Driving Torque

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Volvo V40 Cross Country – Driven and Reviewed

What is it?

Volvo_v40_CC_frontWe tested the standard Volvo V40 a while back and we were thoroughly impressed with the looks, the practicality and what a great overall package this mid-sized hatch – brought to you by the Kings of Estates – was.

So, what happens when it’s jacked up a couple of inches and liberally garnished with some tough, chunky looking bits of trim? The CC (Cross Country) is what happens, oh, and the price goes up by a thousand pounds.

Unlike similar models of this genre, the CC is available in 4×4 guise, for those customers who need the off-road capability to match the looks, but it’s only available with the most powerful of petrol engines. That’ll cost you a not-inconsiderable £34K, so I think it’s a fair guess that the majority of CCs sold will be Diesels, just like this D3 model we have on test here.

Chic Interior

Volvo_V40_CC_interiorApart from a ‘Cross Country’ logo above the glovebox, the interior of the CC is exactly the same as the standard V40 model, and that’s no bad thing. The more Volvos I drive, the more I’m certain that their cabins are some of the nicest places you could wish to find yourself. Say what you want about the likes of Audi and Jaguar, but the effortlessly stylish design features in this V40, coupled with some innovative, high quality materials and the most attractive multimedia system add up to provide an ambience that’s second to none.

Take, for example, the seat fabrics in our V40. It’s not leather or Alcantara, so the generic description of the material used would simply be ‘cloth’. But that’s not doing it justice. It’s like sitting on a pair of reassuringly expensive designer jeans – not the kind you’d do the gardening in, more like a pair you’d don with a crisp white shirt and wear on a first date. It’s little touches like this that put the V40 a place above most similarly sized hatches.

Road Manners

Volvo_V40_CC_rear_lightThe CC guise may add ruggedness and road-prescence, but what does that extra height do to the agreeable road manners found in the V40? Apart from the obvious advantage when it comes down to tackling speed-humps and our increasingly scarred roads,  the fact is that it still sticks to the road very well and the slight addition of body-roll is only noticeable if you really push-on. If you were to ask any potential customer whether they’d trade a tiny loss in handling for the highly sought after gain in ride height over the standard car, I’m fairly sure they’d go for the CC.

This D3 model comes with Volvo’s torquey 5-cylinder Diesel engine with 150bhp, and it does very little wrong. It’s economical enough (114g/km & 64.2mpg) and once some initial rattle at start-up’s calmed down, you’ll merely detect a pleasant, distant sounding rumble, and that’s only if you turn the excellent sound system down that comes as standard.

Volvo_V40_CC_sideskirtMated to Volvo’s ‘Powershift’ automatic ‘box, driving the CC is a far more engaging experience than you’d possible warrant in this genre. The ‘box works very well and has an uncanny knack of being in the right gear without any over-revving or labouring most of the time; it’s far more satisfying than you’d expect the sum of its parts to be. There is a ‘Sport’ mode that changes up later and down earlier, as most sport modes do, but, if I’m honest, it feels a touch out of place in the CC, especially when the driving experience is so sorted to start with.

Does it work?

It would actually have been quite difficult for Volvo to mess this car up, as the V40 it’s based on is a great car in itself. Some subtle off-roady touches and a dash of extra road presence are well worth the £1000 price tag over the standard car, but even against similar competition, the CC is a fabulous piece of kit.

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; Volvo V40 D3 SE Nav Powershift, Transmission – 6 spd automatic, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power150bhp, Torque – 350Nm, Emissions – 114g/km CO2, Economy – 64.2 mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 127mph, Acceleration – 9.6s 0-62mph, Price – £25,770 OTR, £31,905 as tested.

Car-Fest North 2014

Welcome to my party, everybody!!!!

Welcome to my party, everybody!!!!

Food. Music. Cars. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that just about everyone is going to be an ardent fan of at least one of these topics, and that’s exactly what Car-Fest has to offer – all three and more.

