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November 2015 .........
......And it came to pass: that after 9 months in the wilderness with the BMW Z4 the novelty had well and truly worn off and it was starting to bore me, so in May 2015 it was sold. The Zed was a nice car, but it did suffer some of the reliability issues which seem to affect many out of warranty BMWs, Apart from that, what I disliked most about it was the electronic power steering which was about as dead as Hitler. It gave no road feedback whatsoever. It was undeniably a great long distance tourer with lots of creature comforts and the handling was ok, but a sportscar it most definitely was not. To have any fun at all with it, it had to be taken to licence losing speeds which became frustrating, so It got to the point where I was really starting to miss the MX5s,
Planning to replace the BMW with another MX5 gave me a bit of a dilemma. The new ND model was due out shortly and I had considered going looking at one but the looks of it left me feeling a bit uninspired - in truth it just didn't do anything for me. I could have gone for another late model NC but after the electric roof problem on my last car, a 2011 Sport Black, I really didn't want another one.
There was also a hankering for a project car, something older that I could work on over a period of time and make "mine". Thoughts turned to another Mk1 but sadly a lot of these have now been chopped about & "customised" and have ended up being scrapped, so finding a nice original rust free example in the UK is getting more difficult. The natural progression steered me towards importing one straight from Japan where, because they never salt their roads, the cars tend to stay in relatively rust free condition, even at over 20 years old.
Around mid April, before selling the Z4 I started to read up on how to import a car from the land of the rising sun but found that although it's quite "doable" it is a bit of a minefield. It was whilst looking into the possibilities of this that I stumbled upon a company which appeared to have a good reputation for importing and restoring Eunos Roadsters. I got in touch in May 2015 and based on what I was told, and after reading the self praising profile on their website, left a deposit on a car that was in a consignment I was told was on it's way from Japan. The cars finally landed here around mid June and had cleared customs by early July so on the 8th I drove up north to see them and chose a rather sad looking RS Limited. A price was agreed which seemed expensive for a Mk1 but this one was a bit special and assurances were given that the car would be "superb" when they had finished it.
The reality was that dealing with this particular company turned out to be one of the worst experiences I'd ever had in all my years of being involved with with cars and motorbikes. After endless excuses, delays and being told downright lies I finally ended up getting the car at the end of Sept. Although not entirely happy with it on first seeing it, I'd driven a long way to collect it so after asking a few questions and receiving positive answers I stupidly paid the balance and took it home. Once there, closer inspection revealed the workmanship on it to be bad enough for me to have to return it for them to put right a number of items. Not least of these was that I was told on two occasions before I paid the balance that a new cambelt and water pump had definitely been fitted but it became evident after getting the car home that neither had in fact been changed. I was also told the fuel filter had been renewed and the gearbox and diff oils and been changed - none of those had been done either.
Apart from all the cosmetic problems, and despite it having been through a recent MOT there were some things amiss with the car which should have prevented it from ever passing the test. Based on being given a current MOT I had every right to assume it was safe to drive, yet I ended up driving it 170 miles home with defective steering and outrageously imbalanced wheels. Before driving it all the way back up there to return it the first port of call was my local tyre fitter to have the wheel balance sorted, it really was that bad. He was amazed at the amount of imbalance on all 4 wheels and the amount of weights that had been used on one wheel in particular, he had to remove that tyre to turn it 180deg on the rim. I was charged £36 to put it all right:
At the end of the 3 week period, which we'd agreed for them to fix a long list of issues, I went to collect it and bring it back home after receiving an e.mail from them telling me all the work had been done. It was only after travelling all the way back up there that I was told only a few of the things it went back for had been fixed. They'd fitted another used steering rack and a new cambelt but lots of the cosmetic problems with the paintwork were still present and the car came back to me still with it's flat, and in places, orange peel paint job. It also still had the loose and wonky rear bumper, faulty electric window, inoperative number plate lights and cracked / chipped windscreen, to name just a few of the things they'd agreed to fix but hadn't. And it still hadn't had the promised new water pump fitted. There had been a crude attempt at machine buffing some of the paintwork, but in doing so the idiot who'd done it had buffed over the car's information label as well - this is an identity tag and barcode which every Eunos carries on the driver's side 'B' post - and they'd removed most of the print on it. These people are supposed to be MX5 / Eunos experts, you'd expect them to know the importance of such information on a car like this.
It was now the 27th of October. The car was sat outside waiting for me when I arrived back there to collect it, but it was filthy and looked an absolute mess, I couldn't wait to get it out of there. Contrary to what their website blurb says and the face to face discussions we had at the outset, this was a far cry from the promised "superb" end product I was given to believe I'd receive.
