Thursday, 16 December 2010

I'm still alive...

...and more importantly so is the Zodiac.

She's had to fight off the weather and the freezing cold but I can safely assure you she has done so with flying colours. So, here's a brief re-cap...

*The old girl was happily in use, as my sole car, as soon as she came back from having her oh so shiny stainless exhaust fitted. Then the battery gave up the ghost and it ran out of fuel one evening as it rolled onto my driveway. Bumhats.

*I then promptly ignored the poor old beast and kept getting a lift into work. I know, I'm a lazy bastard.

*During the big freeze and all the snow I became aware of a shocking problem, the Z had no coolant. As such, the engine was frozen solid. Icicleshitsticks.

*I then spent a day manually thawing the engine out, I changed the coolant (by actually including some this time), bolted on a new battery and generally gave the old girl some tlc. She has now become reliable daily transport. Yay!

Anyway, until some proper updates come along, have a picture of her in the snow...


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Someone suggested something silly today...

...and I have to admit, it's got me thinking.

There's no way that could go wrong, right? Urm.

Anyone have any advice on this matter, all info would be greatly received. Email me at with your suggestions/offers to do it for me and so on.

Monday, 20 September 2010

It's still in Essex...

...having it's exhaust done. I'm sure it'll be back soon though.

In the meantime, have a picture of it at night.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


Well as far as I can tell I should be all booked in for Monday. Well, the Z should be.

But for what, I hear you cry? In a nutshell, new pipes, new and shiny stainless steel pipes and a shiny stainless manifold too. Gone will be the awful, restrictive 'hockey stick' manifold instead being replaced by a free-flowing 6-3-1 manifold.

The silly Cherry Bomb will be going in the bin too. If you love it, I'm sorry, it just has to go. I have to drive that car all the time and let me tell you, that Cherry Bomb is annoying as shit! I will specify that the new system has a bit of bark though, I don't want it to sound standard!

The people charged with the task are...

You can find them at if you fancy a look. It'll be well worth it, they're a fairly new setup and they're already forging a name for themselves in the classic market. They'll be making my exhaust with this...

...which is a Ben Pearson pipe bending machine. It looks something that would facilitate the demise of a Bond villain if you ask me. They assure me it's for bending pipe. I remain dubious.

Anyway, I'm waffling now. Basically, the Z should soon be breathing easy and with less of an offensive rumble. Win.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Pumpin' tunes brah!

Check it, yo! Pumping tunes for the Z have arrived, just got to get them fitted now...

Monday, 6 September 2010

We're on the road again....

Yay, the Z works and stuff. It actually moves under its own steam without feeling the urge to fruitlessly spin the flywheel on the worn out clutch. It's bliss as it means I can actually drive it like a normal car now.

Here is a picture of what was left of the clutch... you can see, it was worn out.

Driving it now is a joy, although there is some harsh juddering from time to time which I'm putting down to the rough flywheel meeting the new clutch. It'll soon stop though, once the clutch has bedded in.

It's good to be able to drive it though, all I need to do now is get it back to Kent so I can get cracking with some proper mods like wheels, exhaust and suspension. For now though it's hiding in my mums garden. A bit like a large flower-pot, or something...

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Wheely good...

Yay, new (old) wheels.

These should be going for a re-furb next week which will mean shiny new shoes for the Z. Just got to get some new boots (that's tyres) to go on them and the Z will be sitting pretty.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

It's all a bit quiet...

...because I'm really busy, and the car is hidden away in Bristol. There will be an update after the weekend though, as I'm taking it to meet one of its American cousins.

In the meantime, have a loot at this racing Zody. Hmmm, race-spec Zodiac...

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Damn you internet!

I should be working right now, but instead I'm looking at pictures of MK2 Zodiacs. Modified MK2 Zodiacs at that. They're making me have funny feelings, I need some of this action my life...

Maybe not this though, that's just a bit mean to be honest, even if it is only a lowly Consul (it's not a recent picture by the way).

Monday, 16 August 2010

Found this on Youtube...

...back from when I owned it four years ago! Note the "shut-up" gesture I make to the children at the end. I love children, honest.

Clutching at...

