My Cars

I suppose my love of all things motorised goes back to my father's first car which was a Ford Popular as shown on the right, this is not the actual vehicle of course as it has long since decomposed into a pile of rust. His was a powder blue vehicle with a 3 speed gearbox and wipers operated by the engine vacuum, this meant if I remember correctly that when you put your foot down the wipers stopped.
My father learned to drive quite late in life and before that the only other cars I had been in were a Wolsley 1500 and a Vauxhall Victor estate belonging to my late Uncle Mike. Then my father passed his driving test and bough the Ford Pop, it then spent the next few months in a garage getting the engine rebuilt but eventually it came home and we ventured to far away places such as Aberavon and Portcawl and once even as far as Llangadog.

Eventually, it started to slowly fail and had to go, it was replaced by a far more spacious Mark 1 Ford Cortina as shown on the left, again not the actual car, his was dark blue car with a 1200cc engine and to be fair was extremely comfortable. In this we journeyed as far as Bristol which is in a different country, the journey seemed to take about 4 hours and after a day in Bristol Zoo we faced the ordeal of another 4 hour drive back.
Over the years of ownership, the dreaded iron eating worm kept attacking the car and we fought back with sandpaper and fibre glass. The one fateful Saturday, my father was picking me up from a friends house in Gorseinon, we stopped to let a car come through a gap as cars were double parked and there wasn't enough room for two vehicles to go through, The car we so thoughtfully left through the gap drove right into the front of ours, apparently the other driver couldn't see a thing as the sun was in his eyes and the Cortina was no more.

Next up was a Hillman Avenger with a 1500cc engine, again this is not the actual car, it was a light
metallic green which was called the rather exotic name of phantom mist, and once cleaned and polished looked rather nice to be honest. The speedo was one of those strip ones and went up to 90MPH. Again vast distances were travelled in the car, we once got to the Severn Bridge and stopped at the services on the other side, then we turned round and went back home, it seemed to take forever to get there and back again.

My father let me have use of this car after I had passed my driving test until such a time as I got my owntransport which was in the form of a moped.

It was a dark blue Puch 50cc beast with a huge looking engine that was mainly cooling fins, there was no battery so if you turned the engine off, the lights went out and it had a sort of a rev counter that got more accurate the faster you went. It had a top speed of about 40 MPH, downhill with a tail wind looking back was a bloody awful machine.

It went through a set of bearings and had to have an engine rebuild and then was part exchanged for a much nice and faster Kawasaki KH100.
This was a nice bike to ride, it could reach 70, it would go uphills at the speed limit and in the winter, rain hurt more when it hit you in the face at higher speeds, this meant I had to go out and get a full
face helmet which offered much more protection.
I still had use of the Avenger when my father wasn't using it and when it was really cold but the bike was my favoured method of transport.
In those days, I used to attend Llanelli technical college one day a week, it was supposed to be one day and an evening but it was easier to stay there all day so we started at 09.00 and finished at about 20.00. One cold wet day, I attended college full of man flu, then the day was finished and I made my way home, it was raining heavily and as I rode up a hill the bike started to run out of fuel, I went to switch to reserve and realised I was already on it and so ran out of fuel completely. I pushed the bike up to the nearest petrol station and opened my top box to get my wallet out and realised that my wallet was back in the college with all my books. I asked the people in the garage if I could borrow some petrol and they agreed as I was a regular visitor and then made my way home. I borrowed money from my father to pay them and then feeling even worse started making my way back to the garage to clear my debt. At some point in the journey I fell asleep and woke up a short distance behind a stationary van which I narrowly avoided missing, I ended up skidding down the floor and was taken home by a stranger who I think I thanked. A hospital check up showed nothing broken and I was taken home, it was then that I realised I didn't have a clue where the bike was.

The only way to find it was to start walking towards the petrol station some 6 or 7 milese away, thankfully about a mile away in Hendy I saw a parked Ford Transit with a dent in the back that looked a similar shape to me, I knocked on a door and found my bike and rode it home.

Some time later I managed to invert the Avenger, a slide down the road on it's roof put an end to the life of this car.

I needed a car to get about in having got rid of my motorbike and also having wrecked the Avenger, so for the sum of about £80 I bought a Vauxhall Viva SL90 similiar to the one on the right, mins was lovingly hand painted in black except for some of the roof which was still grey.It came with loads of spares including a complete new exhaust system all stored in the boot. The problem was that most of the spares didn't actually fit this car and then the clutch cable problems started, it kept breaking them at the same point and having examined the source of the problem, a minor modification was made to the clutch pedal. The hole that the cable went in was a sort of keyhole shape and had opened up a bit with wear and tear, the nipple on the end of cable got trapped in the keyhole and flexed at it's joint and eventually broke. Having removed the pedal from the car and clamped to a fat surface, the modification which involved twatting the pedal with a hammer to close the hole up a bit was accomplished and no more cables were needed.

