First some background:
I was brought up with no car interest, a car was transport and nothing more which resulted in a selection of poor cheap cars being the cars of my youth.
Fast forward many years (just over 9 years ago) and I have a wonderful* Vauxhall Vectra estate to carry us about. Unfortunately it is crap and throws fault codes at us with nothing being there when it is checked (even at Vauxhall)
As Mrs T is the main pilot of this chariot with the two little miss T's on board, it has to go.
The hunt is on for the new steed to safely and comfortably carry the family around. I have a company car at the time so big journeys are not an issue.
ebay is my weapon of choice to find the new family car. It has to be good value cheap for no other reason than I am tight.
Weeks of research with lots of cars that are too expensive and too far away for easy collection end up in my watch list.
Finally a possible is spotted in Fife. I go and have a look and find a poor looking but solid car. One previous owner and lots of history.
The auction was to end on the Saturday at midday, we were going to be out! I decided on how much I was willing to gamble on it and on the Saturday morning I put in my max bid but straight away it went to my max bid, I was winning but it had three hours to go with no room for me to go up! We went out anyway.
I spent the next three hours kicking myself for not bidding more while we were out as it was the first car I had seen that fitted my criteria. Fate was in charge.
On returning home I go straight on ebay to find 'Congratulations.............'
For the grand total of £500 I had just won this fine vehicle!
It has 5 months MOT and after fitting seat belts in the rear for the girls car seats it is pushed into daily service.
My gamble and subsequent use results in a perfectly reliable car that actually does what it is supposed to do.
Even more importantly Mrs T loves it so a win all round.
All my cars have names (most are earned over a bit of time) and this one is called 'Gwendolen' ( G reg car and from Wales originally. I hate the name but I am not going to argue)
That sums up part one, more will be along later (probably much later)
With the recent addition of the 420 to the fleet it's high time I started a project thread devoted to all four Rovers.
I've done some half-hearted attempts in the past, then done a few updates on the News 24 as and when I remembered.
Today will be an intro to the fleet only with a little potted history about things wot I've done, and then I'll aim to be more blog-like in my approach to my skillful* fettling.
So without further ado, welcome to the fleet.
2004 Streetwise S - purchased May 2017
It was a toss up between this and a top spec K11 Micra, but this won the day. This car marked my return behind the wheel after almost 18 years and thus was a monumental step forward for me.
I'd given up driving mainly because public transport is so good in Nottingham but when my parents relocated to Newmarket from St Albans, the train journey to Suffolk was ridiculously long-winded and incorporated 55 minute waits at Cambridge to catch the connecting train to Newmarket, so enough was enough.
Purchased from a shady man in East Leake ('which car ?' when I rang up) who was dealing from his front garden, this Streetwise stole my heart from day one. Annoyingly I missed out on getting it for £250 when this guy bought it and flipped it, and span a tale of a part exchange in Manchester where his old car lot had been. I wanted to call bullshit, but the price was right, £420 exchanged hands, and this came home with me.
There were some issues, notably no horn nor rear fog lights (fucked Pektron BCU) but that aside, this car has wanted nothing other than consumables (tyres, exhaust, brake pads) and has never FTP (apart from user error - leaving the boot open and the dashcam on drained the battery on two occasions). The willing puppy and commutawagon, until recently this has always been my goto car, which I can always rely upon.
It will continue to serve as commutawagon, not least due to its petiteness which ensures parking is easy, and its miserly fuel sipping.
Just about an hour ago I went to start my car up, had Mrs Dustman with me, to go and pick Miss Dustman up from work. Turned over fine but took a while to fire up.
Steering felt heavy. Thought maybe as it's currently -5 + wind chill it's just cold & the fluid is thick.
Started reversing out my bay then I was greeted with:
"DING DONG" - ABS fault.
"DING DONG" - ESP fault
"DING DONG" - headlamp auto levelling not working, contact service.
I shut the car down straight away and we went in Mrs D's Corolla.
Alternator is less than 2 months old, it's a recon unit from Alternator Man in Portsmouth. Hoping the cold isn't killing the battery and it's taking the 'nator out with it (battery passed the drop test last time the no-charge warning came up). Looks like a session with the multimeter after work tomorrow.....
