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The 911 Years: Gumball 3000 Manchester 2014

SCD Lineup at Gumball 3000 2014

SCD Lineup at Gumball 3000 2014

I’m still out on the car runs with Supercar Driver when time allows, and the latest venture was to support the Gumball 3000 rally in Manchester. That was a very surreal day. We travelled in convoy with a whole heap of sports and supercars towards the Manchester stadium. Waiting there were crowds and crowds of people, surrounding the cars and taking photos. The humble 911 was a shrinking violet amongst some ultra-rare and very impressive cars – including a Ferrari F40, Jaguar XJ220 and Alpha 8C, but it didn’t look too out of place either. A plus point was the priority parking and the backstage-pass allowing you into the area where the Gumball contestants arrived.

When directed to park on the entrance bridge, it certainly made me feel a bit like a fish-in-a-bowl and felt quite bizarre being so surrounded by people. I guess this is what being a celebrity or owner of a Ferrari or Lamborghini must feel like and in that regards, I’m more than happy with the anonymous Porsche!

Unfortunately, Gumball was massively late leaving Edinburgh on the day and many of their cars didn’t show as the Rally changed the Manchester stop from being ‘compulsory’ to ‘optional’. The ones that did arrtive were so far behind schedule a lot of people left much earlier than they arrived.

I think it was a bit of a let-down as despite the big stage and lots of presence, there was no music, no DJ or other crowd entertainment. As a consequence, there was quite a lot of praise for the SCD club for putting on a great display which would have otherwise been pretty much a washout of a day. But that said, the sun was shining and the SCD display was fab. There were plenty of people to talk to and I rather enjoyed it.


Event: Prestige Car Driver – Morning Meet

“Prestige Car Driver” is an invite only Facebook group, run by Autoshine Specialist detailer Tony Spears. It’s a small group of his customers and friends who get together occasionally to go for a drive. I attended the first event of 2014, but unfortunately it clashed with the Supercar Driver Gumball 3000 event, so I was only able to attend the first meet point to say hello and meet some fellow car enthusiasts.

It was certainly a good turnout with an interesting mix of cars. I’m told the run out was great fun and the weather held out too. Here are a few pictures of the morning meet point below. The multi-coloured TVR was particularly interesting. It was purchased as something of a “barn find” from a friend of the new owner. It had been stood for 10 years in the garden and needed a lot of work. It is a long term restoration project, but still attracted the crowds despite not being in pristine condition.

An Undiscovered Talent

So, one morning back in September last year, my daughter and I were doing the usual morning routine – largely comprising of playing with just about every toy she could get out of the toy box. One of those happened to be the Magna Doodle – Disney Minnie Mouse edition, no less.

I decided that, after drawing stick-men versions of Grandma, Grandad and the dog several times upon request that I’d have a go at a car instead. And in doing so, I revealed a talent I never knew I had….

Behold… the Escort Cosworth.


(For the young ‘un amongst you who haven’t immediately identified the car, you can clearly tell it’s a Cossie, due to the 3 door shape of the car and the large rear wing).

Then I thought I’d have a go at something more exotic. The classic Ferrari 355 Spider

sketch2Note the acute attention to detail here; pop up headlights, roof cover, 5 spoke alloys, and the SOS Box at the side of the road.

Realising I’m onto something here, I cast aside Mr Potato head and sent my two-year old on a distraction mission setting up a plastic picnic in the centre of the living room, I then decided to start copying from pictures on the web.

And here we have the Lamborghini Murcielago


And finally… The Porsche 911 Turbo (notice the Turbo vents on the sides and the rear spoiler??).


So there you have it. Awesome drawings. Awesome fun. I haven’t created any art since September but thought it was high time I put magnet to doodle and created some more one-off drawings. I put a request on Pistonheads to join in on my jovial talents and here were the commisions I did… 🙂

All in the name of fun. Hurrah!

Audi A4 Blog: Its Aliiiive!

It’s aliiiive!!

Audi Shed is once again back on the road. The issue was indeed a short-connection between the starter motor and the engine block. Fixed by Father in law, battery recharged all is well again. Hurrah!

So we are back on the road, but having several weeks using the other cars, it has highlighted just what a shed this car is. Its noisy, not particularly comfortable and the recent breakdowns have blighted it’s workhorse CV. The air conditioning is still spectacurlaly good though.

It only needs to go for another 12 months and then it’s changeover time. However my good lady wife has spied a nice Mini Convertible at the weekend, so it might depart before then…

For now though, back on track!