Paul Hollywood states his case in Cakes vs Pies

Paul Hollywood states his case in Cakes vs Pies


I’m one of those people that’s passionate about them all, but as much as I enjoyed the annual ‘Cakes vs Pies’ competition, and the live performances by the likes of Simple Minds and Seasick Steve, this is a site about cars, so that’s what I’m going to concentrate on.

Some very valuable noses on display - just some of the Magnificent 7

Some very valuable noses on display – just some of the Magnificent 7

Now in its third year (second to be based at Oulton Park), Car-Fest North is unique in its approach to getting the maximum enjoyment out of petrol and what it propels. It’s easy to draw comparison to the likes of The Goodwood Festival Of Speed – the quality and quantity of cars on-site is genuinely breathtaking, but you’ll not find any competition or racing at Car-Fest – that’s just not in the spirit of the event.



The whole point is to make high-performance and achingly beautiful cars as accessible as possible to everyone present, showing off just what they’re capable of, including their sometimes blisteringly quick performance and how quickly it can decimate tyres,  whilst maintaining an atmosphere that even the youngest festival-goers will feel at home in.

Lower than a snake's belly

Lower than a snake’s belly

Using Oulton Park to host the event may take away some of the garden-party spirit that Chris Evans is keen to offer at his Car-Fest events (CF South is held in Jody Scheckter’s back garden), but I personally feel that the advantages of having a professional grade racing track for the drivers to show off on, including its run-off areas, barriers and pits, far outweigh anything that might be lost by not using a quaint driveway and some pretty fields.

Previous owner: Mr. A Senna

Previous owner: Mr. A Senna

Anyway, back to the cars. As I said, there’s no timing or racing to report on so I can’t give you any results, but this doesn’t detract from Car-Fest in the slightest. It sometimes seems as if Chris Evans has flicked through his address book, selected his utmost petroleum-loving mates and invited them to his party to unashamedly show-off their most treasured cars. And what’s wrong with that?

Almost priceless Ferrari on a racetrack - not for the faint-hearted owner

Almost priceless Ferrari on a racetrack – not for the faint-hearted owner

Nick Mason of Pink Floyd is an ever-present at Car-Fest, this year bringing his Ferrari 250 GTO – a car regularly described as the most beautiful ever made, and recently estimated at being worth between £30 – £50 million. You wouldn’t blame Mr Mason for leaving the car on static display with a barrier around it, regardless of how much he’s worth, but does he? Does he heck – it was out there on the track doing what it was made for – being driven on the edge.

Nick Mason and Paul Hollywood; "My Ferrari's shinier"  - "No, my Ferrari's shinier"

Nick Mason and Paul Hollywood; “My Ferrari’s shinier” – “No, my Ferrari’s shinier”

Various other TV stars including Paul Hollywood and Edd China can be found propelling their pride and joys around the track and, in-keeping with the whole accessible spirit of the show, they’re more than happy to chat and have pictures taken with the public once the driving’s finished and it’s safe to open the paddock up.

5th gear's Jonny Smith in his 'retired moonshine runner' Dodge Charger

5th gear’s Jonny Smith in his ‘retired moonshine runner’ Dodge Charger

The unique atmosphere of Car-Fest truly has a magical element about it, probably due to both its insistence that nothing is taken too seriously, and the fact that it’s all to raise money for The BBC’s Children in Need. If you weren’t fortunate enough to get tickets this year, I can’t implore you enough to try again next year. Chris Evans gives regular updates on ticket sales via his Radio 2 breakfast show, or you can go to http://www.carfest.org to keep abreast of things.

Ready for takeoff!!

Ready for takeoff!!

Seasick Steve

Yes – that guitar has just one string…..

To all those going to the sold-out Car-Fest South event at the end of August – have fun!

By Ben Harrington


Cholmondeley Pageant of Power 2014

Cholmondeley CorvetteThe 13th – 16th of June once again saw the peace and quiet of the usually tranquil grounds of Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire shattered, as thousands of horsepower were unleashed on the ground, in the air and on the water, the Pageant of Power had returned.

