The tyres on the car were 15 years old, but only about half worn. They looked to be in perfect condition, but I was concerned by reports of tyres over ten years old failing and I didn’t want to chance my luck. After consultation on the TR Register’s Forum I ordered a set of Vredestein Sprints, which at £38 each seemed to be very good value. They were fitted by my local garage two days before I left for the rally.
On the way across to Stranraer to catch the ferry I was concerned that the engine seemed to be misfiring when accelerating from low revs. This seemed to be getting worse and I suspected the new condenser or rotor arm. I stopped on the hard shoulder of the M8 and quickly changed over to the old condenser and rotor arm. Although this improved things slightly, I was alarmed to notice that under hard acceleration the car backfired and left a trail of black smoke.
I stopped at the next services and took out the spark plugs from number one and four cylinders to see if they gave any clues as to the source of the problem. They both looked a healthy colour, but then I noticed that number four spark plug had an enormous gap. It looked as though the centre electrode had disappeared inside the ceramic part of the plug. Stupidly, I hadn’t taken any spare plugs with me, so I bent the top electrode round as far as I dared and continued.After that the misfire was much less pronounced, but then the overdrive started cutting out and in. Luckily this seemed to resolve itself after five miles, but because we were paying attention to the problem rather than the route, we missed our junction. Once back on route progress was slowed considerably by five sets of road works and a convoy system. As a result of all of these delays we missed our ferry, so arrived in Ireland three hours behind schedule.
We continued south, where after a night in a lovely hotel we bought some new spark plugs from a little motor factors. Plugs fitted and the misfire was solved.
The rally started in Mallow, County Cork and continued to Bantry where it was to be based for the next three nights. The scenery in this most south-westerly part of Ireland was breathtaking and the rally organisers surpassed themselves with the roads and locations they used.
The new tyres proved their worth with lighter steering and much better grip. There was no more spinning the inside wheel at junctions and apparently stronger sidewalls, as the tyres kept a better shape during the driving tests.
The rally consisted of mostly regularity average speed sections, although with the standard of some of the roads some of these were more like hill climbs. There were also a few driving tests thrown in and I managed to get the fasted time on three of the five tests.
After 350 miles of rallying along small bumpy roads we were delighted to end up first in class and third overall and we managed fasted time on three of the tests.
The next morning we set off early on our return journey and with light traffic we managed to arrive at the ferry two hours early! The total journey from hotel to home took 14½ hours! Our average speed on the road was just over 50 mph and the fuel consumption for the journey was just over 30mpg.
The TR ran like a dream and it never fails to amaze me that a fifty year old car can take such punishment and manage to cruise comfortably at 80mph. I will forgive it the minor indiscretions on the way over. After all it was the spark plug that failed, not the car!