We set off for Goodwood on Wednesday 11th July. Well, I saw what I thought was a thorn in the drivers side rear 9.5inch tyre of my 1998 2.8 litre BMW Z3. This tyre had been losing pressure steadily for about a month and a trip the day prior (drop the dog off in Manchester) had revealed a 10 psi drop off in pressure, it had been sat for a week. Off to Kwik Fit as soon as the car was loaded. It turned out the rear alloy wheel was leaking and must be refurbished but the 7 year old front 225/45 rubber was beginning to fall to pieces and a large gash had appeared on the passenger front, down to the wire. New Pirellis on the front and deciding to keep an eye on the rear pressures we set off.
We were immediately met with a dodgy scraping/high pitched screaming from the engine. I’d heard it prior but it had gone away and concluded it must be a bearing, but which one? If it was the water pump things could get bad quick, so I was glued to the temperature gauge all the way down the M6. The noise got worse and worse until I could feel the vibration through the gear stick. Sick of stand-still traffic and a car seemingly in pain I pulled into Sandbach services only for the car to cut out at low revs and be unable to restart. Bonnet up and I let my fiance turn it over to hear where the disaster could be coming from, it sounded like starter motor and the ability to even attempt to tick over was faintly disappearing. We tried a bump start to no avail and waited for the RAC. 6 hours later a man arrived with a van full of tools, spanners and all sorts of motor based wizardry. I expected the car to have to be towed away and in all this hullabaloo England vs Croatia had just kicked off in the Semi finals which I could now not listen to on the radio as the car was being fettled.
Standing next to the engine I let the mechanic get to work, and work he did. Spanners out, a hammer, whacking stuff and doing things I was seriously unqualified to understand. I stood in silence as not to tempt fate but I was desperate to ask ‘is there hope?’. The longer he went on the more I knew the chances of us continuing were increasing, until eventually he popped his head above the massive clam-shell bonnet to declare he must now head across Manchester to get me a new starter motor, I promised him a tip if he made good time. Diagnosis: the bearing had exploded in the starter motor and it meant the motor itself stayed on all the way from the Tyre garage, until it inevitably exploded and ceased.
After what had now been 8 hours at Sandbach services we took off and I was determined to make time. Flying through Birmingham I was sure I may have flew past a smart Motorway speed camera a touch too fast which annoyed me a lot, but I haven’t heard anything since. On we carried on to Goodwood. At about 1:30 am literally 6 miles from the cottage we were staying at, Charlotte, my fiance got a little lost, I swerved slightly into a bus lane to look at the map myself only to hit a pot hole at a dodgy angle. The steering went numb slightly and didn’t appear to feel correct. By this point having been traveling for 13 hours and mostly at night I think I was beginning to feel delirious as I was convinced I had bent a tracking rod or the wishbone. I pulled over again and double checked, both front wheels were pointing in the correct direction and even if anything was bent underneath, in the pitch black of the South Downs National Park I couldn’t see a thing. Off we went, at 20mph with the hazards on, we limped on our way, coming across a major accident as somebody had left the lane and careered into a ditch/tree in the distant darkness. The police were all over the road and had to direct me through. We arrived at our cottage after driving up a couple of wrong driveways in pitch black at just past 2am.
Fortunately the owner of the cottage had left us a bottle of wine which was medicine to me, half a bottle later I was fast asleep, ready to begin our Goodwood adventure the next day.