Posts Tagged Cars

Jaguar XK – The Seducer

Finally got round to taking some pictures of the new pride and joy…

Also been playing around with iPhoto which is really cool…

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My life with cars (Part 5) – Snotty salesmen, regrets, and the monster

I set out to write about the cars I’ve had over the past 35 years, but 4000 words later, I ended up writing about the many fond memories I’ve had around car ownership and life in general. This is part 5.

Audi A4

I’m 40 and as a treat to myself I decide to buy my first brand new car. I had been really happy with the beemer so I tootled along to my local BMW dealer intent on buying a new car there and then. What happened next put me off BMW and to this day I’ve never had another. Upon arriving at the dealership I was looking around the cars and found it difficult to attract the attention of a salesperson. When I finally found someone to talk to, I found the chap to be arrogant and snotty and disinterested. Yes I may have been wearing scruffy jeans and a T shirt and may not have looked like your stereotypical BMW owner but I didn’t expect to be dressed for a wedding to buy a car and I didn’t appreciate his arrogance. I don’t buy from people like that so I went to the dealer over the road and bought a brand new Audi A4 instead. Who knows how much this one person cost BMW as I may still be driving a BMW today if it had not been for him.

The Audi A4 was a 1.8 saloon in silver, and it was very smart. However, when I was buying it I really had a hankering for the estate, but I bottled it at the last minute on the reckoning that an estate was an old mans car. A few months later I was regretting not going for the estate following a conversation with some of my work colleagues from Germany who told me that estate cars are the first choice of the young in Germany as they are perfect for lugging around surf boards, sports gear, camping gear and what not.

Audi A4 Avant

I lived with this regret for 3 years until I finally replaced the A4 saloon with an A4 Avant (sounds much better than estate). It was a spanking new 2.4 V6 Sport Model in dolphin gray and it was absolutely fantastic. The only issue I had during 3 years of ownership was when I cracked the front windscreen carrying a piece of decking back from B&Q. It was just too long to fit into the car with one end against the front window and the other end against the back window, so I had to bow it slightly. This worked until I drove into our street and the first speed bump I went over sent a crack right across the windscreen. I phoned up my insurance and a chap came and put me in a new one. He had to complete the paperwork and ask me how it happened for insurance purposes and being an honest soul I felt obliged to tell him my embarrassing story. He replied with “the insurance won’t cover that so lets call it a stone chip shall we”… there are some nice people in the world after all.

Volkswagen Touareg

Mid life crisis is biting hard and I’m thinking what would I like to own that I’d not had before. I decided I needed a 4×4 and I started to look at what options were available. I’ll probably upset a few people by saying this but I really don’t like Range Rovers, too old fashioned and country gentleman for my tastes and I ruled them out early on. I ended up buying another German machine a VW Touareg 3.0 TDI SE in pearlescent black. I say German but I later found out that these are made in Bratislava at the Skoda factory.

That aside it was an excellent piece of machinery. I had the good fortune to go on an off road and racing circuit driving experience and the car was phenomenal. Being a speed junkie I was really looking forward to the track experience, but I came back having enjoyed the off road experience better. For such a big car it was fantastic on the track, which may be down to the fact it shared its heritage, technology and chassis design with the Porsche Cayenne, but off road it was unstoppable, the terrain we covered and the hills it got up and down were simply unbelievable. The car defied the laws of physics, and gravity in some cases, and to this day I still can’t believe how it did this. The Touareg would pull anything and I still think it holds the world record for the heaviest weight towed in the shape of a Jumbo Jet. I kept the Touareg for 3 years and despite being heavy on fuel at 24MPG, it never ever let me down.

I have to admit thought that it didn’t solve the mid life crisis and I decided I also needed and open top sports car. I used to live next to a guy who owned an MGB and another guy who owned and Triumph TR6. I’d always wanted one but could never rationalise owning one for the 4 sunny days we get each year up north. I started searching for something interesting with the idea that I’d get the tools out again, get my hands dirty and treat it as a hobby.

Thanks for reading, read part 6 here

Footnote: these pictures are for illustration only they are not of my cars

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My life with cars (Part 4) – One of my best, one of my worst, and a poltergeist

I set out to write about the cars I’ve had over the past 35 years, but 4000 words later, I ended up writing about the many fond memories I’ve had around car ownership and life in general. This is part 4.

