I’ve not been on here much lately; I’ve moved house, gained a dog, have a longer commute to work and life’s sort of got in the way. Good to be back though!
At the start of the year I had my trusty Mondeo, the Mk3 Astra convertible that came to SF18, my Mini that’s still asleep in my parents’ garage and the Simca, which is stored at a friend’s and I haven’t seen for ages.
I moved house in April (after already moving in January 🙄) and needed a sensible commuting car, as we need two working cars between us and a garage quoted silly money to weld the Astra. So I bought Sigmund Fraud’s Dolomite 1300. That was great for 3 months and 2,000 miles but has developed annoying issues as detailed elsewhere.
[I was going to insert an image here, but I have absolutely no idea how to do it on this new mobile site - so seemingly they’ll have to come at the end!]
The arrival of two more cars means I now have five at home and I feel bad about taking up all of the parking outside the house. I also need money to repay the price of my latest arrival so it’s for sale, along with the Astra and, once they’ve gone, the Simca.
With the Dolomite out of action, despite my best efforts, another daily was needed. My friend has always wanted a Saab, and last week I spotted a 900 convertible on Gumtree. It was very cheap, because the roof doesn’t work. Still useable as a coupe though, it had a new MOT and had been quite well looked after. It’s only a 2.0 NA “S”, so is quite a low spec, but still has leather (but not heated) and a trip computery thing etc.
We bought it from the quite elderly second owner, who’d done only about 2,000 miles in the 8 years he’d had it.
We had to change the starter motor immediately, due to user error (not by me!) - the spring in the ignition barrel has gone so you need to turn it back from ‘Start’ to ‘On’ once started or the motor runs continually. After being driven home with the starter on most of the way, it was dead. Replacement wasn’t as difficult as expected though.
Other than that, we’ve given it a clean (the roof was horrible!), replaced the broken stereo, and repainted the screen surround and wheel trims. Just needs new badges and it’ll look quite smart!
May attempt to fix the roof (or at least try to get rid of the CHECK LATCHES warning from the dashboard) at some point.
Now, I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that my ultimate “first thing I’d buy if I had some money” car is an FD Ventora that used to be my dad’s.
A history lesson: In March 1972, my uncle (Dad’s brother-in-law) bought WPA 506G, a 4-year old Vauxhall Ventora. He had a company car so only used it for family holidays and was keeping it nice for his retirement, which would be about 20 years later. He stopped using it at all in 1976, but kept under dust sheets in his garage. He died in 1989, before retirement and in 1992 my Dad bought the car from his sister. It had 18,000 miles at the time.
I was 6 then, and we had it until I was 13. I loved being driven about in it, it was super cool and nobody else had one. I was devastated when it was sold, because we were moving house and would no longer have the garage.
Since then I’ve attempted to keep an eye out for it and vowed to get it back one day. I last saw it in about 2008 though and, other than periodically checking it was still “taxed” etc, I’ve had no idea if its whereabouts.
About six weeks ago, a picture of it cropped up on a Facebook group, still looking great. From there I got in touch with the current owner and arranged to meet him at a show so I could take some pictures and have a sit in it, but that, disappointingly, got cancelled.
A couple of weeks later, he messaged me to say he fancied something else and was thinking of selling. My heart sank. I didn’t want anyone else to have it, but I have no money at all and the asking price was way out of reach. All I could do was politely decline and ask him to pass my details to the new owner.
It was advertised within FD circles but, quite unsurprisingly, most either didn’t have the money or already had one. But he did receive one offer of the full asking price. He’d sold this guy a very nice original Victor 3.3 estate previously and was saddened when he put a V8 in and messed about with it. He’d been circling for a while and said he “already had an engine to go in the white one”.
He didn’t want to sell it to him. I didn’t want him to either. But it would be a quick easy sale and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. He even offered me it for £1,000 less, but that’s not much help when you have very little.
But I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had to save it. After explaining the situation to family, I was offered a loan for the reduced asking price. Should I? Of course I should.
So, after modifying the shelving in my rented garage that I’m not allowed to modify, I collected it today. I still can’t believe it’s mine.
It’s had about 4 owners since my Dad, and the mileage has doubled, to 45,000. It’s still 95% original but now has an upgraded water pump and radiator and a better carburettor (that cost nearly £500). A stainless exhaust and new tyres too, and it’s been meticulously maintained. The guy I bought it from absolutely loved it and his enthusiasm was very reassuring. The receipts prove he’s not making money on the car.
Faults are limited to a stuck fuel sender making the gauge always read full, and I’d put the ugly cheapo seatbelts in that category too as they’ve inexplicably replaced the nice light grey Britax originals, that weren’t passed on a couple of owners ago. Replacements need to be sourced.
Considering its age and originality, and that it’s been through a few owners since I lost touch with it, the condition is still fantastic. A small amount of barely noticeable lacquer peel in one area is about the only deterioration I can find, apart from what was already there 20 years ago.
Yes, it uses a ridiculous amount of fuel. Yes, it handles like a cruise ship. Yes, I’ll be scared to use it or leave it anywhere out of sight. But I don’t care. It’s mine. And I’m keeping it.