I've got some bloody good mates, me. The Z is currently residing at Area 52 because A) I don't have enough money to put any more fuel in it and B) the clutch is hanging out of it as I went all Northern and opted to get every possible mile out of the poor bugger. As such, it no longer moves under its own steam. Well, it creates steam/smoke/peculiar odors, all without the faintest hint of any movement. Clutch rivets hitting the flywheel are probably not a great thing either.

The plan was simple, I'd pay for it to live at 52 and as soon as I had a free weekend I'd head on down and change the clutch (there is a new one loitering in the boot). It didn't go like that though, instead I got a call on Saturday from Bruce..

Bruce: "Hi Chris, I'm trying to tidy Area 52, but it's the kind of thing I need to do on my own as I know where everything goes. Steve's here though, and he's bored. He wants to change your clutch."

Me: "I can't ask him to do that, that's a bit much!"

Quiet shout from Steve in the background: "It's alright, I want to!"

Me: "Blimey, thanks mate!"

So there we have it, the clutch is in the process of being changed just because my mates were bored. Like I said, I've got some bloody good mates, me! I must buy Steve something shiny for his Viva, and I must make a donation to Area 52 as a thanks for this!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

One thing that did happen at the Gathering...

...was this.

...thanks to Iain of BiAS fame and his mad painting skills, yo!

Looks good eh? It's getting a respray within the next 18 months, so why not have some fun in the meantime.

It might only be flamed on one side though. We might have ran out of masking tape. Ahem.

A teaser of things to come...

...yeah, I know I should sort the clutch. Wheels are so much cooler than a clutch though.

...might have to get the plasma cutter on those front springs too. There are far too many coils!

The Retro Rides Gathering 2010...

The second weekend of August was a time of much merriment for hundreds of retro car lovers from all over the UK and Europe. In deepest, darkest Somerset there lies a museum, a place filled to the brim with cars of all shapes and sizes. There is a Zodiac hot-rod in there and a cutaway Sierra Cosworth amongst others, but no one really cared about that. No, what drew the crowds were the hundreds of eclectic, eccentric and exciting cars that belong to the members of the Retro Rides forum. This isn't just a car show, this is the definitive car show for the discerning fan of cars gone by. Slammed Mercedes, high-riding 4x4s, track prepped and V8 powered BMW's and mintier than mint VW Campers made up for a small portion of the attendees. Those who know about it call it 'the show of the year' whereas those who have never been soon put it high on their list once they've soaked up the atmosphere. In a nutshell, it's an epic weekend and for 2010 it would be even better because the Zodiac would be there with me!

It went down a storm, people reacted so well to it. I was a little taken back by the whole thing to be honest. What really made people smile though, was my willingness to let people have a go. Why not though? After all, it wouldn't have been there were it not for the hard work that so many people put in, so the least I could do was let them have a drive around the campsite. Plus, it was pretty entertaining watching people try and use/get freaked out by the notion of a three-speed column-change manual transmission. I'm used to it now, but some folk were baffled at the concept!

It did me so proud, and the weekend itself was a major mojo booster too. A well needed holiday you might say. I even slept in the Z for two nights in a row and can confirm that it's bloody comfortable, despite me being 6ft 3!

RRG10 was the Z's first show, and what a way to introduce it to the world of camping, beer, banter, cools cars and good mates. That weekend will live with me for a long time to come!

Sadly though, the drive back to Area 52, over the steep Mendip Hills has killed what was left of the clutch, so I'm kind of back to the drawing board in terms of it being a functioning car. I don't care though, it was worth it. Plus I have a clutch in the boot, all I have to do is fit it now...old cars eh?

She Lives! Yay!

Sorry for the gap between updates, I've been a little busy what with work, shows and daddy duties. Things have calmed down now though, so I can finally treat you good people to an update. Whoo, yay!

The first big news is that she finally works again! Yes, after weeks of trial, error, swearing, skinned knuckles, swapped parts, tested earths and fresh condensers the old girl has finally barked into life. It wasn't a simple diagnosis as we first pointed our fingers at the budget electronic ignition. This was swapped out for a normal set up (via a new dizzy) including fresh points and condenser. No life though, nothing at all. All the wiring was checked, the earths were checked, the coil was changed, the battery was swapped, we basically changed every component on the ignition system, all to seemingly no avail.

