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It certainly was. He is a bit of a petrol head, so was keen to help. I kept telling him I didnt want to put him to any trouble, but he wasnt having it.

It restored my faith in human nature somewhat. Sometimes life can make us think everyone is an arsehole, but things like that can remind us that most people are basically decent.

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I'll adjust accordingly to suit this place, was all a bit polite as it was a club posting and the car was bought from a "fellow" club member..... What I didn't say at the time was I had another blue X1/9 at the time, which was all legal. This one had been lying in a dusty garage for 7 years. I put the plates, chassis plate  and paperwork for my other blue one in a rucksack, and cloned the new purchase.


Chapter 1.


Arranged with Jim to collect his X1/9 VS on Saturday,so I booked a train ticket to go down to London to collect it and drive it home.He was a bit apprehensive (didn't give a fuck) as the car hadn't really been on the road for a few years,but I thought I'd take the chance and bring it home under its own steam. ( it would have been nice if he'd at least washed all the shite off the windscreen, never mind check the water and oil...) I left Markinch train station at 8am,armed with a bag full of car and bike magazines to read during my journey.Upon arrival in Edinburgh,I was told that the East Coast line was closed due to engineering works,and I would have to go via Carslile...anyway,got into London at 5pm,and after a couple of runs on the tube and getting totally feckin lost, and being unable to phone the owner as he is deaf,finally got to the station where he  lives.Came up the stairs from the underground and thee right in front of me was the big daft dome thing- knowing that would have made my life a whole lot feckin easier.....He collected me after about a feckin hour in his Integrale Evo,and enjoyed a white knuckle (was scared shitless- a deaf driver, LHD and 200+ BHP, just what I needed with a headache and a bladder full of British Rail coffee..) ride through London,If you ever live in London,get one of these!!! Sprinting between the lights with the turbo chirping away was worth the train trip itself!! (being polite, twat)

Anyway,got all sorted out ,and I got to drive a blue 1300 for a wee bit,its a lovely wee thing (true),then had a look over a green 1300.It was just how I remember them  I doubt there are many left in such original condition anywhere.(true) It was now nearing 7pm,so I thought it best to make a start on the long journey North..so we waved our goodbyes,(through gritted teeth on my part)and I put my trust in Holly,the sat-nav bitch to get me out of the city.




10 minutes up the road,in half a mile of traffic in the Blackwall tunnel,the temp gauge shot off the scale..and sounds like a kettle boiling coming from behind me. I'd heard about the Blackwall tunnel from Sally Traffic ...and knew if I did'nt make it out under my own "steam" I'd be on the news, and probably busted for false plates and various other things..I had to keep moving though,with people tooting and flashing at the sauna behind the car. once I got out of the tunnel,I pulled in to a side street and popped the engine cover,and gently released the geyser using my jacket to stop me getting scalded...empty. I had 2 litres of water,so I poured that in and got another 2 miles down the road in to some housing scheme. I was just about in tears- 450 miles from home in a car which had been very misdescribed, a deaf owner who I couldn't phone and rant to and worst of all and more pressing- there was a crowd gathering and looking around, it looked like I'd driven all the way to a dodgy area in the Bronx rather than our capital city..I knew if I spoke, I'd be deed, having a bit of a Scottish accent... 


The car finally started again and sounded pretty rough, so I needed to find a petrol station so I could get water in and bleed it, put some oil in and give it a bit of a look over, I daren't switch off in case it'd neve go again so I limped to a Shell station. GREAT, and many THANK FUCKS were said to myself, so I filled up with the good Shell stuff, and looked over at the station itself. Big grilles over the windows and as it was after 10pm, a few hoodies loitering about. I joined the queue to pay and looked at the oil and stuff through the slots. At the head of the queue, I asked for a couple of litres of 15/40, 20 fags, some coke (what, no Irn Bru??!!)  and probably a few more things, and the lot came to near on 90 quid. I'd taken an extra few hundred with me for bits and bobs, so opened my wallet and dumped 5 20's in the wee tray- in full view of all the neds behind me. WE DONT TAKE SCOOOTISH MUNY, came the voice through the grille. AAARRRGGGHHH. came my reply, when one of the helpful neds behind me said there was a cash machine down what was a very dodgy looking side street..... we'll show you... I'm dead, thinks I..


I did manage to get there and back alive, after making a few refrences to Trainspotting and Taggart, and trying to sound a little bit mental and Begbieish .. the car was still in 1 piece when I did

The car started better but was really lacking power and everytime I accelerated,I was getting a backfire,and no real increase in power,so I stopped in at a services after 20 miles or so ,and bought some more supplies for the journey,and adjusted the timing a bit. Took the roof off,and set out on to the motorway.All was great for about 40 miles,car was driving beautifully,there were great tunes on the radio and the heater was pumping out hot air.The roads were empty and I was really enjoying myself!

Just when I'd totally relaxed and got into the mood for charging up the road there was suddenly a very loud and expensive sounding noise came from behind, in the mirror was a shower of sparks ,the car cut out and I coasted into the hard shoulder...I jumped out expecting to find oil and conrods all over the carrigeway....


After a bit of investigation using my test lamp for light,I saw that the distributor had feckin siezed,so the whole lot had been turning,ripping off the HT leads,breaking the hold down clips,pulling out and snapping the LT wires and smashing the dizzy cap..the rotor arm had also gone AWOL. Damn and blast....or words to that effect were probably heard up in Scotland....

