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SL's fleet news (Update 02-01-2023)


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Unfortunately I haven't had the money spare this month to buy all the parts I needs for the Camry, but in the great weather we had yesterday - and before I get bogged-down with this year's work on the house - I managed to spend a few hours on it. The plan was to get the front wipers working (rears not yet essential, I'll sort them as-and-when).




Oh dear, it wasn't meant to end up like this. Turned out that rather than the motor having failed, it was the spindle on the driver's side that had completely seized. Removing the bonnet made it much easier to get to everything. Getting the crank off the back of the motor spindle was a pain......




Having had the practice of removing the complete linkage mechanism from the estate made it much easier when I went to remove one from the saloon (which realistically is now just a spares car). Fortunately the linkage on that one was fine, with everything spinning easily despite it having not been used on the road for 4-5 years.


Reassembly was the reverse of removal, and at times like this I appreciate those subtle touches that the manufacturers do to make this straightforward (maybe just the Japanese makers?!). Despite the estate being made in America and the saloon coming from Japan, the mechanism swapped straight across.




Speed blur! It works. Well, I haven't tried it with wipers actually refitted (all the blades I have are useless after years of dormancy) but everything seems OK. I ended up using the motor off the spares car as well, as that one is lower mileage and I wasn't sure if the estate's one would be 100% after trying to turn the seized linkage.


In other news, the Laurel's battery seems to be dead, which is a shame as I'd like to use that car this week (might rob the spare one I have off the Camry/Carina E), the Sunny's MoT is due at the end of this week and it's booked-in at the garage, and the little 1200 still refuses to run properly.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I disagree.  On a Camry estate, the rear wipers are far more important than the fronts.

 Bizarrely the MoT man doesn't seem to agree (and at least it's one less thing to get fixed). The rears will be something to sort when I have a bit of time off next week, depending how quickly the garage get it back to me.


It's going to be dropped-in with them on Saturday, with this lot to be fitted:



Camry Estate parts by Spottedlaurel, on Flickr


£320's worth of brake discs and pads front and rear, clutch kit and a couple of front springs - it's my birthday next week, so let's say they're an early present to myself. All purchased from a company who list themselves on eBay as mjd128, but trade as Rice Rocket UK/JD Motorsport Ltd. The lad on the phone knocked a bit off the listed prices as I bought them direct all in one hit and they sent them out pretty quickly, all very painless. I suppose if I had a Ford then I could have got all those bits for £1.67, but I'm used to parts being a bit of a challenge/not as cheap as they could be.


As reported in the Grin thread, the '88 Sunny passed its MoT without too much grief. Full breakdown:

  • Reason(s) for failure

    Registration plate lamp not working (1.1.C.1d)
  • Advisory notice item(s)

    Suspension component mounting prescribed area is corroded but not considered excessive both outer sills (2.4.A.3)
    Exhaust has a minor leak of exhaust gases corroded (7.1.2)
    oil pressure switch weeping
    Front Brakes imbalanced requirements only just met. It would appear that the braking system requires adjustment or repair. (3.7.B.5b)

It's booked-in for an oil change and tappets adjustment later in the week, then I'll swap it over with the 1200 and hopefully they can get that thing to run properly.


Edit: New battery for Laurel purchased, and I’ve been enjoying using it in the recent good weather. Most of the money for that came from selling a part off my spares car to a local Camry owner (which in turn may just lead to the sale of the Carina E).

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think some progress is being made.




It's at the garage, and the consensus was reached that the engine and 'box should come out which will allow the clutch to be replaced (desperately needed) and then it can easily have a new cam belt etc fitted. The alternative was to drop the subframe, and they felt that could cause various problems. Unless something dramatic happened after I saw it on Saturday morning the engine is still in place at the moment.




Better radiator liberated off the spares car.




Front suspension stripped, with a pair of new springs, discs and pads to be fitted.




Shiny new bits have been fitted to the back end at least.




At the stage where the engine is apparently almost ready to come out. Local rodents appear to like the taste of Camry underseal......


It's booked-in for a track day at RAF Marham on Saturday. I'm being somewhat realistic about whether the garage can get it all sorted and Moted, and I can then insure and tax it, by that time. They assure me they don't want it sitting on their lift for much longer, and I suppose the hassle has been in getting everything undone. If necessary they can come and rob any broken bits off my spare Camry, which seems to have suffered much less with corrosion of nuts and bolts, fittings etc under the bonnet.


In other news:



Obligatory blossom photo for 2017 by Spottedlaurel, on Flickr


The 1200 made it to the other garage I use. Like the Camry, unfortunately it's still there. Verdict is a carb rebuild kit is required, which is now on its way to me from Croatia (I hope).


