Driving Torque

Articles, reviews and opinions about cars and all things automotive

Archive for the tag “Volkswagen”

VW buy Porsche, what’s the big deal?

vw buys porsche logoSo, in a bizarre twist of events, Volkswagen have finally bought the remaining 50.1% shares it didn’t already own in sports-car giant Porsche in a deal that cost VW  a whopping £5.4bn including repaying Porsche’s £1.9bn debt. I say bizarre because in the not too distant past, Porsche were raiding their own copper-jar to amass the funds needed to buy Volkswagen. Confusing, eh?

If you’ve been living on Mars for the last four years, you’ll be blissfully unaware of the changes that have occurred to the global economic climate. Porsche haven’t been afforded this luxury however and it’s this worldwide recession, coupled with tragic timing that has left them in a position of unaffordable repayments on the loan they acquired in order to purchase Volkswagen.

1970's Porsche 914 in green

Porsche 914

So, that’s a brief history of how we came to be in this position but what does this unification mean in the real world? Volkswagen and Porsche have been inextricably linked since a certain German megalomaniac ordered Ferdinand Porsche to build him a car for the people and the VW Type 1 (Beetle) was born. Since then, the two marques have never been poles apart, even co-producing the mid-engined Porsche 914 in the 1970s. More recently, the two companies have shared various components on their Touareg and Cayenne models, along with Audi and their Q7.

This new German ‘supergroup’ contains more than just VW and Porsche however. Volkswagen also bring to the party Skoda and Seat and when you add Audi to the equation, there’s all of their models and, as if we could forget, Lamborghini to throw a bucketload of spice into the mix.

audi a7 sportback grey

Audi A7 Sportback

It has been suggested that there are too many elements here to make up a happy family, that certain models from this amalgamation of brands are competing against each other and will simply take their market share from within the group, particularly from Audi. I’m not sure that I subscribe to this theory however; Both VW and Porsche haven’t proved themselves to be highly resilient manufacturers in tough economic climes without good reason. If we take the models that Porsche bring to the fold, they are very much in a sub-category that shouldn’t affect the rest of the group. As previously mentioned, the Touareg, Cayenne and Q7 have always shared components yet seemed to have found their own niche in the large 4×4 segment. The Cayman is a class above the TT coupe and a class below the R8, both in terms of cost and appeal. The Panamera is too much car for Audi’s A7 to compete and the upcoming 918 Spyder is an unknown quantity as yet that will undoubtedly now be marketed to avoid it detracting from the Lamborghini stable.

1963 porsche 911 in red

1963 Porsche 911

That leaves the Boxster and the 911 which could be argued to face direct competition from the TT and R8 respectively. This is certainly feasible but in the case of the Boxster vs TT, I feel that the different drivetrains and layouts of these models means that they can co-exist in their current guise and with a little tweaking from within the group, they’ll start to drift apart in terms of consumer appeal. That leaves just the 911 and the R8 but the evergreen Porsche with its four seats and rear engine layout seems to offer so many ticks in so many boxes that it’s hard for anything else to compete. This, combined with a seemingly infinite choice of models may explain the longevity of the 911 which now covers nearly 50 years.

What’s pertinent to remember  is that this wasn’t some oil baron buying a football club on a whim. This multi-billion pound deal will have been scrutinised to within an inch of its life and, historically speaking, both marques are prone to making good decisions where others have fallen. In my opinion, both VW and Porsche will profit hugely from their coming together and form a beautiful union. I might be wrong, but I doubt it.

By Ben Harrington

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An Idiot (hopefully) Aboard – The Bucket List (cars to drive before you die)

Having been recently inspired by the hilarious second series of ‘An Idiot Abroad’, I’ve decided that it is my duty to draw up a bucket list with a difference. Instead of a predictable procession of things to do before you die, I feel that what would be far more interesting (to those of a petrol obsessed nature anyway) is a list of vehicles I feel I must own before I die, or the DVLA revokes my licence due to 90% blindness – whichever comes first. Obviously this list is by no means exhaustive and will be updated when I see something else that takes my fancy.

Just to clarify, this is by no means a wish-list of unobtainable, ridiculously priced automotive rarity. Only vehicles which are realistically affordable to the average person are permitted, although I can’t be held responsible for any astronomical running costs that may be incurred.

1. FordCapri280 Brooklands                  Current Purchase Price – Circa £7,000

Ford Capri 280 Brooklands

Ford Capri 280 Brooklands

Having been brought up on a strict diet of various Capris, I can’t even look at one now without going all misty eyed and nostalgic. The sleek Mk111 has always been my favourite, its ultimate incarnation undoubtedly being the limited edition 280 Brooklands. Only 1038 were made, all in metallic ‘Brooklands’ green and signalled the end of the line for  the capri in Europe. Even as a child, I recognised that these were the Capris to own and begged my dad tirelessly to buy one, but unfortunately to no avail. I feel I must right a wrong.

