The bangernomic bug bites again
First things first, the Xantia is back in the fold – the car’s so good I bought it twice. Having passed it on to a work colleague, who enjoyed a few months of very happy motoring, it became surplus to requirements. Following an incident in which the Renault backfired and stopped, causing a minor gridlock in Horsham town centre after the condenser burned out, I jokingly begged the aforementioned workmate to sell me back the Citroen. To avoid digression, this is what he did and once again my title is printed on the top of the V5 document.
The Rover Coupe has a new home in North Wales and the Renault heads for Worcestershire later on next week (damn I’m gonna miss that dear little car) so the household now possesses a Golf Mk6 and a Citroen Xantia. My research for the truck book requires visiting various ex-Leyland employees who reside as close by as Guildford and as far afield as Cheshire and Lancashire, so a reliable and economical car is a must. My full attention now requires some serious writing and fact finding so the Coupe and 18 sadly became a victim of changing personal circumstances.
Whilst sorting out the paperwork for the departing cars, I noted that the Citroen’s MoT was due. Usually, I’m on the ball with vehicle admin, yet this time I had overlooked that fact that the Xantia had literally just days of test left to go and would expire while we are away on holiday. A panic call was put in to my trusted MoT station during which Steve mumbled and grumbled at me but offered to squeeze me in for a mid-afternoon slot providing I brew the tea and let him steal my fags. With no time to check the car over with the exception of emptying the clutter and tools from the boot and giving it a wash, I’m off to the test station.
Those who know me well will know my MoT preparation starts roughly a month before its due – the cars are scrubbed, cleaned, jet-washed and polished to almost showroom perfection and everything is checked – I even align the washer jets to give an even and equal distance squirt. Don’t laugh, but I have even been known to throw lamp units and other parts into the dishwasher to get rid of moss or hard to reach dead insects – just ask ‘er indoors – but, today I just threw a bucket of soapy water over it. Put a grubby unloved and battered car in for MoT and the tester will go for the kill wherever he sees the opportunity.
Yet, after the panic and emotions I always go through, my gut feeling was telling me the car would sail through with no problems. Okay, so it may be a little bumped and scraped here and there but its genuinely rock solid in every way. Irrespective of speed or road surface there is not so much as a squeak or rattle on the move. The underneath is better than some three-year old cars thanks to the Spanish terrain it lived in ’til last year – even the exhaust is all original as is the spare tyre and brake lines. All you do is follow the road, drive and add fuel when required – utterly faithful, so much so… I would trust it with my life.
Arriving at the test centre, we fall about laughing as Steve armed with a seat cover opens the door and climbs in – the wrong side. His trademark expletives echo around the workshop and just as he is about to put the car onto the brake rollers, events are paused as an ice-cream van trills its jingle jangle tune. A brace of large ’99s are purchased and wolfed down in the blistering Sussex sunshine and the test gets under way. The brakes take a pounding on the rollers and then it’s hoisted aloft for the ritual tapping and eagle-eyed scrutineering of the MoT tester.
Oddly enough, I found myself at peace enjoying the twittering of the birds and the searing sunshine – none of my usual chain smoking nail biting pacing up and down. In next to no time its all over – just like having a filling at the dentist, you wonder what all the fuss was about. The wheels are rocked, the brakes are pressed, horn tooted, then the car is brought down from the heavens and I am informed that the southpaw Xantia has passed the MoT with no influence brought on by my tea-making prowess and the purchase of ice-fceams. An opportunity was given for good gander underneath – it’s really that good.
The Xantia lives for another year, then, and I’m chuffed to have it back. The commute to work sees a genuine 50mpg all day, every day with very little oil consumption and it floats over the ruts and potholes with near hovercraft ability. Only a slight water leak blots a deeply impressive school report and my money is on the water pump. Not that I am complaining however, it’s a perfect opportunity to replace the timing belt during the same sitting – playing on the side of caution as usual. Since my repatriation, the interior has been scrubbed and I will do my best to give it the love I failed to offer during my last stewardship.
One other thing bothers me. The Michelin Energy tyres have as much grip in the wet as an exited puppy on a laminate floor and, being skinny 185 profile, I’ve seen vintage prams with wider treads – oh… and a set of RHD headlamps are going down on ze list too. Once again, I hammer home the message that bangernomics is great fun, it’s depreciation free too with an old usable clunker always holding a residual value – often double the initial purchase price. So watch out for a battered green left-hook Citroen flying here there and everywhere on nationwide research missions!