As a counter to the issues with the above two, the Sunny was collected after its MoT success and is continuing in use as my local runaround car. I just hope I don't have to sell it to fund work on the Camry, but it's a possibility. Need to move the Carina E on first......

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As reported elsewhere, the Camry didn't get finished. The engine is back in and apparently it won't be much longer now, but not soon enough for today's trackday at RAF Marham.


That left me to choose between the Laurel and the Sunny. The latter would have been good fun, but to do it justice I'd have needed to get a spare set of wheels and tyres (the ones it has are somewhat aged) and I didn't leave myself enough time to do that.


This old thing had to do instead:



This year's unsuitable trackday toy by Spottedlaurel, on Flickr


It has to be said I was initially somewhat gentle with it. Even on the low speed sighting lap it rolled in a dramatic fashion, and on the road I rarely take it above 3000rpm or about 70mph. Putting on a helmet makes silences all those annoying/worrying noises, and it then went a bit faster......


Ended up covering somewhere between 60-80 miles on the track, about half what I'd do normally, but I was happy to drive home without needing to put in extra fuel and I don't want to have to buy a new set of tyres for it.


Barring maybe a couple of pre-war cars, and I'm not sure if they were running properly, I was the slowest car out there. The layout suited it fairly well though, with some long straights and fast, smooth, sweeping corners.


All-in-all, a great day out.

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Brilliant!  I hope somebody got the old girl on video.


Shame I couldn't make it, but the combination of a lack of a suitable car [although that doesn't appear to have hindered you], no time, no money and my car mojo being at an all time low conspired against it.  Hopefully next time...

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You must have balls of steel taking that onto the track, Nigel!


What a good looking car it is though. A shame they aren't a bit more common.



^^ 'long smooth sweeping corners' are what blow up the engine = no baffles/g force starvation.


Glad you survived m8 :)





You've got me retrospectively worried now! I do have a couple of spare engines if need be....


I did suffer fuel starvation on LH bends, but fortunately they run the track in the opposite direction after lunch so when it was mostly RH bends it wasn't a problem.



Brilliant!  I hope somebody got the old girl on video.


Shame I couldn't make it, but the combination of a lack of a suitable car [although that doesn't appear to have hindered you], no time, no money and my car mojo being at an all time low conspired against it.  Hopefully next time...

I did have my own dashcam in operation, just got to find out a way of downloading stuff off it. I'm hoping there might be a photo or two of it at least.


Fingers crossed there will be another one in October - despite the current world 'situation' they seem to be holding them more regularly again.


You'd have loved the car that Stuart (who usually has the Holden) had there. A 2003 Jaguar XJR, X350 I think? He took me out for a few laps in it, a privilege to go in anything with him of course but this thing was very impressive. Much like the Lexus, but faster and even smoother. It easily topped 150 on the straight. By way of contrast I took him out in the Laurel, which I think amused him.


In case of reliability issues he brought it down on a trailer towed by a P38 Range Rover he'd bought for £205......



You are a total hero.

Kind of you to say so, but the activities of others on here put my automotive antics to shame. Also the guys who attended in the older cars deserve praise, sadly I didn't get photos but I think one was an Allard and the other an evil-sounding aluminium-bodied special which I think was Lancia-based.



You must have balls of steel taking that onto the track, Nigel!


What a good looking car it is though. A shame they aren't a bit more common.

I tend to start each day as I'd drive on the road, keeping it smooth and gradually adding speed as I get more confident. The same method worked with two Camrys and the Lexus when I used them on various trackdays, and in each case I'd used them enough on the road to be as confident as I could be in their reliability. Also, being an active (very active) airfield means there's loads of room and the runways and perimeter tracks we use are in good order. I wouldn't have taken it on a 'proper' circuit day.

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Registration number: K550KAL
  • Vehicle make TOYOTA
  • Vehicle model CAMRY
  • Date first used 30 June 1993
  • Fuel type Petrol
  • Colour Green
MOT history of this vehicle
  • Test date 24 April 2017
  • Expiry date 23 April 2018
  • Test Result Pass
  • Odometer reading 103,041 miles
  • MOT test number 5758 6785 0832
  • Advisory notice item(s)
    crack in lower part off screen not in drivers viwe
    Nearside Brake pipe slightly corroded front to rear (3.6.B.2c)
    Offside Brake pipe slightly corroded front to rear (3.6.B.2c)
    Rear cross member valance corroded
    fuel pipes corroded

Yes, at last it has a new MoT and is ready for use again. Can't believe it's finally sorted.


I think they're probably being kind to me with how much labour they're charging, but even so with the cost of various parts they got on top of what I'd already purchased I fear it's not going to be a small bill.

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Excellent work!  Are you going to get the tailgate resprayed now it's back on the road, or are you going to leave it silver as an homage to N360PPJ?


