June 29, 2007

She's Gone

Picture of Supersport on a trailer

This photo shows the final stage of my Supersport ownership. Last Friday a very nice man from Telford came to collect her.

The garage seems strangely empty now.


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June 21, 2007

SuperHappyDevClub - a Place For Cambridge Hardware Hackers

Via upcoming.org I found out about the SuperHappyDevClub, which seems to be a nascent group dedicated to hardware hacking in Cambridge.

The first meeting is due next Saturday, the 30th. Sadly I'm busy that day, but might see if I can pop along for an hour...


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June 20, 2007

Punting Along the Backs

We had some friends down for the weekend, and on Sunday went for a punt along the Backs (that's down the back of some of the colleges).

Rebecca has posted some photos to her Flickr account.


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June 19, 2007

Update on the Supersport

As a followup to last Thursday's post where I offered my Supersport free to a good home, I've uploaded some photos of how she looks at the moment.

I was quite surprised, and heartened, by the amount of interest there still is in these little cars. Within twenty minutes of posted an advert on the XR Owners Club forum I'd had a reply from a guy called Neil who'll be coming to collect her on Friday. And if for some reason things fall through with him (which I'm sure they won't), there are three other people eager to look after her.


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June 16, 2007

It Is a Small World

Recently I noticed a few big white igloos had appeared on Parker's Piece, a patch of parkland in the centre of Cambridge. I wondered what they were for, but didn't think much more of them and the next time I cycled past they'd gone.

When I went to the Arduino Workshop I picked up a little electronic toy that artist Mark Dixon was giving away. They flashed tiny LEDs when they detected mobile phone activity - he'd had 5000 made for an art installation but as that had now ended he was giving them to anyone who was interested.

It's been a handy little device - I've had it sat next to my laptop ever since and it warned me of incoming text messages or phonecalls without disturbing the rest of the office (and meant I could listen to music on my headphones without missing a call).

Until today I hadn't gotten round to visiting the accompanying website. I was amused to find a video of the igloos on Parker's Piece being covered in these gadgets. Strange how these random events sometimes tie themselves back together.


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June 15, 2007

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June 14, 2007

Free To a Good Home

Me with my Ford Fiesta Supersport

UPDATE: A home has been found.

Getting My First Car

Back in 1991, after I'd passed my driving test I didn't have access to a car. I did have a Saturday job, and so the saving began. The intervening months gave me plenty of time to work out what car I was going to buy. After learning to drive in a 950cc Fiesta, I knew it would need at least a 1.1L engine if not a 1.3L; but I was happy with something Fiesta-sized and preferably sporty.

The inital choice of a Fiesta 1.1S soon gave way to either a VW Polo Coupe S or a Fiesta 1.3S when I discovered that the insurance wouldn't be much more. Then, my weekly ritual of scouring the classifieds section of the free papers showed there wasn't too big a price premium for a Fiesta Supersport.

There were a couple of Supersports knocking about the village; the precursor to the much-maligned XR2 with an attractive set of RS 4-spoke alloys and the same bodykit as the XR2 but with 1.3S mechanicals. I was smitten and soon had my heart set on getting one, despite my parents' repeated efforts to persuade me to get something cheaper and more basic.

When the time came to leave for university, I had enough in my savings to start looking for cars but finding the right one was easier said than done; the first few I dragged my Dad to see were pretty ropey. On the trip home at the end of the first term, Dad mentioned in passing that there was a Supersport advertised in that week's St. Helens Star. After complaining vociferously that he should've told me sooner, we agreed to go for a look.

That was how, on Friday 18th December 1992 I became the proud owner of a 1981 (old-style-W-reg) Ford Fiesta Supersport, in sunburst red with red stripes and a grey interior. I still remember the thrill of meeting Dad at the bank during my lunch hour and drawing out £900. It seemed such a huge amount of cash to be holding in my hands, but the feeling was short-lived as it was handed to Dad almost immediately so he could go and pick up the car for me.

The Love Affair Begins

My car ownership didn't get off to the best of starts. Come Sunday morning I was eager to go for my first drive and show her off to all of my mates. There were two problems with that: firstly Dad insisted on coming with me in case I'd forgotten how to drive (in retrospect a perfectly sensible decision, but at the time...) and more importantly we couldn't get the car to start.