Vauxhall Carlton

Next up is one of my most favorite cars a Vauxhall Carlton 2.0 in metallic brown. I bought it from the auction and took a risk on it as whilst it looked clean and the engine sounded good the front wheel bearing was seized solid so it couldn’t be driven. However, the risk paid off, as once I’d replaced the wheel bearings it was a wonderful car that was great to own and drive and fully loaded with gadgets. I ran it for a good few years until one night it exploded in a fireball right outside the Police station in Sunderland. Whilst I was driving along the road the engine cut out and so I pulled in. I turned the ignition key to try and restart. There was a loud bang and enormous flames shot out of the front wheel arches. As you would expect I made a swift exit from the car to see what was going on and the whole front of the car was ablaze. I went back opened the boot and saved my wedding photos that had only been delivered that day. I know this was stupid and I have no idea why I did it but it seemed like an important thing to do at the time. Anyway, by this time policemen were pouring out of the station only this time they weren’t asking “What’s a young lad like you doing in a big car like this and can you tell me the registration please?” they were closing off one of the major routes into the city. The fire station was just around the corner and the fire brigade arrived two minutes later, but it was two minutes too late as the car was a gonner. It turned out that the petrol pipe to the injectors was the wrong type and had perforated spraying a fine petrol mist onto the exhaust manifold that resulted in the explosion.

Citroen ZX

In need of another new car I went back to the car auction and I’m not really sure what possessed me to buy my first diesel car a Citroen ZX in black. Yes it was low mileage and I liked the colour, but a Citroen really??? Maybe I was still mourning the loss of my Carlton or maybe this was a period in my life where the car was a functional A to B thing and not an object of desire or pleasure, who knows?

By now I’m no longer servicing cars myself and on the first service the dealer tells me the cylinder head gasket need replacing (at considerable cost). I found this really odd, as I’d had cylinder head gaskets fail before and you get symptoms such as high temperature, coolant loss or sludge in the coolant. Anyway, being a cynic, I chose to ignore their advice and I was right to do so as the car was problem free and served me well until I sold it about two years later.

BMW 520

Next up was something with a bit more soul, one of Germanys finest, a BMW 520 in dark blue. Compared to the Citroen this was luxury (compared to the Citroen anything was luxury) and it may have been the car that rekindled my passion for cars. It was the first six-cylinder car that I’d owned and I remember how it always sounded like it was revving too high, when really it was just firing six times instead of four.  The beemer lasted me for a few years until it was possessed by a poltergeist. It would strike at the most inopportune time and manifest itself in all of the instruments just going dead for a few minutes whilst the car kept going. Not ideal when you’re driving through a speed camera infested zone and you have absolutely no idea how fast you’re going. I did consider exorcism but decided to sell up instead.

Thanks for reading, read part 5 here

Footnote: these pictures are for illustration only they are not of my cars

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My life with cars (Part 2) – The Sweeny and every boys dream

This is the second part of my life with cars. I set out to write about the cars I’ve had over the past 35 years, but 4000 words later, I ended up writing about the many fond memories I’ve had around car ownership and life in general. I’d love to think my kids read this story in 50 years time when all cars are made of plastic and powered by sherbet or some other wonder fuel.

Ford Consul

My next car was a Ford Consul (almost a Granada) in metallic brown NVK 375L. I’m not exactly sure why this is the only registration I can remember from my early cars but maybe it had something to do with the number of times I was stopped by the police that I remember it so well. “What’s a young lad like you doing in a big car like this and can you tell me the registration please?” was always their opening gambit. This car taught me my first big lesson… always clean your rear windscreen before reversing at speed on a cold and frosty night. If only I’d done that I wouldn’t have written off my mates Ford Capri that was parked 6 doors down the street, sorry Jim.  Anyway, the Consul was repaired and served me well until the rust worm also took over. I replaced both front wings with fiberglass after market parts and I resprayed the whole car red, which turned out like Heinz Tomato Ketchup with one of those £20 electric spray guns from Halfords. To say it lost its shine after that would be an understatement, as the best finish I could achieve resembled a matt orange peel effect. The other lessons I learned during Consul ownership were how to take engines out, how to change cylinder head gaskets, how to change clutches, and most importantly how to weld which would serve me well over the following years.

