So what has been going on these past few months?
Well, the last couple months of summer saw me become a monthly contributor to Classic.Retro.Modern. magazine, acting as a correspondent/columnist on the plight of the young classic car enthusiast. This was quite timely, as it more or less coincided with my passing of the IAM Roadsmart test, for which I learned just what they don't teach you for your driving test, and being flatly denied by any insurance company I turned to for a better quote - turns out classic insurers don't like their cars doing more than 5k miles a year, and mainstream insurers are sketchy when it comes to 36 year old Audis. Oh and if you are young, you're lucky if your quote is anything under £2k, even for an Austin Allegro (which I don't have, just wanted to test them with).
But, what of the cars? The Volvo has been slowly been getting back into shape, although I am still convinced it pulls to the left despite being set up professionally. But it has been really nice to get the wedge back on track, even treating it to my dream radio head unit, the Philips DC954, as featured in The Living Daylights.
Also totally by chance turned up at the Fuel Power Party as it was literally 10 minutes down the road from me, so that was a great afternoon meeting people with some great conversations had
But, the ever reliable (save for the starter motor going when we first got it) Audi suffered its first breakdown in my ownership. I was taking my Gran and Father to the Romsey show, sitting in near stationary traffic (a lot of which was at a steep downhill angle) when all of a sudden the revs dropped to the floor and the engine cut out, unable to be restarted. Luckily we could just park it on the verge while we awaited recovery, which we had to pay for because apparently the car wasn't taxed (I was shocked as I was adamant I had done it, but the computer said no). After 2 hours, the truck turned up, just for the Audi to start again. Not wanting to take a chance, the very nice R D Avery man agreed to follow us the mile or so home. Halfway there, the engine cut out sure enough and we were carried the rest of the way back.
Our problem was that we needed a way to get the car to our garage as we had no idea what the fault would be. Luckily, we thought of a very...AS...way of doing things (well, relatively, as we don't have access to a beige Toyota Tercel, so had to use a 1943 Willys Jeep as a stand-in)
The first time I had ever been towed, but with hindsight it is probably good experience for driving an old car with no brake servo. It was an unnerving, yet very heroic sensation that I felt on the 8-minute journey to our preferred village garage (yes, they are still a thing), although I should have been less cautious with the brake, as my dad's Jeep was finding it a bit more strenuous than it needed to.
But we got it there, and within a couple of days the fault was traced to a burnt out ignition coil, which was duly replaced and the car was fine again.
Next up was the move to University, a process which has seen me taking on the West country. Due to difficulties getting the Audi's V5 into my name, then taxed and insured, the Volvo had to cover the move and the first week there. I was very pleased with the amount of stuff I was able to get in the back, with my parents smoky Mk5 Golf Dizzler not having to carry too much stuff up the A36.
The Volvo proved itself very adept in the tight city streets, but the 4 individual chairs and 3dr coupe configuration meant that it wasn't the best for hauling people about in. That and the fragile nature of the interior...
During my first week at university, there was a treat in store. Ian Robertson, my colleague at CRM, had invited me to the SMMT Test Day, an event dangerously close to Bas Vegas. This saw me up at the crack of dawn and cruising across Salisbury plain, even managing to go past Stone'enge at a speed greater than 31mph. The event was great. Even though I wasn't covered on any of the manufacturers fleet insurance polices (of course) I still had a great time networking, and meeting fellow young people in the industry, which included my friends Jake and Genevieve of the Fuel Power team, whom it was a pleasant surprise to see. While I went there with eyes on the Citroen C5X (for just being a Citroen shaped middle finger to the idea of the crossover) I left the event lusting after the DS 4 that was parked next to it, such a lovely bit of design work
That weekend, my parents ran the Audi over to me, meaning that the Volvo (which didn't have an onsite parking permit) could go and sleep in the garage. After not driving it for nearly a month, it was great to have the Audi back. The separation meant I was able to get the full hit of the 1980s Volkswagen-Audi Group Interior Scent(c) that the 80 Sport has in spades, and reminds me so much of my granddad's Ur-quattro (still having the engine rebuilt). Unfortunately, the Audi is still lumpy low down, but it seems to drive happy enough.
The plan now is to keep the car onsite, in case I need an escape from the mental health grindstone, get back home quickly, or just help out if people are in need. In the week it has been here, the Audi has received more looks and attention than the Volvo ever did, which is strange given how extraordinary the latter looks, but then the Audi does look decidedly 'old-world' that contrasts much more with modern fare.
So lets see just what Further Education has to offer...