Driving Torque

Articles, reviews and opinions about cars and all things automotive

Archive for the month “October, 2010”

Ben’s Cars

 

 

Austin Metro

Austin Metro

1. 1983 Mk1 Austin Metro 1.0L, Owned May1996 – Jan 1997

Colour – Stratos Blue

Purchase Price – ?- Sold For – ?

Although technically my first car, I tend to disregard my Metro as I never actually drove it on a public highway, legally. Bought for me by my dad, it was an MOT failure which needed plenty of bodywork and dad naively thought I would jump at the chance of learning to weld. Observations on handling and performance are obviously limited in spite of the hundreds of journeys made travelling up and down Mum’s 30ft driveway.

2. 1967 Volkswagen Beetle 1200, MNG 781E, Owned Feb 1997 – Jan 1998

Colour – Peppermint Green

1967 Volkswagen Beetle Lowered

1967 Volkswagen Beetle

Purchase Price – £1500 – Sold For £1000

The car I prefer to refer to as my first. In lurid green and slammed to the floor, subtle this car was not. Despite pedestrian performance, wayward handling and woeful unreliability, this little bug was my introduction to air-cooled VWs, a breed I’m still passionate about today.

3.  1990 Peugeot 205 1.9 Gti, H936 CPO, Owned Jan 1998 – Dec 1998

Colour – Cherry Red

86-peugeot-205-gti in red

Peugeot 205 Gti

Purchase Price – £3995 – Sold For – £3000

A combination of receiving my first regular income and still living at home meant I could afford the Pug, arguably the greatest hot hatch ever. Seemingly supercar performance and renowned go-kart like handling easily justified the insurance which was equal to over a third of the value of the car!

BMW 320i

BMW 320i

4. 1987 BMW 320i, Owned Dec 1998 – June 1999

Colour – Cirrus Blue

Purchase Price – £4200 – Sold For – £3900

From the days when the Germans were hell bent on over-engineering, this Beemer was heavy, and I mean heavy! So much so that despite the more desirable six pot engine nestling under the bonnet, it struggled to propel its own weight and the result was mpg to rival a Hummer. I admired this car but never truly grew to love it.

Volkswagen Golf Mk2

Volkswagen Golf Mk2

5. 1986 Volkswagen Golf 1.6L, Owned June 1999 – Jan 2000

Colour – Mars Red

Purchase Price – £1700 – Sold For – £1500

University meant my days of desirable motors were forced to go on hold and thriftiness was the order of the day. This Gti look-alike however, proved that little budget doesn’t have to mean little quality. The lack of outright power was overshadowed by the magnificent chassis, cocking the inner rear wheel when pushed. If nothing else, this car knew how to have fun.

Ford Sierra Sapphire

Ford Sierra Sapphire

6. 1988 Ford Sierra Sapphire 1.8L, Owned Jan 2000 – March 2000

Colour – Rosewood Red

Purchase Price – £500 – Sold For – £400

Some of the most honest, satisfying  cars I’ve owned have cost less than one thousand pounds, so have some of the worst. The Sapphire fell into the latter category. Built when quality control was becoming a foreign concept at Ford, its bodywork was unseasonably rusty although I’m fairly sure a bodged accident repair didn’t help matters. The previous owner had had a decent stab at replicating a Cosworth by pilfering a set of wheels from a Mk2 Escort RS2000 and they were definitely the highlight. I would say the worst aspect overall was the engine though. The car ran on petrol, the engine looked like a petrol engine, the logbook even stated petrol fuel was required and yet the rattling engine note wasn’t dissimilar to a tired London Taxi.

Mini Mayfair

Mini Mayfair

7. 1984 Austin Mini Mayfair (Auto) Owned March 2000 – May 2000

Colour – Ermine White

Purchase Price – £400 – Sold For – £200

As a rule, automatic ‘boxes aren’t really my thing, I prefer the pure driving experience of a manual. The lack of a clutch pedal in this Mini however only added to the joy it brought. The handling was so precise and accurate that being an auto enhanced the feeling of driving a go-kart on the road. There was no fluidity or smoothness to the box, rather a violent jolt with every change which, to me was pure rally car. Unfortunately, one two many jolts resulted in broken engine mounts and that was the end of my Mini adventure.

