I figured I’d see if I could list all the motor vehicles I have owned – with pictures – for Alex. The pictures are stock web pictures (apart from the Supra and the MZ – which are mine). I didn’t take pictures of all of the vehicles I owned, and do have some regrets.
I wouldn’t have written this blog, but after a few moments thought I realised I have owned a fair few vehicles – so well worth a blog entry!
I started out with a Honda H100 motorbike. I had this for a while before getting my drivers license. It was a nippy 2 stroke 100cc bike whose engine blew up twice. I holed the piston by using the wrong petrol…. in other words I used the fuel recommended by the idiots at Motorcycle city specifically for that bike when I bought it (new).
I have vague recollections of what order I bought these vehicles in. Once I had passed my driving test I ran cars and bikes at the same time.
As with a lot of people at the time I started out on the driving route with a Mini.. an Austin Mini in baby poop brown… It was slow and sluggish… and I never got a chance to drive it as I owned it to learn in, but had to sell it before I got my licence. I found out why it was slow though… it had rusted out under the front floor pans, so the previous owner put in some bin bags and filled in cement over the top!
I liked the idea of the Mini, so after I passed my test I bought a souped up 1275GT from my nephew. Just because they are family doesn’t mean you should trust them…. This Mini 1275GT had a fibre-glass bulkhead where the old one had rotted out and a gearbox that had been put together by a chimp. It held together for a while – in fact my first trip out once I got my licence was into London at night in the rain. It had an odd trick of filling the rear bumper with un-burnt fuel…. now and then it would back fire on a down change and the rear end would light up like an old fashioned camera flash!
It died one day when they poorly rebuilt gear mechanism decided to punch out of the gearbox case and empty its oil everywhere… So ended my Mini adventure…
With no lessons learnt about the Austin/Leyland range of cars I went and got an Austin Metro… I bought it from Yorkshire under the instruction of my then brother-in-law. He was an Army mechanic, so what could go wrong?
I left Yorkshire and didn’t even get to a motorway. The engine died. Brother-in-law came out and towed me back to his place where we proceeded to pull the engine out at the side of the road. New piston rings, re-ground valves… and good to go! All on the roadside….
The fun didn’t stop there. The petrol tank developed a leak because the metal was so old and porous. I decided it needed welding, but not being an idiot I figured it needed to vent for a while before any work was done to it. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the car and put a metal fuel can in the boot. I then fed a fuel pipe to the engine from the can in the boot. This enable me to open up the cars fuel tank to vent until I got around to repair it.
One day during some floods in the South East I had to stop as the flood water was blocking my lane. The oncoming traffic flashed me to go around… and then decided to drive at me anyway! I had to move back into the flooded lane, where the car started to bob around…. I floated into a ditch and slowly sunk. The water came 12″ up inside the car and the funny thing was that the fuel gauge started to fill up as the tank filled with flood water as I sank! Luckily there were some Gurkha’s out in an Army Land Rover. Great guys towed me to safety. I cleaned the points and the engine started up with no problem! The car was pretty wrecked in general, so it went off for scrap in the end.
During the Metro days I also had a Honda CB100 that I had bought from a neighbour. Typical bullet proof Honda! One day I had it steaming at 80mph and the engine seized on me. The wheel locked up, so I grabbed the clutch and coasted to a halt. I left it to cool for a few minutes and it started up again. Brilliant!
With the Metro gone I needed new wheels – or at least wheels that worked. I bought a Vauxhaul Astra Mk2 van in white. It was a shed, but it was a laugh! I used it a fair bit shifting equipment for a band I used to help out. Funny story with this shed was when I was working the Night Shift at Dan Air. At around 5am I was on my way home and I was stopped by the Police. I was a young kid at the time, so they were a bit suspicious at the time I was out on the road. They looked over the van and told me I needed new tyres. A few hours later I picked up a nice set of alloys from a breakers yard. I had no time to fit them, so into the back of the van they went until the next day when I could fit them.
