Rallying to the cause

A long weekend of frenzied Marcos activity, starting with a trip down to Marcos Heritage Spares on Thursday afternoon, where my cracked windscreen was due to be replaced (Insurance job thank God). I left the car with them at 1500 hours having been informed that they’d need the car a full twenty four hours (I’d thought it was just overnight) & set off in their courtesy car – a Land Rover (LM90?) which brought back some memories of the Army! I got as far as Semington (about a mile away!) before I pulled up outside the Somerset Arms, booked myself into a wonderful B&B next door (16th C manor house, lovely hostess) & settled down with a book & a pint(s) in the sun. And on a workday! Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful. Highly recommended to anyone who needs to leave their vehicle at MHS.

Friday morning I drove into Trowbridge, picked up a paper & then drove past MHS to find an out-of-the-way pub by the canal to have lunch at & continue reading in the sun. God it made a nice change from work I can tell you. Anyway finally it was 1600 hours & I returned to MHS where I picked up the Mantis with its pukka new screen. The fit was much better than the previous one (also fitted by MHS, & last of the original Finnish screens) & sat nicely flush against the surround. I was delighted. MHS had also cleaned the car as I’d mentioned I was going straight to the CMI rally near Coventry, & duely charged me their standard £40/hour rate(!). The owner, Rory, mentioned that I should be careful with the amount of stone chips I had on the fornt of the car when jet washing it. However, I did not fully appreciate the implications of his comment until I was at the hotel that evening, where I noticed that two areas of paint had been removed on the front spoiler & one on the nearside front wheelarch – while they had been cleaning the car! I was (& still am) extremely unimpressed with the fact that this was not pointed out to me properly at the time. Having spoken to MHS on the phone about this since, they have offered to ‘sort it out’ but hey, I’m 250 miles away so what does that tell you? Who the hell jet washes a fibreglass car at that pressure anyway? MHS should know better than anyone about looking after Marcos… Anyway, that rather took the edge of the nice couple of days I’d had.

Saturday saw the (empty) threat of rain but the Club Marcos International 2005 Annual Rally started with a seemingly random tour of Cotswold roads. Apparently there was actually a planned route but as I didn’t have a passenger (therefore no navigator) I was just following the various flavours of Marcos that appeared in front of me, & was quite happy that way. It was a great (and dry) day & lots of fun, followed by a couple of drinks back at the hotel & a nice meal with about thirty other Marcos owners. Sunday saw a soggy convoy head off for the rally venue, the Heritage Motor Museum at Gaydon, Warwickshire. I managed to stick it out with the hood down until we actually got to the museum, but by this time it was belting down & the hood was quickly put up. Predicably I never made it into the museum as I spent time catching up with various people as they arrived in their cars, with my location of choice for chattering not suprisingly being… the Cafe! Bone dry, & with an infinite supply of cakes! Mid afternoon two things became obvious; firstly that no other cars were going to turn up & secondly than the rain was only going to get heavier! I reluctantly set off home with fellow Cheshirite Johnny (black 3L – sweet!) but of course we only stuck together for a few miles before he failed to see my desperate headlight flashing as we approached the first Services, & while I peeled off for some sorely needed petrol, Johnny roared off into the spray oblivious to my plight! I don’t know what the law is called, but there is a Murphy’s law-type thing which says that Marcos cannot travel in convoy for more than about 20 feet before getting split up… An hour late I pulled onto a roundabout in deepest, darkest Stoke only to see Johnny appear from my right from a completely different direction – bizarre! Anyway I took the opportunity to drop the hood again as the rain had eased off a bit, & had a splendid if slightly moist last hour driving through glistening Cheshire countryside along the A34 with Johnny pounding along behind. All in all a fun rally despite the monsoon conditions on the second day, & I’m looking forward to the joint CMI/MOC rally next year already!