It was good to catch up in deepest Suffolk with my old buddy Steve, and his Tiger Avon.
He rescued the car from a hard life on the race track, it is now fully road legal, so we decided to meet up and have a little countryside drive. Two very different machines, one has air con, one has air, one has, well, most things, and one doesn't have much at all! But both share the same ethos, being great driving machines.
Warning - hopping man at work. Thanks Steve for this sneaky photo.
Both cars probably look their best from behind.
It was probably not ideal to arrange a drive out with a mate that you have not seen in a long time, so we let slip an hour of valuable driving time by catching up, at a safe distance of course. There seemed to have been something extra to talk about lately! Eventually we got into the cars, well I did, Steve sort of slid into his.
The first thing I noticed about the Tiger was the lovely 'Weber' sound coming from the engine. Even though his set up is fuel injection, you still get the iconic Weber 45 sound that every Ford owner will know well. With around 180 bhp and around half a ton, you can imagine how well it goes, and the sound at 8000 rpm is very addictive.
Steve led the way, I was smiling ear to ear hearing the Tiger and seeing it accelerate. Before we left, I checked the weather forecast and mist and fog wasn't mentioned. To say I was surprised when Steve disappeared in front of me in a cloud of white smoke, is an understatement. This looked rather bad from my seat, so I can't imagine what Steve was thinking. He quickly found a suitable spot to pull over. With the engine bay still smoking, we lifted the bonnet off, a tense few seconds looking over the oil soaked engine bay, looking for what gasket had blown, or any cracking in the block.
Then, Steve noticed it was the simplest thing as is often the way, it's normally the smallest things that let you down.
The rubber o ring on the oil dipstick had perished, and so over the bumpy roads had let the oil dipstick slip up, letting some oil out of the engine and straight onto the exhaust manifold.
So, if you saw a couple of people walking up and down the A-- road today, we were looking for a piece of wire to do a temporary repair to get him home. This worked a treat, locking the dipstick in place, so it couldn't lift out again.
The rest of the drive was thankfully without incident. The weather was kind, windows down to enjoy the sounds, as mine had windows from the factory, very useful things I find.
I must apologise to Steve, as I think I was holding him up in the corners. But I guess that's what you get for weighing nearly 1.6 tons and having old tyres, well that's my excuse.
This isn't a comparison test like many other good sites, just two mates having a few hours out and about, and away from all the normal day to day madness. Saying this, there are a few things that need to be said in summary.
Both cars focus on your driving pleasure, but at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Tiger is arguably more track focused, more hardcore, more responsive to any little input giving you a more raw feeling and lots of feedback. Whilst the Porsche is more luxurious, with its windows, a roof and radio as well as air conditioning, its steering input is a little less direct, and you have some delay in the throttle response due to the turbo lag (personally I do like that).
So, the Porsche is less track focused and more suited to driving more longer distances. Don't get me wrong, when you lean on the Porsche it really digs in and handles, but it doesn't fill you with immediate confidence like the Tiger does. One last point I should make, is that if you are after a weekend fun car, that is 1/4 of the Porsche price, then you know what you have to buy.
A little about the Tiger Avon. It's a British kit car from Tiger Racing, a manufacturer that started in 1989, specialising in Lotus Seven type cars from road to racing. The Tiger Avon was previously the Phoenix Automotive Avon Sprint. Tiger purchased the project and modified the chassis and suspension to their requirements and specifications.
Huge thanks to Steve from www.coopers-garage.com in Mildenhall, for a really enjoyable few hours, I'm already looking forward to the next one.
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