceives itself, just based on how I used to regard a brand (largely based on how something looked, how expensive my Dad might have told me it was, or how much dinner break conversation it generated with my friends during school).

So, I did a graph, for no other reason than the fun of it really.

The Top line is from my youth, early teens. Bottom is where I see the brands now. Red is moving down the pecking order, green is up, black remained the same.

Some notes below as to my rationale!

Car Brands

My Perception of Car Brands’ as a Status Symbol – click for larger image.

Remember, this is about my perception of the brand, not necessarily how individual cars drive, or how much they cost, etc!

Ford: Solid, middle-of-the-road cars. Great cars, good brand, deliver the occasional hot thing that everyone wants. They’ve made some stunning looking cars, twixed with some questionable messes. Handling always good, priced well. They know their market and play to their strengths. Love ‘em. Always have, always will.

Vauxhall: Used to regard these as a close rival to ford, but now I see them as a bargain basement option. For every nice Insignia that I see on the roads, there is some chavved up nobber revving the arse off his Corsa or Astra, which keeps them at the bottom of my ‘want to own’ list. Always had a bit of a loutish image, but now more so than even in my day of the Nova Sri and Astra GTE!

Hyundai and Kia: Regarded them as the cheap-and-nasties in my youth, but now I see them as real rivals to the likes of the Ford brand. Kia in particular as they look great. Probably won’t drive as good though.

Fiat: A cheaper option, but in the middle category. Remained largely the same, primarily thanks to the Punto and the Fiat 500 which have kept their image strong. Rest of range forgettable. In fact, I can’t even name one of their other cars.

Renault and Peugeot: Moved down the list into budget. Someone has to be at the bottom, and these guys don’t really offer inspiring cars. Never been into the hot Renaults for some reason. Zoe looks really nice, but battery rental only is a bad thing. Latest Pug cars are looking pretty sweet, and I see them climbing my brain charts in the next few years.

Nissan: Datsun previously, always a bit cheap and cheerful. Still the same. GTR obvious exception which is a special thing indeed.

Toyota, Honda, Mazda: Slowly shuffled down the ranks because their cars are very bland and average. MX5 the exception, but I don’t like how that looks any more either. Overall, a bit boring, but still in a similar position as before. Higher than Ford due to their quality manufacture reputation and known reliability (not that the newer Fords are particularly unreliable either). May drop further. Still higher than Ford due to pricing (not that I know this for fact, purely perception remember) and I think they are still a little more desirable to own, generally speaking. I’d still have a Ford though.

VW: Premium every-man car, but coming down the ranks as other manufacturers catch up with their interiors. New shape golf is the cock-end car of the motorways now, replacing Audi and the former BMW stereotypical driver, so the brand has taken a big hit due to this on my graph. Scirocco was beautiful, but nothing new inspires me. I don’t see the appeal, sorry!

Audi: Had a dip in my minds-eye during its whiffy image phase, but a return to form in my view as the bell ends have moved to the Golf. Still some shockers out there as these cars are susceptible to bling spec but overall, I think they look great and drive good. If I wasn’t a car person, I’d have a new base Audi A3 Saloon. In white. They look great and are not too big, not too small. I never really regarded them as a premium brand in my youth but they are above what I call the ‘every man’ category, so they scrape up there. R8 is fabulous!!

BMW: Used to be high premium in my youth. If you had a BMW, to me and my mates you were really posh. Now, they are everywhere. Cheap as chips on the used market and haven’t really evolved at all since about 2001. Interiors still the same, exteriors still the same. BMW i3 and i8 really innovative and desirable cars, but rest of general range is boring to look at and boring inside. Z3s and Z4s I do like though. I’m sure they all drive really well, but that’s not enough to pull them up on my little graph!

Mercedes: Still maintained a posh image, but poor reported reliability in the early 2000’s and cheap-and-nasty interiors killed it for a time in my mind. Clawing it back now but not where they were.

Volvo: I thought they were the cheap-and-nasty car of my youth. Now I think they are one of the classiest cars out there, generally speaking. They look lovely, nice and understated.

Jaguar: Maintained its presence in the premium sector.

Land Rover: A car for farmers in my youth, then onto footballers and drug dealers. Not remotely interested until around 2012 when they changed their shape to a more contemporary look and feel, when they moved right up to the top. Lovely cars.