After the next shift I was driving home and second day on the trot the Police pulled me over. They looked over the van and asked me to open the back…. where a lovely set of alloys were sitting – too nice for this old van! I had to explain that I was pulled the night before and bought these to fix the problem…and I was so sorry that I was driving on the old tyres as I really should have changed them before driving again. They let me off as they saw I was trying to do the right thing!
I went from the van to a Mk3 Ford Escort that I part exchanged with one of the guys I was an apprentice with. It was a pretty good car in all – until it decided to blow oil out the top of the engine and smoke poured up and around the steering wheel! I had to drive home Ace Ventura style, hanging out of the window!
I was pottering around on a Suzuki GSX250E at this time. A great solid bike that I bought from a guy at my work. Yes, not something you’d want to do normally, but in this case it was a great buy. He used to buy up and rebuild these Suzi’s, so I figured I was in safe hands. I only sold it when I changed to a bigger
bike – but until that day it didn’t skip a beat. I rode all the way to Glasgow and back at 75mph (once more helping a band out). Not a great looking bike, but faultless.
The Escort went on its merry way and was replaced by an old VW Polo Formel e. The worst that could be said about this was it was brown and smoked like a steam train. Pretty economical and practical, but not much of a story. Funniest thing was the rear wash/wipe squirter jet. I rigged it to squirt the passenger. No idea why, but it was quite funny….
My bike needs lead me to a Honda 500T. This was nicknamed Rude Dog because of the way the licence plate looked (RHO 660P or something). I had loads of fun with this! Some of the girls I knew loved me taking them out on it as it went like stink, and being a twin cylinder had a great thumping engine (I guess they liked the sound……). I lost the Dog when I had to trade it to get a car fixed. The guy stitched me up, so before any paperwork was done I stole her back (it was still in my name, and no work had been done on my car – it was an all out rip off deal). I then sold her on to a guy who wanted to do a restoration. When I sold it on I had to sell it with no fuel tank, as some butt munch had stolen it!
The car/s Rude Dogs sale money went on for repairs were both Ford Mk3 Cortina Estates. I bought one and thought it was great fun, then a second one turned up a little later so I bought it for spares. In the end I used the first one for spares for the second one. I recall one story that a girlfriend at the time needed to get home, but it was raining. I didn’t really want to drive as
the Cortina was out of tax. I had a real bad feeling that night, but I couldn’t let her walk in that weather (it was bad). I was getting tax for it the next day, so figured I might get away with it… but to belt and braces the situation I grabbed Rude Dogs tax (which expired the next day). As I drove my girlfriend home I saw a guy jump into the road….. a Policeman with a speed gun. I was a little over the limit, so they decided to do a full check on the car.
Now bear in mind I had just got the car – the paperwork hadn’t fully gone through. I was stood at the side of the road with the Police sorting it all out. As you should do, I kept the talking simple and polite. The check went well and I was sent on my way…. but as I went to pull away the officer tapped my window and pointed at the tax disc….. and pointed out that it would expire the next day – so “keep an eye on that“…. JEEEZ!!! I was lucky there – and yes… the next day all the taxes were sorted out!
This was the first car I had that someone tried to steel. They smashed the lock and broke the ignition barrel… which was crazy, as I had forgotten to lock it and the keys were on the passenger seat! Even after the thieves had smashed into it, they couldn’t get it to start! Muppets!
The first bike I chopped was a Honda CX500. It was an MoT failure I picked up cheap. The rear suspension was shot to heck, so I hard tailed it, raked out the front end and made a new seat and panels for it from scratch. I am upset that I never took a photo of it – it was a really nice bike – Midnight blue and had great lines. I enjoyed riding it around, but had to get rid of it in the end due to house moves and money. If you ever get one, keep an eye on the oil/water seal, and ALWAYS get it fitted at a garage, because when it goes wrong being fitted (and it will go wrong), at least they will have to replace it for free – and it is an expensive seal! The photo isn’t mine – but it gives an idea of what mine looked like… although mine was lower at the back.