Some time later during some maintenance on the car, myself and a friend decided that the car has sort of fins on the back, a bit like the Batmobile and so we finished off hand painting the car in black, sprayed red bats on the doors, on the sun visors and on the gear stick knob and then painted Gotham City Cruisers on the back, this caused great hilarity and some embaressment and it's a shame that I have no pictures of the car. One night during a drive round Llanelli, a friend of mine by the name of John Llewellyn was sitting in the passenger seat of the car wearing a Batman mask, he urged me to get round a one way system as quickly as possible as he had seen a police woman struggling with someone. We turned up as some of her colleagues arrived, wound the window down and asked if all was well. The look on the faces of the officers was quite amazing.

The car went in for an MOT and failed in a spectacular style and was scrapped, to be replace with another Hillman Avenger.
This was not a standard Avenger with the strip speedo and single rectangular headlights, this was an Avenger 1500GT with twin headlights, a round speedo, a rev counter and an oil pressure gauge, the twin carbs had been taken off and replaced with a standard single Stromberg and the car did well except for a broken fuel sender which meant I had to work out how far I could go on a tank of petrol. Of course I had to do some modifications to it and eventually fitted some 100w Cibies to the front, a yellow light to the roof and a roof mounted console that controlled various flashing lights. The roof lining was replaced with some fur as this was all the rage at the the time and to be honest I was really sorry when I sold the car, but I wanted a van.

A Bedford Beagle van with a 1256 cc engine was purchased so that I could get away occasionally and sleep in the back if required. This only happened once as far as I remember. The van itself was quite reliable and the handling was quite interesting due to it's antiquated suspension. The whole van as was usual for Vauxhalls of this era was prone to rust and eventually failed the MOT and was consigned to the great scrap yard in the sky. It was during the ownership of this van that I first got involved with CB radio and became one of the original members of the Sunday Club as we used to call it, This was basically an excuse for several people who knew each other on CB to get together for a drink, mainly at the Glamorgan Arms just outside of Pontardulais. Members include myself or Major Tom as I was known, Mobile 1 in his MG, The Smiler, The Red Dragon, The Green Machine and several others whose names or handles I cannot now remember.

A 1300cc Ford Escort with an automatic gearbox fitted was my next vehicle. This was my first introduction to automatics and taught me to tuck my left leg out of the way, otherwise your left foot came down very heavily on the brake pedal instead of the clutch causing a very quick stop. The car was bought from a local garage in Hendy, it's still there but under different ownership now and it suffered from numerous electrical problems and body rot and was eventually disposed of.

I needed a car to get to work and a B reg mini 850 came on the market for about £80. part of the front suspension needed to be replaced before I could drive it and one of the valves broke on the way into work one day. Thankfully my friend David Evans (The Arab) and his magical garage got me going again when he fished out a complete mini head from a box in the back. The car had the long gear stick, a starter button in the middle of the floor and sliding windows and was great fun to drive It was eventually sold and my car for the next few years was another Mark 1 Ford Escort, this time in a lovely chocolate brown.

The Escort lasted for several years and made it to Hull and back once a month for nearly a year, during that time I had to replace the valves and clutch but the car still went well but eventually the engine gave up and lost compression and was sent on it's way.

Next car was a Vauxhall Viva 1800 HC automatic and was amazingly fast and comfortable, I can't really remember why we got rid of it but I think the need for an estate car arose and it was sold off to be replaced with

And so I got a Morris Marina, I should have known better really, it was big and roomy, handled like a molten blancmange perched on top of jelly and was just awful, they tried to revamp them in later years and called them an Ital but no matter how much you polish a turd, its will always be a turd.

A much better estate replaced it, a Mark 2 Hillman Avenger 1600 estate, I was back on familiar ground with this and the car did really well over the years eventually going away to be replaced by another Vauxhall.

This was the modern looking Chevette which probably started off the hatchback car, underneath it was still a Vauxhall Viva but the quality of the body was much better.

It wasn't long after this that I left Wales and moved to Cornwall, but my last car bought in Wales at that time was Japanese.

The marvelously comfortable Datsun 180B estate, mine was yellow with some fake wood across the back to make it look like an American station wagon and did remarkably well during it's time with me.

There followed a long period with company cars after this, for company cars I had such delights as a 980cc Ford Fiesta, a 1000cc Austin Metro, a Mark 1 Astra and a Ford Granada and then I went back to Vauxhall with a 1.3 Mark 2 Astra.

I assumed that this would be a better car than the Mark 1, but I was wrong. That's not to say it was awful, it was actually a really good car but lacked the character of it's predecessor.

Following this another period of company vehicles came my way and eventually I went back to owning my own car, this time it was a Ford.

A move down to Merseyside saw me driving round in a red Ford Sierra 2.3 diesel, the engine came from Peugeot and although noisy was quite powerful and economical to drive.

