I guess it is about time I came back online and posted up a bit of an explanation as to my recent disappearance on here (if anyone had noticed anyway). Unfortunately this is something that is not particularly pleasant and very difficult to write about.
Back in mid-December I was looking to change the clutch on my car, and decided to go with the AP clutch and EP lightweight flywheel kit. Whenever I've had to change something on the car I have generally upgraded to something a little bit more tailored to improving the handling or performance of the car. This was exactly the case here where the clutch was starting to wear (having just passed 100,000 miles in the car) and so, as I was enjoying the new Dave Andrews engine so much, his advice was to lighten up the flywheel for further performance improvements.
I also wanted to smarten the Bug up as a 100k mile present with a new lick of paint, repair a split under the lower wing of the front clam, have the wheels re-blacked and the calipers sprayed in burnt gold! (Ala Type 72 JPS scheme)
The work was being done by someone I've known for 5 years or so, who has his own garage for car mechanics, GRP repair and a 7m spray booth. He has worked on the car in the past and I've been really pleased with his previous grp & spray work on my car.
He had the car for 5 days in order to do the grp repair work, swap the clutch out and respray the front end, wheels and calipers. Unfortunately, 4 days before Christmas, whilst apparently on a test drive to make sure all the brakes & clutch items were ok, he somehow lost control of the car exiting a roundabout on a dual carriageway, span 180 degrees and put it backwards through a brand new pretty substantial fence. He managed to snap two fence posts clean in half (about 9 inches wide by 4 inches thick!), pulled another two out of the ground, and left a further post leaning over. 6 sections of fence were destroyed.
He was unhurt apart from a few bruises, miraculously. The car on the other hand was not so unhurt. The rear clam was ripped open and split in half pulling the major part of it clean off the car, obviously from the impact with the fence posts. The rear wheel is now more oval from the impact with the curb, and the attached wishbone would be more use as a boomerang. The passenger side of the car was skewered by the horizontal rails of the fence with two holes in the side. The side sill grp part (bonded to the chassis) was demolished, and the fence rails even entered the cabin of the car, breaking the rear shelf and causing the rear window to shatter, and lower rail just missed the fuel tank.
My lovely custom 2bular exhaust is twisted and dented, the rear diffuser is folded up like paper and the rear sub-frame end piece buckled. The front clam was also buggered by the recovered truck dragging it onto the flat bed and broke off the whole number plate section.
I have only just reached the end of the settlement and am just waiting for all money to be paid. The car is now a Cat C write-off due to the damage to the side sill. The assessor put this down as chassis damage and 'needing new chassis'! After an arduous battle with the insurers, the money I have got back is not much less that what I bought the car for 7 years ago! A lot of this was actually thanks to the modifications I have done over the last few years.
There was a hope that another prominent MLOC member would be able to buy the car off me and use it for racing, but timing was not on our side with this so he has had to go a different route. The car, which I bought back from the insurers, has been sold on to Junks, where he has a few options with what to do with it, and it may well end up being in the Elise Trophy in some form or another.
As you can imagine it has been quite a traumatic time, and extremely stressful.
In an effort to move on with life, another Lotus is out of the question for the time being, life is very different to when I bought the Bug 7 years ago. I now have a 3 year old son and I travel almost 80 miles a day to work, so having a 2-seater in the family that is not really usable in all conditions is not ideal. There's always hope I'll get another one down the line, but I know for a fact, it just won't be the same as Bug MkII (MkI being the pre-DVA work!).
Sorry for the lengthy post, and the detail that probably isn't necessary to share, but I'm sure you can appreciate, whilst it is 'just a car' we all know, they are much more than that, and this is definitely not how I ever imagined leaving Lotus ownership. The car is currently in my garage waiting to be picked up on Monday.
As it happens, all of you with a 2014 MLOC calendar will be staring at the Bug throughout November (I also have this photo framed in A1 size above my desk at home - Thanks to JonE), so rather than putting up any photos of it in its trashed state, here is the calendar photo of it looking awesome!