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Project Lucas, Bring Your Car to Work Day

The time had come to take Lucas on his longest voyage in years (and the longest drive in my ownership, basically doubling the mileage I had done on the old engine), it was time to go to work.

As I have previously said, the goal was to drive the 60 odd KM round trip to and from work today, as it was our work Christmas party and there was a “bring your weird car to work” sort of small car show planned.

After all the work that had been done, I wasn’t 100% confident in the car, as I haven’t had any real time to shake it down, but it was doing it anyway. I always have this imposter syndrome that makes it hard to trust any work I have done, even if I know I’ve done it properly.

The day before, I gave the car a good wash, and finally got around to replacing the old faded center caps on the wheels.

I’m not sure how or why, but in the space of a couple of years (I have photos of the car from various years) the center caps had gone from being nice right red, to this horrible faded yellow

The plastic domes on the caps had badly yellowed, but the red decal behind the dome had also faded to silver. I pulled all the plastic domes off a while ago, as the silver centers looked slightly better

But it was always missing that pop of red. I bought some replacement caps from Rimmers a while ago, at great cost, and finally sorted it last night.

The old caps were in good condition other than that…

To remove them, without taking the wheel off, I first tapped them in the downward direction with a soft face hammer, and then gently tapped a small thin flatblade into the junction between the cap and wheel. This popped them off easily and without damage.

The new caps press into the center of the wheel. Of course, I aligned the cap with the tyre valve, for that extra fanciness.

Much better

So, that takes us today, and the drive to work.

I left slightly early to try and beat the worst of the traffic (failed). Lucas fired up nicely and we were off.

I’ll tell you what, I shouldn’t have been worried. Lucas performed flawlessly. Temperatures were rock solid, and I could hear the viscous fan cut in and out as needed. Oil pressure was solid, 30psi at cruise and 15psi idling in traffic, I can live with that.

Even the wipers, which are best described as lethargic at best, worked perfectly on the wet screen and did a good job of clearing without too much juddering. Interestingly the “intermittent” setting was just a constant wipe in the morning, but intermittent on the drive home. Typical Lucas.

There was a slight whiff of coolant each time I would take a sharp corner. Not 100% sure about the cause of that, but as it was in the interior I suspect there might be a weep from the heater core.

Otherwise, the drive to work was great. The car was planted, cornered well and the suspension felt good. The trans shifted smoothly, albeit a little eager to get into top gear.

So, the engine. It’s a beast. From a stop, the car isn’t what you would call fast. It accelerates well enough, but it feels like the auto trans is sapping some of the power; where it really shines is in gear acceleration and pulling up hills.

In gear, even top (3rd), if you give it a poke of the throttle the speedo goes up, without changing gear, or having to rev high. It gains speed without much fuss. If you drop it into second, it gives you a good increase in velocity.

Climbing hills was a surprise. There is one fairly long and steep hill on the way to work, which it more or less idled up and would happily accelerate if I wanted it to. I recall the same hill requiring quite a few more RPM in Effie, which had the high comp 3.5 EFI engine.

This engine loves to work at lower RPM, but isn’t afraid of some revs if needed. It works quite nicely with the auto for that lazy, effortless, wafting-along feeling; Exactly what an SD1 should be to me.

I had some positive reactions to the car on my drive, which is always fun. Kids seem to get a kick out of seeing it, which I guess isn’t a surprise when all they are used to seeing on the road are wheeled whiteware in various shades of boring.

Lucas got me to work in perfect 80s comfort, window down, blasting some Kiss from the cassette player (albeit via adaptor to my phone). It was a good way to commute.

The car show was a bit of a bust, some people wussed out because it was raining that morning, and others just didn’t bother. That left three of us bringing in our unusual cars.

There was Lucas; a 1992 Mercedes E320, which made Lucas look quite small in comparison

And one of my team brought his 1986 Mitsubishi Mirage Geneva. Great little car this one and a real time capsule. This one even has a sweet digital dash.

So that was that. I had some good feedback from others at work (and the usual “geez I’m surprised you made it” and “do you get tired of crossing your fingers as you drive?” jokes). I would’ve liked to see a proper little display, with more cars, but it is what it is.

Not only did Lucas get me to work, but he even got me home again. Once again, perfect drive, even in crawling traffic.

The only real surprise was at the gas station on the way home. I wanted to fill up straight away so I could gauge how (un)economical the trip to work was.



It’s not great 😂

Maybe I should stop gunning it everywhere just to hear the exhaust.


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Mel S
Mel S
1 year ago

Supercharged 86?