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My car sneezes
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Esprit V8 briefly mentioned my experience with Viking but I'll go in a bit more detail although mine isn't as bad as others. My car was almost new with very low miles when I bought. So when it was time for it's 1st "A" service, everybody recomended Viking as being the best this side of the Mississippi.

So the car goes in for it's first service, timing belt check, MT-90 in the trans and the bulk heald bolt fix. When I get the car back, I find a scuff on the rear bumper, a tape measure under the seat, oily rag that had fallen and wedged itself on the EGR pipe near the exhaust manifold. :mad: Since it was all minor, I let it go and returned the tape measure. ;)

A few weeks later, given my car had Red ECU with aftermarket boost controller and I was new to Esprits' fragile trans, I blew 2nd gear. Back it goes to Viking. I get the car back and the trans is leaking. No biggie, I know the roll pins are hard to set.

As I'm driving to Viking in bad East LA traffic (not a good place to be), I lose the shifter. -eek- I manage to get the car on to the shoulder. Turns out one of the clips holding the shifter cables to the bracket fell out. Now these clips should be installed from the top so gravity can help them stay inplace but Viking installed them from the bottom. So manage to rig the cable with stuff I found laying on the side of the road and continue my trip to Viking.

I get the car back and I check their work. I notice the shifter cable clips were installed from the bottom again but this time with a glob of silicone to help them stay in place. :rolleyes: I also notice a glob of silicone on my CV boot. :huh: I figured they already established they like silicone, maybe they accidentally smeared some on the boot. No biggie.

I take the car out for a drive and when I return I notice grease splattered all over the underside of my car. Turns out that suspecious glob of silicone on my CV boot wasn't an accident. It was an attempt to cover a puncture. So I called Harry and he denies his guys had anything to do with the boot damage nor the cover up. He can fix it, but I'd have to pay. That's when I said fawk it, I'm done. I working on this myself from now on.
 

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'94 S4
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So manage to rig the cable with stuff I found laying on the side of the road... I'm done. I working on this myself from now on.
Buddy, if you can pull off an emergency fix like that you don't need a shop unless you have to pull very big parts. Good luck.
Also, what's "the bulk head bolt" fix. I don't know about it.
 

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My car sneezes
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652 Posts
I don't think I was being unreasonable and this was not an isolated incident and there are many more worst stories from local owners. Here's the latest incident with Viking that I saw.

Friend of mine needs a starter and JAE is out of stock. He calls Harry and Harry tells him he doesn't have any right now but he does have one he can send out for a rebuild for $200 with exchange; great! A few days later we get the call the starter is ready. Awesome. When my friend arrives the bill is actually $380 with exchange. WTF. what happened to $200? Eventually they agree on $300 and the deal is done. Come time to install the starter, he discovers the thread in the bolt hole is stripped. WTF!!!! -mad-

I really don't want to see Harry go down. The Esprit comunity is small and any resource lost is bad for us. But shady shops hurt the community too. Maybe this should be a wake up call for Viking and realize this is the reason he only sees one Esprit a week; if any. Most of his local regulars got tired of this. Seems like most his business now is from 1st timers who know Viking from Harry's rep fron 10yrs ago. And maybe he is extra generous/carefull with 1st timers. But like EspritV8Pilot said, it's repeat business that counts.
 

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My car sneezes
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652 Posts
Buddy, if you can pull off an emergency fix like that you don't need a shop unless you have to pull very big parts. Good luck.
Also, what's "the bulk head bolt" fix. I don't know about it.
LOL, it's like you know me!!!!. I have invested in may tools over the years. I'm actually in the middle of an engine rebuild. I'll post about later.

