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"People who live their life in the fast lane usually arrive in a hurry." That's today's thought from my Harrogate MG Club diary as I dash into the Club HQ to fit writing my letter to you between appointments. Life is supposed to be quiet during the winter months and normally only hectic in our "silly season" - early Spring to late Autumn - but this year there has been no respite and it's official, Britain is busy and the recession is definitely over with regards to our favourite hobby.
People are rebuilding MGs again and the spares market is booming. It's because enthusiasts are realising that a nicely restored MG needn't cost the earth and is far better value than a straight from the showroom robot built hatch back. Actually you can cancel that showroom bit, having seen the thousands of new unregistered cars exposed to the elements on disused airfields all over Britain I wonder how new exactly is a new car? An MG Midget in top condition is easily obtained at under £4000. Around £6-7000 buys a great looking, solid and reliable MGB (but do check out the "solid" part) and members who have always craved an MG TD can find a selection of good usable models for around £10,000 or just under. RV8 owners made a good decision to buy their MGs. A low mileage second hand RV8 was recently sold by a Rover dealer for £28,000, that's for an MG costing new £26,000 in 1994 and worth secondhand a year later for between £19 - £21,000. But the real bargains at the moment are standard MGB GT V8s. They dropped in price to around £6,000 for a good sound car with excellent mechanics, a rebuilt body and underside and a very tidy interior, V8 prices haven't risen yet but I think that they will. If you have a craving for an MGA roadster, the prices are still high as European enthusiasts are still finding good ones in short supply. By far the best deals at the moment however are for MGB GTs in good condition. Early rubber bumper models being particularly attractive for around £3000.
Okay, this is my personal clear "authoritative" statement. Unless your cylinder head has been converted for unleaded fuel, use low lead fuel which has the numbers 4040 on the pump, not unleaded, nor LRG, (lead replacement gasoline).
Why? Because leaded fuel provides a lubricant to the valve seats which unleaded doesn't have. However, people can and do run unleaded fuel in unconverted engines and report no immediate problems (the long term is a different story however). Others have tried unleaded and reported poor running, overheating and pinking problems (tinkling sounds under load). Practical Classics magazine conducted a test of the Powerplus gadget. Carbonflo also promised that using their tin pellets would enable leaded fuel engines to run unleaded. The case for Powerplus and Carbonflo was not proved and it is my opinion that fitting these and other "miracle" products is a waste of time and money. At low speeds and with gentle driving, a lead only engine will run on unleaded but at continuous high speeds (motorway use - not world record attempts) the valve seats wear out causing loss of power.
It is possible to run unleaded fuel in your engine Ian. If you find it overheats or pinks, try retarding the ignition a few degrees and whilst you'll suffer a slight loss in performance your MGB may run quite nicely. If you drive sedately and don't do any long distance 70mph work, your head might go on for many more miles but if you regularly use the MG on motorways and keep up with the company reps, then don't cry if you need your cylinder head replaced in a few months time.
With regard to Carbonflo and Powerplus, thankfully they have seemed to cease their advertising and multi level marketing techniques. But we have seen adverts for what seems to be a Carbonflo replacement called Broquet and the claims are similar. If you ask if we recommend Broquet, the answer is no, if you are considering becoming a Broquet distributor and taking an advertisement in Enjoying MG, the answer is also no, we wouldn't accept it.
The advertisement attracting orders reads much like one of those offering "be a Millionaire in three months, my book shows you how. Money back if not delighted" type publications. I therefore eagerly awaited the arrival of my Driver's Survival Handbook ignoring whether the apostrophe meant that the book was for one driver or for all, and I was mildly disappointed when I tore open the envelope to find a small, fairly thin 56 page A5 booklet which would cost a couple of pounds to print. Still that didn't bother me too much, it's information that counts and if you offered me a small piece of toilet roll with next week's winning lottery numbers for a mere £50,000 I would snap up the bargain, especially if you guaranteed a refund or if I didn't have to pay you until after I'd won!
I'm not, of course, a dangerous driver nor even a bad one. Well I don't think so but I could get caught doing 38 mph in a 30 limit as my wife did and berate the unfairness of it all, or I could be involved in a minor accident and suffer a careless driving summons. Could this ex bobby really tell me how to get off - Well er. . . no, he can't. But boy can he teach me how to grovel.
It took me a hour and a quarter to read the book from cover to cover and I learnt that once penalty points had expired I could legally get a clean licence by saying I'd lost it, or washing it in my jeans pocket and paying the relevant fee and completing a standard form. How to combat radar traps? In two words, you can't, except of course to slow down which is the advice offered if you pass over one of those white painted squares on the road and see a policeman timing you to the next white square. There are explanations as to how speed traps work and the news that they must be tested properly, but can I honestly expect to insist on copies of test certificates when being booked or later? Perhaps not. The "clever trick" to cancel parking tickets was eagerly read. I got a ticket recently in Cambridge having overstayed ten minutes on a pay and display. At last, this book would save me the 20 fine. But the advice was to write in offering a excuse and hope that the clerk would think that it's not worth proceeding. I'd actually done that anyway as the machine failed to accept my pound coin and only took my 50p so maybe I will get off. I'll have to wait and see. Aha! Here's a good tip worth the cost of the book. If I park my car illegally and you collect it, if a policeman or warden books you and takes your name and address, don't tell them that you didn't park the car, let them think it. Then later send in the ticket with the revelation and as two tickets cannot be issued for one offence, we'll both get off. That sounds good but suppose there was already a ticket on the car, the dodge wouldn't work then. Having read that it's best to be polite and reasonable to police officers and not to antagonize them by saying "come on don't you ever speed" I wonder if I'd feel more confident next time I see a flashing blue light in the mirror. I think not.
The Driver's Survival Handbook is an interesting read and if you are the sort of offender who berates policeman "Haven't you got any real criminals to catch?" then I advise that you cough up your £19.95 and become more philosophical. But if you'd like a really cheeky tip a police friend of mine once told me that the best comment he received to his "Anything you say will be taken down..." was "Please don't hit me again officer!" But I don't recommend that you try it. The Driver's Survival Handbook is published by Streetwise Marketing 01709 820033 at £19.95 with a 90 day money back offer if not satisfied.
Needless to say, very few customers cashed their cheques.
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