Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Tell us your ongoing tales and experiences with your French car here. Post pictures of your car here as well.

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Over the weekend we were helping a friend move out of their house (not moving, but they're having a wholesale renovation done) so didn't have much opportunity to do anything - and am now quite broken from the physical work involved... especially as I went into it already with a duff wrist and cracked ribs!

I was very, very glad to hand this modern mess back on Monday morning.

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Horrible, horrible thing to drive. Though it has reminded me that I keep meaning to get a set of wide angle blind spot mirrors for my van as they are really nice to have.

Never driven a modern Transit I didn't hate. Really would like to try an 80s one to see how it compares to my Merc one day. Far prefer a proper old Merc T1 a modern Sprinter, but I'd take a Sprinter over this thing any day of the week.

Main things that drove me round the bend:

[] Horrible heavy, clunky gearchange (keeping in mind I've a knackered left wrist just now).

[] Dash is way too high which makes the front end blind spots twice the size they should be. I've never felt like I actually needed front end parking sensors on a van before!

[] Brakes are simultaneously spongey as all hell *and* basically have zero progression... they're on or off. This is made twenty million times worse because the pedal is so far up off the floor that you can't rest your heel on the floor and operate it...so you have to hover your foot on it like the clutch.

It is basically impossible it move smoothly at low speeds...which you do a lot of in a van. That brake pedal is one of the daftest bits of design I have ever come across.

[] Touch screen. Yes, everyone wants inbuilt sat nav these days...fair enough. However this one really ticks me off because it has essentially no off button. There is a button which will (after three presses) blank it...but it immediately springs back to life every time you restart it, change the blower speed, switch anything on/off, open a door or someone walks close enough to the front of the van at a crossing to trigger the parking sensors. It then doesn't go back to sleep...you have to manually turn it off again. Oh...and it's black text on a white background - even at night. Thanks Ford...great design.

[] Why are there no grab handles to help you climb into the cab? My spine would really have appreciated that...

[] The 3000rpm rev limit in first gear is sheer insanity. I just stopped using first gear because it made getting out into a busy junction or roundabout safely near impossible.

Rental van specs still make me scratch my head. Remote central locking, full Bluetooth connectivity etc, sat nav, heated front windscreen, auto folding electric mirrors, cruise control, but no air conditioning! C'mon guys it's 2021... wouldn't surprise me if they'd specifically deleted that...

Oh, and the synco on 3rd gear was crunchy...with 4700 miles on the clock! That doesn't instill much confidence.

Anyhow, I'm pretty much knackered and reckon it will be a good few days before I'm back to my usual levels of productivity. I did manage half an hour in the garage yesterday...well about 15 minutes actually before my body made it abundantly clear that it wasn't amused at the idea!

I've started on the 2000 mile checkup on TPA. We're within 150 miles now and it's no biggie if there's a few miles between things.

First check was on the spark plugs. These have been in there since I first started reviving the engine in KPL.

Nearside:

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Offside:

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Nothing concerning there I feel. Gap was still perfect so they were put straight back in - will have another look in another thousand miles.

It looks like the collection mission for the new arrival will be happening this weekend, most likely driving up on Friday afternoon and coming back on the Saturday as that's just when my lift is available.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by mickthemaverick »

Although I am not as vehement as you about the transit Zel, I do agree in principal about the design. Nowadays when needed, I hire a Citroen Despatch from Trafic Van Rentals in Park Street. My last hire being the trip to move my mate from Mallorca to mainland Spain which I documented at the time. By contrast I found the despatch an excellent tool for the job and thoroughly enjoyed the driving on that trip!! :)

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Why yes, I did just do a Costco run by Invacar.

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Only a small one admittedly and 95% of it for other people, but nevertheless I'm sure a lot of people would have thought I was crazy.

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Granted, I think a lot of people think I'm crazy for driving it at all!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by NewcastleFalcon »

Zelandeth wrote:
14 Jul 2021, 16:21
Why yes, I did just do a Costco run by Invacar.
..and as ever it would have been the most interesting vehicle in the Costco car park without doubt! :-D

REgards Neil

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Few tools packed in case of issues....

