I know we’re still a few weeks off yet, but I thought that with me being off my feet and unable to drive my own cars (my left foot is in plaster and my fleet is exclusively manual), it would be an excellent time to take stock of my great Bangernomics experiment for 2011. For those people who know me, they’ll know that I am utterly afflicted with CHPD (Compulsive Heap Purchasing Disorder), and have been since before I passed my driving test in 1987. That means I’ve owned over 150 cars, and don’t even want to think about how much money I’ve spent keeping the litany of questionable cars on the road…
Still, they’ve been good times, and I wouldn’t change anything.
Back in 2008, I decided that I’d give Bangernomics motoring a try. By that, I mean buying a car for less than £500, and then keep it on the road without pointless spending. My friend James Ruppert has lived by this for years, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me. The problem is, 2008 didn’t work – my cars of choice K-Series Rover 400s (HH-Rs) continuously let me down, and I ended up abandoning the idea, concluding that I’m not cut out for the tough discipline of buying and running with the head.
But throughout 2009 and 2010, the rising cost of motoring continued to bite, and in order to feed my Rover V8 addiction, I found myself running some interesting old smokers. Stand-outs in terms of surprising fun and ease on the wallet came in the form of my Rover Metro and Citroen AX diesels – but both were a little bit too crusty and compromised for realistic daily driving. But in October 2010, work colleague Rob Gould offered me his high mileage 2000(V) Volkswagen Golf TDI SE for £500. It was too good an offer to pass up… no matter what your opinions are on VW Golf Mk4s.
It was short on MoT, and needed a handbrake cable and exhaust hanger to get through. And the tyres were bald (so I bought a set of secondhand alloys with some legal tyres on for £120), and I gave it an oil, fluid and filter service… and ran it. And ran it. Through last year’s cold snap, it felt like the battery and starter were going to die – but with careful conditioning, they never let me down – and throughout 2011, the old bus plods on, delivering a consistent 55-60mpg while generating no interest or warm feelings of ownership whatsoever. Perfect for Bangernomics motoring.
And the great news is that the money saved running this car has allowed me to continue with the SD1, and also have an Alfa Romeo 156 V6 for special occasions. With a newer car (with monthly payments) or one I care about (that would have me lavishing far too much care and attention on it), that wouldn’t have happened.
The Golf’s MoT is due in early December, and I am sure there will be consumables needed to get it through… but it’ll get them. And the great thing is that if it fails spectacularly or blows up on the road, I’ll get most of my money back (as a breaker and in weigh-in value), and will plough my next £500 into something equally workmanlike, preferably a Rover 400 diesel. Sometimes needs must.
But whatever your thoughts on the Golf, it’s clear that this has been an undoubted success in Bangernomics – truly the most cost-effective way of motoring in these straitened times. Go on, give it a try!
(P.S., I should add – this will be the last time you see this car on AROnline! I promise)
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.