Calling for petrol a few miles down the road from the workshops, water was spotted leaking out from underneath the engine. They'd left a hose clip on one of the coolant pipes loose and it had dropped down to where we couldn't access it without tools. By now this level of incompetence was of no surprise, but it was very fortunate that the leak was discovered before we got on the motorway. After going back once again to have the hose clip properly fitted I eventually got the now rather sad looking car back home where I began putting it all right myself. I started trying to claim some money back from them which turned out to be another saga. Eventually I did receive a small sum back but it wasn't near enough for me to rectify all of the unfinished jobs or carry out other work that had to be redone properly. Working on the car myself since getting it back home I've uncovered more examples of their shoddy workmanship.
In the end I suggested and took a low refund just to put an end to my dealings with them. By now I was heartily sick of the broken promises, poor workmanship and their lies but at least I had my car back and just wanted all contact with them to end. I started to wish I'd reported them to VOSA regarding the MOT, that was the one thing in the whole saga that I found absolutely unforgivable. It's fortunate that I know my way around cars, but somebody not so well clued up could have bought it and driven it around 'til the power steering fluid had run dry.
When challenged they tried to tell me the leak wasn't there when the car left them, but based on my engineering background and having spent most of my life working on cars & motorcycles (my Dad ran his own repair / service garage where I often helped out from a very early age) and having restored a number of classic cars myself when I was younger, it was my educated opinion that this was an old leak which had been there for some considerable time. The undertray of the car in that area was caked in oil from the leak, to which a lot of old road debris had adhered itself. I'd say the RS had left Japan like this. Same with the split steering rack gaiter, the rubber on that was extremely perished, it's highly unlikely to have deteriorated so much between the MOT and me driving the car away.
The RS as I first saw it at the importers shortly after it landed in the UK
Note the white label on the 'B' pillar, the bar code can be clearly seen on the let hand edge, compare it to the photo
further down which shows it now after being almost totally obliterated by a buffer.
The car does look a mess but on a positive note it's mostly cosmetic, underneath it's as clean and solid as a car less than half it's age. From restoring many cars myself when I was younger I'd learned that you just have to look beyond what's in front of you to see the potential of cars like this. Mileage wise the odometer is showing 124k km, roughly 77k miles.
A few shots of the car as it was given to me late September
The seats were supposed to have been restored but only the ripped bits had been replaced, this is how I received them.
This was how much power steering fluid remained in the reservoir by the time I got the car home.
The cars information label with the print almost entirely buffed away!
I was very tempted to reject the car at this stage but despite all the problems it had, and having paid far too much for it, I genuinely liked it. It's very solid with excellent potential for being made into a very nice RS Limited given some proper TLC and sympathetic restoration. So, I stuck with it and decided to go for a partial refund to fix what they hadn't done, but if it hadn't been an RS I would have given it back & demanded a total refund. Considering what I paid for this and also having to find my own wheels at a further £500 I think I was fully justified in expecting more, both in final product and customer service,
After leaving a deposit on the car I was promised regular photo updates but of course they never transpired, the ones below taken around mid September were the first and only ones I ever got, and were the first photos of the car I'd seen since the ones I took myself on the 8th July. I tried several times to make arrangements to go up & see progress but there were always excuses from them why I couldn't go to see it. When I finally did get to see it the day I went to pick it up it bore all the hallmarks of having been hurriedly "cobbled together" at the last minute, It certainly didn't look like the product of a few months work.
Note the rollbar still fitted to the car in September. This had mysteriously disappeared by the time I picked the car up a few weeks later
Once the car was home to stay I set about trying to polish the remaining blemishes out of the substandard paint job by hand, it took a few goes but after some serious elbow grease it started to look a lot better than it was, although a few bits are still going to need to be repainted in the future, in daylight some of the panels are a slightly different shade of blue. I've now fixed the wonky rear bumper, which was also loose and I've had a look at the faulty electric driver's door window so now know what's needed to fix that. I've sorted a problem with the rear lights / brake lights with a bit of a rewire. The hydraulic valve adjusters need some attention as they're noisy and a new radiator will have to be fitted, while I'm doing that I'll also check that the cambelt has actually been changed for a new one, I'll not be convinced until I see it for myself.
Jobs for winter will be a complete rust proofing with Dinitrol, a full set of coilovers will be fitted and a full overhaul of the brakes will be carried out. The seats will be taken out for some temporary tidying up but they'll eventually go away to be completely re-covered, possibly in leather. There will also be a roll bar fitted and maybe two 4 point harnesses will replace the inertial reel seat belts, I've not decided yet. The car did come from Japan with what looked like a proper Mazdaspeed rollbar fitted but when I picked it up noticed it had been removed. The holes in the floor and rear deck where it had been mounted are all left open with no attempt having been made to close them up with blanking plates or even just a few bolts through the holes.
After hours spent polishing and buffing out the many paint blemishes it's starting to look good
A really tatty old Eunos badge had been put on, so I picked up this one to replace it with, which I think looks far nicer.
I also found these RS decals myself, another thing that was promised at the outset but never happened.
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