Some of the Rally Car class

Some of the Rally Car class

Ticket sales were apparently up an impressive 30% on last year’s event and a record 67,000 people attended over the three days. Holding the event on the Father’s Day weekend could be very helpful in this department as it really is accessible motor sport that the whole family can enjoy.

Cholmondeley race carSporting an Italian theme this year partly due to the legendary motoring brand – Maserati celebrating their centenary, the organisers were kind enough to provide a giant screen for attendees to watch England vs Italy in the World Cup. The result was irrelevant.

Some of the Super Car class

Some of the Super Car class

The Saturday night entertainment is fast becoming one of the highlights of ‘CPOP‘ and this year the volume was cranked up a notch with the evergreen Status Quo providing the soundtrack. Possibly a good job that Cholmondeley’s nearest neighbours aren’t within earshot!

There were many new, previously unseen entrants in this year’s event, not least of which being the Formula Ford drivers Sam Brabham and Max Marshall who did what any 19 year olds would do given an empty track and a Ford GT – they made the most of it.

Classic BentleyAnyone who’s attended CPOP before would have recognised some familiar faces also; ‘Mavis’ the crowd-pleasing Bentley Packard is an ever-present at the event and those deafening, fire-spitting exhausts never disappoint.

Justin Law Jaguar XJ220LMOn the more serious side of things, the father/son combination of Don and Justin Law brought a couple of cars down for all to see, including the ultra-rare Lancia Delta Integrale Rally Car- possibly the ultimate car for getting around the tight, slippery Cholmondeley track. They also brought with them what was probably the star of the show for me – the painfully beautiful Jaguar XJ220 LM. Justin explained to me that the car was only 99% finished but that he and his father had worked around the clock to make sure it was prepared to compete at Cholmondeley (the finished result competed at the Goodwood FOS – if you want to have a look). No matter how many cars Don and Justin get involved with, their enthusiasm for motor sport is infectious. I was lucky enough to be a passenger in one of their other XJ220s a few years ago – these guys are serious about the brand and Justin never holds back when he’s behind the wheel.Jumping Jaguar XJ220

Overall winner of the weekend was once again Robbie Kerr in the Radical SR8 RX, who also won it in 2013. His time of 56.41 on the warm Saturday afternoon wasn’t enough to beat his own record of 55.29 set last year, but tightened chicanes and the usual Saturday night rain meant that he was unable to push the car to its limits on the Sunday.

Not forgetting the bikes........

Not forgetting the bikes……..

Once again, there was enough going on at the Pageant to keep everyone happy; here’ s to next year when it’ll hopefully be even bigger and better.

By Ben Harrington

For updates about 2015’s show and details on how to buy tickets, go to http://www.cpop.co.uk, follow them on Facebook or follow @PageantofPower on Twitter 


New 2014 Ford Focus – Exclusive pictures from Frankfurt preview

2014 Ford FocusBiggest selling car nameplate globally for two years running; quite an accolade, don’t you think?

Well that’s what Ford proudly boast of their Focus model – a World Car in every sense.

Following the global theme, Driving Torque are pleased to bring you some World exclusive facts and, perhaps more pertinently, photos of the new Focus in both 5dr hatch and estate guise, all gleaned from a preview event held in Frankfurt earlier this week.

Ford are, quite unsurprisingly keen to ‘focus’ (excuse the pun) on two areas that are always towards the top of a car owner’s list of priorities; fun and economy. Conveniently, the Focus has sold in its multi-millions thanks, in no small part, to these two elements being prevalent in the model whilst still being affordable.

To build on the ‘fun’ factor, Ford have made some alterations and improvements to the new Focus, including stiffening the front end, revising the steering geometry, adding paddle-shift to auto models and retuning the electric power steering feel. All of this is to reinforce the Focus’ reputation of providing a spirited driving experience that a ‘C sector’ family car possibly has no right to warrant.

