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FatHarris - tales of a motoring moron ***Weekend roundup 8/7***


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IMG_20210121_110820.thumb.jpg.a3066076da3712bda2b29a919bdfdf83.jpgI am long, long overdue an update.

As I, like many others on this fine forum, change motors on a frequent basis, I have decided to amalgamate all my previous vehicle threads into one easy to locate/ignore thread.

So. Current vehicles littering the Cornish landscape (and old threads) are as follows:

1992 Citroen BX 16TXS - https://autoshite.com/topic/38036-fatharris-citroen-bx-slightly-less-broken-updated-106-minor-update-and-pictures/

1998 BMW 728i (Herman) - https://autoshite.com/topic/23842-fatharris-bargain-basement-barge-hermanthegerman/

1991 Honda Beat - https://autoshite.com/topic/33458-bring-that-yellow-beat-updated-with-pics-712/

1998 Renault Laguna 2.0 RT Sport - https://autoshite.com/topic/34411-laguna-escapades-cheeky-buggers-2303/

1998 Mazda MX-5 1.8 Classic (mk1) - https://autoshite.com/topic/32460-early-mid-life-crisis-the-mx5-story-minor-job-168/

and a 1991 Mini Neon, that's been an untouched bare-shell project since 2015. No project thread for this one, because I'm not keen to be reminded that I've done fuck all to it.

And that's it. No modern dailies to fall back on. MrsH runs the Laguna, and the rest are my burden to bear!


Full driveway shot:


So, what's happened since the threads were all last updated?

Glad you asked.

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It was a bit quiet for me since the last update, on account of me working away from home for a while. One big change was Dan, the joint owner of the BX had decided he wanted out of the project. A fair amount handed over to buy him out, and the BX is now all mine.
To celebrate, as soon as the lockdown circumstances dictated, we took the BX for it's longest journey in years, 150 miles in a round trip to Plymouth to see some friends and family.
Absolutely handsome fella putting her through her paces:


She was absolutely spot on, too, making it back in good time with no untoward issues:


Aside from that, the BX was being routinely used as part of a rotation to work and back to keep everything moving across all three of the daily motors. It did make me laugh though, parking it up for a week on an uneven part of the driveway:

Never seen it cock its leg like that before!
A seemingly simple fault with the front washer jet went way, way out of hand too. A popped off pipe at the reservoir led to proactive me taking the reservoir off to clean the surrounding area, poking a sizeable rust hole in the bulkhead. Sent that off to get welded up when I picked up the Mazda from the garage (more on that later). Got them to weld up the chassis rail cut whilst it was in there. Was a beans on toast month after those bills.


The old girl solid once again, she was pressed into service doing dump runs etc, from clearing out the garden, coping admirably. Whilst cleaning the boot out (transporting wet topsoil which leaked out of the bags), we did however find more grot in the boot floor at the aft end.
Unfortunately, both sides aren't in the best of shape, and with me at the time due to go away with work until the MOT lapsed, the decision was made to park it up on the driveway and figure out what the best course of action was.
The boot floor carpet and space under the rear seat squab  were both found to be wringing wet, so all soft, absorbent soundproofing material was removed and a leak found tracing into the boot floor. More investigation required on that one in due course.
Some silicone grease was applied to the  sunroof seal prior to parking up, which seemed effective:
and an MX5 cover hastily applied to cover the sunroof and roof rails just before I left:
MrsH informed me a few weeks after I left that the car was absolutely wringing wet afterwards as a result of the cover. She stuck a dehumidifier in there to dry it out and took the cover off. Lesson learned.
I got back from working away in mid-Jan. She took a few goes but eventually fired up, but feels like it's misfiring. 
Now it's out of MOT, the work list is a long one. Off the top of my head:
- OSR suspension unit replace
-Potentially all spheres replace
- Boot floor rust repairs
- Investigate water leak
- Investigate misfire
- Full service
- Timing belt/water pump/thermostat
- Investigate overheating
- Replace all fuel hoses
- Source new set of cooling hoses/cooling system flush and bleed
- Rust-proof/underseal underside
- Replace fixings on fuel filler neck
- Replace thermal paste on distributor ignition module
- Replace steering rack gaiters
- Replace ARB link
- New tyres all round
- Fresh LHM and filter clean
- (Desirable) re-paint bonnet, front bumper, front wings and rear spoiler
- Fabricate/repair rear bumper mounting frames
- Find speakers that fit behind the grille panels.
No small feat then!