I had brought a few spares,so I checked to see what I had,the dizzy cap I had was different...the rotor arm fitted though,and the points were the same,so I removed the plate out the dizzy and straightened it on the crash barrier and removed the small broken piece of metal that had caused all the carnage in the first place. I'd like to show you a picture of it,but its still lying on the M11 somewhere,chucked over the carrigeway in a rage...

Now I had the dizzy internals all together and back in,and a bit of wire fixed in from the coil to the |dizzy nicked of the daft non working alarm ,there was the problem with the cap. Half of it was missing and there was no way of fixing it to the dizzy body. I gave myself a wee telling off for not bringing cable ties... never go anywhere in a shitter without cable ties..I sat on the crash barrier and smoked a few fags,contemplating what to do next.Do I finally join a breakdown service..

Not without a fight!!! I had a brainwave of using my bootlace to tie the cap on ,even just to get me to the next services.After a few failed attempts I finally got it to stay in place,and tentativly turned the key..It fired up straight away,and idled perfectly...I'm sure I even saw it smiling.. bastard thing..

Back out on to the motorway and all seemed well,timing was a bit out,but if anything,it was even better than before..I had a few thoughts about the sparks flying about in what was left of the dizzy cap being next to the fuel pump,but quickly tried to think about something else..



I wasn't really giving a fuck anymore- I was like a wounded submarine heading for port, just like in Das Boot- full throttle and point North, the nearer I got, the less I'd have to walk..

Quite a few miles up the road,I pulled in to the services and gently moved the distributor and set off again.The car was running perfectly,plenty of power and no funny noises,so I settled into a 90mph  (+) cruise up the M1 and life was great again! By this time it was about 5am, and tiredness was setting in,and it was beginning to get foggy,so I decided to forego the A68-one of my favorite roads into Scotland-and head over to Carslile and up the M74.On the slower roads I noticed that the idle had risen up to 3500RPM,but I left it for now,but did have a moment driving through one of the small border towns,and there was a traffic car sitting there..Trying to keep a CSC exhaust quiet and keep to 30 with the idle at 3500 without showing brake lights took all of my coordination skills so as not to get pulled!


Over into Scotland and I pulled into the services for a BIG coffee and to adjust the fast idle,which had been sticking on,and back on the road-roof on now as it was POURING down! A bit upthe road the Bastard alternator light came on,not just a dim glow,but full on....noooooooooo. I pushed on switching off anything I could do without,and made it to the next services.I then noticed that at idle and slow speed the light would go out.So this is how the rest of the trip went,charging up the motorway for a while,then stopping and ticking over for a while,letting the battery get some food.Every now and again,the alternator belt let out a huge squeal and a groan and the light went off,this at least kept me awake!!

We finally got back to Glenrothes at ten past eight this morning. 24 feckin hours after I left, with no sleep...me absoluteley shattered and filthy,and the X on 3 cylinders making some horrible noises,but we were home...like 2 battle weary soildiers back from the front line after a tour of duty. I went straight to bed,and slept like a log until 4pm,and the car is sitting outside in the rain,waiting on some TLC to get it back into rude health!!


Makeshift bootlace repair

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It was 2007, my camera was shit and I was skint.



As some of you may know,I was away for 2 weeks last month to Europe on my(Italian)bike on my own,thought some of you may be interested,so here's the story I wrote for my local bike club...

didn't go smoothly at all! Here goes.

Due to catch the ferry from Rosyth on the Tuesday at 3pm,had the bike all loaded and was happy with the way everything was strapped on,messed around for a bit in the morning and had a shower and stuff getting myself prepared for the off.about 2pm I went out to the garage and got myself dressed in my bike gear,made a last check of everything,wheeled the bike out the garage,shut the door and jumped on.Pressed the button and the B****** wouldn't fire!! Never EVER done that before....

kept pressing the button in disbelief,but no,nothing happening.Pulled off the tailpack,my tent,tank bag and everything else and checked and double checked everything,decided to pull the plug out (which is a bit of hassle-all the fairing has to come off...) and had a look,it looked fine,but I had a spare,so I chucked it in,and it started..thank F***!!

Got to Rosyth no probs,and had a reasonably good crossing.Didn't bother with the aircraft seats,and found an exhaust vent at the back of the boat,right at the top,so settled down there for a kip,outside in the warm air.Woke up early,had a coffee or 3 by the time we docked in Belgium.Bikes were all OK on the ship,so I set off on my way to Germany.

Finally made it to Rosyth






On holiday at last,seeing the bridges getting smaller,pint in hand..


Got out of Zebrugge and hit the Autobahn,where I was to be for the next 8 hours..pretty uneventful,apart from fuel stops every hour and a half,bike was always at 95%+ throttle,and was going great,but everytime it was started after a stop,it was blowing out smoke....I tried to ignore this for now...

Finally made it to my aunties at about 9..haven't heard from her in years,and she's 86, so no idea if she was OK,or even still alive..rang the bell but no answer....feck...what do I do now? Too late to pitch the tent,and everywhere in the village was closed.
I needed sleep now,so I rode around the village I know so well from when I was young,then looked for somewhere to kip for a bit.Found a reasonable looking bench on the outskirts of the village,next to a wood,and settled down.I must have slept for an hour or 2,the woke up with a jump,my helmet was moving.....I grabbed it and found a hedgehog tryng it on for size.... didn't sleep much after that!

about 3 am I decided to push on to Wolfsburg,to see the Autostadt ,another few hours on the autobahn and I was there,but too early to get in,I was absolutely shattered by this time,so said "Fu*k it" turned round and headed back to Visselhovede.... In that 24 hours I had covered over 700 miles,on a 650 single...which was getting harder and harder to start,and caused a smokescreen every time...