Bentley: Used to be the very top class, but there are more of them about now. Still high prestige, and wonderfully beautiful cars, but I don’t see them as the same league as Rolls Royce. Can’t put my finger on why as I do love these. Maybe it’s a popularity thing (more of these about?).

Porsche: The ultimate supercar, next to Ferrari, in my youth. Now more common place and covering a wider range of cars and prices. Depreciation makes them affordable after a time. Still awesome, but not a sole supercar brand.

Aston: Remained the same. Rare cars that look and drive wonderful.

Ferrari: Still the best. Marketed perfectly, powerful brand and amazing cars.

Lamborghini: The thing of dreams. Mad cars that you only saw on posters in my youth. Marginally more accessible now that they are less insane and more people want to buy them, but still out of reach for almost everyone. Therefore, a rare sight. An expensive car that still looks a good and sounds incredible.

Rolls Royce. Still the ultimate statement of wealth and luxury. There is nothing finer in automotive land.

So that’s my view, what would your graph look like? What is your perception of the different brands, and would it be radically different to this??

Camaro Running Report – Pimping out the ‘Bee

I have mentioned in a previous post that I thought it might be worth investigating whether or not to use the Camaro as a hire car for static displays, such as Comic Conventions. I had also considered weddings too, but the insurance is an issue with my current provider – and the cost to change is more than £300, which makes it unfeasible given how often the Camaro would likely get any business. If anyone knows of any companies who can offer a wedding insurance service on a pay-as-you-go basis, please let me know – I’d appreciate it.

Anyhow, as for the static displays, I attended my first show last month, taking the Camaro to a Comic Convention. I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet other movie car owners and learn the ropes of the business as well as build up a contact base as well as to let others view and enjoy the car, as they still remain pretty rare over here in the UK.

This was a great event and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I also met up with a few good contacts, so much so that the Camaro has now been added to the fleet of a movie car hire company. Hurrah!

Here is a picture of my ‘Bee, alongside ‘Bee and Prime! 🙂

Camaro with Prime and BumbleBee

Camaro with Optimus Prime and BumbleBee!

Anyhow, as for the static displays, I attended my first show last month, taking the Camaro to a Comic Convention. I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet other movie car owners and learn the ropes of the business as well as build up a contact base – whilst allowing other enthusiasts to view and share in the enjoyment the car, as these cars still remain pretty rare over here in the UK.

Maybe see you at one of these events in the future?

Cayenne Report – Service Time

The annual service is due again on the Cayenne after ten thousand relatively pain free miles this year. This has been completed by Porsche Euro specialists in Barnsley, my regular technicians who have worked on most of my cars throughout the years of my Porsche ownership.

This time around it was a major service and it was also due new spark plugs, a new wiper blade, a side light had blown a few days ago so this was also replaced and the brake fluid was changed too. Another recent niggle was that the glovebox would only close with a dramatic shove, rather than a gentle tap. John at Porsche Euro informed that the latch is adjustable and it has probably become misaligned. A few minutes of Johns spannering later and I was back to the gentle-joy of glovebox closure. Marvellous!

Service was all completed whilst I sat in their warm office, working on my laptop with a dose of free Wi-Fi. The Cayenne was given a good once-over and signed off a clean bill of health with no advisories. Brakes and tyres are all looking fine which is great to hear, so here is to another 12 months of happy motoring!

Two years on – cost reflection

We will have owned the Cayenne for two years from next month and as we enter our third year of this ownership experience I thought I’d reflect on the journey so far and the costs of running a ‘luxury SUV’. Overall, I am still immensely impressed at the value for money proposition that a now twelve year old 121,000 mile car can offer. So without further ado here is the costs of running the Cayenne over just short of 24 months:

The car was due a service when I bought it which started things off:

  • Minor service, wiper blades and brake fluid: £254
  • Number plates for my personal registration: £20
  • Valet to get rid of the smoke smell (can’t remember the cost, lets say £80)
  • New key fob (it only came with one and I wanted two): £239
  • Alternator refurb and refit: £216
  • 4x budget tyres (Top-notch stuff isn’t really required for our use): £350
  • Annual / Oil Change service: £118
  • MOT: £88
  • Window Regulator and new rear glass micro switch: £330
  • Major service including spark plugs and brake fluid, plus a new rear wiper blade and front side light bulb: £394
  • TWO YEAR MAINTAINENCE TOTAL (not including insurance or tax): 2089

Depreciation: I believe the car is worth approximately £5-6k as it stands, which puts depreciation at its worst at £2k, best £1k over 24 months.