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MrsH's daily, and a damn fine motor too. This is the car we usually use if we go out as a family together, we're all very affectionate of it.

Last update I gave saw the old girl receive some fettling for an MOT in January '20. This was a bit of a ballache for me, as this was just one of three cars I owned that had an MOT straight after Christmas. We therefore decided to MOT it in August to start spacing them out.

It did fail:


But @twosmoke300 did what he does and got us back on the road with a locally manufactured power steering hose and a spot of welding. As a billy bonus, he even got the air conditioning working on it, diagnosing a leak at the pressure connector.

I did do some diagnosis on the air conditioning back in May, ascertaining that there was power up to the pressure switch, and bridging the connector did engage the compressor clutch, so that was a joint effort :P


Later on, we hit a milestone (MrsH leant over and took the photo, I'm not that fucking daft!)


Overjoyed with this, MrsH celebrated by dragging it up our fucking garden wall:



Still raging about this to be honest and I've told her she is to fix it. Going to look at getting rid of that garden wall too, as it's the third fucking car she's done it to.


Aside from that, this has been a fantastic motor. Even used it to collect a chicken house using the roof bars graciously gifted to me by @Datsuncoga couple of years ago:



Finally, there's a fella in the town next to my village that is, of all things, a Mk1 Renault Laguna enthusiast. He's already got first dibs on this if we ever decide to part with it!


Work to do on this one?

- It's going to need a clutch soon, it's a bit draggy/slippy very occasionally

- Bumper repairs, courtesy of MrsH

- Get the original lattice alloys back on with fresh tyres

- The locks/actuators need fresh grease, as they're sticking in this cold weather

- Re-attach the fabric to the underside of the rear seat squab. just a quick re-clip

- Needs a damn good clean - it is the family car after all!

And that's it. This is the best little runner we have in the fleet and long may that continue!





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i watch car videos on YT and in some of the ads theres a place called saltdays

that has some gloop you rub into door/bumper etc and the stuff disappears

after they hit bumper/door with a brick etc


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Christ, last update Aug '19? 

Well, after the MOT pass, came a service:


(Don't worry, it went on stands immediately!)

Luckily, my friend gave me some OEM service parts when I bought the car off him:




Can't remember why it was jacked on the back end - pretty sure it was also having a rear spring and a handbrake adjust.


After that, it was parked up for the winter whilst I was away with work.

Came home and she fired up first turn of the key :)

Ended up using it in all weathers as the sheer joy of roof down motoring made the commute a pleasure:


Indeed, this car has racked up the most miles of all the others by a long shot.

Treated it to some new wheels:



And noticed that one of the welding repairs I had carried out weren't done properly:


Annoyingly, this took two additional trips to get sorted, but they stood by their work and I didn't have to put my hands in my pocket for it, so it's a good result all in.

Dropping the car off and collecting it was a ballache though, as the garage was miles away! Luckily, with the roof down, the cargo space is infinite:



Coming up to the MOT,  and a cursory check over highlighted a leaking shock. Oh dear.


Found a local fella selling a full set of barely used shocks with springs for a good price so snapped his hand off:


Did a bit of rustproofing underneath with some wax-based spray. No photos but will check on that soon.

Tried going off-road. I failed to get any higher, but @twosmoke300 managed it in a Seicento.


Feeling flush, I splashed out on a full set of new tyres, Uniroyal RainExpert3. Popped it in for an MOT where it failed for a headlight aim and a new cat. As this is another keeper, I decided to go for the more expensive cat to save me worrying about it in the future. 

Whilst there, I had them re-apply the stone chip paint to the sills to give some extra protection, then came to them in the BX to swap, as I was dropping that off for welding. That was a saddening bill!


This time, I'm the dickhead, having dragged the car up the wall a couple of weeks ago. Thank fuck I don't care about cosmetics.



Work to be done?

- Replace one of the soft top roof catches. It's letting water in.

- Attempt some sort of repair of the scrape above

- Full service is due

- Timing belt and water pump

- Needs a full clean, including soft top

- Replace N/S headlight assembly - it's very flimsy and constantly going out of adjustment

- Coolant change


Not much really, certainly no reason to get rid of the car yet, especially at only £120/yr insurance!