8.  1988 Renault 5 Campus, Owned May 2000 – January 2001

Colour – Avis Red

renault 5 campus in red

Renault 5 Campus

Purchase Price – £250 – Sold For – £250

I have very fond memories of my Five, for the simple reason that it did everything asked of it and it did it well. It suited my needs perfectly – it was cheap, reliable, did about a million mpg and, joy of joys was an absolute hoot to drive. The suspension was too comfortable to ever make handling precise but somehow you always knew where the limits were with no nasty, hedge bound surprises. Hailing from when French autos still had a sense of humour, even the dash was a design masterpiece with random levers sprouting from bizarre locations like a Dalek.s helmet.

9. 1987 Volvo 340 GL, E596 GOO, Owned January 2001 – November 2001

Colour –  Smoke Silver Metallic

Volvo 340

Volvo 340

Purchase Price – £400 – Sold For – £300

It may be purely psychological but I always find a Volvo a warm, cosseting environment to be in, like a great big steel hug. My Volvo really was a warm place to be in due to the fully functioning heated seats, a pleasure until the many occasions when I forgot they were on in mid summer resulting in a Swedish sauna effect. My friend and I were once waiting in traffic, heard a screech of tyres and felt a slight shunt from behind. We went to survey the damage and found an apologetic Punto driver clearly upset about his mangled front end. Damage to Volvo wasn’t even a scratch. Crumple zones – who needs them anyway?

10.  1985 Volkswagen Golf  1.3L, Owned November 2001 – November 2001

Colour – Mars Red

1985 vw golf mark 2 in red

Mark 2 Volkswagen Golf No.2

Purchase Price – £100 – Sold For – £100

Whilst possibly trying to rekindle my emotions for my first Golf, I stumbled upon this example, similar in many ways except for the smaller capacity engine. Like going back to a favourite holiday destination, I was destined for disappointment. This Golf was to put it mildly, knackered. A nightmare to start, when it did start it stopped again at every opportunity and when it didn’t stop it still felt as though it had due to the measly amount of power on tap. Thankfully my torture lasted but a week when a workmate needed extremely cheap transport and I saw my opportunity to end my misery.

From November 2001 to June 2002 I reverted back to car number 4, the BMW as I had sold it to my dad and he wasn’t using it anyway.

Volkswagen Golf GTi MK3

Volkswagen Golf GTi MK3

11. 1996 Volkswagen Golf Gti 8v, P383 KND, Owned June 2002 – September 2004

Colour – Dusty Mauve

Purchase Price – £4995 – Sold For – £3500

2002 was a big year for me. I met my future wife and started earning proper money again, life was good. Of course, more money meant a new car and I’d always wanted a Golf Gti so that was what I got. The Mk3 8v always gets bad reviews as being overweight and underpowered but after years of snail pace driving, it initially felt pretty spritely to me. Admittedly though, it wasn’t long before 115bhp started feeling a tad pedestrian but as is usual with VW, the car was greater than the sum of it’s parts and the Gti’s character and build quality shone through.

12. 1996 Ford Escort Si, P96 WBV, Owned May 2003 – February 2007

Colour – Metallic Panther Black

1996 Ford escort SI 16v panther black

Ford Escort Si 16V

Purchase Price – £2995 – Sold For – £ 750

In truth, my wife’s car but I ended up doing a lot of driving in it so it’s on the list. The Mk6 was doomed to fail from the start as its technology was outdated before production even began, poor safety levels and even poorer build quality didn’t help either. I always found this ‘warm hatch’ quite endearing though, the Zetec engine moved it along nicely and I don’t remember it breaking down. The interior was quite a pleasant place to be, that is until a cucumber was lost under the back seat for a month, resulting in an ungodly smell that never really seemed to dissipate.