  • Worst Case (including depreciation) overall TOTAL: £4089 (£170 per month)
  • Best Case (including depreciation) overall TOTAL: 3089 (£128 per month)

I’ve said it before and I’m really happy with this car so far. It hasn’t given me too much grief, particularly notable given its age. It still seems to turn heads and attract admiring glances (either that or its one of repulsion, but I like to think it isn’t that!). It is wearing exceptionally well inside which is good for us as we use the car for all every day duties, be that road trip journeys on holiday packed full of luggage, regular commutes, trips to the local tip and everything in between. Sweets, papers, sticky lollipops and drinks bottle often end up left in the car but a quick clean up with Autoglym and it looks pretty much as good as new.

I also like the satnav in this car. It’s missing full postcode searching so it takes a bit of time to get it ready and make sure you are going to end up on the correct street, but once up and running I find its pretty good. It knows about all the major traffic problems and will divert accordingly and has saved me a big queue on several occasions.

The only comfort options that I miss on this car are heated seats and cruise control. I could have the latter retrofitted, but its only perhaps once per month when I’m on a particular journey where it would have been handy. Heated seats in the winter on that cold leather however would have been nice. But, for my purchase price of just seven grand, I’m not complaining.

Running up the total has made me quite happy at the cost of this car. Its a big luxo tank, with what I consider acceptable running costs. But it looks perhaps more expensive than it really is and for some reason the market doesn’t really like them. This hits the value and therefore makes them a fantastic used buy.

Tomorrow I’ll give the car a good interior valet and then take it for a bath at our local car wash to finish off the year with a sparkle. Merry Christmas!

Camaro Running Report: Summer ’17 Update

Maintaining it:
A few weeks ago I took it to Tony Spears (Autoshine Specialist Detailing) for a quick mini-detail. The car was nice and clean, but it wasn’t perfect, so I wanted it to have a good refresh by a pro. I didn’t have a paint correction done, but a good clean, polish and interior clean. It looks great! Interestingly the car has some curious paint spots, they look like stone chips in a circle shape and there are several all over the car. You can’t see them from a few feet away, but up close they are noticeable. I asked tony about these, and he informed me that they are the results of the car being egged at some point in its life! He went on to say that the when the eggs shells break they crack the paint as well, resulting in these odd stone-chip circles.
MOT Time
The annual test was due by the end of Saturday, so it was booked in for Monday and duly passed with flying colours. Very happy with that, always a little nerve racking the first time under ones ownership that a car gets sent off for its inspection. Thankfully, it appears nothing untoward with this car which is great news.
Next in maintenance world will be a service at the Chevrolet specialists over in Stockport.
Driving it:
Like attention? This car grabs it in spades. I’ve driven a lot of wonderfully exotic machinery, but nothing to date has the attention grabbing abilities of the Camaro in the UK. These are rare sights on the roads over here – plus it is bright yellow – and it looks like a car from the movies. Its certainly a stand-out car. But the best thing about it is that it makes people smile. Everywhere. No hand gestures, no swearing, just great big smiles. Kids do a double-take with the mouths wide open, even wives nudge their husbands and point at it.
Performance wise, the care is used almost exclusively for family days out at the moment, so the power is barely tapped into, but I have noticed that the downshifts are very keen and there is plenty of acceleration power, even in this V6 model. Compared to my Porsche Cayenne V6, the Camaro is more keen with its shifts and makes for a smoother ride, whereas the Cayenne is a bit notchy by comparison.
I’m also used to driving LHD now, which didn’t take half as long as I thought. It’s pretty easy, the only caution is on very tight roads. A few weeks ago I was passing by a school. The yummy mummy’s were parked on both sides of the road, leaving a small access to get cars through. I had to squeeze through and much of that was sheer luck when a car decided to come the other way rather than waiting for me to get through. I must have been inches away from it. But that aside, its pretty easy and there are no blind spots in the mirrors which is excellent!
I was thinking of maybe setting this up as a wedding hire type business, as I guess there may be some interest in such a car? I think I’ll attend a few comic-conventions with it and see what the take up is. Maybe see if it can pay its own way? I’ve not looked into the costs of such a venture though, but no rush on that front.
And Finally…
I don’t think this car park was big enough, nor empty enough for this BMW who had to park next to me. Sigh…

Camaro Running Report: The Garage Test!