Audi A4 Blog: Problems, fixes, more problems..

The starter motor had been playing up on the Audi, and after the second time of failure, my brother in law (a mechanic by trade) collected the car to fix the starter motor with my father in law.

My Father in law asked for the MOT test sheet as well and whilst he had the car, he went through everything on there and fixed for me. Most kind! So, the upper and lower suspension arms were fixed too and whilst he had the wheels off checked the brakes. The front ones had about 3 miles left on them before disaster – there was almost nothing left on the brake pads and the front disks were heavily used. So new ones ordered and fitted too.

The starter motor was reconditioned and put back on, all good!


So great news, I picked the car back up yesterday and all was well.

Comparing the prices too, shows just how much DIY can save you as there is no markup or fitting charges;

(Quotes from a local garage)

  • Front disks and Pads supply + fit(£150). My price £32.50 (ebay)
  • Upper and lower arms supply + fit (£240). My price £54.00 (local parts-shop)

Total saving: £304


Very Not fixed.

Well, it is a bargain until;

Audi Broken!

Audi Broken!

Whilst travelling on the motorway at 70mph, the whole car simply shut down. The electrics went off, I lost power. There was nothing at all would work. I coasted to a stop, right next to the SOS box as it happens and put a call in via the Highways Agency to my breakdown provider AutoAid. Both teams were very efficient. I had a call back from AutoAid within 5 minutes confirming they had received the instruction and a truck would be with me within an hour. The Highways Agency called me back 5 minutes after that to check that AutoAid had called me. 5 minutes later and the recovery garage were on the phone to say someone would be with me by 7.15pm (45 minutes away). They arrived just 5 minutes outside of this time, so couldn’t complain really.

It was a lovely evening, so I just sat at the side of the hard shoulder and watched the world go by. It did perhaps highlight that the danger of hard shoulder running though. I believe that only a small percentage of people who stop on the hard shoulder actually need to be there but in this case I was definately one of them. And without any electrics (no brake lights, hazard lights) I had no way to warn anyone. Had this been 10 miles up the road where the hard shoulder would have probably been a live running lane the outcome could have been much worse.

When recovery arrived, he promptly put the car onto the trailer and towed the Audi to the next Services. From here he had a closer look at the problem. Believing it to be battery related, he tested it with a meter which showed the battery had 0.00 Volts in it. One very dead battery. However, the fact there was no warning of this and that it just died suggested a short somewhere.

Trying to revive the battery with a remote power pack let loose large sparks and the odd small fire. That also shorted out the power pack and that was the end of that! He towed the car back to my in-laws house and suggested that we remove the battery and try and charge it to see if there is any life left in it at all. He also noted that the connection points on the battery were still warm – even one hour after I had broken down. He found this unusual and thought something was shorting the battery – possibly the starter motor.

The starter motor, oh dear. My bro-in-law is going to have a look today at his handywork. I don’t know – you can’t get the staff. 😉

The 911 Years: Back to full strength.

A few minor points to note this week. The car was due a trip to Revolution specialists for a few bits and pieces sorting, but unfortunately I had to cancel due to problems with the Audi meaning the 911 took up daily duties. This meant a couple of pressing issues had to be addressed at home, rather than in a workshop. The first being that the headlight bulb has now been fixed. The lights were pretty straightforward to replace at the back tool; Unscrew the middle screw from the rear light cluster (using a torque screwdriver) and the whole thing pulls out. Then replace bulb, test and put it back in place. 5 minute job, happy days! 🙂

I have also completed my first fully fledged attempt at mechanicing a 911; I topped up the oil. I felt very proud, and slightly nervous as the electronic dispstick showed the level rising. “Don’t put too much in,” I kept thinking “Don’t over fill it”. It worked a charm though – slow and steady – so all is well again for a while. It had a good clean yesterday from the local car wash and its back in the garage ready for work duties over the next few days whilst the Audi is out of action (again – groan!).

In the meantime, here is a picture taken last summer of some of my daughters Friends after a successful day at the fair, which I found on the hard drive after sorting some photos last night. Meet Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy;

Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle in a Porsche 911

Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle in a Porsche 911



Event: Hassop Station Meet

Supercars parked up!

Supercars parked up!

It was a cold and wet day, but it didn’t stop a number of sports and supercars coming out to play for the early morning run through the Peak District, ending at Hassop station Cafe.

The run itself was a relaxed drive, as with a lot of standing water everyone was adding additional caution to what would ordinarily be some fantastic roads for picking up the pace.