Thanks! Tailgate will be left as is. Certainly for some time anyway, I've spent enough on it for now.....


It's a bit of a mongrel really, but I like the fact it includes bits off all of the ones I've owned:


One of the rear doors, the ignition switch and 'wooden' dashboard surround are also from PPJ.


The 15" alloys came off the V6.


The 17's are from the later 2.2 Sport.


The radiator and wiper linkage were donated by the damaged 2.2 saloon.


At some point I need to replace the driver's door lock, but I need to work out which one I have a key for.


The Carina E has also played its part, in donating its battery, but if that sells I'll have to buy a new one.

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Congrats on the pass, SL!


I've just been and had a sneaky look at it as I was up the garage earlier. Love the mismatched look!


Cheers Pete. Every time I've been up there it's been on the lift - I know they like older cars but I think they'll probably be glad to see the back of it.....

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  • 2 weeks later...

Phew, hopefully I'm nearly there with them all now. With the 1200 collected this morning I'm finally at a point where all of my cars are back home - this hasn't been the case since late March, as three of them have been at two different garages in some sort of expensive, complicated relay. I don't think I've forgotten one, but I'm mildly worried I'm turning into that Jalopnik BMW guy.......


Sunny has a new MoT as previously reported. That one at least was fairly straightforward. It's still for sale, but if it doesn't go I won't mind as it gives me my proper '80s car fix.


In order of collection, next was the Camry.




As Junkman would call it, a child's toy was employed to go and fetch it. No tools were felt necessary, nor food breaks as it was only a couple of miles away, just a fresh bit of fuel.




Back home. Only five years separates these two, but they're worlds apart in terms of feel and sophistication.




I wouldn't fancy taking this out and putting it back in again. Apparently it fired-up first time. Clutch was changed along with gearbox oil, new cam belt kit and water pump were fitted and then it was serviced. New brake discs and pads all round plus a pair of new front coil springs. I'd already bought some of the parts, but even so it was the biggest bill I've ever paid for work on just one car....


As it's not insured I couldn't do much with it over the last week, so my attention turned to the 1200.




In good company at the garage. Any takers for the Mercedes at £6000? As reported elsewhere, it eventually passed its MoT. A carb rebuild kit was sourced from an eBay seller in Croatia and that finally seems to have cured its running issue. However it took a while to turn up and in the meantime I bought another kit which is now on its way to me from the USA.




It also needed a bit of welding on the inner wing (because 1970s Datsun) and a lower balljoint which was a tenner including postage from Datman.




Worldofceri inspired proof shot. It proved to be a very enjoyable drive, just the car I knew it should be. Quickly got up to an indicated 60, with a very light, nimble feel. It's going to be good fun on the country roads, and I think it should be tolerable for the trip to FOTU if it keeps going OK over the next few weeks.




Having a day between house projects meant I had a bit of time to give them both a wash. Beko and Vulgalour will be despairing at this point, but my car-cleaning kit is an old bucket left behind by the previous owner of our house, a brush that I've been using since the early 1980s, a former washing-up sponge and a chamois with a hole in the middle. I hasten to add I do get the hose out as well. If nothing else it was great to appreciate the shape and detail of the Camry again. It has got some great things like the Allegro Estate-esque rear pillars and general detailing and styling touches that are very reminiscent of the LS400. It reminded me why I've put this money and effort into getting it back on the road. When I wash the 1200 it just reminds me how much filler is in it....




This side of the Camry isn't going to be very good until I get the arch done, that door re-repainted and the tailgate resprayed. But then would I want to use it? I don't mind a bit of patina on the outside, it's difficult to avoid living and working in a very rural area, and a clean and tidy interior and strong mechanicals are surely more important?




Decided to see what it would look like with whitewalls.




If I'm taking it anywhere important I'll have to make sure it's only this view of it that's visible. It'll be interesting to see how it compares to my daily driver Avensis Tourer, as I never really used then back-to-back. The Avensis has a lazy feel that does remind me of the Camry. With four other useable cars I'm hoping to use the modern less and less, keeping it for longer journeys, holiday etc and when I need something I can just forget about.




Interior is next on the list. It's stayed dry during its 3+ years off the road, and the mice don't seem to have got into it to any significant degree (maybe our cat's being of some use?). I'll see if I can spend a few minutes on that tomorrow.




In an attempt to make it more like a proper car I found the luggage cover for it. Sledgehammer and screwdriver were for repairing the sign at the end of our track which is only 200m long but how could I possibly walk all that way and take tools etc when I had a practical car to hand? Any excuse to shunt it around is being taken, until I get it insured again. This will hopefully be on Tuesday, so long as I don't get any grief from FJ about it being Cat 'C'. Before I started on this painful and not cheap process I did enquire and they said it'll be OK so long as it's MoTed.