This week, for the first time ever, I felt old. I have sciatica which swaps from one side to the other, arthritis in one hand and what I think is the beginnings of IBS. On top of that it took me 2 weeks to remember a registration number that once would take me 2 seconds, and I forgot my parent's wedding anniversary.
I'm only 32.
Shit. No I'm not. I'm 33. I forgot that too. (Genuinely)
So, it's about time I committed some of my tales to paper. Well, a shonky server... but that's the best you can do in 2016.
First up, a list of the cars I've owned (as best as I can remember) in chronological order.
1985 VW Polo Formel E. C158 TRT. This was given to me even before I passed my test.
1991 Rover Metro S. J801 TAC. Bought about 3 months after I passed my test as I was convinced the Polo was about to shit its gearbox.
1987 Volvo 360 GLT. D781 ___ Managed three months in a Metro before the small car and smaller petrol tank became a bore.
Ford Mondeo and Honda Civic Coupe by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
1999 Ford Mondeo Zetec. V384 DBJ. Still the most I've ever spent on a car. It was 3 years old and cost, from memory, about Â£8,000. Just think of the Rover R8s you could buy with that now!
1987 Volkswagen Golf GTI 8v by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
1987 Volkswagen Golf GTI D79 CVV. I very nearly bought a MK1 Golf 1.1 but was persuaded, by my father amusingly, to buy this one from a different friend. From memory I gave about Â£500 for it, and sold it to some racers later that year for about Â£300. Amusingly, 16 year later I'd sell the Hartge wheels that came with the car for Â£530.
1999 Toyota Avensis CDX by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
1999 Toyota Avensis CDX. V781 GDP. By far the best car I've ever had. Bought in 2002 for Â£5300, it had previously been a company car at British Telecom. I ran it from 62,000 to 174,000 before it became surplus to requirements. A German chap bought it on ebay for about Â£500 and drove over to collect it. Hero.
2001 Ford Mondeo Zetec by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
2001 Ford Mondeo Zetec. Y821 EEB. I should have loved this car. I gave Â£500 for it in 2008 which was stupidly cheap by anybody's standards. It needed 4 tyres (which actually was nice to pick good ones for once) and a coil spring. Sadly, it was just bill after bill after bill. I sold it and promised to never own another Ford. I nearly succeeded.
1998 Nissan Almera by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
1998 Nissan Almera GX Auto. S58 NLO. My late Grandfather's car and, upon reflection, my first proper attempt at bangernomics. I bought it for Â£500 in 2008 from the estate and ran it for well over a year and 30,000 miles. It was also my first automatic which, whilst a bit dumb, did lock up into overdrive and give a good 36 mpg no matter how it was driven.
2004 Ford Fiesta 1.25 LX and 2006 Ford Focus 2.0 Ghia by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
2004 Ford Fiesta Zetec. AG53 BWL. My wife's car which I ran for a couple of years when I bought her a Focus as a wedding gift.
2003 Rover 75 by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
2003 Rover 75 Club SE. AX53 BFA. This is where my career as a serial car buyer really began. Ignoring all of the warning signs I decided to press a K Series into a daily 100 mile commute, which it did with aplomb. This wasn't actually the car I set out to buy, the one I'd agreed to buy OVERHEATED ON THE FORECOURT whilst I was doing the paperwork. Consequently I couldn't leave fast enough and bought a different car later that day.
2004 Toyota Avensis T30-X by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
2004 Toyota Avensis T3-X. KT53 DWZ. Sensible head back on, I decided to get back into something I trusted when my 3rd son was born. This was a lovely car, but not without its problems. The VVTi oil burning issues are well documented and do frequently occur. Ironically, this was less reliable than the Rover it replaced! Despite fearing the worst and 3 months off the road, the new owner has just MOTd it.
1999 Toyota Avensis SR by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
1999 Toyota Avensis SR. V263 GDP. Back into bangernomics territory again. The last MK1 Avensis I had was the best car I'd ever had, so I hoped to replicate it with another T22 Avensis. This one came up for sale in my favourite (and rare) colour with a numberplate sequential to my previous car - so it was meant to be. I still have this now, and tomorrow it will tick around to 185,000 miles having been bought by me at 100,500.