My Consul also provided my first experience of having a car stolen. I remember vividly the night I took my mum and girlfriend to the supermarket about 10 miles away for our weekly shopping. We emerged from the shop with two huge trolley loads of food and couldn’t find the car. It’s amazing, the last thing you expect is for it not to be there and you convince yourself you’ve left it somewhere else. When I realised it had been nicked, I phoned the police and we set about lugging all this shopping home on the bus. By the time we got home there was a phone call from the police saying they had found the car and the thieves had left it about 800 yards from where we lived in the next street. How kind of them!!

It was stolen once more after that, from outside my front door and rolled down to the bottom of the street and the radio nicked, and I often wondered if it was the same villains on both occasions?

My relationship with the Consul was reaching its natural conclusion and I sold it to a chap looking for something to tow a caravan. However, I hoped it was a small caravan as I never did get round to fixing the big end bearings that were knocking like mad before we finally parted company.

Ford Capri

Every boys dream car, the Ford Capri was my next car. I bought a 1600 Mk2 in white and set about customising it (well sort of) with a black vinyl roof, louvers on the back window, jazzed up wheels with bright chrome rims and air horns. I loved this car and utilizing those earlier welding skills and about a ton of fiberglass and body filler, I kept it running for a good few years. Having spent so much time and money on spare parts, by now I was also best mates with Kevin Stewart, the chap who owned the local motor factors. Mechanically it only let me down once when the oil pump packed in when coming over the pennines at Alston. My brother came to the rescue and towed me home where I took out the engine, replaced the big end bearings which had melted themselves to the crankshaft and repaired the oil pump by cutting down a 6mm Allen key. Running old cars also taught me how to improvise. When it got the stage that I could no longer keep the rain out of the car I decided it was time to say goodbye.

Thanks for reading, read part 3 here

Footnote: these pictures are for illustration only they are not of my cars

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My life with cars (Part 1) – Where it all began

I’ve had a great time writing this story. I set out to write about the cars I’ve had over the past 35 years, but 4000 words later, I ended up writing about the many fond memories I’ve had around car ownership and life in general. I’d love to think my kids read this story in 50 years time when all cars are made of plastic and powered by sherbet or some other wonder fuel.

Austin 1100

Whilst still too young to legally drive, I bought my first car when I was just 16, an Austin 1100 in Dark Blue. It came with six months Tax and MOT and my brother, bidding on my behalf, paid the pricely sum of £26 for it at the local car auction. Think of it as the Renault Clio of the 70’s, made famous by Basil Fawlty when he thrashed his with a branch when it wouldn’t start.

Where I lived at the time we had a massive car park behind our house and I used to walk over to the local garage with my petrol can, come back with a gallon of petrol and spend a few hours driving round the car park. When the MOT ran out I tried to get it through another one but the rust worm had taken hold of the sub frames and it would have cost about four times what the car was worth to get it repaired. So it was game over and I sold it to the scrap yard for £20. Thirty-five years on £6 for six months of motoring is by far the best value I’ve had from any car.

Vauxhall Viva HB

I’m 17 and I’ve just passed my test and my new pride and joy is a Vauxhall Viva HB in sage green (maybe that was an early omen). I think I paid about £100 for it and it came with 12 months MOT and an 8 track. How many people remember 8 tracks? It was the iPod of the 1970s, yes I may only have had 5 or 6 tapes but it was high tech to have an 8 track in your car back then. However, on later inspection I discovered the Viva was infested with the rust worm and was held together by gaffer tape that was sprayed the same colour as the car. I can only assume the MOT was dodgy. Anyway, it lasted the year it got me from A to B and it got my mates and me to Scarborough a few times, high living indeed. I can’t remember how its life ended but I think it must have gone the same way as the Austin 1100.

Ford Cortina Mk3

After the Viva came my shortest length of car ownership. I was really after a Ford Granada (inspiration from watching the Sweeny maybe?) and one day I went to look at a Ford Cortina Mk3 in Daytona Yellow. Whilst I didn’t like the colour, I was desperate to buy a car so I bought it and left the seller a £50 deposit, I agreed to pay the balance and collect the car the next day. However, on my way home I couldn’t stop thinking about the colour, I hated it and therefore what a huge mistake I’d made. So, I turned around and went straight back to tell the guy I didn’t want to buy his car and ask for my deposit back. Whilst he wasn’t very pleased he was genuine enough to give this stupid 18 year old his £50 quid back and I’m grateful to him to this day.

Thanks for reading, read part 2 here

Footnote: these pictures are for illustration only they are not of my cars

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