A couple of months ago, I received an e-mail from Anthony Borg in Malta. He was looking for a complete replacement cylinder head for his 1976 Opel Rekord C series fitted with a 2.0 litre engine.
As it happens I have a spare used cylinder head in my loft of dubious provenance, I am unsure whether it is for the 1.6, 1.9 or 2.0 litre versions of the cam in head engine, I still need to look at the raised vanes on the front and work out its specification.
This was probably not quite what Anthony had in mind, but he seemed keen to buy a replacement camshaft that has sat on the shelf for at least the last five years, if not ten.

FAI brand camshaft kit - been on the shelf for a while

The description on the label was for Carlton 2.0, the Vauxhall equivalent of an Opel Rekord E series. It was hard to tell by sight whether was is for the older C.I.H. engine, used in countless Rekords, Asconas and Mantas or the more modern O.H.C. all alloy engine used from the start of the GM front wheel drive era onwards.

Vauxhall Carlton Camshaft Kit - should also be good for the Opel Rekord

Bearings were not included in the kit, but a strange piece of pipe work was. The cam itself was 435mm long.

Camshaft Kit - Cam, tappets and one weird looking pipe!

I pointed out that the tappets were of the hydraulic type used on later engines and not solid as fitted to earlier engines. I recall that there was a certain amount of interchangability between the tappet designs, the hydraulic versions are quieter and maintenance free, but do not perform quite so well above 5000 rpm!

Hydraulic tappets - maintenance free

Anthony seemed pleased with the deal and saved on a hefty bill to send out to Malta, by arranging a UK delivery address. DHL were amazing, I booked a "economy courier service" through Interparcel.com and before I had a chance to even print out the label to put on the parcel, the door bell rang and they collected it.

If you have noticed the lack of new blog posts in recent months and wondered why I have been keeping quiet for so long, let me tell you why.
My winter time passion is skibiking, this is riding a mountain bike that rides on skis instead of wheels. It is a downhill only device which combines the thrill of skiing with the ease of riding a bike. This year I took a couple of months away from work to explore new places to skibike and network with the movers and shakers of the skibiking community, my adventures are covered in The SkiBiker Skibike Blog.

I also moved from winter into summer by crossing South of the equator for a two week visit to the small South American country of Uruguay where I saw many old classic Opels. They were still in use as daily transport for many Uruguayans, you can read the full story here.

With so many trips abroad, it was impossible to send out parcels normally and posting took place on a few designated post days, whilst briefly back in London between trips. My thanks and best wishes go to those customers who waited so patiently for me to serve their needs.

I have been invited to visit Uruguay on numerous occasions in the past, but this Spring a family member was having a significant birthday which catalysed my trip. Most people have no idea where Uruguay is, it is a small country by South American standards, sandwiched between the power house economies of Brazil and Argentina.

It has no indigenous motor manufacturer, cars have been imported, which has made them an expensive item. As a result people retain cars longer and strive to keep them running. The majority of cars on the road look well worn and far from original, but even the most battered are still far from being rusting hulks.
You see plenty of familiar designs from the 1960s right through to the 1990s, as if trapped in a time warp or a giant classic car show. Chunky angular saloon cars, estates and utility pick-up trucks outnumber the hatchbacks and sports cars are a very rare sight indeed.

I spotted many familiar silhouettes; the Kadett A and B series, Rekord B, C, D and E series. Earlier cars were badged as Opels, but the later models from the front wheel drive era were badged as Chevrolets
The most numerous Opel models, were the Rekord E series and an unusual model variant of the Kadett / Chevette. The centre tub of the car is instantly recognisable, but the front are rear ends are a bizarre mix of parts that appear to be borrowed from the early Vauxhall Nova. It looks like a product from a parallel universe, where the rear wheel drive Kadett C series had evolved into a new vehicle and maintained the rear wheel drive era for another decade.

Uruguayan Chevrolet Chevette - how the Kadett C might have evolved?

Other notable non-GM vehicles included; the Peugeot 504, some in sparkling condition, huge ancient gnarly Ford pick-ups and plenty of VW Beetles, produced in neighbouring Brazil.

Uruguay has modern tolled motorways, but the small provincial towns are served by arterial roads that are dirt tracks, well maintained in places, but still dirt tracks.
It was a novelty to be driving for over 100 miles at around 60 mph on these dirt roads. Ironically I had a similar experience earlier in the year driving a similar distance whilst heading to Geneva on roads covered in fresh snow.

Dirt road in Uruguay - Sports cars not popular here

Our hire car was a Chevrolet Corsa, much like the UK Corsa, but with a boot. Looking underneath I noticed that the suspension control arms have skid plates fitted, possibly a concession to rough off-road driving that prevails.

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