When I got there my auntie was in! She's deaf as a post now,but otherwise in pretty good health
so I got a good feed,and a nice comfy bed.Brilliant! The next couple of days I just wandered around sightseeing,but finally came to the conclusion my bike was ill...temp was going well up,losing water,pipes going solid after running..we all know what that means....GRRRR The head gaskets gone. The guy who rents the shop my auntie owns was kind enough to take me to the local Aprilia dealer,where I was told it would take 7 WEEKS to get a gasket

So we drove in his Vw T25 double cab syncro!!!




to his mates,who knows a bit about bikes,did some phoning around and found a dealer in Garbsen (Ital Moto- AMAZING PLACE- Dukes,MV's, Aprillias everywhere!) He very kindly drove me the 80 miles to collect a gasket from them- the man's a hero! Anyway, started ripping the bike down with the few tools I had brought,and his socket set, then found the engine has to come out to do the head gasket....yep right out.






Part 2...

Put everything back together that came apart,struggled on my own to get the engine back into the frame,topped up the oil and water and pressed the button,it fired up first time and sounded fine.Let it warm through and checked everything again.all good so far!!

Had a run round the town,and made sure,and then went to the pub a happy man,planning my journey to Autostadt,and Berlin the next day.
Next morning it was pissing down..but I had missed enough of my holiday,so decided to go anyway.Set of on the autobahn and all was fine with the bike,BUT you've never been properly scared unless you have been on the autobahn in the pissing rain with a bike with a single,dull taillight which tops out at just over the ton.The endless lines of trucks on the inside lane,running about 6 feet apart mean you have to use the middle and outside lanes...the spray is unbelieveable! The roads over there are also like ice when wet,far worse than ours,and much,much more diesel lying around,and plenty of strips of shiny overbanding too-be warned!! When you have 2 mph in hand passing a caravan in the fast lane,and the LED lights of an Uber Audi suddenly fill your mirrors,doing about 150... I'll leave the rest to your imagination!

Made it to Wolfsburg in 1 piece,and enjoyed the rest of the day,great place to see including a factory tour,seeing Golfs being built from scratch,and wandering round all the old Lamborghini's and Bugattis...


When I left Autostadt,it was after 4,so I decided against going to Berlin for the night and headed back North. About 50 miles into the journey,in the fast lane at a ton,the engine died...stopped,cut out..dead.
Coasting in rush hour traffic,through 2 lanes af mad BMW drivers and crazy Polish truckers is no fun! But i made it to the hard shoulder.Made some simple checks but was getting sparks and fuel,so it was something serious.....

Could see a motorway sign in the distance,so I pushed the bike along the shoulder for a km,and came to the sign which said there was an Autohof (truck stop) in 2km...2km later I wheeled into the Autohof Peine absolutely shattered. Sat on my arse for about an hour to recover,then had a beer. WTF could be wrong now? The way it just cut dead led me to think it was ignition,but I was getting a strong spark,temp was fine,and the bike was running really well.I had no tools,and no real inclination after the previous problems,and the 3km walk. I fecked around for a couple of hours,trying to decide wheater just to dump the bike and get the train home,have a kip and see what morning brought,or get absolutely arsed...I had breakdown cover,so I gave them a call (I used to be a breakdown driver,so knew what to expect) We can come out and take your bike to the nearest garage,where you pay for repairs,said the woman on the phone....Nah,said I -knowing Aprillia's parts delivery times,and the likely cost,I had about 250 Euro's left till I got home.I asked if she would be willing to get someone to take me and the bike back to my Aunties.....Phone you back in a min,she said......about 1:30 am I got a call saying "yes,we can do that no problem....260 Euros,and you must pay the driver......Thanks but no thanks I said.


So,after about another hour af staring at stuff,I thought...Do or Die. I went back into the truck stop where I was causing a fair bit of amusement to the truckers there,and had a rake through the bargain bin..A set of open ended spanners for 3 Euro's and a set of allen keys for 2 Euros..worth a go. Pulled the fairing,tank and seat off the bike,and started totake off the rocker cover.The spanners were useless,and the jaws spread as soon as they were on the nuts...

Back into the truckstop and another rake,this time finding a set of ring spanners,that looked very slightly more robust at 6 Euros. Off with the rocker cover,and saw instantly what had happened,the small pin holding the inlet camshaft sprocket to the camshaft had sheared,so the sprocket was turning,but the cam wasn't. I was a bit happier I had found the problem,but was still immobilised.Smoked a few fags,walked up and down a bit,then plonked my arse on the kerb...it was almost 4.30 am. A few minutes later,a vision appeared smileyhyper.gif
A polish registered truck,with "KART Racing" down the side,loads of stickers on it ,with one being "ROTAX"!!!!!!! A few exchanges of Germlish and we were in the back,raking through mountains of spares,and would you believe,a cam sprocket retaining pin

Bike back together,all went OK,but of course the battery was flat,I had a few goes at bumping it,but only got a massive backfire-mightily pissing off the sleeping truckers!!! The camera had dried out a bit by this time...it packed in altogether for a bit!