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We're well on our way now, reckon there's another three or four hours driving left.

First time I've been a passenger for any real time in as long as I can remember!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by NewcastleFalcon »

If you are heading up the east coast have a good look out of the window as you head through England's finest County just before you cross the border...which isn't driving over the Tweed..its an anonymous couple of laybys a couple of miles north of Morrisons....Berwick-upon-Tweed is still part of Northumberland for now :?:

Regards Neil

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Had a relatively uneventful trip up north today despite some really odd spots of heavy traffic. Managed to arrive within 30 minutes of our target time though.

To collect this.

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This is the latest addition to my little fleet. She's a 1986 230TE.

A W123 has been on my wish list for as long as I can remember however I'd tended to think that they had spiralled utterly beyond my price range - especially for the estates, which really are the only ones I could ever make make sense in our family - a saloon just doesn't offer me the necessary flexibility.

This example is quite careworn around the edges in a few places and definitely needs a bit of TLC, but seems generally fundamentally solid underneath it all.

Safely made it to our overnight stopover point.

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First thing I did was to straighten the emblem as it was sitting crooked and being able to see that from the driver's seat was making my teeth itch.

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Figured doing a fluids check tonight made sense so we can just go in the morning (assuming we don't come back to a huge lake under the car anyway). Initially this was foiled by the bit of wire which serves as the secondary bonnet release lever came off in my hand.

I did briefly consider taking the approach of "Let's just do the right thing and pretend we didn't see that... it'll be fine..." Before telling myself to stop being daft. First up, 300+ mile drive tomorrow. Secondly, you've played this game before with a friend's W123 so you know full well that it takes 30 seconds to resolve. Thirdly you've already been made aware that this car has a couple of oil leaks. Sure enough a minute of peering through the radiator grill to remind myself how the latch worked and we were in.

Yep... checking that was worthwhile.

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Much better.

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Coolant was also a touch low. Not drastically, but with 28C forecast tomorrow I figure the more help I can give it the better.

We'll just be taking it easy wherever possible on the way home.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Gibbo2286 »

My experience on one of those was that the Germans were still fighting. :) I did a top overhaul on the engine, just finished torqueing the head bolts down turned around and one of them sheared of with a bang like a gun going off, it put a dent in my garage roof, good job my face wasn't in the way. :shock:

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

386 miles later she is safely home.

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So, so nearly made it without incident. We made really good time, after two checks en route to make sure we weren't losing any fluids we were quite happily bowling through the last stint, when on mile 372 of 389, four miles before our exit from the M1 we hit stationary traffic, out of the blue.

At which point we were parked almost motionless for 40 minutes, save for a couple of six foot creeps. On a 29C day, in direct sunlight, being blasted by the output from the radiator of the bus in front of us.

Approximately 39 minutes and 30 seconds into the wait, the engine stopped...and refused to restart...right as the traffic started moving off. In lane 2, on a bit of motorway with no hard shoulder...nor even any provision for pedestrian egress unless I fancied trying to clamber over s six foot tall concrete barrier wall.

Mercifully after about five minutes (however long it took me to get through to the police to report the issue I was causing), she restarted as though nothing had happened.

It felt like classic fuel vapour lock...which I've never personally come across on an injected engine before, but it would be theoretically possible I'd think with a continuous injection system like this as the injectors are essentially poppet valves. There is one thing I will definitely do though related to this incident will be to find the ignition amplifier, clean it up and apply fresh heatsink compound between it and whatever it's bolted to as if that overheated it could have caused our spark to drop out.

Never lost a drop of coolant nor overheated...got warmer than I'd generally like because I'm always wary of overheating, but nowhere near "in the red."


Just really lucky the traffic never got above walking pace until after I got the car going again.

Given the absolutely absurd number of dead cars littering the motorway today though I absolutely don't begrudge her having a momentary temper tantrum. It was pretty much exactly the sort of scenario you'd use for stress testing.

