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John Dare
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Posted on Thursday, 20 May, 2004 - 23:02:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

I have just obtained the 2004 edition of "The Dog & Lemon Guide"(published in N.Z) which lists the KNOWN faults/problems (and associated maladies /quirks) with every car from Alfa to Yugo, dating from approx. 1970 to present. Proceeding immeadiately to the R-R section, I noted the usual suspects under the Shadow/Spirit headings, eg results of infrequent hyd.& coolant changes, suspension wear (ball joints/mounts)"Optus" ign. problems,trans. cooler pipes (corrosion/leaks etc) rear cross member failure, not to mention rear axle whine (I said NOT to mention it!) central locking and windows - quote; "as reliable as a politicians promise". Then to the Spirit for much of the same,plus some frightening repairs on Turbo models, power steering (rack?) problems, expensive air cond.(Servo?) repairs and truly "shocking" shock absorber (Active ride?) costs etc. Nothing really new here but the "Summary" says it all re predicted long term reliability; quote - "BELOW AVERAGE"!. Now I know you dont want to read this, but it gets worse (for YOU!) when you go to the (UGH!) Volkswagen section (THEY liked the car SO much, they bought the company!)only to see the SAME prognosis for the VW "Beetle" of the late 60s/early 70s (pre Superbug) which, not withstanding their basic nature, were one of the most reliable cars ever made. Simplicity and quality combined, ensured that millions were sold and Harry Grylls (one time chief engineer for R-R) bought one upon his retirement, commenting at the time, that VW quality standards equalled those of R-R. Having personally (girlfriend,actually) owned a 1970 VW 1500 Beetle years ago , I would not dispute that claim, nor I expect, would owners of the new Bentley Continental GT!. SO..what IS the "problem" with a Shadow of the same (1970) era, or even a Spirit (aged UP to 23 years) when compared to a "plebian" 1970 VW Bettle?. Well, fundamentally nothing, since although all three were finely and carefully built to good,albeit quite different design/s many years ago, they are NOW all old AND becoming OLDER (Every DAY!)thereby necessitating periodic "unannounced" repairs; some minor,some major. Hence in the report on the 30+ y.o VW Beetle, it is suggested that one avoid anything NOT totally (or perhaps essentially, Re-BUILT!) otherwise repairs to various components WILL be required on a progressive basis UNTIL such time as the vehicle has (effectively) been "restored". I did this with my 1970 Shadow, beginning with a good sound car which had never been abused or neglected BUT nevertheless required repairs/attention to various assemblies, components and systems, either as a consequence of time or mileage, or both. Short of undertaking a complete restoration (not warranted!) I progressively rebuilt the KNOWN mechanical "wear" points/areas of the car, as both time and funds permitted and now have a very nice, reliable, NON "concours" standard car. The moral simply is that as our Shadows and Spirits become older they WILL require money to be expended with only the AMOUNT varying from car to car. You can make a pre-emptive strike and initiate repairs NOW (in sympathetic deference to the age/mileage of the vehicle) OR you simply await the symptom and then localise and rectify the problem as required. If repaired PROPERLY by a recognized and acknowledged expert (a REAL one!) you may NEVER have to effect that SAME repair again. So, gentle readers, you have a choice. You pay now OR you pay later, but either way you WILL pay, whether you own a Shadow, Spirit OR VW Beetle as that is the nature of motor cars and all things man made. When faced with even routine repairs/replacement (COMMONLY affecting ALL makes/models of cars) such as fuel or water pump replacement;rebuilt/repl.shock absorbers;engine mounts;brake discs;trans re-build etc etc. many R-R owners suffer an acute attack of the fits/apoplexy and whine worse that my differential does (even on a good day) which might explain the continual ring (hum) which I have in my ears. The "perfect" car will NEVER be built (and never WAS!) although, interestingly, Toyotas venerable "Camry" and their "Lexus" LS400/430, both share the top score for OUTSTANDING reliability. NO other make/model of car on the planet comes ANYWHERE close!. Source; From the book hitherto announced, wherein all findings are based upon empirical data compiled from reports/surveys conducted in Aust./NZ/USA, by respected consumer groups therein, together with those from such organizations as Ralph Nader & Friends and JD Power, the internationaly reknown U.S auto industry/consumer, observer group. In the preface (page 2)the NZ publishers boast of having a monthly bonfire with all of the legal threats which they regularly receive from auto. manufacturers who perceive a sense of "betrayal" as a consequence of the uninvited exposure. Recommended reading at A$19.95, tax included and you wont feel so badly done by when YOUR R-R (irrespective of age/model etc) requires SOME form of maintenence or repair!