I’m loving this car so far. Its great fun, and having the back seats means we can use it for families days out too. More on driving adventures and the attention grabbing nature of this car, in a future update.

In this update however, it’s time for a garage test! The Camaro is a very big car with dimensions similar to that of my Porsche Cayenne. I live in a new-build type house with an integral garage and, like all single integral garages on pretty much any house built in the last 20 years in the UK, they aren’t generous with their space.

The typical size of a UK garage is 2.4m x 4.9m (and is true of mine also.)
The Camaro dimensions are 1.92m wide by 4.8m long and the mirrors don’t fold in either.

That gives an interior space of less than half a meter wide and 10cm length to spare! Before buying the car, I measured everything several times and the answers were always the same: in theory, the car would fit, but it would be immensely tight. I decided that in all likelihood it would have to live outside, thinking that it is unlikely to be a particular target for thieves, being a rare bright yellow left-hand-drive car. So to keep it from prying eyes I bought a cheap outdoor cover to keep it hidden until I’d tried it in the garage.

That day came a few weeks ago when, with the assistance of my good lady wife, I reversed it into the garage. Easily did it with literally a few centimeters on either side as the mirrors went past the garage entrance, parking sensors flat lining continually in my ears. Finally through the door, the front is narrower than the back and Mrs Paul O guided me to within an inch of the back wall.

The result?

Camaro in a single garage!

Camaro in a single garage!


It fits!!!

The width of the car at the door section is actually no wider than that of a Porsche 911 (which I have owned previously and fits in the garage without a problem). Despite what the photo above suggests, once it is in the garage, its pretty easy to get out – although because I’m reversing in I have to get out of the passenger side. Thankfully its pretty roomy in the Camaro so that’s not too arduous, even for my 6’4″ frame. There is no way I’d be able to get it in the garage myself though as the entrance width and overall length is so tight, so its a team effort. All part of the fun of ownership, eh! As for the length there is perhaps 2-3″ to spare at the front and back, so not as roomy as that first photo looks at the front.

Camaro in a small UK single garage!

Camaro in a small UK single garage!

But I was absolutely overjoyed that I can keep it safe and secure in the garage – it literally made my night! So far in that garage I’ve had a 911, Cayman, VW Beetle, Audi S5, Ferrari 360 (cabriolet – doors too wide to open without the roof down) and now the Camaro.

So if anyone tells you they can’t get their car in a modern garage, you can tell them they are talking bullsh*t because your mate at Paul O gets his Camaro in there, “and that’s a big as a Porsche 4×4, don’t you know”**. 😀

** Caveat this with the common denominator that all of these cars have frameless doors, which I suspect is a big advantage.

Welcome to the fleet, Bumblebee!

Here it is, the latest addition to the fleet: My 2010 Chevrolet Camaro!

Yellow Chevrolet Camaro, Bumblebee replica


I’ve loved the design of these cars ever since the world was woken up to the concept in the 2007 Transformers movie. At the time I remember thinking “I really hope they make that car!” Whilst the design is now getting on for a decade old for those in the USA, in the UK these cars are still incredibly rare and therefore still look pretty fresh over here. Unless you are at an event with an American or movie related theme, the chances of seeing one on the road are minimal.

The Purchase
I have been looking to purchase a new sports car for some time now – I’m going to be 40 years old this year, so a bit of a present to myself I suppose (midlife crisis? I’ve been having those since my 20’s). Initially I was looking for another Boxster (987 model, still on the to-do list), but after several months I haven’t been able to find one with the spec and colour that I was after, within an acceptable distance of my home and at a price I was willing to pay.

As a car nerd, part of every daily routine involves searching the internet for my next possible car and I happened to do an eBay search on the Camaro. A Camaro does indeed have a legitimate entry on my ‘to own’ list, but previous cars for sale have either not been the correct colour, or too expensive. But, to my excitement, a yellow car was now available for sale, in the UK. It also had the black stripe and silver wheels, replicating the first concept car that was BumbleBee in that first Transformers film.