Here's info on the bulkhead mod:
Bulkhead Mounting Plate Modification
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Here's my one and final experience with Harry and Viking - I Noticed that the temp on my car was running high and figured out that the stock radiator was clogged and needed to be re-cored. I bought a spare radiator and had it upgraded to a 3 row high efficiency core. I've done a lot of work on other cars from engine to transmission rebuids but have never tackled anything like this before. I knew that the car had been taken to Viking before by the last owner so I brought it there to have the new radiator installed. Now understand that I spent a lot of time underneath my cars and know how things are and what they look like. My car had a clean underside and had no leaks whatsoever. There's also a cover that keeps debris from coming up to the oil coolers and radiators from underneath. Picked up the car when it was done and as soon as I got home I noticed drops of oil coming from the front right hand side of the car. Looked underneath and there were 2 puncture holes on the oil cooler line right next to the radiator. One underneath and above the hose. I know that there could have been a possibility that road debris might have caused the leaks but that would only come from underneath the hose, not on top. It looked like someone took a knife and put a pin size hole underneath and above. There's no way that any kind of road debris can put a hole above the hose. The bottom I can understand but the top impossible. I called Harry back immediatly and he denied everything. He told me that he didn't work on the car but had his two best guys on it. He then said that he can replace that one hose for $550. After spending $750 just to install the radiator now I have to spend another $550 to fix their mistake? That is shady. I decided to take my business elsewhere. After talking to some local Esprit owners I come to find out that they too had experienced similar incidences of negligence and poor work quality. Gonzalo, Alan, and the Esprit guys form the OC recomended me to Kaist (sorry if I mispelled his name) from Southbay Autohaus in Hawthorn. I've been going to him ever since. Kaist charged me $600 and replaced both oil cooler lines and not just one like Harry wanted to. I'm sure my story is only one of many horror stories concerning Viking. Oh one more thing. I come to find out from a local Esprit owner that he did remember seeing my car (this was before I owned it) at Viking. He saw how they mistreated it and wasn't careful at all on how they moved it around. Oh well. Lesson to be learned. Definitly will never go to Viking ever again.
 

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Here's my one and final experience ...
While we're on the subject of PUK and Marcus
:rolleyes: ;)

I don't expect anyone to analyze this email thread; summary: with the understanding of a 1-2 day turnaround on a simple ECU upgrade, I shipped, two day air, my ECU to PUK in Germany. Marcus was consistently indifferent, slow and dishonest. The final blow was when he claimed the ECU had been mailed on the 9th when he previously, on the 13th, said he was still working on it (note July 4 to July 13 is not 1-2 day turnaround). That's the problem with lies; you have to have a good memory to be consistently convincing; the biggest problem is when vendors fail to make good on mistakes. This is not the first problem I had with Marcus/PUK; Besides the ECU, he still owes me about $100 for an incorrect item he shipped, at my expense, and requested I return it, at my expense, for a refund; that was four weeks ago. No refund... no email... crickets... In any case, I subsequently disputed the ECU payment, which was quite large, and Paypal has put the funds into escrow until the matter is resolved. I have no faith it ever will be; beware...




Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2012 23:51:51 -0400
To: PUK Esprit <>
Subject: Re: P.U.K. Esprit Racing

Where do I send the ECU? What's the turn around time for you to do the mod? When should I expect the modified ecu?




Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 10:59 AM, PUK Esprit <> wrote:
The installation of the two sockets and chips will only take 1-2 days.Then we send the whole ECU back to you also via Air Mail registered.




Date: July 1, 2012 3:14:33 PM EDT
To: PUK Esprit <>
Subject: Re: P.U.K. Esprit Racing

I have the ECM*removed



I'll mail it tomorrow AM; July 2nd







Delivered Wednesday, July 4th; two days








Monday Jul 9, 2012, at 10:17 AM, <> wrote:

How are things going on my ECU upgrade? Have you encountered any issues? Do you have an estimate for a shipping date?


sent same email three consecutive days




Jul 11, 2012, at 6:23 AM, PUK Esprit <> wrote:

Sorry for my late reply.

No problem so far and no issues :)

I will send you the tracking number when it gets sent out.





Jul 11, 2012, at 9:31 AM, <> wrote:
I am not pleased with the turnaround time. In an attempt to minimize my downtime with the vehicle, I paid a large premium to get the pkg to you by last Wednesday. Your original turnaround estimate was 1 or 2 days and you have now had the ECU for a week; with no estimate when it will be complete. If I can expect the same shipping experience as my previous K&N filter order from you, 3 weeks delivery by air, I’m now looking at around 4-5 weeks, or more, downtime with my Esprit.





Jul 13, 2012, at 2:53 AM, PUK Esprit <> wrote:
Your ECU is already in process and will be ready this afternoon.





Date: July 16, 2012 1:29:12 PM EDT
To: PUK Esprit <>
I'm checking to see if my ECU upgrade was completed and shipped. If so, can you provide me with the tracking number of the shipment.


Emailed request several times



On Jul 23, 2012, at 9:52 AM, PUK Esprit <> wrote:

Your ECU is on the way to you via registered Air Mail.