We spent an hour or so trying different things without any success, including swapping the battery for a spare we had lying in the garage. I'd just about resigned myself to a many-hour delay to wait for the battery to charge, when Mum "just double-checked" that we hadn't forgotten about the ignition cut-off switch hidden behind the dashboard... Cue a couple of rather red faces, but more importantly a little red hatchback with a running engine!

For the next five years our lives were tightly intertwined. The Supersport makes an appearance in almost every story from that period of my life - if I had a scanner I'd be able to provide pictorial evidence too.

But this post is already long enough without a diversion off through tales of country lane diversions at the merest hint of traffic in central Lancaster... of late-night dashes up the A6 and A591 to visit friends in Ambleside... chasing the RAC Rally across Northern England... learning how to drive in the snow...

I'll pick a handful and write them up separately over the next few weeks.

Improvements and Showing-Off

From early-on in my Supersport ownership I was a member of the XR Owners Club (they incorporated the Supersport Register (SSR), given that the cars were close relatives to the XRs). This meant that there was somewhere for me to show off how good she looked and revel in the car-geek heaven of car shows. Whilst she was never at the jacking-your-car-up-to-show-the-shiny-suspension-components level, the regular washing, waxing, glass polish, alloy cleaner... treatments meant she could hold her own on the SSR stand. The photo above was taken on the stand of the 1993 or 1994 XROC National Day show.

I've never been that into customising or obsessing over the appearance of my cars; I like to choose something that looked good when it rolled out of the factory gates, and whilst I keep them clean and tidy I prefer to spend any serious time and money on improving the mechanicals.

The Supersport was no different. Although I was a poor student, the car was on a programme of continual gradual improvement. Generally when parts needed replacing, I'd take the opportunity to fit something better: the suspension was first - slightly lowered and uprated springs alongside gas dampers when the original dampers needed replacing; then when the front discs needed doing I put in the vented XR2 items instead; and when the top of one of the pistons decided to detach itself from the rest, during the engine rebuild I swapped in a better camshaft and uprated oil and fuel pumps. That engine rebuild was the reason I came out of university with an overdraft...

About the only part I upgraded before it needed replacing was the head (the top half of the engine with the valves in). Once I'd started work I could afford to buy things before my hand was forced, and I got a head that was better suited to the camshaft. It was clear even then that leaded petrol wasn't going to be around for much longer, so I paid a little more for the hardened valve seats that means she can run on normal unleaded.

A Change of Direction

By mid-1997 it was time for a change. I was earning more, and commuting weekly to Bury St. Edmunds from Rainford (230-odd miles each way). So a plan was hatched. For my daily transport I bought an E30 BMW M3 and then over time I'd strip out the Supersport and turn it into a classic rally and hill-climb car.

As I'd just sunk all my money into the M3, I couldn't do anything to the Supersport there and then, but that was okay - my Mum had just passed her driving test and so for Christmas I bought her a new steering wheel (an original Supersport item to replace the button-sized one that came with the car) and gave her custody of the Supersport.

Of course, Mum didn't see much of the car a year or two later when my sister got her licence and found it most useful that there was a car she could borrow. However, I think that just meant it spent a lot of time parked down at the farm where her horse is stabled - her passion for horses probably even outstrips mine for cars and is almost as expensive.

The summer of 2000 saw me moving to Cambridge, into a house with a double-garage! That meant there was room for both of my cars. The Fiesta was still in daily use, but was getting to the stage when each MOT meant a few more things needed fixing so it was best that she was retired from such high use.

Just before the MOT ran out, I brought her down to Cambridge and enjoyed a last week or so of commuting with her before I got round to moving the M3 out of the way so that she could get into the garage and await her restoration.

The Next Chapter?

And that's where I hope that you can help. When I was working at Microsoft back in 2001 I decided that the next bonus cheque was going to be used to start the restoration; but then they closed the department and made me redundant. Since starting my own business I just don't have the spare time to devote to her, and in a few weeks we're moving to Italy and she needs to leave the safety of the garage before then.