I was a bit gutted by this point, especially as we were one week from the Retro Rides Gathering, a weekend event that I really wanted the Z to be at. It wasn't looking good though, we'd exhausted every possible diagnosis and come up with nothing. It looked bleak, all until Alan rocked up and had a look! With a fresh pair of eyes he was able to figure out that there was something within the dizzy that wasn't quite right. Turns out the was a washer in there that had no place. All it was doing was preventing the points from sparking, hence no ignition. Washer removed, the car fired up on the button! Joy was me!

The car could make the Gathering, to say I was a bit happy would be something of an understatement. A 12 year old doing a trolley dash in Toys R Us wouldn't be as happy as I was! I had a car that worked again, and a car that could get me to the Gathering. Sweet!

*Area 52 guys, Steve, Bruce, Rich, Alan, Ant and the rest of you, thanks for all the time and effort you put into trying to get the shed running!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

It's still not going well...

Just a short update for now.

It's still dead. Very dead in fact. I'm not best pleased, it;s taking up valuable space at Area 52 and I'm not driving it, which makes me sad. I like driving it, it's fun.

The dizzy was replaced by Ant and then he spent his day trying to get it to run, but it was having no dice. Not one little bit. The only thing that can be at fault is the dizzy cap, so a new one has been ordered and hopefully that will sort the problem, if not, we're in big trouble. The Retro Rides gathering is coming up in a week or two and I need my car to be there. Here's hoping the new dizzy cap fixes all...

In the meantime, have a recent snap of the old girl.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

It's not going well...

Brilliant! Old cars eh, who'd have them? Well, for the best part, me. As ever though my particular brand of automotive luck has reared it's annoying head and struck the Zodiac down in its prime. Not only that, it had the good grace make my car break down in Bracknell. Nobody wants to be broken down in Bracknell.

There was some coughing and spluttering all morning, but I put it down to something in fuel. As I trundled through Bracknell however, it became a bit more severe and the car stopped and then decided to not start again. I did some investigation, but couldn't see any issues so I called the breakdown people and they recovered me to Area 52 in Bristol. That's where we figured out the problem...

..turns out the monkey bargain bucket electronic ignition had failed, resulting in a dead car. The six0pointed lobe had smashed the granny out of the magnetic pick up which had shifted at some point. The most annoying bit though, is that we couldn't save it as the lobe isn't the original one, so a simple swap back to points and condenser isn't the simple option we hoped it would have been.

Luckily though, there was space for the Zodiac to live in at Area 52, so as I type it's residing there. There is a new dizzy on the way thanks to Zodiac Motor Services too, so it should all be up and running by the weekend.

All I have to do after that is fit the clutch, and no doubt wait for the next thing to go wrong. Old cars, eh?

Friday, 9 July 2010

Ahh, today is a good day. By this time next week, just in time for the Retro Show at Santa Pod, the Zodiac will have new goodies. Gone will be the awful, crappy exhaust system that's on it now as it's having a custom stainless steel system made for it by the good people at Essex Racing Classics

It should hopefully be bit quieter, but still raspy. The main thing though, is that it will allow the engine to breathe a bit better. The current system/manifold thing-a-ma-bob is awful...look...

...see? It'll all be shiny steel soon though, yay!

So, mad props to Essex Racing Classics for doing it, and yay for the Zodiac! Expect an update soon which should include shiny pictures of manifold joy!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The MOT-day road trip!

Owning an old car is a joy, not a chore. As such, it's only right that adventures are had at any given opportunity. That said, it's always the impromptu ones which are the best, just like the one had by myself and two good mates on the day of the MoT.

The test was at 11am, so I rocked up to Area 52, the Zodiac's surrogate home, at around 10:30am. Half an hour was plenty of time to get to the garage...right? "Who's doing the MoT?" asked Bruce. "Oh, Tim said he'd do it" says I. "And it's at 11am, right?" enquired Bruce...

Turns out I'm a geographical recluse, as I'd confused Westbury-on-Trym (10 minutes away) with Tim's location of Westbury...which is not 10 minutes away, not by a long shot!

An apologetic call was made to Tim, we went into panic mode and maps, people, cameras, a dog, a Bruce, myself and bloke from Wales all got piled into the Z. The MoT adventure was on!


We attacked Wiltshire and Somerset in true retro straight-six-burbling power! Spirits were high and banter was flowing, and to be honest, at this point I really wasn't concerned about the car passing an MoT, I was just enjoying the ride. I had high hopes though, which also alleviated my pre-MoT worries. With that in mind, we were off to the MoT station...