Next along was the MZ250 ETZ. It cost me £50 and was a heap of crap! I ripped it apart, lowered it, chopped it and painted to look like an old Russian Army bike… I’ll give it its due, it went like stink – but it was less than comfy as I had hardtailed it! MZ’s were laughing stocks, so I never intended for it to be taken seriously – but so many people thought it was some old classic Soviet machine it got beyond a joke!
The MZ was joined by a cheaper form of transport – an old Honda C90. It didn’t last long, but did what it had to do for a while… until it simply died! I ride that around two up with a buddy of mine. We’d go to gigs and all sorts – it was a laugh, but a bit on the scary side as anyone who has ridden one will know! The C90 was the second bike that some thief had a go at. They couldn’t break the steering lock though, so I fond the bike 50 yards away in a bush. Gits.
The Honda 90 died and I robbed it to keep the MZ on the road…. yes… not a great idea, but I was into make do and mend! The MZ exhaust was shot away, so I swapped over the one from the C90. It didn’t work… It was a 4 stroke 90cc pipe going on a 250cc 2-stroke….. and it choked it so badly it would only do 22mph….. I cut the end off of the pipe to reduce the choking effect… and then I started to remove the baffles… and eventually the MZ was going pretty quickly.
The day I did the exhaust mod I had to go into Guildford (via country lanes) as a friend of mine was in a bad way. I rode off into the night and after 30 minutes the Police came up behind me and pulled me over. They said they had been looking for me for a while, but the bike was so noisy and the sounds were reverberating around the woodlands they had trouble finding me. It didn’t sound too loud from the saddle,
but sure enough, as I stood behind it the din was incredible! I had pretty much put a megaphone on an already load bike! I had to turn around and go home to fix it – the Police just didn’t want me riding it further than I had to! Very understanding!
During this time I had a Volvo 360… yes, a biker with a Volvo! it was…. erm… rugged… did what it had to do… and was actually quite fun. Small, but with a 2l engine and rear wheel drive…. but it didn’t last long as the gear lever and box fell off…. pah! You get what you pay for with cheap cars!!!
The Volvo was replaced by the crappiest looking car I had ever owned! The interior was a mess, the sunroof was a welded on metal panel… the panels didn’t match up… I bought it cheap from a great guy I was working with. He had used it to tow caravans over Europe. He had blown it up and fixed it in a way it wouldn’t break again! I had it with 186,000 miles on the clock and the engine was still tight as anything – VW’s are one of the strongest cars I know. So well engineered.
This was the VW Passat Estate from Mad Max! It didn’t have a top speed as it just kept slowly getting faster and faster! It didn’t drink much fuel, it had loads of space, it was comfy… the only thing that killed it was the rear suspension collapsed. The car wasn’t worth repairing, so it was scraped.
This great car was replaced by the tidiest looking car I had owned up to that date… and by far the crappiest car I have ever owned – a Renault 5. I bought it as it looked tidy and would probably be a better thing to turn up at a girlfriends parents house in… as it was I lived next door to her and her parents, so they’d seen the Passat anyway (ha ha!). The Renault 5 was the worse handling, poor performing piece of junk ever! It felt unsafe, it just didn’t grow on me. My Brother in law bought it from me at a really low price under the knowledge that
I hated it and thought it had dire problems (I was very honest and fair). The brother in law didn’t really get a chance to experience these problems as some half wit thief stole it from him.
Somewhere in this mix I bought a Honda Africa Twin. I wanted a bike that would suit me as a 6’4″ male – and the Africa Twin was spot on. It deserves its own blog as I still own it – and I have had some great adventures on it – from deer hunting to drag racing a street racer on a Honda Fireblade at a Hells Angel event…. and winning!
At some point I had several bikes – and in that mix I had a genuine low rider chop based on a Honda CB750. A real bone shaker and tricky to ride. I just wanted to have owned one. It was a bit of fun, but not something I’d want to do a long trip on.