We arrived at Hassop Station after around an hour’s journey and enjoyed breakfast there in a private area of the cafe. Everyone enjoyed the run and the social gathering, including a new member to the club, Darren, in his lovely red Ferrari 360.

It was great to get the 911 out to stretch its legs again, even it the roof did remain firmly closed the entire time!

Audi A4 Blog: MOT Results

The Audi went in for it’s annual MOT test on Monday and I’m pleased to say it passed. Hurrah!! Here is to more motoring fun with the Audi for a little while longer. 🙂

The 911 Years: Facelift Quandry

I’m fairly certain this car will now be a long term keeper, largely influenced by my two year old daughter who absolutely loves it. I mused maybe replacing it for a different ‘Porscha’ or instead a Ferrari, but both of these are met with a defiant “nooooo…. Keep the Porscha, Daddy”.

This decision would also keep Mrs Motorcloud most happy as, although this is her least favourite Porsche so far (suspension too harsh, engine too noisy), it means we can do house renovations with the spare cash. That said, I have done some sums on a brand new Cayman and the cost to change would work out cheaper than owning the current car, which makes it an interesting proposition – and a new running report!

Other options are still the 360 or a Maserati GT, but no – Porker will be staying. I’ve been driving it recently and it is still great fun – if a little anonymous. Having said that, I still felt a berk last week when on a nice summers day I took it to the local McDonalds. Roof down, PJ’s on (I’d had a lazy morning) and the McDonalds drive-thru queue was far enough back to the outside seating area – which was packed with students on their lunch break. One did feel a tad tittish as I waited, for what felt like an eternity, as the snail’s pace queue to slowly edged me forward past the students and into full view of the large windows housing everyone inside. Finally around the back one could get ones order and get out of there – but not before being made to wait for a few minutes in ‘bay 1’ whilst they made my order. So, McDonalds – thanks for that.

Buffoonery antics aside, my mind is pretty much made up – it’s a fun car and I don’t use it enough to be bored of it. It is expensive to maintain though. But it is mine. And come August, it will be ALL mine as the finance will be paid off. And that is a big, big plus.

Car Facelift – Quandry.

That now been all but decided, I was considering perhaps changing the look of the car and was thinking of having the car wrapped in purple. Just to be different. Maybe a set of Gen 2 alloys and some LED indicator lenses just to give it more personal, yet still relatively OEM, appearance.  Crucially, it can all be put back to standard as soon as the mood takes my fancy because in my opinion this is the best shape 911, with the best wheels and the best colour as it is.

911 on driveway

911 on driveway

Audi A4 Blog: A step closer to roadworthiness.

The MOT was duly booked in for Monday 28th April and it was decision time on the tyres. I opted for news ones as I could get these quickly and didn’t have to travel very far. Without an MOT and with a puncture I wanted it as local as possible.

Looking for prices online and Black Circles could supply and fit the tyres for £55 per corner. Kwik Fit could also do something similar but these had to be ordered. The only ones they had in stock at the local shop were Michelin’s – too posh for the Audi Shed and wouldn’t have been far off the price of the car by the time we’d done.

A final call, before hitting the button on Black Circles, was to my local MotoSave – handily just down the road from me. To my surprise they were actually cheaper than anyone else at £50.01 per tyre – and they had them in stock!

I checked the rear tyres and they were looking pretty close to wear too and the shop confirmed they were at 3mm. So whilst a bit of life left in them, I thought it was worth my time to just get them all done now and not have to worry.

Tyre pumped up again, only to find the battery was once again flat (playing in the cars again. Doh!) I put the thing on charge for a few hours then drove it down to Motosave.

I’ve now got a set of 4 budget tyres complete with oodles of tread from those rubber specialists Lanvigator!

Cost: £200.02.

MOT Monday, lets hope this doesn’t become a spiralling account of pounds, shilling and pence.

Audi A4 Blog: Problems afoot.

Unfortunately, this month there are a few problems to report. The first being that I discovered a puncture over the course of the weekend on the front tyre. I pumped this up but then wanted to take it to the garage for the electronic pressure gauge to get it to accurate pressure levels.

I turned the key but the car wouldn’t start! 🙁 Instead I was greeted with a whirring sound and nothing else. A quick call to my brother in law and he said it would likely be the battery or the starter motor. It turned out not to be the former so he came over and performed a type of bump-start which fix the problem. He said that the motor had probably ceased and the bump start forces the problematic component loose.

Great stuff! So Audi now starting happily again and still looking good from its clean a few weeks ago. But the tyre is flat again.

