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Get set … (2)

Well, this particular mission has been accomplished. After finding the vehicle on eBay and speaking to the vendor, Steve Talbot, arrangements were made for it to be collected today, Saturday 25th May. So, on a fine and very pleasant spring morning I made the ‘bus trip from home to the centre of Blyth, then from Blyth to the ‘bus station in Newcastle (Haymarket), then from the adjacent ‘bus station (Eldon Square) to the train station, then from Newcastle to Birmingham, then from Birmingham to Wolverhampton, then finally from Wolverhampton to Telford – by ‘bus! Yes, the train service to Telford was “off” and the large number of passengers, including yours truly, had to troop to the not-so-adjacent ‘bus station. Here’s where the ‘buses (actually coaches) deposited us, and you can see one of the fleet reflected in the station façade.

A quick call to Steve and he arrived very promptly to pick me up and take me back to his home:

… and without any hesitation the deal was sealed:

… which means the team now has a rally car to prep!

The 250-mile drive back to Blyth gave an opportunity for a bit of performance testing. First, I took her to ASDA Telford to fill the tank to the brim with petrol. BIG mistake – I should have gone to another supermarket instead! The designer of the layout was obviously a direct descendant of the designer of Hampton Court Palace maze. There’s nothing more annoying than to be able to see your destination – indeed, to drive past it within biscuit-toss – but be completely unable to get there. Eventually, I made it, filled the tank and adjusted the tyre pressures. The odometer read 156562 and off I set at 17:51.

She turned out to be a pleasure to drive with a really willing engine. I tried to keep her on the top side of an indicated 70mph on the motorway, and as fast as conditions and speed limits allowed elsewhere. Even at 70mph in 5th gear there was a noticeable surge and poke in the back when putting the foot further down. The route was a mixture of urban driving getting out of Telford and into Blyth and A-road driving to and from the M6/M62/M60/M1/A1(M) motorway combination. She ate the miles magnificently and I did not feel at all fatigued after arriving home.

The first port of call in Blyth was the local ASDA for another fill-up. This time the odometer reading was 156809, giving an elapsed mileage of 156809 – 156562 = 247 miles. It took 25.19 litres to fill her up again, which is 25.19/4.546 = 5.54 gallons. Thus the fuel consumption for the trip was 247 miles/5.54 gallons = 44.6mpg which I reckon is quite respectable. Possibly we could nudge 50mpg with less “press on” driving.

As for average speed, it took 4 hours and 19 minutes to do the trip, not counting a couple of rest stops to exercise the limbs, take on calories and undertake other necessities related to fluid balance. This gives an on-the-road average speed of 57.2mph. Despite maintaining a healthy near-limit speed on the motorways there were other roads to bring the average down, and indeed an extensive 50mph speed limit due to road works on the M62.

All in all, very favourable first impressions. Coupled with the safety and comfort features already mentioned (PAS, ABS, air con etc etc) and the incredible price of just £249 (right at the limit laid down in the rules) this seems to be an ideal car for the rally. If she lasts the course (and at 150,000+ miles I have to say in all honesty she’s seen her best days) she’ll do us proud. Steve, my boy – you done good!

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Get set … (2) from Monte Carlo - or bust!