This car is a complete step away from everything I’ve bought before. Its left-hand drive for a start and an import. I slept on this idea for a few nights, and both occasions I woke up with my first thought being that I desperately wanting to buy the car. I told my wife who was sceptical to start with, until she saw one in the metal at a car show the following weekend and thought they actually looked quite nice.

It turns out that the seller of the car that was ultimately to become mine is someone who I’ve known from the past, when I used to go to meets for those who loved Knight Rider replicas. He remembered me too, when back at the first KR meet, I parked my old Boxster in the middle of all the KITT cars for a photo. A mutual acquaintance also vouched for both the seller and the car, which made me much more confident about buying it. After conversations with the owner, a week followed before a road trip could be organised with a couple of mates who know far more than I do about mechanical stuff to go and see the car.

A few hours later, I was driving home in my new Bumblebee Camaro!

The Drive Home
This was a real exciting experience. Having not driven left-hookers before, it was to be a new lesson in driving – and part of the attraction for buying this car, I’d have to really concentrate on the actual aspect of driving. One of my friends accompanied me in the car and being on the right-hand-side of the car was able to gauge where I was on the road as if he was the driver. I’d recommend doing this for anyone who’s thinking of doing the same as for the first few miles I’d get the instruction “you’re a bit too far over” or “you need to be more on your side”. These minor adjustments helped me with the unfamiliarity of the driving position and prevent me from panning it on the first go. After the two hour drive home, I was more or less sorted with where the car needed to be placed on the roads. That said, I do need to check my mirrors a lot more, just to be sure – but that’s all part of the ‘driving’ experience. There is nothing autonomous when I’m behind the wheel here – it’s an active participant role.

As for the performance and noise, more on that in a future update as I’ve been driving pretty boring whilst I get myself sorted with the left-hooker thing.

My Car
This car was originally a Florida car and had two owners before being imported to the UK last year with around 62,000 miles on the clock. The guy who imported it was in the States for a while beforehand and liked these cars, but upon importing to the UK didn’t like the attention it received and so sold it on to the guy who I bought it from.

I purchased a CarFax report (like a HPI over here, but much more detailed) which came back clean, and then a HPI for the UK element which was also clear. Happy days!

This is a 3.6 V6 model, so the ‘baby’ of the range, but it’s still got plenty of poke with 0-60 coming in around six seconds – and having back seats means it’s a family car, rather than just a solo thing. But the colour was one of the main deciding factors to buy.

The interior is the standard cloth affair and it has an automatic gearbox. These days I prefer autos plus I didn’t fancy a LHD manual car as my first foray into other-side driving. It has a sports option on the gearbox and you can use the flappy-paddles on the wheel. It’s not PDK dual-clutch rapid, but it seems pretty keen on the downshifts and compares favourably to my Tiptronic Cayenne.

Why A Camaro?
As mentioned, this was an entirely new car experience for me. I know nothing at all about Camaros. Before buying the car, I didn’t know where to get them serviced, how to get a USA-HPI done, what things that might go wrong with the car and I’ve never driven LHD up until that point. All of that put together made this an exciting and interesting prospect. It is a car that I’m going to have to research, get to know new forums, local specialists etc – all the things I’ve got nailed for the Porsches that I’ve owned over the past decade, I’d be starting again with this.

And, it is a car on my to-own list. It is also different, and a bit daft.


  • The car is in good condition, but I like to have my cars well-cleaned when I buy them. So it’s off to my detailer soon!
  • Fix tyre pressure sensors. These are broken (there is a story behind this for a future update).
  • Found out more stuff about them – servicing intervals etc.
  • Leather interior? Maybe! We’ll see. Quite liking the more practical fabric to be honest.
  • Personalised Number Plate.

Lots more to come on the ownership experience on this one. I’m excited about this car and I’m looking forward to documenting the experience.

Hope you enjoy too!

Cayenne Report: Window and Hatch Opening Problems

I was driving the Cayenne last week taking a colleague to the site where my upcoming charity event is being held (Meadowhall, Sheffield – on the 13th May if you are interested! Details here). He pressed the button to wind down his window, but rather than rolling down smoothly, it sort of stuttered and flopped half way down and then refused to go back up. With a bit of persuasion we did manage to close it but since then every now and again the window will drop an inch or two of its own accord. The window button has zero effect.

Time to call John at Porsche Euro.

