The car remains with Lee in Warminster, with steady progress on the chassis. We have a call to discuss progress about once a month or so, but neither of us are great at remembering to contact the other so it can be longer. The weather has been awful in the North West with few if any of those crisp, sunny Winter days that I enjoy driving in so much - hood down, obviously! So... I'm not missing the car right now. The Marcos forum continues to give me my Marcos fix most days. I suppose I can empathise a bit more now with those owners who have to do without their cars for months (years, frequently) while they restore them. My LM500 chum in Todmorden continues to have a super-charged (but non-running) car sitting in his garage which must be even more frustrating for him than me with the Mantis. At least I know something's happening on my car - poor old Caz seems to have run up against a brick wall with his ECU problem, & I gather the manufacturer is being a bit arsey, not returning calls & so on. It's a crying shame because with the colour-coded rear wing it will (sadly) outshine the Mantis & totally totally deserves to be out on the road. Although Caz remains very philosophical about things, I suspect his experiences as a passenger in the Mantis at last year's Le Mans 24 Hour came nowhere close to the pleasure he has got from taking his own car over there in previous years.
Then, of course, there is the question of enlarging the garage entrance to fit the Mantis in. God, I hate dealing with builders.
The rest of 2008
Several months later Topcats have partially taken the engine apart but have been unable to identify a reason for the engine failure. Failure it is as the advice has been not to attempt a rebuild using my original engine due to the excessive wear on the majority of the components. (Quote "It looks like it has done 150,000 miles, not 53,000"). The next step is to source a replacement engine which I initially assumed woul dbe a reasonably straightforward endeavour, however the 96-98 version of the engine seems to be in short supply, & despite being offered several brand new 99-02 versions at a very reasonable cost, I am wary of going this route as at the time I was not aware of anyone else having fitted that version, & a fixed budget meant 'development costs' were out of the question. I considered fitting an LS3 but despite it's significantly improved performance & current availability, the cost would be between £7K & £10K which is not an option. This is a crying shame as it would really bring the Mantis back up to date, but...
I recieve a call from Warren at TopCats to tell me they've gone ahead & fitted one of their spare race engines! This was discussed a few months previously but I'd decided to pursue a new engine instead, as the history & condition of any race engine would be a bit of an unknown for me, so I was understandbly a bit taken aback. However, Topcats are offering me the engine for £1500 (plus fitting) which seemed pretty reasonable & the fact was that I wasn't making any significant progress elsewhere, so I guess the decision has been made for me! I've spent everything on getting the chaiis sorted, so anything new will be financed via a loan, so I bit the bullet & asked Topcats to get a replacement set of Air Con hoses made up. This is done but then highlights a hole in the A/C rad. Bugger!
Collected the car from Topcats in November. A quick 3 minute drive up & down the strip outside the Topcats premises reveals a fantastic exhaust note (& the previous one wasn't bad!!!). Warren extolls the virtues of the replacement engine, but in reality despite having driven 35K miles on the original one, all I can remember at the time is the horrible juddering as it staggered back to Zeebrugge from the Le Mans Classic six months earlier. I am (excessively) eager to get back in the car: the cheque is written & I set off home.
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