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Herman (BMW 728i):

Bloody hell, December '18 was the last update? Well, 2019 was uneventful until the end really. I went away with work and left Herman on base with the battery connected. Got back at 3am after six weeks and he juuuuuuuust fired up. The battery is a shitey ECP 'Lion' branded one, so I wasn't surprised. Glad it worked though.


It went for an MOT:


With not too bad a fail list - I already had the brake hoses and one of the arms in the boot for fitting. Once again, @twosmoke300got me the desired pass, and as a billy bonus, lent me the Seicento courtesy car for a bit:


Lovely wee thing,  that!

.....and that's it! With lockdown, regrettably, I have barely used Herman at all this year. In fact, the MOT has expired again, and I've yet to put it in again, as it's the last post-Christmas MOT I needed to move. I've just been comparing meerkats and got a £230 quote for the insurance so I imagine I'll be getting him back on the road fairly soon. Not sure what he needs for MOT but I'll endeavour to use him more in 2021.

He's currently sulking in front of the garage with a flat battery this morning - removed and on charge so fingers crossed!

Work list?

- Get the OSR quarter re-sprayed - that crazed lacquer looks horrible

- Replace the rear bumper for one that isn't knackered

- Get rear bumper parking sensor trims so I can finally have the parking sensors back (they've been removed since the crash in December 2017!)

- Replace all four tyres

- Full service

- Damn good clean

- Replace rear light units for non cracked ones

- Replace exhaust for non-bent one

Herman is a keeper, as always, so maybe one of these days, I'll pull my finger out and source the bits needed.


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I’d love an old German barge, executive class cars of the 80s and 90s always seem classier and more aspirational than their modern equivalents. Plus they’re probably a lot smaller than even a modern 3 Series. 

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At least the final two are nice and quick:


Absolutely cock-all has been done to it, as usual. This has been with me for too long, so as soon as lockdown is over, it is moving on to a new owner. It's been with me in one way or another since 2012, but a bare, hacked up shell since 2015. It's going to my friend Tony, along with all the panels and new bits I'd accumulated for it. Tony restores cars for fun, so we did a deal...


...and the deal was Tony gets the Beat solid and pretty in exchange for the Mini. This was another project that stalled, mainly with work and COVID, but also me being way out of my depth. Another friend offered to help me weld it up, but lockdown occurred and he lost the appetite to help out after that for whatever reason. Either way, the Beat has been loosely buttoned back together and both cars will be heading up the line, with only one coming back with a chance of actually getting back on the road.

Big love to my mate Joe though, for buying my lad a wee model of a Beat, which he loves :)



So we're all up to date, right?

WRONG. I came back home three weeks ago from a spell away with work and decided that something drastic needed to happen.

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When we bought this house in '16, the garage had a partition room at the back. Fully soundproofed, it was the previous owners' music room. For a couple of years, we left it at that, using the back room to stores the Mini bits, and the main garage held the shell, my tools and the tumble drier.


Eventually, I bought the MX-5 and decided I'd much rather have it nice and dry in the evenings, so after a few beers, I got my hammers out and took the partition wall down.


Took a while, but eventually, I was left with no wall, but a lot of mess to clean up:


Eventually, after much sweeping, shifting and organising, I finally got to a point where the Mini and the MX5 could live indoors in harmony. A crude workbench was fashioned down the side from a leftover bit of kitchen worktop, balanced on top of my rolling toolbox and another metal storage box.


This was all done in Aug '18. The Beat was purchased in Oct '18 and immediately leapfrogged the queue to live indoors, leaving the Mazda to stay outside in the pissing rain. Sorry Mazda.

Now, the eagle-eyed amongst you would have noticed the plug sockets and light switches dangling from the wall. These were formerly attached to the partition wall, and just stayed dangling there, getting in everyones way until recently. With me finally calling time on the Mini, the BX needed to be the next priority to come inside for some work.

So, with all the cars evicted onto the driveway, the first port of call was to ensure the Beat and Mini were adequately protected from the elements during their time outside. The Beat was easy, we had the cover from the MX-5 and some bungee cords, thankfully in the nick of time, as it pissed down just as the cover was thrown on!