The next day I decided to head out to the local ATS for a puncture repair but the Audi won’t start again! This time it is the battery – perhaps caused in (large) part due to letting my two year old daughter ‘play’ inside the car whilst I was pumping the tyre up that morning (lights on everywhere, wipers, radio etc). I also discovered that night that the interior lights were permanently on, so that wouldn’t have helped matters either.

Battery conditioner plugged in a few hours later all is well again. Except that with one last check on the tyres I noticed they are getting pretty close to legal limit. And THAT then reminded me – finally – that I must check the MOT. The MOT sheet told me that I was well overdue – it ran out a month ago. Doh!!

So my Shedlife A4 will be booked in for its MOT tomorrow (and won’t be used until then), whilst I also check for some tyres. I’ve been told of a part-worn shop that offers tyres at half the price of brand new ones. So the question now is, part-worn’s for £25 each, or brand new cheapo’s for £51 each.

The 911 will be pulled from its slumber to take up daily duties whilst I get it all sorted over the next few weeks.

I’ll let you know what happens next…!

The 911 Years: Car Troubles

Just a few minor issues at the moment. Having recently discovered the car has headlight washers, I’ve tried them out but they don’t appear to be working. Also, the brakes are feeling a bit spongy so want to get that checked out.

The brake light bulb is also out and needs replacing. I’ve got a new one, but you need a star-shaped driver to get the light cluster away from the car and I haven’t got one. A friend of mine offered to lend a hand and, whilst trying to attach to the screwdriver, promptly dropped the star-end bit onto the inside of the bumper. A bit of rummaging around and it fell down a drain hole between the light and the bumper, so now I need a pro to do it. Honestly, can’t get the staff.

So that lot will be sorted when I take it down to Revolution Porsche in a few weeks time.

The 911 Years: Garage Painting – Part One

Repainting the garage has been on my to-do list since we moved in – that was getting on for 5 years ago. My plan was to first repaint the walls in white, and to have a red stripe and a red cupboard on the wall to match. I then wanted to have the black and white chequered floor put down to finish it off nicely.

The initial repaint of the walls was done a couple of years ago. Why the red stripe? I don’t know really, I just fancied it. At the time I had a red Cayman too so it kind of went together, but I like red anyway (most of my cars have been red) so that’s staying.

The next job was going to be the floor but I haven’t got around to it. A pre-requisite though is the paint the front section of the garage which you can still see when the garage is closed. I also needed to paint the step at the back.

It was a nice day today, so time to get cracking. The walls could probably do with another going over but hey, this is a garage – nothing happens in here other than to drive the car in and out, and occasionally go and get my screwdriver set for a bit of simple DIY (and by simple I mean things like unscrewing plastic toy covers to replace batteries). So to go overboard would be a bit silly. I want it to look nice, without going daft in such a small space.

First up was to give the place a good brush to get rid of the dirt, leaves and any uncovered spiders that have taken up residence in there. Here is a ‘before’ picture;

Garage Painting - before

Garage Painting – before

You can see the section that protrudes in front of the garage and it was looking pretty sorry for itself. Leaves all moved (also in the picture) and its time to get painting. About 30 minutes later and this is the result;

Garage Painting - during

Garage Painting – during

Step painted too (Door needs a repaint)!



It was a nice day, so I then left it for a couple of hours. When I checked it had gone sticky and was dry enough for coat number two which took about 10 minutes. The burning question at this point would be “Why on Earth have you only done that tiny bit?” Well, the principal reason for all of this is to do the front bit, so that when I put the chequered floor down, the concrete below will still look decent. Whilst doing this however, I realised how quick-and-easy this was and did consider doing the whole lot, until I read the tin which said not to park a car on it for three days. I’ve got about three hours, not three days, so will wait until the car goes in for some work.

I think I am going to finish it off though as it does look much nicer than it has done and freshens things up nicely in there. At least until I get around to buying the new flooring anyway. I was originally looking at Dynotile, but have since heard about Mototile and they also do skirting boards, so thinking of going for those types. Here is an example, although mine will be black and white rather than blue and white;

Mototile floor

Mototile floor


For now though, the pre-req work has been completed;

Garage Floor - after

Garage Floor – after

Part 2 coming soon!!


Addition, for information, this is the paint that I’ve used and I’ll let you know how it performs! 🙂

Wickes Garage Paint

Wickes Garage Paint

Audi A4 Blog: Audi Clean!