John suggested it would be the window regulator as these wear out and rust over time, resulting in the issue I was describing. Unfortunately its a Porsche-only part so I took a deep breath whilst he priced one up for me. In addition to that, the rear-window hatch opening has been intermittent lately, it felt like the switch was only doing its job on a part-time basis, so John ordered a new switch to be fitted at the same time.

Fast forward to today and both parts have been fixed and fitted and everything is working marvellously once again! John showed me the old window regulator (I should have taken a picture, but I forgot) and the cables and connections were completely rusted.

Total cost to fix both issues was £330. Not a cheap fix then, but one that needed doing and I am still really enjoying this car so worth it to keep the car in good shape for a while yet.

Review: Ferrari F430 Spider

Originally written for Supercar Driver ( in December 2016

Ferrari F430 Spider, Red

Ferrari F430 Spider, Red

With a pick of the crop to showcase the Vanrooyen stock for the SCD magazine, whilst scanning the roomful of exotica, my car of choice had to be the Ferrari. It could only be the Ferrari. A red F430 convertible stood out like a beacon in a man cave. Fabulous.

As director Martin edged the car out of the showroom, the gleaming paintwork reflected the lighting, making every other car seem muted by comparison. This car looks good as new. The bright paintwork and cream leather interior belay the 40,000 miles on the odometer.

When the F430 came along back in 2004 it addressed many of the 360’s controversial lines of the time. The 360 was a big design step away, both in size and appearance, from its forebears – namely the pretty 355 and 348. It was visually striking but didn’t hit everyone’s sweet spot. The highly regarded F355 was a tough act to follow and the 360 brought the marque into the modern era, both with interior design, a rounded shape and increased reliability. Perhaps the shape was a little too soft, with designs from other brands beginning to take on a more edgy styling that was proving popular. So, when the F430 was launched, it brought the shape more up to date, with a predominant facelift at the front including revised lights and bumpers, plus angular detail to the rear of the car making the overall appearance more aggressive yet contemporary, whilst also improving aerodynamic efficiency. The F430 also brought with it numerous styling cues as a nod to previous generation models, including the embossed exterior mirrors and those rear light clusters echoing the design of the mighty Enzo.

But as with all Ferraris, the biggest change was in the heart of the machine – power was up almost 100bhp over the outgoing 360, making the revised engine (up from 3.6 to 4.3 litres) a lively beast indeed.

As we began our journey on this cold winters day, the car is set to Race on the Manettino dial and the tail happy F430 immediately gave us a hint of its playfulness as the rear scuttled us onto an empty side road, with the engine song brightening the day. Big grins all round but, as ‘Race’ is not something we intend to do in this climate with no track in sight, I switch the dial down a notch into Sport mode. This provides a more civilised experience, with the car’s computers still allowing maximum enjoyment, whilst keeping the F430’s mischievous side in check. This all helps to inspire confidence when driving this car, even in damp conditions.

The photographer wanted to get some motion shots for this feature and requested that I drive as close to his camera car as possible so that the ‘perfect shot’ could be obtained. Now, “as close as possible” in Raid’s world means mere inches away from his rear bumper. Never before have my buttocks been quite so clenched, nor my reactive instincts so immediately primed to stamp on the brake pedal, as much as when driving someone else’s Ferrari that close to another car. Apparently, I still wasn’t close enough but our photographer was happy none the less.

Photos over with and it was time to enjoy the car on some country lanes. With my winter coat on, the F430 was absolutely fine with the roof down even with the chill in the air. There was little buffeting that I noticed, it didn’t feel cold and conversation was easy. That said, words were always halted when the boot was put down, as the F430 exhaust comes alive at 3,500rpm. The discernible difference in volume will guarantee you a smile every single time with that trademark growl of a modern Ferrari being ever-so present here. Not quite the screamer of the V8s from the past, but a hugely enjoyable sound nonetheless. What surprised me was just how good the stock exhaust was, where traditionally aftermarket versions are needed to fully extract the song of Maranello.

The F430 feels sure footed as you’d expect, with oodles of power available on demand. It can cruise or go bonkers as your mood requires. The steering feel of these cars is not in the same league as say a modern Porsche, where precision is in abundance, but it doesn’t detract from the experience. The F430 feels more like an all singing, all dancing event, packaged up and delivered to you on four wheels, rather than something designed to beat the world at the Nürburgring.