Beyond this I need to fix the driver's door lock and get those rear wipers working again. Both of those faults will be genuinely annoying in day-to-day use.


I do feel I've turned a bit of a corner with the fleet today. Fingers crossed that they all continue running OK and I get some enjoyable use out of them over the summer and beyond.


In other news, it would seem that the Carina E has been sold. Will be going for export at a price considerably less than I'd have hoped for on something that still has MoT, but now that all the other cars are back it's in the way and I just couldn't face an ad on Gumtree.

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Excellent work!  Are you going to get the tailgate resprayed now it's back on the road, or are you going to leave it silver as an homage to N360PPJ?

norfolk cooncil estate :D


ps 1200 HORN


unsuitable cars on trackdays ftw

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Nigel, while I was clearing out some drawers today I came across a Camry owner's handbook (presumably from N360PPJ) - do you want me to put it to one side for you, or do you have one already?


I'll say yes please, if only because I cannot refuse an offer of anything on paper. I think I know how everything works on a Camry by now, but it would be good to have for the sake of completeness.


Maybe see you at Trigger's next Shotley meet?

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  • 11 months later...

Modest update. E-reg Sunny now has a new MoT. It needed a couple of exhaust sections and a flexi joint, some welding, a brake caliper and two rear cylinders. With an oil change and the price of an MoT it gave me a rather larger bill than I'd have liked, and that was without a new set of tyres (which Ideally I'd still to like to put on it, they are rather aged but the garage were happy with the condition of them). The last couple of tests didn't cost too much, so I was due a bit of expenditure on it at some point.


With the Camry on the road again I don't seem to have been using the Sunny as much as I could have been. Only done a couple of thousand miles in the last year. If the 1200 and Camry need any significant work for their MoTs (both due rather soon) then I might have to mothball them for a month or two and the Sunny will get more use. It's my choice for this year's FOTU.


Laurel is back in use again, all well with that one.


Avensis daily driver has been replaced by a newer petrol model, as reported elsewhere.

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  • 2 years later...

Apart from the modern Lexus RX I got last year, haven't bought a new car for a while. Until today......


Camry and Sunny by Spottedlaurel, on Flickr

Battery off Sunny, Camry to be used for a local collection.

No exciting tales of public transport, meals en-route etc, it was a simple 15-minute drive to purchase something of a dream car I first saw seven years ago, when I left the owner my number. He finally rang me in the week, we agreed a price and Mrs SL kindly said it could be my delayed 50th brithday present.


Camry and Lexus by Spottedlaurel, on Flickr


Camry and Lexus by Spottedlaurel, on Flickr

Petrol station shot, although none was required as it turned out to have half a tank still in it. Tyres were soft, but after being stood for six months I was pleased to find they were all just a bit low.


Happy new owner at the jet wash.

So, what have I bought? It's the Mk1 model with 15" wheels and the purest look of all the LS400s. And it's got the classic colour scheme of pearl white over silver.

I think it's had just the two owners from new, it's done 161k miles and it's flipping great! Got up to temperature quickly and sat just under halfway, most things seem to work and it's an honest old things with a few scuffs and a bit of rot that drives very well.

I think Mrs SL is quite impressed by it. Without any suggestion from me, she got some cleaning products and started scrubbing away at the interior. The rest of the family chipped-in, and it's come up pretty well.

I'll get some more photos up in a bit.......

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6 minutes ago, bramz7 said:

I am really glad you finally got this, I had the distinct impression you rather wanted it. 

I certainly did.......

No guarantees it would work out - he might not have kept my number, something might have happened that meant it just got scrapped, etc etc.

1 minute ago, rantingYoof said:

The styling for the 'Mk1' LS400 was just right. I much prefer the exhausts coming through the rear bumper.

Well bought. Six months of standing is nothing for these. 

There's a lot of subtle differences, even to the Mk2, and it's interesting to compare it to the Mk3 I had.

Put the smaller Sunny battery onto it and it fired up just fine, no excessive smoke or tappet noise. Luckily it had been in a nice, dry garage.

Had a bit of a result with the insurance. FJ initially said they don't class it as a classic, but I thought that was odd as I have the '93 Camry with them. Apparently I get away with that because it's been with them for several years. Anyway, after a nerve-wracking period when I thought insurance costs would far outweigh the purchase price, they rang back and said I could add it to the existing policy, including commuting, for just £36, and £25 of that was the admin fee!

I am playing cam belt roulette until I can work out whether it's a viable long-term project.

Just today the MoT got extended from expiring on 27th June (which is probably why the previous owner wanted to get shot of it) to 27th December.......

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  • Spottedlaurel changed the title to SL's fleet news (Update 02-01-2023)

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