The problem is that this is not trackable online.

I can start an investigation, when it has not arrived within 14 workdays.





Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2012 10:35:05 -0400
To: PUK Esprit <>
14 days from when? When did it ship?





From: PUK Esprit <>
Date: Tue, Jul 24, 2012 at 1:59 AM

it was sent 6th or 9th of July
 

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Wow, I would of though that getting a car like the Esprit service at a garage they would take like incredible care of it, but I guess not. I dont have the advantage of having anyone at all near me to service mine. I wish I did at times to have a local mechanic that might know more about the repair of these cars from actually doing work on it, just to stop in and get repair advice from, thats usually why I stop at any garage for any of my vehicles to weasel information out of someone, the Chevy dealer (I have an avalanche too) even loaned me a manual once to rebuild the ABS brake controller.

These stories sound like when I owned a Ducati and took it for service once, only ONCE, I got it back with a scratch in the tank after having tires put on it. These experiences are what makes me a DIYer.

No one will take care of your stuff like you.

Does this place Viking service other exotics? or just Lotus?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
How funny is that. He has a yellow Esprit on the front page. He ruins that car more than all the other ones he services. Hahahahaha
 

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Spree, too bad on the ECU. I have found Markus to be fine in his dealings with me. I have bought several items from him. All good, all arrived. All took a while.

Like 4-6 weeks.

I would not feel comfortable shipping something that I need to Europe and back. Lots of steps in the process and lots of delays possible. Things also go missing on occasion from my historical experience. Things have gotten worse with customs and security issues. You can mitigate some of that by using Express services, but it still isn't foolproof. Obviously he should not have promised you such a short turnaround.

Randy
 

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Randy, Yep; there are always at least two sides to a story. Here, both sides at fault; over-promise-under-delivery on one hand and you are correct sir, I foolishly put an expensive item at risk; potential delivery breakage, theft, lost, delayed, seized, shop damage, "who know what else"... maybe it will work out and my ECU will be returned safely. I'm not feeling very warm and fuzzy at the moment. More porcupine than fuzzy; My 'new' baby has been on the chocks since late June...

In the meantime I've purchased a "backup" ECU which I'll use in the event my original never surfaces.

Thanks for advice :up:...
 

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My previous owner shipped his ecu to puk from the US and it worked out for him. He never told me how long it took. So maybe it will come back.


1998 Lotus Esprit V8
 

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OK, this is from my friend Kirk regarding Viking Motorsports...for personal reasons he couldn't use a computer. He is the number 1 victim with spending of over $120K to Viking in total and currently has a blown engine after a rebuilt. Anyways, this is what he wrote:

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My experiance with Harry at Viking started in 2002 & is extensive as he worked exclusively on my 3 Lotus vehicles. A 97 esprit V8 (I am its 2nd owner, purchased with 7068 miles). It was cleaner than my 04 "final edition" esprit V8 (my 2nd Lotus) was when I bought it new from Newport Motorcars in Ca. My 3rd Lotus that Viking worked exclusively on is a 1999 "for race use only" European Sport 190 series one Elise. I bought this car in 2005 with 601 miles on it from the Herb Chambers auto collection.

At first my experiances were good although the appearance of the facility, employees & parking did not make me feel comfortable. The first real problem was the my 97 was damaged while being moved around his shop. He did have it repaired to a high standard. So when someone backed into my Sport 190 & cracked the rear clam I asked if he had someone who could repair it. He said yes then he took it for repair. It was returned to looking horrible, as if all the clear had been removed from the paint. To this day I have been unable to fully restore its gloss. Harry would only wax it.

The Sport 190 was in his shop to sync & adjust its individal throttle bodies do to poor acceleration (stumbling/rich condition at anything below WOT). 1 Yr. ago I took it apart myself & found the throttle bodies all opening at differing levels. I adjusted it by eye, for the first time it runs fantastic.

One time I had my black 04 esprit there for an oil change. He had a wheel repair service come in & install a bad wheel on MY CAR so it could be repaired & painted using my car as a tool. I got home & noticed silver paint on my brake caliper, rotor & hub. Then I discovered there was silver overspray covering my entire black car. I confronted him & learned what had happened. He had my car buffed making the problem worse & actually went through the paint in several areas.

Next I had him change the timing belts on my 04 esprit. On my way home some oil line blew off & I lost oil pressuse & was stranded on the side of the road. He got the car back & made up what I felt was a lame excuse & fixed it. However, the motor never ran fully properly (as it used to) again.