Note left in frustration...



Finally got a jump start and off an old guy in a Merc 190,and it fired up like nothing had happened... That was the best noise I've ever heard,a 650 Rotax single through Predator pipes!! Back on the road,and an uneventful,if cold run home. The sleep..until 5pm,after a shot of straight German Scnapps.

The next few days I just pottered around,and relaxed,but it was time to make for home,so I packed up the bike and said my goodbyes,destination Amsterdam for a night. No more bike problems,running better than ever now!

Amsterdam really messes with your head,not going to say much,if you want to know,visit....its a wierd place! The weather was great,campsite was fine,and at last,with 1 day to go,I was enjoying my holiday.

Next morning I was up early,tent all packed,bike loaded and ready for the off at 7am.The campsite office didn't open till 9....and they had my passport. A can of 7 up and a Ritter sport for breakfast,and at 9am I was back on the road,no more problems again,and finally got to Zebrugge with plenty of time in hand.


Had this for company..




Made it to the 'Dam..




Sorry to the owners of the Superfast ferry, after a fair few pints,and something from Amsterdam,which could't be bought home,I made a mess of the side of the ship....

Anyway, It was a great adventure,great fun most of the time,and certainly character building!!! I'll be off again soon, this time on a BMW R1100RS And hopefully a new camera..





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I've got nothing on you guys but I have had one breakdown.

My main car is a 2005 Golf TDI Estate.  Despite the VAG disklike on here, I really like the car and it's a warm, comfortable place to be and munches the miles whilst carrying everything I need with decent efficiency.  When I got the car back in 2016, it had been owned by my late Grandmother who was overweight to the point that she couldn't lift her foot off the clutch properly.  I got it at 52K and it had been very well looked after by my Grandfather who had it religiously serviced every year at a main dealer, even though they only did around 2K a year in the car.

When I got the car, it had a bit of a flywheel rattle - which I chose to ignore.  The problem with ignoring noises is that as they gradually get worse, you learn to ignore them more and more.  The car got to 119K without any major issues, aside from the noise.

Driving home from Folkestone after work one day, I got diverted due to an accident.  I'd left work a bit late and the weather forecast wasn't what I would call 'good'.  In fact, this was February 2019 and a named storm had been announced and by the time I got out of work, it was dark.  Rather than going my usual way home, due to the accident and the traffic I decided to drive through the Downs villages - which are lovely.  The car grumbled a bit going around some residential roads but I thought nothing of it and carried on.  I'm now 2 miles from home and there are roadworks where a new roundabout is going in.  I turn right, onto the main road (which is a slip in one direction for the A2) and sit at the temporary traffic lights.  By this point, the wind is getting up and the rain has started chucking down.  I put the clutch down to go into first gear, pull my foot up and... nothing.  The pedal is stick to the floor - followed by a loud *CLONK* followed by a shudder and the engine stalling.

'Fuck' thinks I.  My first instinct is to call 999, as I'm clearly in a dangerous place, obstructing temporary lights and thoroughly fucked.  I call them, then call the AA who send a mechanic over.  Unfortunately the weather starts to deteriorate and my phone starts to run low on battery.  I call my other half and wait on the pavement opposite in the pouring rain in my non-rainproof coat.  The Police turn up, laugh at the drowned rat and invite me to sit in the back of their (warm, comfortable) Mondeo, tell me off for getting out of the car and then have a chat for about 10 minutes.  The AA turn up, the mechanic gets the car going (forcing it into gear and doing some wizardry with the controls) gets it up into a garage car park half a mile up the road (I follow in the Police car), declares it fucked and gets recovery out. 

Recovery turns up, gets it up on the back and takes me to park it outside of the garage we use about ten miles away.  Other half comes to pick me up.  Two hours now from the time of breakdown.

Ended up paying to get the clutch, DMF and cylinders replaced (so pretty much the whole clutch assembly).  When I pick the car up a week or so later, they tell me that the slave cylinder had let go but the DMF had also seized.  They show me the DMF (they're good like that - they always hold onto the old parts and show you what they've changed and why) and the outside mass had literally jumped over the bolts holding it together, causing it to rotate as one, massively unbalanced mass.

Moral of the story?  If you hear your DMF grumbling, you might get away with it for 70K but it will eventually fuck you.




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My only real breakdown (that I couldn’t fix or ignore!) was in the Mercury. 
It was the trip home from the importer’s in Milton Keynes. They rang me and said it was in their warehouse and ready to drive away, so I arranged a Friday to go up and drive it home. 
Got there about mid day, to find the car still in the warehouse up on the ramp. This isn’t looking good!

It turned out that the battery had gone flat. Despite my car being the only one (of 4) that came over the pond together whose battery survived the ship journey and started straight up at this end and able to jump the others. 
So, battery replaced it then started causing problems with the starter motor! Why they didn’t try these things before dragging me up to their place before hand I don’t know. Anyway, the starter was pronounced dead and nowhere had (funnily enough!) a replacement for a big block Ford V8, so as a get me out the shit fix, a much smaller starter from a small block Ford V8 was fitted. It worked but sounded a bit laboured. 
Set off for the south coast, by this time it was rush hour on a Friday which I’d tried to beat, but hey ho.