Orange Audi A4 1997

Orange Audi A4 1997

Well, after a period of prolonged illness which is now subsiding slowly but surely it’s got me thinking about germs. Furthermore, perhaps that as the Audi hasn’t had a clean inside or outside for about nine months, that maybe I should address that and get rid of anything that might be causing an irritation to the ol’ lungs.

Orange Audi A4 1997

Orange Audi A4 1997

As my innards are not fully fixed as yet, I decided to take the car to our local hand car wash. Now, our local guys are particularly brilliant and they are real hard workers. For five Great British Pounds the exterior of the car is worked on thoroughly. Starting with a degrease spray, the car is then jet-washed with a spray that could be used to overturn tanks should it ever be necessary. Once completed, the car is then shampooed top to bottom – including wheels – before being fully rinsed.

Next comes the wheel treatment whilst another guy hand dries the car. Guy number three appears momentarily armed with a window spray gun and all the exterior glass is polished. Once the wheels are done, it’s time to tackle the door shuts, and these are all wiped down whilst back-to-black is simultaneously pasted around the tyre walls. Oh, and you get a free air freshener and once you have collected five of these, you get a free wash too. All for five quid, amazing

Being my Shed, the Audi has never had such glorious treatment. In fact, I time myself when washing the trusty A4 and try to beat the previous effort; we are comfortably into single digits on the minute hand.

1997 Audi A4 Interior Beige

1997 Audi A4 Interior Beige

But today, its having a pamper session so I handed the guys an extra fiver and they get to work on the interior too. A complete vacuum (including boot) ensues, along with cleaning of all dash plastics and polishing the inside of all the glass.

The Audi did need a good clean to be honest and the difference is remarkable. Although I normally pride myself on having a fully-fledged shed, whose job it is to only be a shed, the exterior orange paintwork hides all manner of road dirt very well ordinarily, but now clean it positively shines. The interior has come up lovely, as best a 171,000 mile workhorse can do at least. The plastics are shiny black once again and there isn’t a speck of dust anywhere. It smells lovely too.

Coincidentally I’ve also found a more comfortable driving position after accidentally adjusting the height mechanism on the seats. We’ll see how that fares on the next long distance commute, scheduled for a few weeks’ time.

That aside, nothing major to report. It has hardly been used for about a month now due to this disease that just won’t let go but trusty Audi still starts first time. A small top-up of oil was required and the standard bi-weekly top up of water before taking it out and we are good to go once again.

MOT time soon though (I don’t know when, I must check this!) and I’m expecting a few things might crop up on there. I’ll keep you posted.

Evoque Blog: Service and Finance

So, a couple of things happened this month. The Evoque was due for its second service and along with this it had a new piece of window trim fitted to the rear passenger door. This black piece of plastic had always been slightly warmed on ours, so a new part was ordered.

This was fitted as part of the warranty and, as I have a service plan on the Evoque, this was also completed with no bill to pay.

Warnings from the service checks were the brake pads, which have reached 4mm at the rear, and one of the tyres is now down to 3mm. I think both of these have still got plenty of life left in them to be honest and to change would be slightly premature. I’m told the rear brake pads start at 10mm, with the fronts at 12mm with MOT fail at 1.5mm. At the close of summer I think I’ll get both front tyres and the rear brake discs sorts.

For now though, a clean bill of health. And a clean car too – LR give it a good wash as part of the deal.

In other news, as the Evoque is now 2 years old the finance agreement was ending with a balloon payment owed. Now, they wrote to us six months ago but since then nothing. Not a word of reminder. I realised, purely by chance when sorting out some papers at the weekend that I’d got two days left to pay!! LR Finance will automatically request the whole amount via direct debit at the end of the agreement. So we had two days to find twenty grand. No mean feat as most of our money is heavily tied up and can’t be quickly released.

If push came to shove, we could have got the money but I wanted to refinance the deal. A call to LR Finance and a conversation with the most disintegrated female operative I’ve ever spoke to meant they wouldn’t be getting any repeat business. I hung up and called the payments line instead and asked for a few days grace whilst I got the money in place. “No problem” they said, which was great.

In the meantime I called Tony at Supercar Finance. I’ve used them in the past and they are fantastic – and turned the whole thing around in 2 days!

So deal all done and we’re back at £250 per month for our lovely Evoque. Can’t grumble at that. 🙂

We had also considered upgrading the Evoque to a new SD4 Auto model, but with the bathroom deciding to eject water into the dining room a few weeks ago, that idea has been put on hold for 12 months. We were due a new bathroom anyway, so might as well go the whole hog and we’ll look at the cost of a new Evoque in 2015.

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