The interior has stood the test of time very well. It is a simple and effective design, a real driver’s machine. This particular car has a nice set of options, not least the Daytona seats and the ‘Carbon Driving Zone’, which gives the interior a race appearance. There is also a sat-nav should you get lost, but having to drive this car more than necessary to get to your destination would hardly be a bad thing. Outside this model features the Challenge grill and the ever-important Scuderia shields on the front wings.

As we arrive back at Vanrooyen HQ, Martin asks “What did you think of it then?”. “I love it!” is my smiley reply. “Like it enough to buy it?” he grins. Oh, I would if I could, Martin. It is the perfect spec Ferrari, Rosso Corsa with Crema leather and, being a modern car, could offer lower overall maintenance costs than previous models (the F430 is chain driven rather than the belts of old to maintain). Nothing stops a crowd quite like a pulsing red Ferrari on full chat. It stirs the soul in a way that other car manufacturers just can’t match.

The phrase “they don’t make them like they used to” has perhaps never rang truer than with present day cars, with their lower capacity engines mated to turbos or electric hybrids now ruling the roost. If you want a screaming engine, then previous generation models are where you need to look. And with Ferrari used values on the increase in recent times it could prove to be a relatively low cost ownership proposition too. Every petrolhead needs to experience the thrill of a Ferrari at some point in their lives, to wear a beaming smile on your face, courtesy of that unmistakable prancing horse.

Motorcloud: New Colours!

Hi everyone. I’ve had the orange colour theme for a few years now, and thought it was time for a change. Given the current fleet is red and grey, I’ve gone for.. red and grey! I’m still keeping with the same simple user interface, I hope you like it.

Screenshot of before and after of the website colours

Motorcloud Colour Change!

Cayenne Report: Airbag fixed and MOT

Cayenne Airbag Fault

Cayenne Airbag Fault

I took my car in to Porsche Euro in Barnsley to have a look at the airbag light. Reassuringly, during the phone call to book in John had said it is probably the connectors (a common fault) – and this proved to be correct!

The MOT also passed with flying colours, so is good for another 12 months.

John also read the fault codes on the car and finally the Cayenne has reported against the intermittent parking sensor issue – on my car it is the inner most right-hand-side sensor that is intermittently faulty. John has cleared the code and they are working again but I need a new sensor – about £40 plus fitting and painting. A job for another day, but good that we finally know which one it is! 🙂

In other news, I have also purchased a new Dyson vacuum cleaner, to sort out the mess in the car. Our current Dyson upright (DC55 – less than 2 years old) is absolutely shite, so we now have a cordless rechargeable jobby, which is ideal for cleaning the cars too! I’ll report back on how good is fares….

Beetle Life: Creaking door sorted.

Just to keep you all in the loop (and for those unfamiliar with the term, being in “the loop” simply means you are being updated, but us corporate clones like to loop people in because it makes us sound executive-y and powerful 🙂 )…

So, the Beetle was booked in for the door mechanism to be sorted and, as VW Leeds is close to nothing else in the world, I requested a courtesy car. What a ‘mare of inconvenience that is. You call through and, if you need the service department you go through to an anonymous call centre who then book you in. You don’t get to talk to the actual service dept. Now, I know that the job at had wouldn’t take very long. I asked if I could have a timeslot, maybe first job of the day, and I can be in-and-out without needing a car. “No”, is VW’s answer. Instead you have to book a hire car, get a pre-authorisation driving licence code number from the DVLA, take in your ID, wait for it to be copied, sign insurance papers, take the car for the day, the bring it back to collect your car, via the petrol station to put in what you think you’ve used.

Now, this all sounds like a first-world problem – and indeed it is. But it needn’t have been anyone’s problem if VW wasn’t so absolutely corporate. I can see why indi’s are preferred over main dealers who offer a far more personalised, custom service.

But the generic (and admittedly small) inconvenience aside, the process was pretty painless overall. I was booked in for a few weeks later, and a pretty simple process followed. When I arrived, there was a bunch of the staff all stood outside waiting for customers like me to get us on our way. As soon as I pulled up, they knew who I was and came over to greet me. I was ushered inside, signed the forms and taken to my courtesy car – a new Polo (quick review: A very nice little car, but if you are in the market, buy a Fiesta, it’s better). So perhaps 10 minutes of effort, not the end of the world. All very professional and corporate.