Other than that five minutes of mild panic though she ran absolutely perfectly the whole way.

I fuelled up just before calling it a day so I could calculate my economy, coming out at 30.2MPG. Not exactly going to win any prizes but perfectly acceptable.

Observations:

For all she looks a little care worn cosmetically in a few areas she actually drives incredibly well. The waft is strong with this one. She does have a decent turn of pace though when asked.

It took me until departing the toll booth on the M6 Toll to discover the front seat arm rest...and about another ten minutes to figure out how to deploy it.

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That huge, carpet lined cubby where most cars would have the handbrake is absolutely brilliant. I am going to miss that in everything going forward!

Why don't more cars have sunroofs this big?

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Cabin is generally a nice place to be...resecuring a couple of bits of trim, sorting the front and rear trim panel headlining and a really good clean will transform it.

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Really good rear legroom.

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Boot space is absolutely massive...this must be twice the size of the boot in the Lada which is the only other estate I've owned to date.

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It's the best part of 15 years since I last drove a W123...and I've definitely been reminded why they have such a strong following...they are cracking cars to drive. Not massively engaging, but a lovely way to waft around.

Really does feel in a lot of ways like a German Saab...and I mean that as a huge compliment.

Definitely glad to have bought it.

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The single combined indicator/wiper stalk is something I'm absolutely used to (and like) from the van... though it's on the opposite side of the column. I'd just about stopped flailing around into my keyring when cancelling indicators about the time we got home.

Had forgotten how nice and purposeful a growl these engines make higher in the rev range... it's that perfect blend of refined yet purposeful.

Issues we need to look into:

[] Aforementioned engine cutout incident...clean up, re-thermal goop the ignition amplifier module. In honesty an electric booster fan to help keep under bonnet temps down in traffic wouldn't be a bad thing these days.

[] Oil leaks. Rocker cover is definitely leaking...will sort that, clean up then see what else we find.

[] Valve clearances need setting I think as the top end is a bit tappy. I need to take the rocker cover off anyway so a good time to sort them. Sounds more like valve train than timing chain. It's a bit strange a setup on these engines as they have a central can which is completely hidden under the rockers, but I've done it before so no worries there.

[] Driver's seat base needs some help, feels like the springing has partly collapsed.

[] Secondary bonnet catch release handle is broken.

[] Electric adjustment for nearside mirror doesn't work.

[] Missing pin in NSF interior door release handle.

[] All four door locks loose in doors... already sorted. They all close with the proper solid thud now...love the noise they make, very reminiscent of Volvos.

[] In gear idle is a tad low.

[] Minor exhaust blow from somewhere.

[] Propshaft UJ wants either greasing or replacing as it clonks a bit when switching between drive/reverse.

The brightwork will be getting s polish shortly too...that alone will probably make quite the difference.

Something I always enjoy is nightime dash lighting photos so of course had to grab one. Once I replaced the one blown bulb in the heater blower knob anyway.

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Will need to revisit this as the illumination in the button panel above the heater doesn't seem to work currently.

Looking forward to getting stuck into that to do list!

Expect a couple of dozen photos tomorrow.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Hell Razor5543 »

She looks lovely, and huge! How many time zones does she occupy? :D

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by white exec »

Electric cooling fans or mechanical?

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

white exec wrote:
19 Jul 2021, 07:12
Electric cooling fans or mechanical?
Mechanical - albeit with an electromagnetic clutch rather than viscious coupling - which I think works fine as the temperature was rising/falling just like you'd expect. Just unnerving to ever see the gauge on a car you don't know too well ever getting above halfway I find.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Little very mild tinkering before I went out to run some errands this afternoon.

Step 1 was to implement a slightly more robust solution to the broken secondary bonnet catch pull than the bit of bent wire on it.

Cable tie to the rescue.

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Which I can tuck back into the grill to make it slightly less conspicuous when not in use.

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Of course I remembered about 30 seconds after this that I have some grey ones in the garage. Meh, it will do for now, the broken bit will be getting replaced eventually anyway.