...and as you know from my last post, it passed! Whoo-yeah!

*Chris does un-rhythmic happy dance*

Then we were on with the journey, and next on the list was tax. Normally a painful investment, taxing this car was a joy. But why wouldn't it be? After all, it cost a meager £0.00 to take the old girl for 12 months. Nice!

After that we headed home via a different route through Bath. Then we stopped off to see friends in a local pub, while having a refreshing pint of lemonade. Well, I was on lemonade, Bruce samples the local cider!

Drinks downed, we headed back to area 52 at a steady, burbly pace and it was quite simply brill. An MoT is only an hour-ong affair t most people, but we made it an adventure. As a day out in an old car goes, this was one of the best! Next time you take your old car for an MoT I suggest you book it at a distant garage and make the most out of the journey. We did, and it was brill!


Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Lagality! Whoo, yeah!

So the Zodiac went in for the dreaded MOT yesterday. I was a little concerned as well I should be, it is after all a fifty year old car. Still, it was running well, the brakes worked after consultation and there seemed to be less blue smoke than normal emerging from the over sized tailpipes. It'd be fine, of course it would be!

The car even got an unexpected shakedown too, as I may have slightly underestimated how far away the MoT station was. You see Westbury and Westbury-on-Trym are two very different and very distant places! Still, we love a road trip, so road trip we did!

Once there it was all fairly painless! It went though the Mot with flying colours along with surprisingly strong brakes! To describe myself as a happy chappy would be a bit of an understatement! Twelve months test for the win or what! All I had to do then was tax it, and let me tell you that getting twelve months tax for the princely sum of £0.00 is rather satisfying.


After that myself, Bruce, Kev and Jed the dog wen on a bit of a road trip around Somerset and Wiltshire, but more on that on the next up-date!

Friday, 2 July 2010

The Rescue...

So, the first thing to do was collect the bugger. It wasn't running when I bought it as there was an issue with the electronic ignition. I don't why I'm saying 'was' as it is still very much 'not running' anyway, I digress. More about that in another update.

To make a long story short I needed to get it from the ex-owners house to Bruce's gaff as he had very kindly agreed to let me keep it there for a week or two. For those of you who don't know Bruce, let me tell you this: he's good people. This project may not have come to fruition were it not for his generosity, so for that I thank him!

Within the realms of Bruce's generosity was a willingness to not only store the old rust-bucket, but to also collect it for me. Rich, another 'good people' kinda guy also helped too by risking his life, dignity, manliness and general well being by offering to steer the old girl while she dangled at the end of a tow rope. Thanks Rich, I owe you.

The best bit about this towing though, was the vehicle used. Bruce isn't 'normal' when it comes to cars, not by a long shot. Hence the Zodiac being rescued by a post-apocalyptic Mitsubishi Delica, complete with mesh windows and flashing beacon. Brilliant.

If you're the owner of a sheddy old car and you need help to relocate it to a safe place for short period of time, and if you can find them within the seedy underworld of retro-car modification and welding, maybe you can hire, the Area 52 team.


And so it begins...

...a blog all about this:


If you're here it's probably because you read the brilliant publication that is, Retro Ford Magazine. First of all, thanks! Second of all, welcome!

The purpose behind this is to give you a more regular and detailed insight into the world of owning this old bus. Hopefully Morley will do the same with his cars too, or at least some of them. He probably won't though as he'll be distracted by boobs or beer or something.

Anyway, on with the blog.

The car in question is a 1961 Zodiac. I owned it some years ago, but due to having a kid I had to sell the old girl and put money towards Pampers and baby-wipes and so on. Not a sacrifice I minded making though, although I would have obviously preferred to keep the car.

In the end I swapped it for this...


...which looks rough, but was actually a lot closer to an MOT than the Zodiac. I drove it for a while and all was well, yada yada yada.

Roll on to 2010 and I get phone call. It's Carey, the guy I swapped with. He asked me if I wanted to buy the Zodiac back. I said yes. I then jumped about like a school-girl for a while and shrieked a bit too. I'm manly like that.

That's about where we're up to at the moment. This weekend (2nd July) I'm hoping to get it sorted and ready for an MOT, then with any luck I can drive it back home...hopefully.

This may be a success, it may be a failure. Either way, it should be an adventure!