The next car also had French engine in it but this time was a Citroen.
I'd loved the styling of these cars when they first came out, this particular one was a 1.9 petrol engine with an auto box and it was a lovely drive, eventually a hydraulic failure caused it's demise and another French car replaced it.

The amazing Peugeot 405 1.9 diesel, the car was awesome, handling was superb, the engine had loads of power even without a turbo and it was comfortable. Apart from my Avengers and the later Jaguars, this is one car that I really do miss. A leak in the heater matrix which involved a complete removal of the dashboard to resolve meant that the car had to go.

The next car was bigger and faster.

And this was it, a 2.9 litre Jaguar XJ6, not the best engine Jaguar had ever made but it did what it was supposed to do. The Jaguar forums taught you how to keep the car going for next to nothing and I really should have kept it but eventually sold it on.

The Jag was kept mainly for a weekend and holiday car, at the time it was used in conjunction with a smaller vehicle.

The Volvo 480 1.7ES automatic, a superb car with all nice little toys and a reasonable bit of room too. I had the automatic version and it was a delight to drive, another car I really miss.

Another French car followed, a mark 1 Renault Laguna
This came from a local dealer and after about 2 weeks the ABS failed, as the car actually spoke to you it announced this every time you started the engine, the bonnet failed to open on it due to the cable stretching and the heater matrix was blocked. I went to put it in for part ex and was told that it had also been an insurance write off, the last bit obviously wasn't the fault of Renault but the car went and in it's place came.

A Jaguar 3.2 litre sovereign, apparently taken care of and of course without the delightful lady opening the garage door.
It was in really good condition cosmetically but there were other problems that led in it being returned to it's original owner.

I took the plunge and went for another Jaguar.

This was a lovely drive, had it been an automatic it would have been better but it was still a pleasure to drive, there was a problem with a faulty accelerator pedal at one point but this was resolved and the car would still be round if the tangled and twisted tapestry of life not started fraying.

The next car was another Jaguar.
A 3.2 litre Sovereign with cruise control, air cond, electric leather seats all in working order for about
£800. It sailed through it's first MOT and was just an awesome car, financial problems led to me having to swap it for another French car.

If the Peugeot 405 was anything to go by, the 406 should have been amazing, it was faster and more
economical but that's as far as it goes, so many other problems plagued the car and it went and this time I went back to British, sort of.

The Rover 420D, not exactly fast but comfortable, economical and reliable, this is another car I miss it was that good despite having a boring image. The body was from Honda and the engine was a good old fashioned 2.0 litre Perkins diesel which just carries on working.

We had decided that we wanted something bigger that could be used to sleep in for weekends away if we so desired, a people carrier seemed the ideal solution and the one that sprang to mind was.

A Renault Espace Mark 2 was next. It was a cheap buy, needed some loving care and attention, the
brakes were bled, a new air filter fitted, an new thermostat (£7.00 for the thermostat and £65 for the hose it fitted into), after this the car started to behave quite well and to be fair was comfortable and had a really good driving position. But things just started going wrong and foolishly I traded it in for another Renault.

This was a lovely looking car, really comfortable and economical and probably one of the worst cars I had ever purchased, it failed it's first MOT with me at a cost of over £400 and then on a drive decided that it wanted to suck all of the oil out of it's sump into the engine and kill itself, the car didn't even last a year.

This was to be my last French car.

Along came another Rover 420D, once more this car was awesome and only had to be put out to rest following a bit of vandalism.

Then I went Japanese with a Nissan Primera, being Japanese you would have thought it would have been a good car. There were suspension problems that were just too expensive to sort and the car was boring, there was nothing about it that made you like it or hate it. They should have called it the Nissam Mediocre.

It was replaced by a BMW 523I in October 2011, the car had a full service history and was my first
German car, it went well, was comfortable to sit in and had loads of toys but the ride was hard and the old XJ6 in my opinion was a much better car. The clutch failed and along with other repairs was going to cost quite a lot to repair. A visit to a car selling place ended up with us trading in the BMW for a Chevrolet Aveo 1.2.

The Chevy, used to be called Daewoo, was probably not the car I was thinking of getting but it's a really good fun little car to drive and has taken us all over Ireland and back and forth from Rotherham with just some petrol, oil and a service, there's no cam belt and I really like this car, it's so under rated. Hopefully it will last another 3.5 years with very little needing doing to it.

It's now up to 85,000 miles and still keeps going.

The MOT in December came and went, we needed to spend a bit of money on the car due to some wear and tear, then two new front tyres were fitted and on a trip to Devon the car started to make some worrying noises, the noises went when the clutch was depressed and I guessed on gearbox issues. A visit to a much recommended car dealer in Devon confirmed my suspicion. We decided it was time to replace the Chevy, we will miss that car.

It's place has now been taken by a 64 plate Nissan Note that seems really very good, all sorts of extras including all round cameras and a supercharged 1.2 litre engine, 6 years of life is the target.

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