Fail to prepare… Prepare to fail

Words and Photographs: Mike Humble 

Maestro and Montego: its party trick in the winter was snapping door handles!

Well, as Keith Adams’ last blog states, winter is indeed upon us and, in true British tradition, we seem to be ill-equipped to cope with the cold weather. I live in a small cul-de-sac and know quite a few of the local residents who, in turn, also know that I have been known to wield a hammer and spanner now and again. I have already had my first knock on the door. 

This morning, I have just spent an hour in the bloody cold fitting a door handle to a nearby Escort Mk5 which snapped off in the lady’s hand (that’s my take-a-way for tonight paid for). Arriving back home late yesterday afternoon, her hubby was jet-washing the car and I thought that would be a problem 12 hours later – a skid pan on the drive and frozen doors. 

The same thing happened to me one winter some years ago with my MG Maestro – PING! Off came the door handle and I spent a week of opening the passenger door and leaning over to open the driver’s side. Actually, I fitted three handles on that damn car before it decided to burn itself out.  I would like to think that many readers on here are enthusiastic about car care in winter but, after just one night of really hard frost in leafy Sussex, it looks like it’s all grinding to halt once more! 

A friend in north has also just broken the motor drive in his sunroof – why, oh why, would you want to open the sunroof when it’s -4 degrees outside? All it takes is some simple planning and thought to keep your car running sweetly and without fuss so, before Christmas is upon us, I beg you – get your car serviced, get the battery and alternator checked, check the tyres and lubricate the door handles, door seals and lock barrels with silicone spray. A very good friend of mine is an RAC Patrolman – he gets very, very bored jump starting cars and fitting batteries and, besides, I’m not always in either! 


Well, after a fortnight of sitting in the hall waiting for the Postman to arrive, the alloy ring embellishers came for my Project 25. I couldn’t wait for the weekend daylight to come so I was out there like a shot armed with my lead lamp and Superglue gel in hand. They really do uplift the look of the car’s interior and work really well with the mock walnut effect and will fit any model R3 or R8 200 –  25 or MG-ZR – A big thanks to Alexander Boucke! 

Alloy trims - a nice upliftHowever, there has been one minor blot in the 25's copybook. Arriving home from work the other evening, I noticed an odd smell coming from the nearside front of the car. Upon further investigation, I found the outer CV boot had split - this was odd as it had looked in good condition two months ago when I serviced it. Just the job to do on a cold dark evening: a duff CV Gaiter!

Thankfully, the joint itself was okay and, luckily, I had a new gaiter in the garage. Oh, how I thoroughly enjoyed fitting a new boot on the front, in the cold, in the dark – I’m really getting to old for all this crawling around! 


A mate of mine tells me his Grandparents have just bought a new car. They are selling their old M reg Rover 414SLi (R8 shape) saloon in Flame red. It’s in reasonable condition, starts on the button and is taxed and tested. The car, which has power steering, electric windows, central locking alarm and is a five-speed manual, is located in West Sussex. 

Offers circa £225 

An excellent retro classic wouldn’t you agree? 

SERIOUS ENQUIRIES ONLY PLEASE to Kenny Wyatt on +44 (0)7872 146948

Mike Humble


  1. I think most people just get on with the cold weather but the media work themselves up into a lather over it, wheeling out AA men to tell us to keep a blanket in the car and a shovel in the boot. This morning I had to drive from Carlisle to Leeds and back. I ignored the dire warnings on the radio and had a very pleasant journey – no problems whatsoever.

  2. My wife seems to think that my TF turns into the Titanic in this weather. I really do have to bite my lip and remind her I passed my test 30 years ago and have driven a vast array of different cars in winter each year!

  3. Don’t forget the wellies, shovel and rug in the boot either.

    It’s all relative – 60 years ago car mags would be full of articles on how to lay up your car for the Winter.

    Anyone notice how this year they’ve started pushing Winter tyres – is this the next big con? Oh, and how many drivers are going round unaware that at least one light has packed up?

  4. We have Land Rover Discovery 300TDi and it’s the best time of the year watching all those impatient idiots who spend the rest of the year carving you up getting stuck in the white stuff.

    However, the best car we ever owned for the snow was a 2CV! It was great on the snow – thin wheels, light weight but FWD so good traction. Worst car for the snow was an XJ40, say no more!

  5. I’ve never had any problems getting to work and back in my classic Mini – it’s superb in the snow and the innate handling makes the sliding about fun, haha.

    Most people either drive too fast and crash or too slowly and get stuck – you have to get the balance right! A good one to remember is: as fast as necessary but as slow as possible. I take great pleasure passing 4x4s which are stuck simply because the owners can’t drive!

    The problem with the Maestro/Montego/Metro door handles was they switched from a fairly heavy but strong cast metal to plastic, which just wasn’t strong enough and didn’t cope well with cold. The plastic ones could snap off in summer as well if pulled too hard!

  6. Chris Chapman :Anyone notice how this year they’ve started pushing Winter tyres – is this the next big con? Oh, and how many drivers are going round unaware that at least one light has packed up?

    That’s obviously said by someone who has never driven with them on a car in winter conditions!

  7. With a choice of seven steep roads out of my village – of which only one is accessible (though treacherous) in snow, I would welcome running winter tyres, if only I could afford them.

    The law in Finland obliges drivers to change tyres over the winter and the conditions there are colder but more predictable.

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