Things started off ok, but once we hit the M25 the engine just didn’t feel ‘right’ and it was beginning to get hot too. I tried to stay in the left hand lane next to the hard shoulder as much as possible as it really was getting that bad. Traffic soon started getting heavy though and the stop start aggro was really pissing the car off. In the end I managed to limp it to Fleet services on the M3 with a plan of waiting for traffic to sod off then carry on. However the car had other ideas! 
I drove into the car park where the cut out on the way in, so I coasted it into the nearest two spaces and tried to restart it, which it refused. It was clearly getting hot so I left the bonnet open to help it cool. 
After an hour or two of sitting about, the traffic had cleared so I decided to get going again. Turned the key to start and there was an attempt at turning the engine over followed by a horrendous sounding bang and the sound of tinkling metal! 
looked underneath and couldn’t see anything but that noise turned out to be the sound of the wrong type of wimpy starter motor deciding enough was enough and literally exploding under the pressure of trying to turn over my huge engine! To make matters worse, that starter motor was actually off someone else’s car and was still needed! Not my fault though. 
So that was that. No starter left and stuck at fleet services with a fucked American land yacht... I’d also left my wallet and phone in my dads car who took me to pick the yank up and who I’d gotten split up from on the M25!!

Managed to get hold of my insurance company though who provided recovery so got back home eventually. It was midnight from memory, then we had to push the car up the road and onto the driveway- with no power steering which was a nightmare.

Great fun!

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one fine evening in 2019 , the boys were round and a pleasant evening was preparing itself. food was required so alongside the pizzas in the oven 3 of us hopped into the mighty clio for a quick tear up to the kebab shop for some chips (best in the village). the clio had a few starting issues recently but as all good car owners do, I ignored it and anyway, it fired up fine. parked on the high street, went and ordered the chips and said to the boys "i'll just go turn her round" (for a quick getaway, me mother always said park so you can make a quick getaway). i hopped in and nothing, the mighty 1.2 refused to fire. and it was a bank holiday weekend, and it was 9pm. so we just walked the chips home. got it recovered to the garage down my road and since they were closed, me and one of my pals popped down to have a look and see if we could at least diagnose the issue (recovery man said immobiliser but the light was flashing as normal  so we didnt think it was the case). we both thought it was the starter and I told the men at the garage the case. cant actually remember what it was but lets say starter because then I sound intelligent.

nowhere near as exciting as the others on here, but thats just a testament to the quality* of the clio

only other breakdown wasn't really a breakdown, just a flat battery.

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Another one. 2001-ish Astra G. My mum and family drove it from Northern Ireland to Glasgow to meet me. It developed a misfire. At this point I had wizzy breakdown cover from the bank.

Man diagnosed a coil pack had failed, his company would look at options and phone back in the morning. No phonecall but a knock on the door at the accommodation early in the morning. A man had arrived with a flatbed to take it back to Northern Ireland. When asked about how e family would return to NI, a hire car was going to be provided. 

Mum politely declined and the switchboard got back on the phone to offer free parts and labour at a local garage with an extra hotel stay until it was ready.

My mother for some reason chose option 3 which was to drive the misfiring heap all the way back and fix it herself. 

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Having driven low cost cars run on a shoestring for the last 34 years I’ve had a handful of breakdowns. The first I remember was when I was 19 in a £120  V6 Cortina GL, the diff had been noisy since I bought it, my last Cortina had a noisy diff so I thought this was no problem. One night on my way home from work I thought it didn’t sound quite right, I managed to get from the third lane to the inside lane and slowed to 85 mph, there was then a loud clunk from the rear, I pulled to the hard shoulder and slowed some more, somewhere between 60 and 45 mph the diff locked and the back end kicked out, luckily no more than about 20 degrees so I was still within the hard .shoulder. This was years before I had a mobile phone so I had to walk about 5 miles home, called the RAC and got a lift back to the car to wait. The RAC eventually arrived but would not believe me that the diff was seized. He asked me to help him push it and couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t  move, he then jacked the back up and spun the wheel, he said ‘see it is not seized’ I then had to explain the other wheel was spinning in the other direction and how a differential works! He then called the tow truck which I informed them I needed when I called in. Another 2 hour wait, the tow truck driver was much better, he turned his truck around when the road was quiet then told me to sit in the car with my foot on the brake as he reversed back and scooped the back wheels up. The police closed all three lanes as he did a u turn and took my car home with the front wheels locked straight ahead with the steering lock and the rear suspended.

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I’ve had many , many breakdowns, accidents, recoveries , lucky escapes and not so lucky disasters.

One of my favourites was a 2 day extravaganza that started with my Dad having a heart attack in Gt Yarmouth , me and 2 brothers going there in my Mk4 Zodiac Executive from Milton Keynes, me driving his Volvo F86 from Gorleston to Lowestoft, followed by my 16 year old brother driving the Exec ( did I mention I was 19 and did not have an HGV licence?) 

On the way home the auto box gave up on the Zodiac and we got the RAC to tow us back to MK , just in time for me to get on the 7-56 to Euston for work. I had a genius plan to go to Mid Wales and get my Dad’s Renault 16 ready to collect him from hospital when he could go home- to this end I convinced work to hire me a car. So, left London at 5 pm in shiny new Cavalier 1600 GL Y plate. Picked brother and my mate Dave up from MK , thrashed the living shit out of the Cavalier 220 miles to my Dads house, picked up the R16 and came back only slightly slower. Almost got back when the Renault died in the middle of Brackley, the engine cut out and then wouldn’t turn over- RAC called, diagnosed seized engine called recovery. It was about 4 am, so Dave and my brother went home in the Cavalier. I stayed with the Renault waiting for the RAC.