Finally I had moved to the east coast & after the motor let go in the 04 Esprit. I had the car shipped to Viking & Harry for diagnosis & repair. It suffered 1 broken & 1 other damaged piston, 1 damaged liner, a little head scuffing & a minor hole in an uncritical area of the block (the oil galley just below the crankshaft) I authorized Harry to what was needed for the repair & to upgrade to foged pistons & ARP headstuds. Harry then told me that he had a guy that could fix my paint like new. He also suggested to remove the front bumper to be re-sprayed so that everything would be better than new (the way I maintain all my cars).

5-6 months & $35,000 later (I had moved back to SoCal) I was told my car was done, to pick it up. I also had an Aqua-Mist system installed at Harry's suggestion. When I got there I was horrified at what I saw! The front bumper had many large runs in the paint & the rest of the paint was so badly scratch up it appeared to have been sanded. Harry told me it was a multi-step process. At least it started up. Figuring it would run great (it sounded good) & that the paint would be sorted in the next few visits, I paid him and drove home. That is when the real problems started.

On my way home I found that the car would only make 2-3 psi of boost & that the Aqua-Mist would not function. The entire car also felt "loose" not the normal Lotus loose. While trying to clean the car I noticed that most of the bolts holding the front bumper on were missing & it was seperating from the car. There were also large chips in the rear hatch area from removing the motor. Again I called Harry. He seamed genuinely upset about the front bumper seperating & confused about the lack of boost. Also noting that the Aqua-Mist would not come on without sufficent boost. Back to Viking again. They installed the bumper bolts & some detailer spent 2 day doing a great job on the paint - but it still really needs a full repaint.

The boost was down due to faulty blow-off valves that I did not ask to be put on my car! So I pick it up again. It makes boost and runs just ok. Its slower than it should be & is low at max boost. I drive it easy a few days & plan a day trip with friends for the weekend (the Aqua-Mist is only working speratically) 2 hrs into the drive my car is overheating with coolant exiting through my exhaust tips onto my friends car. I pull over & have the car towed 2 1/2 hrs. to my home at my cost. Once home there is coolant in the oil so I drain everything and refill everything. The added coolant all over the back & sides did nothing to make my already damaged paint any better. Then I found engine mount nuts & bolts that were just not there. Suspension bolts that were loose & stripped as well as countless other incorrect and/or missing nuts, bolts & fastners.

Harry's response to all this? Its all my fault for turning up the boost & abusing the car, that I was on my own and he would do nothing. I pulled the motor & found that all cylender liners were terribly out of round, head gaskets blown & not torqued down properly as well both the heads and block were "plained" by what appears to have been a blind 5 yr old with 50 grit sand paper. See photos below:

What is suppose to be machining work, Harry decided to use sand paper to sand it...and the surface is super weavy...


This is the kind of liner Harry puts in a motor rebuild with JE forged pistons, with chunks missing. And look on the bottom right of this motor, there's an oil galley in there...but Harry just had someone welded it in...I'm sure with only welding the oil galley wouldn't have a smooth flow


Harry (a man/buisness I paid over $120,000 to) WOULD NOT STAND behind his work. Those are the facts. I want to say more but the facts speak for themselves.

***************************************************
 

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Esprit V8 and Kirk,

I am close to speechless!

Clearly Viking is not recently a quality operation. Good and honest mechanics are hard to find.

We are spending about $2000 on parts to rebuild a chargecooler 4, assuming no major engine parts. So you V8 owners are operating in a different universe.

A little brand knowledge can be helpful, but ultimately a quality mechanic can work on most any car. I was fortunate to find knowledgeable local owners, and have the backup of a first rate mechanic who is willing to help back me up when needed if I do my own work on the Lotus, albeit the 4. I send him all my other repairs on my other cars. Most expensive repair to date was to my Porsche 944 S2 convertible. Clutch, timing belt, tensioner, water pump, and broken top drive cable and frame, and brake job.....$3600 of which $1400 was parts.

So if I ever get a V8(I have been close) I clearly will need to be willing to do my own work, and get a larger bank account.

Randy
2 SE, and 2 S4 in the garage at the moment
 

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So please tell me that someone has had work done at Viking that didn't result in more harm than good?