2.  1968 Dodge Charger                            Current Purchase Price – Circa £25,000

1968 Dodge Charger in black

1968 Dodge Charger

Possibly at the limits of my realistic ambitions this one, 12mpg from a 7 litre engine is enough to worry the most committed of petrolheads but, oh my, does that V8 snarl sound tempting. The Charger just edges the Ford Mustang for the title of my ultimate muscle car but it’s got to be a ’68 and it’s got to be black. Slim hopes of actually owning one are only kept alive due to Mrs Harrington also wanting one, although she would insist on it being bright orange with a confederate flag on the roof, can’t possibly think why!

3. Harley Davidson Fat Boy                      Current Purchase Price – Circa £15,000

Harley Davidsom Fatboy Motorbike

Harley Davidson Fatboy

There’s nothing quite like a Hog for fulfilling those Route 66 fantasies and the Fat Boy is the most fantastic. Arnie riding one down a storm drain in Terminator 2 was enough to sow the seed for me and I still can’t hear that distinctive air-cooled, V twin sound without yearning to own a Harley. Fitting a 1.3 litre engine to a motorcycle may seem excessive to us Britons but surely that’s the whole point of an All American Fat Boy – excess.

4. Volkswagen Karmann Ghia                 Current Purchase Price – Circa £10,000

1960's Volkswagen Karmann Ghia in blue

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Here’s a little tale for the romantics amongst you. Back in 2002, I was left in no doubt that I had met the future Mrs Harrington when a conversation I was having with my girlfriend got onto cars. Being a devoted lover of all things Volkswagen and air-cooled, I was left awestruck when she told me, without prompting I may add, that the car she desired most was the Karmann Ghia. That’s right, not the latest Range Rover or the most expensive Mercedes sports but the relatively unusual, chirpy coupe from VW. We promised ourselves there and then that we’d buy one but in the end opted for a more practical Type 2 instead. Got to have one someday – it’s our destiny!

5. Jeep Wrangler 4.0                                   Current Purchase Price – Circa £4000

4.0 litre Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

I think that my passion for no-nonsense engineering is aroused by the notion of owning a Wrangler. They’re so simple and in some ways antiquated yet undoubtedly a design icon that’s never been bettered. Ok, so the 4 litre – straight six can’t exactly be described as frugal and the ride quality may be a little pony and trap but who cares? This car costs peanuts, typifies the American dream and yet has the steering wheel on the correct side and a main dealership in Stockport.

6. Ferrari 355                                               Current Purchase Price – £35,000 min

Ferrari 355 in Red

Ferrari 355

This one’s really pushing my ‘available to the average man’ rule, I know but their purchase prices are creeping down all the time so maybe with a little windfall, this could be a realistic purchase. Running the thing would obviously be a different kettle of fish, more of a money-pit than a kettle if I’m honest but personally, I’ve got to hold onto the dream. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is the last truly beautiful car to have rolled off the Modena production line. Its graceful angles and purposeful stance are such a visual treat that I couldn’t really care less if it drives like a complete dog, which of course it doesn’t.

7. Ducati 916                                                 Current Purchase Price – Circa £7000

Ducati 916

Ducati 916

When it comes down to motorbikes, my knowledge is, shall we say, sketchy at best. Sure, I admire some of them, I even own one (sort of) but at 31 I’m still a beginner when it comes down to controlling one and when it comes down to superbikes especially, I’d have to look for the manufacturers badge in order to pick one out of a line up. Nope, when compared to the cars, my emotional attachment to bikes is miniscule. All except that is, for the Ducati 916. As a teenager, our neighbour had one and if he were to start it up in his garage, I swear our house used to shake. Visually, it’s typically Italian – audacious yet delicate. Acoustically, it initially gives you a little shock on start-up but turn the accelerator round a fraction and it gives you the fright of your life. Like all the best Italian operas, both overwhelmingly beautiful and crushingly dramatic in equal measures.

8. 1977 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II                Current Price – Circa £10000

Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II

Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II

I don’t care that I’d either look like a dodgy second-hand car dealer or I was transporting the bride to her beloved. I don’t care that the ancient 6.75 litre engine would struggle to achieve over 10mpg yet only provide a somewhat pathetic 189bhp. I don’t care that the wallowing suspension is bound to bring on sea sickness. I don’t even care that many of them were sold in delightful colours, the most popular shades being Costume Jewellery Gold and Angel Delight Brown. What I do care about is that for me, the Silver Shadow is the archetypal Rolls Royce. Yes, it’s still as subtle as a sledgehammer but it also has a certain grace that was lost on later models – it’s slightly round at the edges –a look Rolls Royce have reverted to with their recent land yachts. I honestly can’t think of a more rock and roll car.

9. 1987 Porsche 911 Carrera                                 Current Price – Circa £15000

1987_porsche_911_carrera_26864627

1987 Porsche 911 Carrera

I know I’m forever prattling on about Porsche, this model in particular but no bucket list of mine would be anywhere near complete without this car. Flawed in almost every aspect of its design and constantly looking for new and exciting ways to launch its driver into the nearest large oak tree but still, every inch an icon. Ultimately, mine would be black with a red leather interior although I can be swayed on colour. What is an absolute must however is the oversize, whale-tail spoiler that must protrude from the Porsche’s rump. I’ll even play nothing but 80’s power ballads on the stereo.