This is where things got weird. A woman called down to me from a flat above some shops, she couldn’t sleep and was having a crafty fag. She asked if I wanted a coffee... 

This lady was blonde, pretty and about 10 years older than me, oh, and about 8 months pregnant. One thing led to another, I did not make any excuses and leave, that’s for sure. Then almost disaster, her partner came home unexpectedly, she yes she was a USAF Sergeant on guard duty at RAF Croughton  and came home to check on her beloved( although not quite as committed lesbian as she thought)  “ Just say you’re here to buy the Fiesta” she said bundling me into the bathroom. Well this fierce shaven headed black version of GI Jane complete with a handgun in a holster believed I was there at 6 am to buy a 1.3 GL Fiesta that was on HP..They were about to leave for California at the end of her tour and a dealer was supposed to be coming that day. I got given the keys and logbook and shoved out of the door! 
Just then recovery turned up, I went home , picked up the Cavalier and went to work.

That evening I got home on the train Dave ran me up,to Brackley and we found the Fiesta, the next day I cruised the estates in my new Fiesta until I found a scruffy R16 with one back door welded shut . Paid £10and drove it home intending to swap the engine into my Dads, on opening the bonnet of the “seized one” we discovered the low tension lead had fallen off, causing the cut out and that the starter motor bolts were all loose causing it not to turn over. Simple repair. Spent the afternoon swapping the B/W 35 in the Zodiac for one out of my spares car. Next day sold the Fiesta to a dealer who settled the finance and gave me £225 on top. 
Quite an eventful 3 days .  Picked my Dad up a week later in his R16 took him back to Wales ,  my mate Dave followed to bring me back , the diff went on his 2.0 Escort and we had to get the RAC to bring us back! They subbed it to guy ina Landcrab 2200 and trailer and we almost got wiped out by a Granada that spun on the snow on the A40 near Raglan and came across the central reservation and up the bank on our side. Our driver didn’t miss a  beat, neither would he stop, in case we couldn’t get going again.

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Two calls in the last 8 years, although technically three breakdowns.

First one was in my Corsa B, visited my grandparents house before driving back to uni, tried to set off and the rear wheels were stuck solid. Think something had gone wrong inside the brake drum if I remember rightly but this was a while ago. Fixed at the roadside.

Second one is my profile picture, in my old Megane. Drove home from uni for my mother's birthday, set off on the way back. About 10 minutes in, the head unit reset and turned itself off. It did this a couple more times. I figured this was down to the dodgy stalk control adapter which had caused some other weird quirks in the past, or the fact that I was listening to the stereo full blast, and carried on. Coming up the A617, just coming into Hockerton and I have a battery light and the big red STOP on the dash. Pulled into the next available stopping point which was a pub car park, and a large amount of smoke came out from under the bonnet as I stopped and there was a burning smell. I immediately crapped myself, feared the worst, leapt out of the car and basically stood there shouting 'shit my car's on fire' as if I was a Sim who'd just seen a fire, much to the annoyance of the landlady of the pub ("If it's on fire why did you bring it into my car park!?!").

Turns out the alternator had seized, it had thrown the aux belt and this had hit hot bits of the engine and melted! Not quite the raging inferno we expected. Sat in the pub while I waited for a recovery truck, got a free drink while I waited as well! An hour later a truck arrived, about 45 minutes after that my car was dumped at my friendly garage in Lincoln. About two months later we nearly had a repeat performance when the air con compressor seized, although that time I took it steady and was able to make it home - the belt survived that time!

Honorary mention to my friend's Mk1 Hyundai Coupe, which promptly refused to start and was abandoned in a Lidl car park. I ended up pulling this on a towrope behind my Qashqai from the centre of Lincoln out to a village a few miles out, having never towed before. Crossing the A46 roundabout is not an experience I'd like to repeat. And after all that, it turned out to be a blown fuse!

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Great thread, thanks for taking the time to type these up!

I've had a few flat battery call outs before I had a wee fleet of cars, the last was on my Vectra but my mate was an AA patrolman at the time and he was thankfully in the area at the time.

I've only had one roadside breakdown as I don't do very many miles.

It was April 2016 and I had just been trying to cure a misfire on my Corsa. I finally traced it to the coilpack (OBD 2 software with, unhelpfully, an OBD 1 port means I don't have a suitable code reader).

I also checked the plugs:


Where did the electrode go?? Replaced them and thought no more of it.

Took it out for a run, ah bollocks, this hasn't happened before.


The road home had nowhere to pull over to enable the journey back to be done in legs, thankfully this had happened in a village and not in the middle of nowhere. I also didn't have any water to hand.... and the radiator fan wasn't working.

The 4 cunts in that Golf sat eating a sandwich and watched me the whole time.


Called the AA, who arrived in about 40 minutes which was brilliant. The guy was a proper legend, diagnosed a stuck shut thermostat. He wedged it open with some cable ties and shoved a bit of wire in the fan switch terminal to make it permanently on and I got home. He even pressure tested the head and checked the coolant for hydrocarbons. Some man!


Got a new thermostat and rad fan switch and all was well for a week.

Remember that electrode?