I returned later that afternoon once I had finished work to collect the Beetle and, as expected, the check-straps had been sorted and we no longer have any creaking. VW also noticed a nail in one of the tyres and repaired that for about £30 if memory serves correctly.

So, all good, and Beetle is back – in and out within the day. Sorted. 🙂

Cayenne Report: Airbag Fault

Cayenne Airbag Fault

Cayenne Airbag Fault

Ooooh, the little nuisance. We have a new light on the dashboard – one that won’t go away (unlike the “your side light is out” warning previously mentioned, which seems to have fixed itself, must have been a loose connection).

So it’s off again to Porsche Euro in Barnsley. I’ve not booked it in yet, so John will get a call from me next week. The Cayenne is due an MOT as well at the end of February, so my next update will probably include both of those.
A few things needed this year then for the ol’ grey tank:
• Fix the scratch I did last year (stupid, stupid).
• Needs a good clean. Starting to look too ‘lived in’.
• Sort out the airbag warning.
• Sort out the MOT.
• Retrofit Cruise Control – possibly. I’ve been doing a few long jaunts recently – and being drives in this car has made them really quite enjoyable too – but when I drive home in an evening, I do think cruise would be nice. However, that all depends on if the Cayenne stays with us long term.
We might refresh the fleet this year, but we’ll see. We’ve only had the Cayenne and the Beetle a year, with the latter covering about 1,000 miles so far. As such, I’m still very happy with the Cayenne, and wifey still loves her funky Beetle. But we do like shiny bling and so the magpies might go searching for new metal. Lets see what the year brings…

Cayenne Report: Service Time [again]

Well, it came around faster than I’d hoped or expected, but with the surprise extra of a 10,000 mile service required on a V6 Cayenne, it was back to Porsche Euro in Barnsley to have it sorted out. I’ve also recently had a headlight bulb blow (it tells you on the dashboard, which is helpful), so John kindly sorted that out for me too. Just shy of 120 notes later, and my car was serviced, oil changed and service book stamped. Happy days.

On the way to the service, there was a huge ‘thud’ on the roof as I travelled on the country lanes to Porsche Euro and it didn’t half make me jump. Nothing untoward with the car, so I presumed something had fallen on the roof from a tree above. A check at Johns place and it proved true – I’ve now got a dent in my roof.  . Not best pleased, but rather that than being my head in a convertible! Blimey.

Light Blown. Again.
Well, isn’t that typical. After John replaced my headlight bulb last week, the bloomin’ sidelight has blown on the same side tonight. I was tempted to have them all replaced at the time, as I find lights have a habit of all blowing in quick succession together but I didn’t bother. I watched John replace it though, and its a similar fare to 986 Boxsters, where you have to remove the headlight to replace. So I’ll have a go. Watch this space.

I am still extremely happy with the Cayenne, which for a car enthusiast who is always on the hunt for the next thing, gives me mixed emotions of elation that I don’t need to spend more money to satisfy a craving, but frustration that I’m not actively keeping up with the Jones’. I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy with a car before. Sure, its pretty old hat now, the external body (a shape that I do like), whilst pretty much immaculate (aside from my previous scrape driving it into the garage, which I still need to have repaired) is showing its age in design when parked next to newer cars and the tech inside definitely looks last-decade.  So that’s not cool to impress the neighbours, if you are bothered about such things. But, as I eased my 39 year old buttocks out of a sumptuous cream heated-and-cooled massage leather driving seat of an utterly wonderful, nearly new £90,000 Bentley (more on that in a future update), and plonked them back into my seven grand Porsche, I was surprised to find that getting back in the Porsche was not the come-down you’d expect. It was like putting on your favourite pair of jeans. No matter how luxurious the new pair, those old ones fit like a glove and are still as comfortable as anything new. The engine note is lovely on the Porker too. And whilst a new Cayenne (2009 on) undoubtedly offers more luxury, more refinement, space and comfort, I’m not convinced that it could really provide me £20,000 worth of extra happiness. As a guy who always wants to own the next-thing (keeps me working hard), this isn’t positive-bias talking, I’m simply yet to find something that’s actually worth the extra to change.

And that, in summary, suggests to me that these cars really are an absolute steal.

Happy motoring folks!

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