I’m now left with just the Africa Twin when it comes to bikes. I’m getting to the stage where I think the roads are no longer safe enough to go out on a motorbike on.
After the rubbish that was the Renault 5 I bought a Range Rover Mk3 with a Discovery Diesel TDi engine in it. What a great car! One of the best I have owned! Comfly, solid and pretty cheap to run actually… back then. I had to do a clutch change on the side of the road outside my house once. A friend helped me…. it was one of those jobs you really don’t want to do, but was a great experience all the same. We didn’t have the correct tools, so it was all done with blood and sweat! Had a scary moment in this car once as a BMW flashed me and pointed at the back wheel…. I had a puncture and didn’t even know!
I pulled over to fix it, but I had over sized wheels…. and the jack didn’t go high enough to lift the car! I had to use what ever I could find at the side of the road to build the jack height up! I loved that truck, but really got the hankering for a sports car… I was going to be starting a family, so I figured I wouldn’t get then chance to own a sports car again for a long time…. so along came the wonderful ‘89 Toyota 3l Turbo (single) Supra. A car I genuinely miss…. but a family was starting, so we had to get something else.
The Supra was a real bargain at a shade over £1000. Owned by an elderly lady who thought it looked nice. The whole car was immaculate and went like stink…. On a track it reached over 150mph with more to spare. I have theory that sports cars are safer for every day use because they have better brakes, better handling and have power to get you out of trouble – I have never felt safer than when I was wrapped in that Supra. The Supra suffered a warped head (a standard problem – and one that had been missed on this one). I was on one final drive before putting it up for sale… I may have put my foot down a little… and I noticed the temperature guage start to
climb quickly. I pulled over immediatly and got dropped home on a breakdown truck. I sold the car as was – and got what I paid when a chap who races them bought it off of me. He was going to pull the head anyway, so wasn’t worried about that. Good news all round.
The Supra went, and in came the Toyota Carina…. It was a car. That is the best that can be said of it…. It was a car. It went… it stopped… Meh! It was so dull that you could park it in an empty car park and STILL forget where you parked it… and…and…. and yet it was still a million times better than the Renault 5. It went in favour of the more practical Bernie…
“Bernie” as Chris calls the Citroen Berlingo is the longest serving of any of my cars. I don’t really like French cars, but Bernie has gone some way to changing my mind. Even Jeremy Clarkson rates it as a great car… and it is on the cool wall on Top Gear! Bernie can handle anything! I’ve moved beds in it! I’ve moved 3m decking planks in it… and unloaded it whilst still sat in the drivers seat! Alex loves it, Chris loves it… I… I think it is a Swiss army knife of a car – very practical and reliable (Oh I’ll regret saying that now….)
Finally we move on to a couple of oddities… not really mine, but mine anyway… Company cars. I had a Ford Mondeo estate to start with (which fitted into the same category as the Toyota Carina….).
The Mondeo just wasn’t up to the task I was hired for, so after thorough research the Fiat Multipla Eleganza was purchased.
It was the face life model (thank the Lord!) and it was fantastic! It seated 6 easily and still had a massive boot space, yet was smaller externally than a Ford Galaxy.
In fact it was a bit like a Vauxhall Zafira on the outside and Mini-bus on the inside… the type of car Doctor Who would drive….. The handling was crisp and car like too – and it had a fair amount of get up and go. I really recommend one if you want an MPV… and once more, it is liked by Clarkson.
We are now left with Bernie, as the company cars went back when I changed jobs… and we need a second car. In a few years I’d like something a bit different – but in the meantime I need frugal and reliable… and that can only mean a VW. I’m thinking an old VW Golf Diesel… good economy and cheap to pick up.
All of these vehicles have lots of tales to tell – and maybe I’ll write them down now that I have opened up my memory by listing them…
More to follow… The 1 week Alhambra, the awesome that still is the Series 3 Land Rover and the…. Citroen Xsara Pigasshole.