The car had been making a very weird intermittent tapping noise, like a machine gun under the bonnet for a few months before this happened but it only occured once every few weeks. In almost exactly the same location I was travelling in the other direction, down the hill and the car just cut out. I eventually got it restarted bit it was tapping really loudly now. My mechanical sympathy evaporated and I drove it home very unsympathetically. The tapping kind of subsided but on light throttle it was very noticeable.



I knew it was curtains for the engine. I did the sensible* thing and bought this:


And did this:


The Megane is sadly just dust in the wind now but the Corsa is still going on its replacement engine.

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Back in about 2016, a last-minute eBay purchase saw me heading to Hastings one weekend to pick up this.  4.0, MOT'd, no major issues or rust for £430.  How could you lose?


It'd all worked out pretty well.  I'd sold my Volvo 940 to a chap on RetroRides, so on a cold Friday evening I drove up to Bristol to meet him, the Volvo was tested and cash was handed over, then I hopped on a train to Portsmouth to stay with a friend.   The next morning I got on another train and arrived in the early afternoon at the seller's house in Hastings.  He'd just arrived home in it himself having gone out to look for me to save me the walk but had gone to the wrong station, however it meant I got to see it in action and immediately noticed the exhaust was blowing substantially; ah, not to worry, it was cheap after all.

The seller was an elderly chap who'd bought the car 3 years previously as a bit of nostalgia having had a new one back in the 90s, but he'd hardly used it and his wife was glad to see it go - I felt quite sorry for him, he was clearly in poor health but he showed me round the car, pointing out the barely-worn tyres and generally good condition of it, then pointing out the minor issues like the dodgy brake switch which occasionally caused issues getting it out of park.

I jumped in, fired it up, had a small battle with the gear selector due to the aforementioned brake switch, then got on the road and headed straight for a petrol station, which is where the photo above comes from.  I was over the moon with it, the sun was shining, I'd filled the tank and topped up the tyre pressures and started making my way out of Hastings, planning to head back to Portsmouth for the rest of the day, leaving me a clear run home on Sunday back to Devon.

Things started to decline pretty quickly after that.  The car had barely been used for 3 years and the brakes were showing signs of neglect - I could hear them binding, there wasn't a great deal of stopping power, it pulled hard to the left and on the first hill I encountered, it became clear they were dragging substantially.  On a long downhill run with no cars behind, I gave the pedal a few hard stamps in the hope of freeing things off but it wasn't helping much and it didn't bode well for the 300 mile journey home.  The warmer they got, the more they dragged until I could feel them holding the car back in traffic and on hills.  Probably as a result of this, the MPG  readout on the dash informed me that we were achieving a less than brilliant 11mpg.  The 'as new' tyres on the back turned out to be 10 years old, were rock hard and noisy and the exhaust was farting merrily somewhere under the manifold - did sound good though.

A couple of miles down the road, my attention was diverted from the brakes momentarily when I noticed the voltage gauge wasn't  showing a healthy reading - it was down to 10v and visibly declining.  9 miles later, as I passed through a brand new commercial development on the edge of town, it started running rough and as I coasted into a mercifully empty layby in a deserted, half-built office complex, it cut out.


Lacking any real knowledge of what to do with the car, I called out AutoAid who were, as they have been ever since, brilliant.  They sent out a local firm within 30 minutes, he turned up in a Transit and diagnosed a dead alternator, it was still working but only putting out 11 volts.  Likely it'd been like that for some time but as it was used so little, it probably didn't get diagnosed.

An hour later, by which time I was getting very, very cold and the sun was starting to go down, a flatbed truck turned up and thus started a 4-truck relay back home to North Devon, all organised meticulously and culminating with me and the car arriving home at 2:30AM on a flatbed which, 2 miles from my house, ate its propshaft bearing in quite a noisy manner and thus meant all my neighbours for 500 yards in every direction know I was back. 


He limped off to a petrol station for a recovery himself and I went to bed shattered but happy enough, it'd cut short my visit to my mate but on the other hand it'd saved me a lot of petrol money and a lot of strife limping it home with seized brakes.  A week and £80 later it was back up and running with a new alternator and not long after that the brakes were rebuilt, the mostly original ignition system parts were replaced and it drove magnificently.  

The seller had called me when I was in relay truck #2, asking how my journey was going, no doubt assuming I was safely back in Portsmouth by then.  I had to break the news to him and he was mortified - I tried to make him understand I wasn't annoyed and it was an unsurprising and fairly minor issue for such a cheap car but he seemed quite upset and a few days later a cheque for £30 and a note saying it was to help towards repair costs arrived on my doorstep - a lovely gesture and totally unnecessary but exceedingly kind all the same.

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In the early days of my driving career* I always managed to end up with some sort of shagged out polo, MK1 or 2. They were cheap and easy and I couldn't afford a golf or nova.

My first one let me down back in the early 90's. At that time I was usually the only one that hadn't smashed my car to bits out of my friend circle and one night had the fortunate task of carting several reasonably good looking birds into town. Of course, I looked smart and smelt fresh but my ride was a touch better than getting the bus. I thought I'd take the long way into town to the club, croozin in my 1.0, full of fluff. 