By Ben Harrington

Anyone for Golf? Why Volkswagen’s Hatchback is truly a car for the people

Volkswagen Golf mks1 - 6

The Volkswagen Golf through the ages

Whenever anyone asks my advice regarding what car they should buy, I have a one size fits all answer. Without the need for any further questioning, I can almost guarantee that there is a car which in one of it’s many guises will suit your needs. It may come as no surprise to some of you that this seemingly magical automobile is, drum roll please, the humble Volkswagen Golf. I know, I know, surprise surprise I hear you chant but I truly believe that there’s a Golf to suit every need and I just can’t shake my own personal desire to own one.

I’ve recently decided that, excellent as it is, it’s time for the Audi to go. I can’t fault this truly amazing car but I’ve owned it two and a half years now and anyone who knows me will testify that this is the equivalent of nearly three decades in Ben’s car ownership years (it’s a little like dog years). As many men grow bored of perfectly fine women and play the field, I find a similar compulsion with cars. It’s a blessing really as changing your car undoubtedly results in miniscule financial and emotional suffering when compared to divorce.

Inevitably, one decision has spawned another question and that is which car to purchase as the Audi’s replacement? I’m fairly certain that I don’t need such cavernous proportions anymore, although reasonable storage is still necessary and five doors is still a must. I’ve made no secret of my desires to get away from diesel but a fairly frugal petrol engine is the only acceptable alternative. Having read many, many car reviews, I’m aware that the Ford Focus is an excellent all rounder, as is the Mondeo and oh my god, who am I kidding, all of this reasoning and weighing up is completely irrelevant because I just know that I’ll end up with a Golf.

I can only put this borderline-obsessive behaviour down to certain automotive perceptions developed during my formative years. As a young child, I was brought up on a strict diet of Jaguar and Ford but as my more opinionated teenage years loomed menacingly, the quality control departments at both marques were seemingly redundant. The German brands however were all conquering with their seemingly effortless cool and their reputation for indestructible build quality.

But what was the big deal about the Golf? On the surface it appeared to be an ordinary hatch like any other but we all knew that this couldn’t have been further from the truth. If you wanted ordinary, you bought an Astra or an Escort, buying a Golf simply screamed that even in an every day family hatch, you demanded excellence, and that was the fundamental difference.

Back to the present time, in my head I know that many of the Golf’s competitors are in many ways its equal, some have even surpassed it. Unfortunately though, we all know how events in our youth can leave an indelible impression upon us and for me at least, the Golf will always have a special place in my heart.

By Ben Harrington

(Not so) Big Bulli – Volkswagen’s MPV is shrinking

Volkswagen's Bulli Concept at the Geneva Motor Show

Volkswagen’s Bulli Concept

So, it seems that Volkswagen have decided to jump on the same bandwagon as BMW and Fiat, with the Mini and 500 respectively and resurrect an ancient model that was a huge hit way back when. I am of course referring to the Bulli concept which was unveiled recently at the Geneva motor show to mixed reactions.

Being the owner of a ‘proper’ Volkswagen – my ’74 camper, this story immediately demanded my undivided attention and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I knew the exterior styling reminded me of something and it took a while for the penny to drop – it’s strangely reminiscent of the Nissan Cube.   Like the original, the whole concept is a clever one, offering the owner many vehicle layouts in one e.g. MPV, van or camping tool. Different wheelbases will be offered in certain countries reflecting demand and it will come with a choice of powerplants including an 85kw electric motor.

1974 Volkswagen Type 2 Campervan Black and cream

My Volkswagen Type 2 – ‘Matilda’

This is pretty much where the similarities end however and where I feel the problems begin. You see, unlike my ’74 VW, the interior of this concept looks cramped and restrictive. This is due partly to the Bulli being significantly smaller than it’s predecessor – 3.99m x 1.75m x 1.7m compared to 4.5m x 1.7m x 2m. It’s also due to the Bulli not making full use of the space it was given. The beauty of the original Transporters was that the engine was neatly stowed under the boot at the rear of the vehicle, resulting in the entire length of the body being useable as no bonnet was required. If you look at the Bulli concept however, around a quarter of the overall length is used to accommodate the powerplant, stealing valuable cabin space. Somehow, Volkswagen would appear to have taken a design which can be traced back over 60 years and fiddled with it to the extent where it isn’t as useable as the original.

Vw transporter concept 2001

Volkswagen’s Ill-fated Transporter Concept from 2001

When pictures of a new Transporter concept were released in 2001, the styling seemed to reflect the original more accurately. This lead to many people warming to the idea as it wasn’t only attractive but, perhaps more importantly, overwhelmingly practical as well.

Before any final production plans are made, I hope the good folk at VW dust off the pictures of the 2001 concept for inspiration. I also sincerely hope someone has the balls to remind them what a hash they made of reinventing  the Beetle!

By Ben Harrington

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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