While I was under the bonnet there were some checks to make. First up, how much oil did we use during the run down yesterday?

A sufficiently tiny amount that it doesn't show on the dipstick. Not going to complain at that!

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Coolant hasn't moved either, which is pretty impressive given the conditions yesterday.

On the subject of coolant the radiator isn't in the best of condition. It's serviceable (if she held temperature yesterday she should do under any situation) but I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for a replacement.

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While the oil is a bit grubby the air filter looks pretty much new so I'll leave that alone for the time being.

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The spring clips on the airbox are wicked strong so I quickly learned to keep your knuckles out of the way when releasing them...ow.

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Fuel metering plate could do with a clean though. This ideally wants to be cleaner than a hospital operating table after it's prepped for surgery.

Just having a general poke around the engine bay I discovered that the power steering pump has an integrated reservoir...

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This was a surprise as that's what I'd (for no particularly good reason) assumed the oil reservoir on the offside front wing was for.

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After a little head scratching I remembered reading something about the estates having self leveling suspension on the rear...so that will be what this is for then. All I know so far is it looks like we have a camshaft driven pump and that the pipework disappears downward in the general vicinity of the brake master cylinder.

I was wanting to renew the thermal compound under the ignition amplifier, I was expecting to find this on the nearside inner wing...which was exactly where it was.

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The heatsink compound under it wasn't horrible but was clearly just starting to break down and go chalky in a couple of places.

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This was cleaned off and replaced with new good quality stuff. I do note that the O-rings on the wiring connectors are badly perished so will need to change those - especially as a date with the degreaser is definitely in the future of this engine bay.

First lesson I learned during the trip out today...if you brake fairly firmly at speed, the sunroof will slide shut and scare the bejeezus out of you. Will check to see if it can be locked in the open position next time...never occurred to me.

She really is a nice car to waft around in and really does look classy.

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Really does have proper presence on the road too.

A long term fleet member? Bit hard to say so early on...but my gut feeling is that she may well be.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Just as a bit of background to the "thermal incident" during the trip home, this is the highest the temperature gauge ever seems to get to, in stop/start town traffic today with 30C ambient temperatures.

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It gets that far, then drops back down to just below that mark on the gauge over the course of a minute or two, then just repeats that cycle. Presumably as the (electromagnetic) clutch on the fan cuts in/out. Temperature when actually driving seems to sit at a fairly solid 85-95C. So I don't think she's overheating, rather something just took exception to being hot.

Having scared myself half to death yesterday when the sunroof slammed itself shut (it's unsurprisingly heavy!) under braking I had a closer look today. It can indeed be locked in place when open...not sure why this never occurred to me before.

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Will try to remember to do that in future to avoid giving myself a heart attack again. Speaking of the sunroof, yes that locking/pull handle is indeed as satisfying to operate as it looks like it should be.

While the stereo fitted was relatively recent it lacked Bluetooth connectivity. Given that this is a car I plan to use regularly this was a must have, and I figured I may as well just get it swapped out now while I'm waiting for some service parts to arrive.

Pulling the old one out revealed that the cage wasn't actually anchored to the dash at all and typically 80s stereo wiring.

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The fact that by wiggling the wires I could make channels cut in and out confirmed that I needed to remove the tape and properly connect these wires together.

By the standards of modern stereos the new one is not massively blingy at least.

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The display colours on this unit are fully customisable and you can separately set it for the display and buttons. So I went with warm white for the display and red for the buttons, matching the heater controls directly above.

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Far better than the bright blue gaudy thing it replaced anyway.

Haven't fitted the hands free mic or DAB antenna yet, will come back to that when I have more time and it's less than 29C in the shade. In fact I've not even turned the volume up to see how good or otherwise the speakers are, as they may well be the next thing to see attention if they're poor. Even sticking with the stock sizes there can be huge improvements to be had, speaker tech has come a long way in recent years. Don't worry, no holes are getting cut, everything will be kept behind the factory grills.