That was until I got on the one way system and enthusiastically hung a right, straightening the steering I realised that the juice pedal was not moving those horses anymore and my face was illuminated with all the ignition lights. Yup, she'd stalled. I styled it out by coasting to the kerb nice and calm after a couple of inconspicuous attempts at turning the key and realising she wasn't turning over, and dropped collection of pretties off about 20 yards from our destination. One of them suggested that I could of got a bit closer but I made my excuses as in fact, no I couldn't.

I had to use a phone box because mobiles were 90 billion pounds and weighed about the same and I had to rather embarrassingly get my dad to pay to join me to the AA for a tow. 17 hours later a truck turned up, a bloke had a look under the bonnet, I explained the series of events and he tried to turn the engine over by hand, which it wouldn't. 

He towed it to a VW dealer and we dumped it there just as daylight was breaking through. Unbeknown to me because I had passed out having been awake for what seemed like 2 weeks, my old man had taken a call from the dealer who wanted to know why I had deposited a pile of crap outside their shiny car salesroom. He had authorised a diagnostic... 

Bad move... By everyone in fact except the dealer who rang up a week later saying 2 pistons had gone through the block and they would like 170 million pounds to fix it or pay 10 million and pick it up as is. Well, I didn't have 10 million pounds so done the responsible thing and just forgot about it. About a year later a letter arrived from some angry people acting on behalf of the dealer demanding the price of a small island in the tropics for storage. So, being a pillar of the community and a generally stand up type of guy I decided that the best way to deal with this issue was to sell it to someone I didn't like very much for £11, provided they pick it up from VW. Which they did. 

Turns out they bought my MK1 for parts on their MK2, nothing fitted so they cut it up. The end, but not the end of my polo capers as my next polo proved to be a real trooper and quite indestructible.

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Polo number 2 (technically number 3 but polo 1 never made it onto the road, legally anyway)

It was one of those strange VW derby reface, rebadged things with a boot that was completely useless because the seats wouldn't go down so once I got my toons in there, there wasn't any room for serious things like golf clubs or... Luggage perhaps. I cant even remember how I got the thing but it was very clean and orange.

At the time, around '92 or something I had a girlfriend who decided going to university in Birmingham of all places would be a good idea, something about a successful future or some such. This initially got my goat up as it was about 700 miles away and we all know what goes on at those places. But I looked at my orange polo shaking my head and thought, I can make this work. So, we agreed that we'd meet up every, yes, every weekend. I got to know that polo well, especially the drivers seat.

So for a few months I would pull off of my parents driveway, point it somewhere towards Birmingham, bury the accelerator for what seemed like 6 hours and arrive at the university. This went great for a while.

Later I found, leaving straight from work on a Friday got me there just in time for the first round of cheap lager and snakebite, awesome, except one Friday morning the Orange M1 express wasn't happy. She was blowing chunks, water, oil and some other crap was oozing from a pipe or 2. At work, a quiet day, I enlisted the aid of some colleagues to help diagnose it's failings. The head gasket... Well, that was gone, somewhere. The replacement turned up at 4pm. I was leaving at 6. 

It's an easy engine to work on, a degrease, HG swap and quick fluid change in two hours? It's tight, but using air tools? Now that's got to work. So I tore the thing down, it sounded like an F1 pit crew for an hour, of course there was other bits to deal with too but at 5.30 I just finished gunning the head on, oil water, start... Boom. Hit the road at 6.17.  It went well but was never quite right after that, I just don't know why. I even fitted a coke bottle oil catch can to stop the oil from flooding out the carb, of course, once you park up, see oil dripping down the wheel well, you know the can is full and just simply tip it back into the engine, that car used no oil. Very impressive.

Then about two months later, the inevitable happened, things were looking rocky, the long distance relationship was taking a hit. In a fit of frustration I went to Birmingham to iron some issues out. I pushed that car to nearly 200mph all the way, well, I say that... I think I got as far as Newport pagnall when all the dash lights came on in the fast lane at about 90. Enraged, I tried bumping it, and again, and again etc. She had flames shooting out from the bonnet vents, bangs, pops, more flames.... I gave up as she slowed to 50 and coasted it to a safe spot in the darkness. I used one of those SOS boxes, the police weren't helpful but as luck would have it this time I had a mobile, a Motorola with a pulley up aerial, still smelt new, very snazzy. Out of the 7 numbers in my phone book I called my grandad.... Good old grandad (my dad was skint, mum was on emergency electric so I just knew). He had a few quid and it was no problem to lay out £210 for recovery. 

17 hours later a truck turned up. It's fucked m9, don't bother getting dirty I said. Where too? Asked the driver. Well, this is the plan. My work had a depot in Birmingham. That's the obvious choice. Tow it there, dump it, get a cab to uni, shout a bit, make up sex, get pissed. The weekend is saved. 

That actually went exceedingly well and to plan. The next day, hungover obviously, I borrowed some history students bicycle and endured a ride through the city centre to my works northern brother. They were quite accomodating, helped push the battered heap in, lent me tools and I saw the issue after 5 minutes. The cam belt had lost its teeth at the crank. Ooof.

With nothing to loose, I ordered a belt which got delivered by the time I was putting the phone down, slapped it on, shut the bonnet, said cheers, squashed the bike in the back and drove it to the uni. Dumped the bike, had a cup of... well, it was supposed to be tea and left Birmingham. That car went all the way home. About two weeks later it developed* an annoying idle issue where it kept surging. Terribly embarrassing at traffic lights so I sold it to someone who actually wanted it for £50. As far as I know, it's still going.... Probably not.

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