Some more vehicles we’ve owned…
Toyota Corolla DX
We bought this from my driving instructor when it was about 6 months old (it still had dual controls!). This was my main mode of transport after I passed my test. The 1981 Toyota Corolla DX was about as basic as it got. I added the black around the windows (as was popular at the time) and painted the centre of the wheels black. I hated the blue interior so stripped it out and recovered it with a hard-wearing grey fabric and removed the dash and sprayed it graphite grey. The car was bullet proof mechanically, which was more than could be said for it structurally! It failed its first MoT due to corrosion of the chassis and needed quite a bit of welding. Before it was 3 year old the chrome bumpers had rotted through. We kept it until about 1987.
Ford Capri MKI
I had alway had a thing for Ford Capris and acquired this in the mid eighties.It was a faclift model with the larger headlights and restyled tail lights. It had a 1600cc ‘crossflow’ engine and went like stink. Strange things happened with this car. When I picked it up my sister commented about the abundance of stickers in the windows (a pet hate of mine). I said that I was just about to go remove them, but when I went out to the car there were no stickers to be seen. Another incident happened when I broke a switch on the dashboard. I managed to get a replacement switch but when I went to fit it, the original switch was intact and worked perfectly. Christine comes to mind…
I’d had a 2.8 litre Vauxhall Royal Coupe in the eighties and absolutely adored it. So when in the early 90s we were looking for another car, the Opel Monza sprang to mind. The Monza was a second generation with a restyled front end, a three litre straight six engine mated to an automatic gearbox and luxurious draylon seats, which made long journeys a pleasure. It was not without its problems though and corroding fuel pipes meant more petrol was sprayed over the engine the was combusted in the cylinders! Looking back we should have had the car sorted and kept it. I would have another tomorrow!
Audi 80 Sport
The Audi 80 Sport replaced the Monza in the mid 90s. We bought it when it was about three year old. The car had lowered suspension and a set of Momo wheels with low profile tyres. While it was a comfortable and quick car, again there were problems. The engine developed a strange fault, where it would often ‘hunt’, lose power and then surge, making controling the car with the accelerator a hit and miss affair. Several expensive trips to an Audi specialist resulted in no cure and so after a couple of years it was time to say goodbye to the Audi.
After the Audi, we decided we fancied a BMW 5 series. I’d aways liked the look of them and I’ve always been a fan of the larger car. At the time we had just acquired a caravan and the Beemer looked more than capable of towing that. So we had a tow bar fitted to pull our Elddis Hurricane GTX caravan. The BMW was a comfortable, if a little underpowered, car. One thing I hated about it was its recirculating ball steering, which I felt was a little too loose for my liking. It wasn’t a pleasant experience when towing the caravan either. One stormy winter evening, coming over the M62 at Saddleworth Moor, I was struggling so much with the handling that the best I could manage safely was a top speed of 50 miles an hour! When a Morris Minor flew past me I decided that the Beemer’s time was up.
In 1999 we decided to jump onto the bandwagon and bought a 4×4. Not liking recirculating ball steering, which was used on the majority of off-roaders narrowed the choice down a little. The SsangYong Musso was a little bit of an oddball really, designed by Ken Greenley, who had previously designed Aston Martins. The car won the Auto Design Award at the Birmingham Auto Show. A link with Mercedes Benz saw the Musso benefit from Mercedes’ 5 cylinder 2.9 litre diesel engine and ours was the turbo charged version. The Musso had excellent off-road capabilities, as we discovered on a 4×4 course in the Dalby Forest, and was more than a match for the caravan. I had my first accident in this car when a boy racer ran into the back of me at 40 miles per hour, while I was stationary, waiting my turn to enter a roundabout. It’s testament to the SsangYong Musso’s strength that his Golf ended up having its headlamps where the windscreen used to be and the Musso only suffered a scratched Bumper and a broken fog lamp lens. Parts for the car were expensive and difficult to source, so when we needed a new exhaust, we found it much cheaper to have one made. The Musso served us well for 5 years, by which time we fancied something a bit different.