1974 Morris Mini 1000 by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
1974 Morris Mini 1000. GEL 517N. Well, I always wanted one - and was young, free, single and well off at the time (2003). A memorable trip to buy it when I called my new girlfriend by my ex girlfriend's name 20 miles into a 200 mile weekend away. She's never forgiven or forgotten but we're still friends. Oh - and married.
1977 Ford Capri II GL by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
1977 Ford Capri II 1600 GL. SMY 675R. I can't remember why I bought this, other than I thought it'd be amusing. It was bought from Norwich for Â£350 and was perfectly well behaved for the 8 months that I had it (other than a flasher unit expiring). I remember being shocked just how much the windscreen would ice up inside, and duly sold it in November to a guy who was going to drive it daily! It's still alive and now, apparently, black! (Update - it's now silver!!!)
1989 Volvo 340 DL by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
1989 Volvo 340 DL. G67 AVN. I bought this for Â£80. Unbelievable. It was utterly bloody perfect. I wanted to do a banger rally which is why the guy gave it to me so cheap. I'm still yet to do that rally, but no longer have the car. I sold it for about Â£300 to a family who were clearly down on their luck who, I hope, still have the car.
1996 Toyota Granvia by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
1996 Toyota Granvia. N775 JEV. My wife and I decided to increase our numbers further and, with our 4th son on the way, larger transport was required. We quickly realised you can either have 4 children and no apparel, or apparel and no children. After trying a very tired Mercedes Viano, the Granvia was found for 1/4 of the price and it's still here 2 years later. I can safely say that we'll never sell it - it really is another member of the family.
1993 Mercedes 190e by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
1993 Mercedes 190e. L795 COJ. I've admired these cars since I was a child. In fact, one of the very few toy cars I still have from my childhood is a Mercedes 190e. Regular readers of "Memoirs from the Hard Shoulder" will know what a PITA this car has been since day 1, but I get the feeling it's a keeper. We'll see!
1983 Ford Sierra Base 1.6 by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
1983 Ford Sierra Base. GVG 510Y. Not explicitly my car, but it should be documented here for reference. Oh - and the V5 is in my name. The story is online for all to read as to how five of us acquired what is believed to be the only remaining Ford Sierra Base. Make a brew and read it, it's a fantastic story.
1982 Ford Sierra L by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
1982 Ford Sierra L. LCR 503Y. I accidentally won this on ebay for Â£520. Upon reflection, I shouldn't have sold it - but short stop of saying I regret it. I could never get truly comfortable driving it and, in fairness, I could scratch my Sierra itch with the base if I wanted. Sold it at a stupid profit of Â£1250. It is believed to be the oldest remaining Ford Sierra in the UK.
1979 Volvo 343 DL by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
1979 Volvo 343 DL. DBY 466T As you'll see above, I'd had a 360GLT as a younger lad and fancied one of these earlier cars. The variomatic is, frankly, terrible but amusing. This car has just 8000 miles on the clock and inside was absolutely timewarp. Sadly, the huge bill for the Mercedes 190e cylinder head rebuild meant I had to sell this car shortly after acquiring it. Since then I've had a bit of money luck, and now realise I didn't need to sell it after all. Typical.
I think that's it. My arthritis is playing up even more now. I've left out a few cars that were actually my wife's, but if I find pictures will add them in at a later date. I'll run this as an ongoing thread on cars and what's happening.
Purple Avensis: Just about to click over 185,000. Minor drama this week when an HT lead split but otherwise utterly fantastic, fantastically boring and boringly reliable.
Granvia: Just done 1000 miles in a month around Norfolk, 6 up with suitcases. 31mpg achieved on the way up which is good for an old tub with a 3.0 Turbo Diesel on board. ODO displaying 175,000 which is a mix of miles and kilometers. Say 130,000 miles for argument's sake.
Mercedes: Being a PITA. It's had the top end completely rebuilt after the chain came off. Now needs welding to pass another MOT and the gearbox bearings are on strike. It's about to go into the garage for winter until I can stomach it again. 151,000 miles on the clock.
Sierra bASE: Still on sabbatical with AngryDicky who only took it bloody camping in cornwall! Legend.