THE QUIET market town of Horsham sleeps in leafy West Sussex – close enough to London when you need it to be yet far enough away to avoid its pitfalls of crime and traffic. The coast is a mere 30 minutes away with Brighton, Worthing and Eastbourne all within a fiver’s worth of petrol.
A recent poll in the Daily Mail went as far to say that Horsham was number three in its top ten of nice places to live in the UK and I quite agree. You snob, I hear you cry! Yes, we are lucky having only two supermarkets in the town being Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, but our reason for living here is purely because our work brought us here.
My local area is a fairly new build district called Holbrook, right on the outskirts of the town – the nearest shop and school are a mile away – and, even though the main dual carriageway between the coast and London is quite nearby, you can hear a pin drop in the daytime with the peace only being blighted by noisy crows and the aircraft from Gatwick 15 miles away. I may be biased but, yes, it’s a pleasant place to be.
The local residents are an eclectic bunch, ranging from airline pilots and cabin crew to retired couples, but the cars in the neighbourhood are equally differing too. Two doors down Chris drives a Porsche Boxster, over the road Mr & Mrs Smith drive a new A4 Avant while next door but one Ron is out there every other day polishing his new Focus Zetec.
Our road is a cul-de-sac with about 25 houses and I’m not ashamed to say that it was me that started the trend with the seemingly ever growing numbers of Rovers. Firstly, I bought my 214 last year following my redundancy of which regular readers will already be aware. Soon after that, a young couple moved in further down and brought with them a tidy 1998 220 SDi but then things started getting much closer to home.
… and then there were three
My neighbours Lin & John used to run a late model Citroen Xantia HDi five door. Sadly, a few weeks ago, a delivery lorry managed to put a 10-foot graze down the nearside and, as a result, the insurance company wrote the car off. John, a retired Director of an engineering company, asked me to look at some cars for them. After many cars being sold and the ones we did look at being no good, Lin stumbled upon a 51-plate 25 on Auto Trader. A phone call was made, the three of us piled into my 214 and drove to a nearby village where we viewed a promising sounding Rover 25.
The car was not perfect and needed a few items attending to before becoming a useable daily hack, but some negotiating was done and my neighbours are very pleased with their low mileage, full service history 25 Impression S which now sports new brakes and a new rear silencer.
… A Quality Quartet
Mr & Mrs Smith have a son called Adrian who, owing to his job etc., has had no reason until recently to own a car. I was talking to my neighbours about their 25 when Adrian pulls up in a Tahiti Blue 1997 214. Walking over to me, his dialogue started with the immortal phrase ‘Here, you know about Rovers don’t ya?’. I was asked to cast my eagle eye under the bonnet of his bubble and, with the exception of the cooling system needing a good flush from its recent head gasket job and a knackered radiator, the car seemed in good fettle. A fourth Rover joins the fold in our road and I reckon I’m going to be kept busy over the following weeks.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.