Audi 90 Quattro

Audi 90 Quattro

13. 1988 Audi 90 Quattro 2.2, Owned April 2004 – May 2004

Colour – Lagos Metallic Blue

Purchase Price – £800 – Sold For – £300

I’d always fancied an Audi Quattro so when two of my friends bought Audi 90s, I decided to take the plunge. The theory was to sell the Golf and save some money by running a decidedly cheaper Audi. The engine had plenty of life left in it and the handling was excellent due to the 4wd system. Its first long run to the Lakes resulted in a strange knocking noise developing on the motorway. You can imagine my joviality when I discovered the wheel nuts had worked their way loose, a trick they continuously repeated. A disastrous MOT led to the car going, albeit at a huge loss. Thankfully, I’d never got round to selling the Golf so I jumped back in that and forgot the Audi ever happened.

14. 1974 Volkswagen Kombi, ANW 610M, Owned September 2004 – Present

Colour – Originally Alpine White, now BMW Jet Black & Antique white

1974 Volkswagen Camper

‘Matilda’

Purchase Price – £4750

Where to begin?! We originally went to a VW show to find a Karmann Ghia and came away with our hearts set on a camper. After viewing several rust buckets, we found a company who imported VW’s from Australia and went to have a look. We were shown a weather beaten, plain white van with no interior but more importantly with no rust or bodged repairs either; we fell in love and agreed on a price. Matilda, as we christened her was my daily drive for over a year – not much fun in winter with no heater! Having spent thousands on her, she sadly spends most of her time in my garage now but that’ll change once the kids are a bit older. My eldest loves her already – she should do really, she was conceived in her after all!

15. 1993 Volkswagen Corrado VR6, L479 VLA, Owned January 2006 – Sept 2007

Colour – Midnight Blue Pearl Effect

1993 Volkswagen Corrado VR6 in blue

Volkswagen Corrado VR6

Purchase Price – £3500 – Sold For – £6360

The only car I’ve ever bought by accident. I traipsed down to Brighton with a bag of cash to see this car but it was far from as advertised. It was low mileage and had potential but the owner wanted top money for it so I made my excuses and motioned to leave. After relentless pressure to make any offer, I came up with a meagre figure- less than half the asking price just to allow me to leave. Next thing I knew I was circling the M25 in a car I didn’t really intend to buy, luckily my gamble paid off though. Torque steer aside, it drove magnificently with an addictive soundtrack and after some more money and time were invested, yielded a healthy profit. I’d still have it today if it wasn’t for those pesky kids! (Sold following news of wife’s pregnancy – baby seats don’t fit in Corrados)

Fiat Punto

Fiat Punto

16.  2001 Fiat Punto ELX 16V, AP51 HMC, Owned January 2007 – January 2008

Colour – Metallic Gun Metal Grey

Purchase Price – £2995 – Sold for – £1400

Another of the wife’s cars technically, recommended by me after I walked away unscathed from a Punto that was involved in quite a serious accident. Sadly, a truly dreadful car however. Over lightened steering meant the driver could only marginally affect the direction of travel via the traditional steering wheel method and an iron maiden would embarrass the interior when comparing comfort levels. By far the worst aspect though was the build quality which sported rust levels previously unseen on a non seafaring vessel.

Volvo 460 GL

Volvo 460 GL

17. 1993 Volvo 460GL, Owned September 2007 – June 2008

Colour – White

Purchase Price – £200 – Sold for £100 (Scrap)

Finding myself in-between cars again meant a cheap solution be found quickly, resulting in a return to Sweden’s finest. Joy of joys, this one had heated seats too which more than made up for the rotten bodywork and various dents. Testament to the brand, this unloved shed got through a freezing winter without a hiccup. I almost felt guilty when the MOT ran out and I summoned the scrapper without even granting the opportunity to attempt a further twelve month stay of execution.

