Last October our black sprocker spaniel had to be put down (sarcoma on her muzzle); we managed a couple of months without any canine company, but it really doesn't suit us or our work, so we adopted a 2yo rescue Brittany from Spain: Zipi. Then on Christmas Eve we had a message from Tessa (SEBPRA) asking if we could foster a 9m puppy who had to be rehomed instantly. 

So now we have two Brittanies: Zipi and Deke - and they are delightful additions to Amazon Cars, and their characters?

  • Zipi (2yo)
    • Calm and affectionate
    • Not particularly motivated by food
    • Very beagle like, if you've never known one then let me explain: dominated by his nose above all other interrupts. But he comes back to work after an hour or so chasing around the orchards. A week ago his tracker lost contact with us for an hour, and even so he logged 20km, so he must have covered more thatn 20miles in the 2h he was exploring in the adjacent fields.
  • Deke (9m)
    • Still very much a puppy
    • Instant recall to the whistle, very biddable
    • The purer example of a Brittany: no tail (genetically, he hasn't been docked); affectionate; very intelligent.
    • Very excited by food, which makes training quite an easy task
  • Hopefully we can include them in our YouTube videos, accidentally or otherwise!


We have a P1800E in a rare pastel blue that clearly hasn't had mechanical attention in a while - which is to be expected: we always reckon on an owner spending a year thinking about selling, then a year selling a year, during which no maintenance is conducted; so there's always some recovery work to be done when a car is bought.

  • Hydraulic brakes: pleasingly good, just the LHF caliper a tad reluctant to return, so we've replaced that
  • Handrake: a very agricultural conversion to two separate cables and return springs wrapped around the calipers - returned to the Volvo set up.
  • Suspension: very tired. The bolts were difficult to remove but didn't shear until I got to the RHR upper control arm, where the captive chassis nut simply ripped out. So some fabrication needed...
    • Front end: RHF UWB spindle bolts too tight to turn, so I left the front bush in situ till the exhaust downpipe can be removed, when we'll be able to turn the bolts safely.
    • The lower wishbone bushes have all seized onto the main bolts, but pleasingly I can turn the bolts in the crossmember. Since the RH LWB has also had the lower shock cup welded in place, I'll simply cut the wishbones off, then draw out the bolts easily.
  • It's got those horrible guards on the headlights: forgive me if you happen to like the aesthetics! My beef is that we've never yet had a broken headlight in 20y of rallying and road use, but being unable to clean the headlights is a big disadvantage...

As for my beloved 142...

  • Amy & Niall are going to campaign it in the HRCR Historic Road Rally series, so we are returning it to eligibility
  • Which means the modern throttle bodied fuel injection and distributorless ignition have to go
    • This is quite a task: simplifying the fuel system, derigging the loom etc...
  • Right now the car is with Alan in Norfolk for a full rollcage
  • I shall replace the gasflowed head with a twinspring high compression head (but not gasflowed)
  • Then rig the navigator's area
  • Fit rear upholstery trim

But it's so good that the car has a purpose again, having had a few "lives" so far: road car till 2002, Gymkhana car for a few years, then stage rally (where it did very well in the one event we could afford to do), then fuel injection development till the Targa regs outlawed it, now back to Historic guise.

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