The Mini shell was a bit trickier, the shell sat on a wooden pallet on wheels, so we just bought a really sturdy large tarpaulin and stapled it all the way around in such a way that rain would just run down and off the car. Winner!


Next job was to relocate the light switch and plug sockets to the walls/ceiling to make some space.


Then came the massive fucking around of shifting stuff around to achieve the goal:



The vision was slowly starting to come together, thanks to my willing volunteer MrsH :)



After a bit more tidying, I had the big test.

Would/Could Herman fit in the garage?

The answer?


Happy days. With the BX in there, as was the intention, there was plenty of walking round room too!


And empty, there's plenty of room for DIY projects. A lot of the racking will go when the Mini leaves.


Then, using the spare chipboard left over from ripping down the partition wall, I hung it back up intending to use it as a tool shadowboard. 



Thankfully, someone on Facebook was disposing of a set of bedroom cabinets for free. A quick visit, some screws and baton provided me with the final product.

In order to free some surface space, I mounted the stereo to the sides of the cabinets and added a Bluetooth adapter. I also assigned the most important cupboard in a garage:



Lastly, my next door neighbour gave me a spare sodium street lamp he had kicking about. A quick loom knocked up to check it works:


Then it was a case of mounting it on top of the garage and wiring it up. 



(Ignore the blanket, that was just on there to test the light sensor!)

And when night falls, the garage and driveway are suitably illuminated, as is half the garden.


So, I now have a garage I can actually work in, and a project car I'm really keen to get back on the road.

That's me up to date now, so any and all car goings-on will all fall within this post.
Thanks for reading :D

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Loving the garage and workshop and driveway. I think I saw the bx in practical classics last summer?
You certainly did! I got the piss ripped out of me royally at work but it was worth it.

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Great stuff! Good to see the Honda due a new lease of life. Loving what you’ve done with the garage too, and that light!

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Cheers man, my neighbour has his in the position, but thanks to the position of his garage, pretty much the entirety of my garden and driveway is illuminated for security

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Good to see the old Laguna is still going strong!  That roffle seems ages ago now.
It does, doesn't it?

Interestingly, this is the longest period I've been without buying a new car (BX in October '19).

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  • 1 month later...

So, some changes have happened this month.

Most momentous is this:


Yep, the cover came off the Beat. It had been sat in the driveway for a couple of months after being evicted from the garage and@twosmoke300 alerted me to a car transport fella heading up country with an empty wagon.

A quick message to my mate Tony to confirm he was happy to receive and a couple of days later, this happened:


Drove up there itself overpowering the seized caliper so that's proven the clutch works. Also been the longest it's moved under it own steam in seven years!


Bye bye Honda, see you again soon! Tony is going to make a start on it very soon - he seemed very upbeat at the initial inspection, even offering to MOT it for me!

Next up, the boy was missing riding in Herman as I had SORNd him, with the MOT and insurance lapse.

To be honest, I was missing driving him too, so I booked him in for an MOT. Annoyingly, I then got told to work away from home on a course. The only car I had to hand was the Mazda, which is an brilliant car, but the exhaust is super loud and would drive me insane.

So, Phill squared me away once again with a lend of the AS SlaaaaaagJaaaaaaag for the week.


I have to say, I was a big fan of the way it looked and enjoyed the sense of occasion I got from driving it.


Unfortunately, I had the seat all the way back and still needed more leg room, and the handbrake handle kept getting wedged into my thigh. I know I'm not the skinniest fella round, but I'm hardly fat so that would have annoyed me long term.

So, I was relieved to hear that Herman had passed first time with a handful of advisories. The Jaaaaaaag was suitably filled up and returned with beer.


Thanks again Phill, absolute top boy.

So, now insured, MOTd and taxed, Herman is back on the road, resulting in a happy Austin (and a happy Daddy). We went out to a local garden yesterday and I nabbed a chance to test out a photography location that had always intrigued me whilst we were travelling home. Typically, I forgot my polarising lens




So, what's next for the fleet? Well, not much really. A series of upcoming necessary work to the house has sapped away any spare cash we have for the next couple of years. Our focus will be on keeping the roadworthy motors on the road for the time being, with the Mini leaving us for Tony in the very near future.

