Got up early, dressed warm, and backed the car out of the garage. Headlights working like a champ!
On the way to Caffeine and Exotics I was shocked at how cold it was in the car. It was about 40 degrees F, and at 40 mph, it was damn cold! I’d worn a good wind proof jacket over my long sleeved shirt and my torso was reasonably warm, as was my head and ears from the skull cap I’d donned, but my face was freezing as were my hands. Next time I’ll need to wear gloves. My legs, of course, were sweating from the heat in the transmission tunnel.
The event was fun. I largely sat and talked with two Lotus guys I’d not met before and Mick. I also chatted with the odd passerby who commented on the car or asked questions. Met one bloke from the UK who’d owned one previously so we bullshitted about what crap the manual is and a few other things. I was feeling pretty upbeat about the whole experience after talking to folks; the oil leak is fixed, speedo issue fixed, brake issue fixed, car seems to be running well finally with no idle issues, and quite honestly it’s a blast to drive.
After the event we headed over to Waffle House for a late breakfast. It was packed so we opted to try another one down the street. The second Waffle House was equally as packed and I ended up finding a spot in the parking lot down a ways and in front of a yoga studio. After walking back to the Waffle House and being informed it was a 30 minute wait we opted to try a 3rd option, a small Irish bar down the street with a brunch menu. Mick and Jason, the two Lotus guys who decided to partake in breakfast with me, hopped in their cars and off they went while I climbed into the Caterham, finagled the 4-point belts into place, put on my skull cap, put on my goggles, and got myself situated.
While doing that, of course, the handful of girls going in and out of the yoga studio started asking questions as they passed by. It was the usual questions – “What kind of car is that?”, “Where’s it from?”, “Wait, you built that?”, “How long did it take?” – and I kind of chuckled to myself as I tried to extradite myself from the ladies and go to breakfast.
Eventually I made it over to the The Old Blind Dog Pub to find Mick and Jason waiting on me with a front row spot. The Seven looks so small compared to the two Lotus!
After breakfast each of us split up to head for home. By then it’d warmed up to a nice 55-60 degrees F and was really, really enjoyable to drive. And just as I’m feeling all king-of-the-world like, I look down to notice the speedo is reading zero. Which is odd, because I knew I was doing at least 45mph keeping up with traffic around me. I then happened to glance at the fuel gauge and it was reading full which was also odd considering I had a half tank not 5 minutes ago when I left breakfast. At the next light I started checking all the gauges and everything seemed to be ok, except the fuel and speedo. I also noticed the speedo hadn’t registered any miles since breakfast either, it still read 118. I sighed inwardly; the car seemed to sense that and immediately started doing its +/- 500 RPM pulsing idle bullshit again.
Sensing the car was unhappy I did a quick pull off into a parking lot right before the engine stalled out. I then fired it back up without a problem and let it sit for a minute. It seemed to pulse a tiny bit then settle into a steady idle. Knowing I had to get it and me home, with no alternative, I eased back into traffic and started the 10 mile trip home. On the way I hit a few stop lights and used my foot on the throttle to keep the car idling in the 2,000 RPM range as I was stopped. That seemed to keep the car alive although any time I took my foot off it’d start to go into its wheezing death rattle again.
After another 15 minutes or so I arrived home with a very short temper and sense of overwhelming frustration.