The cars in my life Jul 28, 2011
I’ve never been overly into cars which is a good job as I’ve either not had the money nor the journeys to justify owning a really good one. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Top Gear and I am sure that if I had a spare hundred grand or three, I would probably buy something outrageous. However, cars of such beauty, put in the hands of someone like me is not the best idea. Ideally I would require a super car that needs neither gas nor water.
My first car was a 1984 Volkswagen Golf CL 1.3. It was pale blue. Unfortunately the stereo had been removed and it frequently lost power at fairly high speeds, especially when going uphill. The carburettor was always blamed by the mechanics but the problem was never really resolved. My family long had a history of owning Volkswagens. I will never forget my mother owned a Volkswagen Polo and once Christmas, with Snow on the ground and falling heavily it failed to start. Our next door neighbour Gunter, from Bavaria saw the commotion and came outside. He asked what the problem was, and obviously enough, it was that the car would not start.
“Nonsense” exclaimed Gunter. “This is a German car. It’s built to withstand temperatures of below -20. This is nothing compared to Germany.” Gunter insisted my mother got back in the car and we all watched him, push this car to a start in the blizzard, for over 200 yards. His feet were visibly slipping and a couple of times he was close to being flat on his face, but he managed to get the car started. He was completely out of breath but he’d made his point. However, the car starting had more to do with his complete determination rather than its mechanical superiority.
The next car was a bit of an upgrade on the 1.3. It was a 1990 1.6 Automatic Golf, a slightly greener color and it only had around 35,000 miles on the clock and one lady owner. I never had any problems with this car apart from when I failed to fill it with oil or water – apparent essentials to the smooth running of a car. I did once manage to park it on the back of someone else’s car by putting my foot on the accelerator instead of the brake, causing it to hit a log used to separate parking spaces. The log propelled the car upwards and it landed on the back of a small Polo, completely crushing the boot and back end. However, once the recovery truck came out, it pulled my Golf from its mounted position on the Polo, and my Golf was absolutely fine! If it’s a lesson I’ve learned from all this; its that Golf’s are much more resilient than Polo’s.
For some reason I got rid of the Golf, and bought a 1995 Toyota Carina. I had to sell my Toyota as it was a truly appalling car in my opinion, but it was brilliantly efficient and never once broke down. After this, I drove a V70 Volvo Automatic T5 which was probably around 18months old. A superb estate car, ideal for sticking the dogs in the back, golf clubs, or even both at the same time. This was a Volvo, it was no problem! It had a particularly enjoyable “kick” when the Turbo reacted to the accelerator. After this I drove a Volvo S60; a far sportier car for sure but definitely not as good as the V70. It didn’t handle as well for one thing and the headlights seemed to need replacing every two minutes, as did the wheels. Having owned this from new, I found it an entirely disappointing car. Never mind, a relative wrote it off at a roundabout from memory and I was hardly sad to see it go.
I bought my first property at this time and what with exams, I was somewhat stuck for cash. I bought a 1994 Ford Escort LX for £300. I must have completed 60,000 miles before selling my Ford to a guy at work for £250. I think that £50 for all those miles was an extremely good deal. My other half lent me her car; a 2000 Alfa Romeo GTV which was her pride and joy and which she had owned from new. Unfortunately, me and cars don’t really get on and let’s just say, she wasn’t best pleased. My other half convinced me to buy my BMW 323i from a dealer. I really liked this car although I found the steering surprisingly heavy. A Fiat Grande Punto and more Volvo Estates have also followed and we have just ordered an Audi A6 Avant Estate to replace the Volvo. If its one thing I have discovered with Volvos, its that they are not very good in the snow. Our Winter pack Estate spent most of the past two Christmas seasons abandoned in the nearest village. Its incredible that a car made in Sweden can’t cope with a few inches of ice. The seats may keep your behind warm but that’s not much comfort as a Ford Ka accelerates past you as you are stranded with spinning wheels. The Punto, like a Ford Ka, has no such issues with the snow which you wouldn’t expect from a car that retails for well under half the price of the Volvo. It has an extremely tough suspension – I assume this is because it’s a “multijet sports edition. Whilst the Punto was on order, I was also lent a Fiat 500 by the Mangoletsi Dealership in Knutsford. I have to say that despite sarcastic comments from male colleagues, women loved it! It was also a brilliant car; handled like a Mini and the fuel efficiency was unbelievable. Driving it reminded me of the film Dumb and Dumber where the audience laughs at Lloyd for swapping their “dog van” for an even more ridiculous moped because “it does around a hundred to the gallon”. The accountant in me clearly enjoyed more the thought of a hundred to the gallon than worrying about the sneers.