Thanks for reading

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  • 3 weeks later...

Smok update.

A van was loaded.




This handsome bastard was drafted in to assist.


We passed an amusing set of graffiti



We met with my friend Tony:


And dropped the Mini off in his workshop:


Whilst we were in there, we popped in and said hello to the Beat


Then he messaged me this (the Celica bit is a wind up)


All in all, big thanks to Phill for his help and Tony for taking the Mini in the deal

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  • 2 months later...

Well, what a day.

Decided to get the BX on jack's at the rear to finally make a start on some of the bodywork repairs.


With the bumper removed, I found more work for myself


And evidence of poor repairs in the past


This looked totally fine as the underseal was intact.

A tap with my fingers proved otherwise.


Free hole in the chassis rail for my troubles


And the original hole that took the car off the road?


Yeah, that was much bigger than anticipated.


Toake today even shittier, whilst I was struggling to find a solid bit of the BX, MrsH video called me to inform me that someone had just reversed their minibus into the Laguna.




Thankfully, the driver was apologetic and gave us all their details so we can work out the best way ahead. I've took enough of the wink bolts out to peer behind it and was relieved to see the inner wing is intact.

Still, bloody typical, eh?

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  • 5 months later...

Been a while since I've done a fleet update, so here we go:


To be honest, not a great deal of progress made on this. Partly due to my working away pattern, but also partly a lack of skill my end.


Nevertheless, I have been trying to get stuck into it, and attempted a repair of the chassis leg hole. Once the offending rot was cut out (A bastard to do due to poor access, but the dremel just about managed it), I Hammered flat the removed portion and made a template to cut a fresh one out:


Which then got hammered in a vice a bit to make:


I learned very quickly not to catch your belly in the tin snips handles when chopping - holy shit did that hurt.


And situated it in the cavity for welding on.


And attempted the fusing of two metals together.




Looks like shite, but it didn't fall off and I was happy - right up until I poked a hole on the adjacent panel above it - meaning the panel had to be cut out AGAIN.

In my defence, the area is not the greatest for visibility. 



So, the rot was cut out of the boot floor and a new patch made up:


ANOTHER new lower repair bit made:


Grinder and paint etc etc....


And then the top panel welded in. Still not good at this.


A tiny hole was found, so a dirty patch ensued.


And then it became time to tackle the elephant in the room.

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I decided to tackle the biggest problem area of the BX, namely the OSR boot corner. To put it bluntly, it was pretty fucked.


Lots of cutting and chopping became the order of the day:

Starting with the bumper crash bar:



No amount of hammerite is saving this end, it's shagged out, giving plenty of Bran Flakes when prodded.



Then, the rear panel itself:



With just a cheeky hint of the hell to come:



Then, for no reason, the spare bottle of oil I kept under the bonnet in the cubby hole decided to burst open:


....and that was it again for a while, whilst I went away with work for 8 weeks. Good times had by all and plenty of beer imbibed when appropriate. 

When I got back home, I got to more cutting:



And started forming more sheets (Thank christ the BX is from the 80s and straight edges!)



And tacked it in place.


Next up, this rear panel has been prepped and zinc primed, ready for tacking in very soon!


I would say that now I'm home for a while, this project will pick up quicker, but with BabyHarris2 now less than a month away from making an appearance, I'd say sadly not. It'll stay in the fold, but it will be getting evicted from the garage soon.


So, which car next then?



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  • fatharris changed the title to FatHarris' Life of Shite ***END OF YEAR FLEET UPDATE 27/11 - PIC HEAVY***


Herman was providing stellar service as usual, until the final weekend before I left home for 8 weeks. The 'CHECK COOLANT LEVEL' alert had come up on the way home from shopping. Not usually a cause for concern, he's always had a small, untraceable coolant leak somewhere for the past seven years, however, this was the second time in as many days, despite having filled the reservoir the day before.


Oh boy. Thankfully, this all happened less than 400yds from the house, so I was well placed to park up on the driveway.


Popped the bonnet open and found the source of the leak, as shown in this video. You can also hear the moment MrsH gets out of the car and spots the source too!



Not entirely surprised as it was the original radiator, but annoying as I had zero time to fix it before I left, leaving MrsH with no backup vehicle if the Laguna went wrong (Aside from the MX-5, although at 5 months pregnant with a 3 year old to transport too, she wasn't chuffed at that!)



