Category Archives: Four Wheels

Mk1 Ford Escorts are Cool

I checked out For the Love of Cars at the weekend, I wasn’t expecting much to be honest but there was nothing on and this was about cars. I ended up really enjoying it, the show followed Philip Glenister (Fire up the quattro yo!!) and his mechanic friend as they rescued a rotten old Mk1 Escort Mexico and restored it in all it’s glory. It’s left me with a real hankering for Ford’s rear wheel drive legend. Definitely now top of the classic car dream list. Here’s a nice little clip showing what they’re all about…..

A Man Must Have a Code

A twitter chat with car connoisseur Dickie over @ Wheels on Toast this afternoon got me thinking about my recent car history. This pic shows the last French car I ever owned and the second to last car I’ve owned which wasn’t derived from either German or Japanese engineering descent. You see, shortly after owning this 106 GTi, I employed a code borne of the need to be as a efficient with my car based transport as possible whilst enduring my bangernomics phase – this code was simple – future cars need to be Japanese or German (and under £500 when the bangernomics era was involved). It’s a policy which has served me well the last seven years or so and to that end it’s one I may persevere with for the forseeable.

Built like a tank this old Audi Coupe of mine was a perfect bangernomics motor

It’s not that I don’t like cars engineered elsewhere, in fact the GTi pictured was probably one of the best drivers cars I’ve ever owned. On top of that it never skipped a beat – I bought it on 40k miles and did over 30k in the little thing often revving the tits off it and one spirited drive even involved a 540 degree lift-off oversteer induced spin around a roundabout – and what did the little Pug ask for throughout all this? Merely a clutch at 70k, which is about the going rate for these little Frenchies. So why haven’t I owned a French car since? Why the German/Jap policy? Well aside from the fact I’ve been an Audi fan since my Dad owned a string of 80s Coupes and I’ve always respected the quality of Japanese engineering I also reckon I got lucky with my 106…..

Due to my trouble free time with the GTi I encouraged my girlfriend to get one, she loved how mine drove and got herself a tidy phase 2 with half leather in the same colour as my old one (I was in a diesel Focus at this time due to work commitments which later went pop). But alas it was a devilish machine determined to ruin her faith in cars….. Soon after the purchase it developed an infuriating fault where it would just cut out – engine off, no power steering, no servo’d breaks…. nothing. It would also struggle to fire up again and my better half was often left wrestling with unassisted steering and wooden feeling brakes mid-corner desperately trying to avoid traffic, kerbs, bollards etc… It wouldn’t be so bad if the fault could have been traced but we tried all the obvious things like idle control valves, air flow meters so decided to send it to the people who made it, if anyone can sort it surely Peugeot can?

Nope. they had it three separate times and couldn’t work out what was going on. Two independent garages tried and also failed and our hatred of the poor engineering involved in French cars was spawned. It was now an unfixable piece of shit, destined to cut out on you when you least expected it. So it was promptly traded in for peanuts and a shiny Civic Type R replaced it. We’ve not owned a car that wasn’t Japanese or German since and never again experienced an issue that wasn’t solvable.

A man must have a code……

The Civic Type R went on to be much more reliable than the Pug
The Civic Type R went on to be much more reliable than the Pug

Spring Surf Check

Scanning through some old photos I found this one of a sunny south coast spring time surf check in an old Beemer I used to run. At the time a friend and I had just started our business and money was very hard to come by so I ran a succession of German £400 bangers to get me about as reliably and as cheaply as possible. This was one of the best ones I had to drive, very wobbly with tonnes of body-roll round corners but wonderfully direct steering and poise – loads of fun for £400 notes! After getting me about admirably for nigh on a year and serving me well on a couple of trips to the South West it finally gave up the ghost in a traffic jam on the way to West Quay in Southampton when the radiator and a hose split. My bangernomics policy was no maintenance and when she dies sell her on, so this little E30 went on for parts and the next banger was in, an unceremonious end for a noble steed. I do like cars from that period a lot, they were more purposeful, more lithe and tactile than today’s overweight cumbersome examples.

Mk3 VW Golf Match
The bangernomics successor to the E30, a Mk3 VW Golf Match.