Watching my nephew growing up makes me realise just how destined, even from an early age, that I was to be a petrol head. For my nephew the only thing in this world is football and match attack cards are his currency, where as if you had bought me a football for Christmas when I was young, you would have had a very grump boy to to deal with for the rest of the day. Tonka Toy, Matchbox, Meccano and Scalextrics were my world.
Fast forward to my 17th birthday and my desperate desire to get behind the wheel of a car was realised, in this case it was a “shit brown” Mini (oh the seventies) and six months later I passed my driving test in the same car. But this was my parents car so the road car ownership and therefore freedom still stretched before me.
Several months later I had saved enough to drop on a comprehensively shagged Hillman Avenger, which came in a rather fetching shade of bright orange (more seventies chic). Its 1500cc engine was quoted as being in possession of 63bhp but I think some may have made a break for freedom by the time I got my hands on it. Not that it mattered as I could drive when ever and where ever I liked, not to mention being able to smoke in it.
Sadly the Avengers the MOT date signalled the demise of that car but by then I had saved up enough to my dream car, an Opel Manta.... actually it was the Vauxhall Cavalier Coupe version but I liked to call it a manta. Now this was motoring, a 2 Litre engine with 110bhp, most of which were still present. Cue three years of terrorising the streets of Reading, and Capri drivers!
Eventually the Manta, sorry Cavalier, got a bit long in the tooth and had to be put out to grass, at which point my car history goes a bit middle aged, all because I took to driving my dads hand me downs. This consisted of a brown Austin Montego, which was a much better car than people (Sierra and cavalier drives to be precise) gave it credit for, and then a mk1 Rover 416 which had the Honda's excellent 1600 engine in it. It was also the last car that I owned that didn't have power steering (remember those days, we used to be strong then).
The only interruption in this conveyor belt of dullness was when I built my first kit car, a Lotus 7 copy called a Formula27, heard of it?
I bought a Peugeot 405 which was the very definition of average. It didn't last very long as I introduced it to a van at a cross roads one dark and rainy night. I can't say I was sad to see it go.
Now I come to the part of my car owning history that I am seriously concerned will destroy any credibility I might have as someone's opinion on cars is to be trusted. Yes folks, I went out and voluntarily bought a mk2 Rover 416, the transport of choice for granddads the country over. In fact the Rover even managed to elicit a comment from the not normally talkative Data Dan who said “isn't that just a Honda Civic with all the reliability taken out” to which I can safely reply “yes”. Actually it was a great handling car, and yes I know that many of you are, right now guffawing at that statement but I have to say that although it was a little softly sprung, it had great feel and was very adjustable on the limit.
Next I redeemed myself slightly by buying a Seat Toledo V5 which was a great car to drive, obviously, as it was a Golf V5 underneath. Then I went a bit sensible again and bought a VW Passat estate which I once managed to get 75 miles to the gallon out of, I was being a proper nerd then!
And finally I come to my last car to date which was a Ford Mondeo mk2 diesel, the 130bhp/270ftlb and was the best car I have ever owned. It was a fast (in second gear it would take off like a scolded cat), economical and great handling car, mine was the Ghia X so came well stacked with all the toys to boot. That car served me well with several European trips and it never let me down though sadly by the end of six years it was starting to suffer the Ford curse of a lack of durability. Soggy suspension due to worn out subframe bushes was the main issue but a general feeling of advanced wear prevailed, which is shame because it was such a great car!
Fiat Stilo Abarth next maybe????