Before I sent my car to Viking, I did my research on the forums and I couldn't find a single bad thing being said about Viking on this forum or on The Lotus Forum. In fact, it was the ONLY shop with glowing recommendations as the best in the country. Even when I called Lotus Cars USA, they recommended Viking over any of their dealers.

Normally I do all my own work on my cars, but forum post after forum post put the fear in me about the danger of working on the V8, and all those threads said take the car to a "professional."

The local owners made it clear that there are no reliable mechanics for the V8 in Houston. So I had the car shipped 500 miles the OTHER way to pay the most recommended "professional," mainly to buy peace of mind. The idea was they would use their expertise to reliably renew the major wear points of the car and check everything over. As a result, I would have peace of mind that I have a solid car from the start of ownership, and that high cost would also buy me a year or two to get up to speed on taking care of the car myself.

Now, with all these Viking posts, I am not only worried that I am throwing away huge $$$ on low quality work, but I may also have very expensive collateral damage that could include body/paint damage, interior damage, being stranded on the side of the road, and maybe even a blown engine in my future.

And instead of taking a year or two to become an expert working on my car little by little, I am going to have to become an expert immediately to the point that I can spot the mistakes of the pro's work that could cause my car to explode. I won't be able to trust anything that was touched by Viking, which was a lot (gearbox, engine, suspension, entire cooling system).

And I still don’t even have the car to start this journey.

So someone please tell me that they took their car to Viking at some point and it didn't implode after you got it back so I know that I have some small chance of not being the next horror story on here!
 

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I did some searches just now to see what the general public is saying about Viking, because we all know people are more vocal when they have a bad experience, but I can't find a darn bad thing about Viking until these recent threads.

Now, I am not saying that any of these sites below are a super reliable way to chose a mechanic, but you would think that if Viking is doing the kind of work expressed in this thread on a regular basis, it would be easy to find someone saying something on the Internet.

All of the 5 star reviews may be shills, but just like on Amazon, you can ignore the 5 star ratings and jump to the 2, 3 and 4s to get an idea of what's really going on, but there's nothing bad out there about Viking -- not even mediocre ratings.

Strange is all I can say.

- No complaints on the BBB
Viking Motorsports, Inc. Business Review in Costa Mesa, CA

- A rating on Angie's list
(can't link to that since it's a paid website for consumers)

- 5 Star on Merchant Circle:
http://www.switchboard.com/business/viking-motorsports-inc-costa-mesa-ca

- 5 Star editor rating on AutoProtection:
Viking Motorsports Inc Costa-Mesa California 92626 : Ratings and Reviews

- 5 star on Yelp:
Viking Motorsports - Costa Mesa, CA

- 5 Star on YellowPages Switchboard:
http://www.switchboard.com/business/viking-motorsports-inc-costa-mesa-ca

- Here's an example of what you will find on our forum:
http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f68/viking-motorsports-costa-mesa-opinions-82529/
http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f164/2000-esprit-computer-not-saving-111544/
http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f164/redline-esprit-v8-98937/
http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f164/esprit-s1-value-109285/
http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f164/where-else-find-used-lotus-esprits-sale-1988-1995-a-100465/
 

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I've dealt with him! I will not be going back. My car had boosting issue, when I push it it will overboost and delay would kick in. I thought since I took it there for boosting problem might as well have him do a service. we change the chip...no change...which he charged me for and put previous with identifier back on. Change the ECU...no change....I paid for it! I asked if he checked the fuel pressure...he said it was 45psi. I drove the car home in same condition and paid about $4K+. that was with replacing my cracked exhaust manifold which i purchased separately myself out of UK. Oh...they didn't tighten my turbo to manifold nuts coz i heard the hissing sound and found 3 out of 4 missing after 2K mi. I did fix the boosting issue after I join the [email protected]'s help. Cost me only $62 bucks...it's the "fuel pump"! Apparently when the 4 cylinder engine doesn't need much fuel it would b ok to half boost....but when u stomp on the gas the engine gets lean and revs up for a second or two to spike the boost and the sensor cuts the fuel and hence the delay. I checked the fuel pressure at the rail and it was approx 28 psi. Got A/C Delco pump and filter and put it in myself. It ran like when it was brand new! He is a liar and a cheat...has no morals or ethics! We have a group of Esprit owners that get together and they all have been stung! Hope the manifold he put in was not sanded by hand and that the gasket is there intact and didn't strip the bolts. I just got turbo gaskets, from [email protected], will double check manifold.
 
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