On the slightly less exciting but just as relevant economical front, the new Focus will continue to be available with the multi-award winning 1.0l EcoBoost engines, with one variant tuned to emit just 99g/km CO2 – making the Focus the first non-hybrid in the sector to creep under the magical 100g/km ceiling.

1.5l Ford EcoBoost engineThere will also be a new 1.5l EcoBoost available in either 150ps or 180ps and the range of Diesels will remain on offer (whether you like them or not), offering a 10% reduction in emissions on previous engines and completing a line-up, in which every model meets Euro 6 emission regulations.

Ford were also keen to point out improvements in refinement in the New Focus’ cabin, both in terms of materials used and finish. The most obvious change to occupants will be the new ‘SYNC 2’ infotainment system which boasts an 8” touch screen. It’ll apparently read out texts and permit Tweeting on the move too!!

So, here’s some images for now until we can actually get hands-on in one and feel how these alterations translate to the driving experience.

Speaking of which, although Ford were willing to confirm that an ST model is in the pipeline, they flatly denied plans to launch an RS……. don’t believe everything you hear though.

2014 Ford Focus Enveiled

2014 Ford Focus Estate

2014 Ford Focus Hatch side

2014 Ford Focus

2014 Ford Focus rear and side

2014 Ford Focus Front

2014 Ford Focus Hatch Rear

2014 Ford Focus Estate

2014 Ford Focus Front

2014 Ford Focus Sony door speaker

2014 Ford Focus Touch Screen

2014 Ford Focus Cabin

2014 Ford Focus Alloy Wheel

A selection of images from Car-Fest North 2013

Chris Evans Carest4

Chris Evans Carfest1

Chris Evans Carfest2

Chris Evans Carfest3

Chris Evans Carfest5

Countach Carfest 2013

E type Jag Carfest 2013

Ed China desk Carfest

Ed China Pete Waterman Carfest 2

Ed China Pete Waterman Carfest 3

Ed China Pete Waterman Carfest 3

Ed China Pete Waterman carfest

Ferrari 250 GTO Carfest 2013

Grey Ferrari Carfest 2013

Jaguar XJ15 Carfest

Line up Carfest 2013

Loud dragster Carfest

Mcrae Impreza Carfest

Nick Mason Carfest 2013 2

Nick Mason Carfest 2013 3

Nick Mason Carfest 2013 4

Nick Mason Carfest 2013

Silver Mercedes Carfest 2013

The Feeling Camaro Carfest (2)

The Feeling Camaro Carfest 3

The Feeling Camaro Carfest

Some photographs of when Nick Mason met Petter Solberg at Carfest North

Nick Mason meets Petter Solberg Carfest1

Nick Mason meets Petter Solberg Carfest2

Nick Mason Meets Petter Solberg Carfest 3

Nick Mason and Petter Solberg in WRC Carfest 2

Nick Mason Petter Solberg in WRC Carfest

Nick Mason and Petter Solberg in WRC Carfest 3

Nick Mason and Petter Solberg in WRC Carfest 4

Nick Mason and Petter Solberg in WRC Carfest 6

Nick Mason in WRC Carfest 2

Nick Mason in WRC Carfest 3

Nick Mason and Petter Solberg in WRC Carfest 5

Nick Mason and Petter Solberg in WRC Carfest 7

Nick Mason in Fiesta WRC Carfest

Nick Mason and Petter Solberg in WRC Carfest

Nick Mason passenger in WRC Carfest

Petter Solberg and Nick Mason head off in WRC Carfest

Petter Solberg sliding WRC 1 Carfest

Petter Solberg slides WRC 2 Carfest

Petter Solberg Slides WRC 3 Carfest

Nick Mason after drive with Petter Solberg Carfest

Petter Solberg exiting WRC Carfest

Nick Mason chats with Petter Solberg Carfest

Nick Mason chats with Petter Solberg Carfest 2

Nick Mason chats with Petter Solberg Carfest 4

Nick Mason chats with Petter Solberg Carfest 5

Petter Solberg signing autographs at Carfest

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


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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