In my 26 years of driving, I’ve owned 10 cars. Some were friends, one was my sworn enemy. Some died, some just passed on and faded from view. Many of them leaked rainwater in. Some leaked other fluids out. I think it’s accurate to say I had at least one adventure in each car.
My first car was a British Leyland beige (that horrible light orange colour) Morris Marina 1800TC saloon with a brown vinyl roof. Next door’s cat used the vinyl roof as a scratching post so eventually, I stripped it all off and painted the roof black with blackboard paint. Until I looked at the photos again, I’d forgotten I’d left the vinyl on the sides. With hindsight, it looked awful. It leaked like a sieve and every autumn I’d remove the carpets, to replace them after the rainy season. The footwells would fill up over night and I drilled holes in them to drain the water away. I remember driving off one day and the entire contents of the passenger footwell sloshed backward into the rear of the car. The boot would also fill up and I drilled the floor of that, too, missing the petrol tank my inches. Later, the petrol tank started to leak as it had rusted a bit, and my uncle and I replaced it after syphoning off the petrol that was in it into buckets in the garage! I know it died because the keyboard player in my first band killed it after I’d sold it to him. I did like the car, though, I suppose you always fondly remember your first.
My first Capri was a dog and hated me as much as I hated it – it was sold to me by a dealer who knew all the problems with it and gave it a false MOT. I believed his stories to explain away the faults and I learned my lesson with that one. The back axle was loose, the carb spat fuel out now and again and there were a few other problem. The bumper fell off when I did a three point turn outside my house and hit a lamp post. I didn’t realise it had fallen off until I saw it lying in the road. I did the walk of shame to retrieve it under the gaze of everyone who had heard the bump. It died several times but I managed to resurrect it each time – once hammering the starter motor with a hammer at a roundabout when it wouldn’t start. It got sold, in a zombie-like state, to someone who failed to register it and who end up being wanted by the police. Of course, they came to me as the last registered keeper but luckily I had a receipt. The photo below was a reject publicity shot for the first band I was in – I think we were called Jovian Winter at this point.
I owned a lovely Capri 2.8 Special. That was a beauty and probably the first car I wanted to keep. But it got too expensive to run and maintain, so I moved on to my first Audi, a 90. That was the car I first started travelling around the country in. That was followed by a Rover 220 coupe – another lovely car and, had it not been broken into 2 days after I got it, I would have kept it for a few years. Unfortunately, it looked good and the local car stealers liked it too. I swapped it for my first diesel – and Audi 80 – after 11 months of hiding Rover in someone else’s drive.
The 80 took me all over the country and cemented my love of German cars. I eventually part-exchanged it for a Passat Sport – an ex demo model fully loaded with all the extras and obtained as a bargain as I’d been advised on how to play the car buying game by a colleague who used to be a car salesman himself. This was followed by my first and only new car, a Volkswagen Bora 150 Sport. The salesman tried to sell me a lesser model and I later found out, thanks to my car salesman mate, that they always try and off load the worst selling model. I had also been introduced to the psychology of sales through work and I found I could learn from the salesman, and play his game. I drove it to the Outer Hebrides 3 days after I got it and managed to put a tiny scratch in the door by banging it against a wall in Oban. Until then, I was nervous driving it but suddenly it wasn’t new any more and I could relax.
The Bora finally had to go after 5 years, and I swapped it for a Passat. It had the biggest boot in the world though, and even Em failed to completely fill it when we went away on holidays. But I couldn’t get on with the electronic parking brake which never seemed to work reliably enough for me. It would either stick on, making me stall, or fail to catch. So the Passat went and I bought my current car, an Audi A4 S-line. A gorgeous car, another bargain thanks to the lessons I’d learnt previously, and probably the first car I would be reluctant to get rid of.
I had some work done on the silver Passat and the courtesy car I was given was the little yellow Beetle in the final photograph. I have to say it was tiny but big on the inside, but not a car for me. I think I was given it as a joke. I removed the flower immediately, of course!