So, he was parked up and his battery removed whilst I was away (It's a shitey ECP battery that falls flat if left for a fortnight)

When I got home, @twosmoke300ordered the correct spec radiator from a decent manufacturer on my behalf (thanks mate) and got cracking.

Not many pictures, as it was the day after I got back home and I was in a hurry to get Herman back on the road, but all went well, with the exception of getting the viscous fan off. Pure arseache, that!




Parked against the modern equivalent - I know I'd still have Herman



And finally - the reason he's not being used as much as he used to.

Seriously, what the fuck? That's just about enough for a week of commuting.


Ah well, suppose you CAN put a price on comfort.

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Mazda MX5:

Honestly, it doesn't look like it, but I love this bloody car, it's easily the car I've driven the most over the past three years. 

Not much of significance has happened since the past update, I went away with work and MrsH said she'd looked after the cars whilst I was gone:



Er. right-o.

That's eaten right through the paint and made it even worse, cheers hen.

Since then, it's done all the usual stuff expected of it, even child-ferrying duties:


The only fault I had was the drivers door lock decided to no longer work with the key, which was mightily inconvenient.


Door got stripped:


And lock barrel removed after dislocating several joints I didn't even know I had.


Luckily, I had a donor door that gave up its key barrel willingly. A side-by-side comparison reveals how much wear was evident in the cam:



So it was simply a case of identifying the correct order of the key tumblers:


And with a clean and lube, it all appeared to function correctly.


By now, it was pitch black outside, but the car had to be reassembled, so I pressed on. God knows what I would have looked like if a police car passed!

Anyone who has changed the barrel on these knows about the fiddly spring clip used to retain the barrel into the door. I genuinely thought I had got it located correctly, and it did indeed hold the barrel in place....


...for less than a day.


Sadly, with me being away with work shortly thereafter and the MOT expiring the day before I came home, it was decided to park the old girl up for the winter. Once the big thaw is over, I'll re-evaluate getting her back on the road again.

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As expected within these circles, the most obvious and reliable choice for a family car is a 23 year old French hatchback.

August rolled around with the MOT, receiving a fail for brake imbalance and a blown backbox (One was in the boot). Some minor fettling by @twosmoke300 netted us a clean pass! Result!

As we usually had a few items on the MOT failure list for this car, and it was particularly light this year, we pulled the trigger on a new clutch and I asked Phill to fit the clutch cable that I bought way back in early '19 in an attempt to clear the heavy clutch pedal.



Naturally, the Laguna put up a fight!


To top it off, despite Dan folding himself in half to get into the footwell:


It turned out the clutch cable was the wrong type, and the old one was beyond repair when removed. Thankfully, a new cable was available at the factors.

And HO-LEE SHIT. The clutch is like stamping through a cloud now, it's lovely!

And so, I went away with work and came home to find it had been absolutely perfect the entire time. We got an email from the insurance company, declaring the Laguna a write-off from the wing damage (No surprise there) and we settled on Cat N and a £674 payment and got to keep the car. Winner!

Then we got a letter a few days after I came home.


Initially, I had a go at MrsH for not inserting her details at the leisure centre car park for the boy's swimming lesson (She always forgets).

Then MrsH said 'Hang on a fucking sec....where's my spoiler?'

I looked again, and you know what? She was right, the timings didn't even work, as that was past the boy's bedtime.

I logged into the website to view the photos online, and wouldn't you know it? The Laguna had been cloned.

I've summed the differences up in the pictures below and sent them off to the PCN company, as well as notifying the police of it:



As you can see, the backbox was hanging off, we'd just had ours changed so it definitely wasn't us!

A couple of days after submitting the appeal and informing the police, I received this letter:



As an aside, I was contacted by a prolific car spotting mate, who found a photo of the cloned car online!


So what caused the cloning? Almost certainly posting pictures of the car with the number plates visible online was the cause, be it on here or social media. To be honest, there's not much point in me stopping it now, the car is already out there, there can't be many red Mk1 Lagunas left anyway!


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Wow, a bit of a shocker. I always thought old cars were immune from cloning, because surely it would not be worth the effort finding quite a rare old car to clone. Very glad you have got sorted though!!!

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