So, I'm looking for someone to take care of her and to use her. In return for giving her a good home you get to take her away for free. You'll need to bring a trailer because after six years of sitting in the garage she isn't going to be driveable, but she isn't in a terrible state either. One of the previous owners had the shell professionally treated with waxoyl (or something similar) and I gave it a second coat a couple of years into my ownership.

Feel free to email me with any questions at supersport@mcqn.net, or leave a comment on this entry. There are details of the modifications after the jump.



Pipercross free-flow air filter High pressure oil pump Facet electric fuel pump Kent BCF2 fast road/rally camshaft Vulcan Maxiflow unleaded head (enlarged inlet valves)


Lowered, uprated springs (approx. 1" drop) Uprated gas dampers


XR2 calipers and ventilated discs at front XR2 master cylinder

And I've got a spare set of RS 4-spoke alloys which I'll put in the boot or somewhere.


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A Correction: Cannes Is Coming To Cambridge Tonight

I should learn to read things more carefully.

When I blogged about the series of short films being shown at the Box Tree last week I said that the event was happening on that Thursday. I was wrong. It's today.

Hopefully anyone who was planning on going looked at the date in the full post, rather than going from my "tomorrow night" description. Still, the organisers have at least benefitted from some more exposure as a result of my mistake, so I don't feel too bad about it...


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June 13, 2007

Acoustic Cafe at The Bun Shop

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June 08, 2007

The Crowe-Scott Wedding

We had an action-packed and rather fun (very) long weekend this week as we were up in the Lakes for Scottie and Michelle's wedding on Monday.

The wedding itself started quite early at 11:30am, but needed to in order to fit in all the activities - ceremony; meal; two blocks of speeches; boat trip; lakeside exchange of vows; jazz band; buffet and finally disco. As I was one of the ushers, there was plenty to do during the day, but it all ran smoothly.

Now that Rebecca has started blogging she's written some more about the weekend, and linked to her photos.

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June 07, 2007

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June 06, 2007

Cannes Comes to Cambridge?

Tomorrow night, a collection of short films made by the Cambridge Film Network are being shown at the Boxtree pub (just behind the Grafton Centre). The films were all screened at this year's Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival, so it'll be almost like being at Cannes yourself (or something...).

I'm not sure if I can make it along, but it's a great opportunity to see One Little Step, the musical I raved about recently. Oh, and I might feature in Guilty - they filmed a confession of mine, but I don't know if it made the final film.

Full details of the event after the jump...

Cannes comes to Cambridge at The Boxtree
Thursday 14th June from 8:30pm
Napier Street, Cambridge (behind the Grafton Centre)

Fresh from a funky new refurb, the Boxtree Bar and Brasserie is bringing the French Riviera with a local twist to film lovers in the area on June 14th. Teaming up with the Cambridge Filmmakers Network, the Boxtree will be hosting an evening of short films produced by members of the CFN, all of which were recently screened in the short film corner of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

Films screening are:

One Little Step
Directed by Emily Blickem

With a spirit full of music and heart aching to love, a young woman finds enchantment amongst the tarnished glitter of a seaside town.

Charlie can't help dreaming. In her head, she has a life filled with sunshine and song. The truth - a seaside summer job at a crazy golf course - is dreary and grey in comparison. Then there's a boy, Jake, a sculptor, crafting Charlie's castles in the air from the sand on the beach. But will she take a chance, take one little step, and open herself up to love?
Filmed in Great Yarmouth, home of sun, sea and sand sculpting, One Little Step is a magical musical to melt your heart.

Blood on His Hands
Directed by Justin Coleman

On the eve of a historic trial, James Taylor must choose whether a man accused for his brother?s murder should be sentenced to the death penalty. As he contemplates his verdict, and the events leading up to his brother?s death, it becomes clear that the wrong man is in the dock.

The Horsemen
Directed by Kate Madison

The four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as you've never seen them before. This short comedy looks at the effect these four men can unintentionally have, especially on the poor waitress caught in the middle when they meet up in a country pub to discuss work.

Directed by Nic Cornwall

Do you have secret? A secret that deep down inside that gives you a twinge of guilt or possibly a little glow of pleasure? Would it help to get it off your chest? Imagine if you could tell your story and no-one would know it was you.

Guilty is a short abstract documentary based on anonymous confessions from members of the public.

More about these films at www.madandbad.co.uk.


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June 02, 2007

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