V8 goes East

V8 goes East - 5
Gordon and Jennifer Hesketh-Jones have been making their way through France and Italy on their way to join the MG Italia event. This report is from the long ferry crossing between Italy and Greece - it was sent by telephone because the internet connection on the ship proved so unreliable that after three failures to get an email through, Gordon resorted to a simple phone call! This report is prepared by Victor Smith from that call. (7.5.05)

From the overnight stop at Bourges in France, much of the route to the Italian border was on motorways passing Lyon and Clermont Ferrand (the home of Michelin). On reaching Chambery, Gordon was horrified by the concrete building which have built over recent years and savaged the beautiful town and views he remembers from visits there 40 years ago. Just 25 miles or so before the border he reached St Jen de la Maurienne with its impressive granite cliffs. Gordon and Jennifer spent a comfortable night at the Hotel Georges with its splendid cuisine. The following morning they were off for the Frejus Tunnel passing through a region involved in bauxite mining and aluminium production using local hydro power. As soon as they were into Italy the weather changed with pleasant sunshine and the temperature rose by ten degrees F - very welcome after the cloud, thunder and rain in France.

The route through Italy went by Marenello, a one industry town as the home of Ferrari. The Hotel Domos has Ferrari memorabilia everywhere and is the hotel where visitors to the Factory stay. All around the town you see modern Ferraris and on throwing open the shutters of the bedroom window the following morning there was the sound of five or six Ferraris on test at the nearby track. Sadly there were no tours of the Factory but a visit to the Ferrari museum was mouthwatering.

On joining the MG Italia group, the lengthy briefing was brought to an end after an hour and half as Gordon realised the hotel restaurant was likely to close! The V8 table at dinner was by far the most lively with the arrival other V8 enthusiasts like Bob and Caroline Owen. Bob has also sent a report which is published alongside.

The MGBGTV8 is performing well but not so the Michelin tyres! In Gordon's first note on his preparations for this epic 5,250 mile trip he mentioned he had replaced the front tyres with two brand new Michelin Energy tyres. On driving back to Cornwall after having a new fuel tank and front brake discs fitted, Gordon experienced front end vibrations. He stopped at a garage he knew well and they checked the new tyres and found one of the brand new Michelin Energy tyres was seriously out of shape. This was demonstrated to Gordon by a skilled tyre mechanic. Fortunately the garage had just one Energy tyre available in stock and were able to fit it, putting the faulty tyre on the spare. However in Italy the other new Energy tyre developed the same difficulties so Gordon dropped into a tyre fitter with some very sophisticated balancing equipment. The mechanic there pronounced the Michelin Energy tyre to be faulty, so another replacement had to be fitted. The mechanic examined both tyres and found they were from the same batch manufactured in France.

Safety notice - Michelin Energy tyres
So Gordon has put out a safety notice to V8 enthusiasts - take care when fitting new Michelin Energy tyres. As soon as we can obtain the batch number we will post that on the V8 Website. Needless to say Gordon will be following this up with Michelin just as soon as he is back from his 5,250 mile tour!

More reports will follow.
Reports from Gordon Hesketh-Jones so far
V8 goes East 11
V8 goes East 10
V8 goes East 9
V8 goes East 8
V8 goes East 7
V8 goes East 6
V8 goes East 5
V8 goes East 4
V8 goes East 3
Route card
Preparations for the trip

Reports from Bob Owen on the MG Italia
Additional photos from Bob Owen
Final report from Bob Owen
Second report from Bob Owen
Report from Bob Owen on the MG Italia

V8 Register - MG Car Club

MGBGTV8 at the MG Italia
Report from Bob Owen who is a member of the UK party attending the MG Italia event along with Gordon Hesketh-Jones. (7.5.05)

British MG contingent disembark at at Patras in Greece - the two V8s of GHJ and Bob Owen. (Photo: Bob Owen)

We are on board ship somewhere between Italy and Greece. Last night we had a very enjoyable meal with Gordon and Jennifer and half a dozen other MG friends from mainland Europe that we met last year on the MG Italia in Sardinia. We have now done about 1,300 miles from home.

The MGBGTV8 is going well except the bloody brake judder is returning - Gordon is doing some research into this. Curiously, after a particularly long and steep descent in the Dolomites, with brakes smelling generously, the judder went for a couple of hundred miles but is gradually returning. The pre-production brake fluid level indicator I have developed is working well - the check flash/beep at ignition on is very reassuring, but Carolyn is getting a little weary of having me point it out to her.

The only a minor problem we have had so far was after a bad bunching episode on a Belgian motorway so I put the hazard flashers on. But then I found the indicators not working. On basis that last thing touched is usually the problem, I pulled into a layby and repeatedly operated the hazard switch with indicators first in one then in other position. The problem was cured and it seems that since the hazard switch is rarely used, the contacts had oxidised. After a bit of loaded operation and it cleaned up - but couldn't do this in busy traffic.

Our first overnight stop was in Cambrai in France at Le Clos St Jacques with our good friends Babeth and Roger. A gorgeous little Chambre d'Hote and highly recommended. Then through Belgium (free motorways), Luxembourg (cheap petrol), Germany - and a stop for the night. Then up into Austria for the Otztal valley and planned crossing to Italy via 2,500m Passo di Rombo, only to find it is still closed. We understand it will be open in June, so we had a change of plan. Went through various other passes at 2,000m plus and encountered a light falling of snow. We also experienced a little of the stuff of fantasy when we stopped near the top of a pass to look at the view.

Dutch model at a fashion shoot at the 2,500m Passo di Rombo. (Photo: Bob Owen)

There was a fashion shoot going on and we were approached by the director who we thought was going to say "Could you move on please. We don't want peasants spoiling the shoot", but in fact we were asked if they could use the car! So, fame at last. We were promised copies of both the shots and the Dutch magazine in which they will be featured - we'll see. We did get a couple of photos of the ladies, actually as charming to talk to as they were beautiful, not at all the air-head image of models that one often has.

We arrived at Ancona to meet up with the MG Italia group at 1605, just five minutes behind schedule due to two accidents on the autoroute, one standard Italian tailgating shunt and the other a fire. There are 49 cars at the MG Italia with about four from the UK - two MGBGTV8s, an MGBGT and a TD. More accurate data later, or probably from Gordon who has more statistics at his fingertips!