Citroen Xsara Picasso blue

Citroen Xsara Picasso

18. 2002 Citroen Xsara Picasso Sx, PE52 DFO, Owned January 2008 – Present

Colour – Mediterranean Blue

Purchase Price – £2995

Getting closer to two becoming three meant that the hateful Punto had to go in place of a larger, five door model. The price and family friendliness of these ubiquitous Gallic oddities does a good job of excusing their faults, i.e. build quality and driver satisfaction. Some nice little features inside that really feel like a helping hand after a long night with a screaming baby!

Subaru Impreza WRX

Subaru Impreza WRX

19. 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX SE PPP, AY05 MLO, Owned June 2008 – Dec 2008

Colour – Crystal Grey Metallic

Purchase Price – £9600 – Sold For £9000

I needed a family car by now and to me, having four doors meant the Scooby qualified perfectly, fulfilling a long term desire to own this road going rally car was merely a bonus! I didn’t want the attention the Sti brought with its pink badges and spoilers so I opted for the relatively subtle WRX SE with the Prodrive Performance Pack. This meant I got luxuries like leather interior combined with a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds – supercar territory. By far the fastest car I’ve ever bought and also the most painful on the wallet with mpg averaging around 20 and already high insurance premiums reliant on a tracker. The expense combined with being surprisingly small inside meant after six months I wanted out and on Christmas eve my wish was granted with little depreciation. Time for a proper family car.

Audi A6 Avant

Audi A6 Avant

20. 2003 Audi A6 1.9Tdi SE Avant, KC03 HLG, owned Jan 2009 – August 2011

Colour – Crystal Blue Metallic

Purchase Price – £6000 – Sold For £5000

Without doubt the most complete car I have ever owned. Torquey, economical, beautifully built, absolutely reliable, cavernous inside, handsome and even cheap to tax. I really cannot fault this car for anyone with a young family. High mpg is appreciated whilst outgoings rise and incomes drop, the boot easily swallows buggies etc and if you go for the multitronic or auto, it’ll even change gear for you, leaving you free to consume precious coffee on the way to work. I’m even lucky enough to have an incredible stereo for when the kids aren’t in the car.

Piaggio Vespa PX125

Piaggio Vespa PX125

21. 2006 Piaggio Vespa PX125, YX06 LTZ, owned July 2011 – Present

Colour – Black with tan seat

Purchase Price – £1250

Fair enough – it’s not exactly a car. My first venture into motorbike ownership is represented by my beautiful black Vespa. I’ve desperately wanted a Vespa since I was 16, so this is really an ambition fulfilled, as well as a very cool, ultra economical piece of transportation. The fact that it’s iconic, black and air-cooled means that it fits in perfectly next to Matilda the VW and I’ve used my Italian scooter in all weathers without her missing a beat.

2003 Mini JCW Cooper S

JCW Cooper S

22. BMW MINI Cooper S JCW, CU53 UNB, owned October 2012 – August 2013 

Colour – Royal Grey

Purchase Price – £5650

Sold For – £5000

‘Buy a Cooper’, I said to myself. ‘You’ve driven the Cooper S and it’s too powerful, the Cooper is more fun’. I’ve got a track record of not listening to my own advice though, so, although I didn’t buy a Cooper S, I went the other way and bought the 210bhp John Cooper Works. Great fun over a perfectly flat road, not so much on the tarmac disgraces we call roads in Britain. Jarring ride aside, the performance was fabulous, especially with that supercharger constantly whirring away.

0534525-Saab-900-Cabriolet-900-SE-2.0i-Turbo-Cabriolet-199523. Saab 900 SE Turbo Convertible, R978 XON, owned August 2013 – November 2014

Colour – Midnight Blue

Purchase Price – £1060

Sold For – £995

I’d always admired Saab’s quirky nature and the 900 Turbo is an absolute icon. Having seen the upwards spiral that the early models’ prices had taken, I couldn’t resist this immaculate, low mileage ‘New Generation’ car. The body was about as rigid as cooked spaghetti, but that 2.0l Turbo Saab engine was a dream. Registered at the end of February 1998, I believe that my car was one of the last ever made before the arrival of the GM sourced 9-3, and I saw it as something of an investment. Unfortunately, it was getting enough use and when I was made the right offer, it had to go.

 

 

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