It did reveal that the centre console doesn't actually appear to be attached to the rest of the dash...so that's something else I'll need to add to the to do list for investigation.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, BX, Jag XJ-S, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth »

Had a proper nose around in the engine bay today for the first time since I picked the Merc up, when a very basic check of "does it have oil and water in?" was done.

Immediate thing which just leaps out at me is how much room there is around the engine on all sides.

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Even behind the engine there's about a 6" gap.

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Anyone notice anything missing there?

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Yep, missing a manifold nut. Looks like the threads are a bit chewed up so we may wind up with a few washers involved. I'm inclined to just leave the stud alone rather than breaking it trying to remove it for replacement. I *have* a spare head and manifold here but I'd rather not have to mess around swapping parts over between them if I can avoid it.

Looks like radiator replacement will need to be moved up the list a bit. Not lost any measurable amount of coolant, but the top tank to core seal is definitely weeping.

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Will have a dig around and see what I can find. If there's a drop in all-metal replacement I'd rather go that way as I'm really not a fan of plastic tanked radiators. Having said that I'm kind of curious to see if I can find any date codes on it to see how old this one actually is.

First mechanical job though is definitely going to be setting the valve clearances in the hope the rattle is slightly reduced.



As soon as the new rocker cover gasket arrives (a whole £18 from the dealer - going rate on eBay looked to be £20-25) I'll get that done. Then drown the whole engine bay in degreaser and blast the worst of the crud off, as it's honestly disgusting. Every time you touch anything you get covered in oil.

Did notice one nice detail in the engine bay that I'll need to try to remake...you know all that technical info for servicing you're likely to need? Spark plug type and gap, timing details, valve clearances...all right here on the slam panel.

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Nice little detail to find. Just a shame it's so faded...wonder if someone sells reproduction engine bay sticker sets for the W123...

Made a run over to the Formula 1 in Newport Pagnell to get her up on the ramps to see if we could find where the exhaust is puffing from. The answer is the second silencer, which has split around the weld on the outer casing on the leading edge. The rest of the system isn't in bad shape actually. Given the degree of grot is visible on some of the body panels the underside looks to be in surprisingly good shape to be honest. Does look like I've got a bit of a fuel leak though - looks to be from the top of the tank, so thinking the seal around the gauge sender is most likely the culprit. Wasn't actively leaking but you could see the evidence of it having run down the side of the tank.

Sadly they can't source any exhaust parts for a car this old (can't say I'm surprised) so I'll need to see if I can track one down...or just go round to Deutsche Tech and get the offending section made up in stainless. I don't like faffing about with exhausts so that is likely what we'll end up going with, as the puffing from it will likely drive me mad.

Quite happy with today's tinkering though. Was pleasantly surprised at the condition of the underside of the car, found the exhaust is actually mostly sound aside from one silencer (which actually looks like a manufacturing defect rather than corrosion), got a price on a set of tyres which is well within my expectations, dealer was helpful, oh...and found this bit of broken trim in the glove box.

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Just glue this back together and replace the missing fastener, you'd never notice it was cracked.

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Feeling quite positive today. There was a certain degree of "what have I got myself into" creeping in with regards to some areas, but I'm getting more convinced that there is actually a good car here, she just needs a bit of TLC.

Finally got around to getting a couple of photos of her and the van together. These do a good job of showing how much wider than a car the van is too.

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I think a couple of paint touch ups, a really good polish, some nice fresh tyres and a new set of number plates will make her look quite different.

The number plates are both pretty knackered.

Front one is cracked around both mounting screws.

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The rear one is crack free but is delaminating...plus both are in the post 2001 typeface which on a vehicle of this age bugs my OCD something rotten.

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Thinking that given the age just standard acrylic plates make the most sense. Think pressed metal would look like we were trying to pretend to imitate the German ones a bit too hard, which is why they bug me on Golfs etc so much.

Question is whether is just go for a plain plate though or if I try to recreate a dealer plate? Not sure where this car was originally sold. Though I wouldn't be surprised if someone could figure it out!