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Living with a Libra


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Les
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Joined: Oct 24 2012

Hi Evereyone,

I am new to the GTM forum and am considering purchasing a Libra and have read quite a bit about them. Like all these things you don't really get to know the real nitty gritty daily problems until you have had one for a while, so here I am asking what are they really like?

I am well aware of such things as build quality having built 5 cars myself but is the Libra a practical car to use as a daily driver?

I am sure there will be a lot more questions I will be asking and I hope you will all bare with me.

Thanking you in advance

Les

Ziggy

Steve Garland
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Old School
Joined: Jan 29 2007

I have a Libra as my only car - although my wife has a Fiat 500, so I'm not 100% reliant on it.  I bought it factory-made in 2007 and it has now done 48,000 miles.  It has a Honda 1.6 VTEC engine. I'm 6 ft tall and fit in fine.

Space - It isn't brilliant if you want to carry lots of stuff, however... We've been camping in France, Scotland etc with it - just have to pack very carefully, using the small boot and space behind the seats.  When on my own I can carry several bags of sand cement etc in the passenger footwell/ on the seat (with suitable protective covers!!).  Only down side when camping is that you then don't have room to stow the removable roof panel, so have to keep it on - which can be frustrating.  You'll find several discussions about this on the forum.  I keep thinking about trying to make a soft one or foldable/sectional one, but never get around to it.

Problems with the car.  Had issues with it cutting out when driving in heavy rain, but eventually tracked down to a cracked distributor cover (this eventually resulted in it cutting out when hot altogether).  Not a Libra problem really - Honda engine one.  The rear wheels do throw a lot of water over the engine, but doesn't seem to be a problem for others on the forum?  

Replacements/repairs in that time (excluding engine)

  • Gear change cable - one broke - these are MGF and not so easy to source these days
  • shock absorber - these you can get easily to order - you'll find details on the forum somewhere
  • radiator - rusted and started overheating in summer - Rover Metro - easy to get - 
  • leaking petrol hose - this happened a few times - just needed new hose, clips - maybe the original build stuff used wasn't good as it doesn't sound as though it is an issue for anyone else?
  • Door hinges - a regular kit car thing.  I've got the newer hinges, but they seize up and then turn in the door fibreglass and then wear a larger hole - then the door drops.  This I need to sort soon as it is getting bad again.
  • Cable supporting the rear clam-shell snapped once - resulted in chipped boot lid and bent hinges.  Worth checking condition of this and replacing if necessary.
  • Resistor on fresh-air fan (a Rover unit) failed - this corrodes and is a well-known Rover issue - it is also a bugger to get at and impossible to repair - and you can't get a replacement without a whole new fan!  I bought some better resistors, lengthened a few wires and soldered up my own unit, with heat sink and put it in a more accessible place - this is now reliable.
  • Tyres.  It gets through rear tyres fast (though a gentle right foot might help - but you can't do that in a Libra - or what's the point!).  I think I've had 4 sets of rears, but only one new set of fronts in 48,000 miles, so 10k is about the norm for the rears!  These are Toyo Proxies at around £70 a piece.

It's quite low to the ground, never had problems on speed humps, but you can crunch kerbs in car parks (oops!).  It also rattles a bit - I need to upgrade the anti-roll bar bushes - as described on the forum - maybe this winter...

The main thing though is that you have tremendous fun driving it, you get stared at as you drive along, people stop to talk to you all the time, running costs and insurance aren't bad.  It isn't really designed to be good in snow, but its lightness meant that on a couple of occasions it got me out of places where I thought it wouldn't. 

What would I like on an ideal Libra?  Stowable roof, bigger petrol tank (does about 220 miles max and I carry a couple of litres as pushed it too far and ran out a couple of times - needle on last bit is difficult to trust), better door hinges.  All the rest is great as far as I'm concerned.

Hope this helps.

Steve

Steve Garland

Les
Offline
Joined: Oct 24 2012

Steve,

Thanks very much for your comments and thoughts of the Libra, my biggest worry is perhaps obtaining spares, is this something that is potentially going to take these cars off the road in the near future? I assume ebay is a great help?

Thanks again and any other comments from others greatly appreciated.

Les

Ziggy

Toby Wills
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Old School
Joined: Dec 30 2006

Hi les I have a libra that was built in 2001 with the mgf vvc engine it had done only 8000 miles when I bought it back in 2006 ,now it has 40000 on clock and apart from the bits I've spent money on upgrading brakes, suspension ect  it has proven to be a reliable car .

As for parts there are plenty of bits out there for the mechanicals side and Westfield have all the moulds for body parts.

As with any kit car there are issues from time to time but it all depends on how well the car was built in the first place, with mine I looked at every area witch I thought might give me problems ,such as where hoses could rub electric connections  ect  , and this has no doubt helped with the reliability.

Toby