Following a life time of buying really daft and/or crap cars (new and old), I’ve established a few rules which I now live by when it comes to running my own personal transport. As you’d expect from a sad old anorak like me, these rules are tough and require serious will power and determination. I’ve often said that Heroin would have been a more rewarding and cost effective lifestyle choice. Sadly BL was my drug and I was too scared to score – a lost Roxy Music line if ever there was one.
You might well call what follows as The Rules of Scrap Club.
Only ever own one crap car at a time. This is surprisingly tough to stick to unless you are really, really skint. How many times have you spotted that automotive lust-at-first sight and thought ‘I desperately need that’? It happens to me at least twice a week. In these instances, all I can tell myself is that something similar will be along soon and I make a renewed effort to move-on what I already have. Which of course, I rarely do – although rule 2 does help one’s cause considerably. I’m an automotive tat whore if truth be told and having Motor Trade insurance and acres of parking space makes me especially vulnerable here.
If I can resist, then so too can you, brother!
Make a firm pact with your current Pride and Joy that you operate a very strict ‘three Strikes and You’re Out policy.’ Take a zero tolerance approach. Tell your car loudly and firmly of this fact with no signs of weakness as your automotive bitch will have you for all you’re worth. For those of you in ignorance here, a ‘strike’ is a failure of the car. The failure is something which is non-service related and costs you time and/or money and causes you grief. It is as simple as that. Again, this can be a tough rule to see through. For me, three strikes usually occurs after a prolonged and serious investment of capital has just place in the vehicle. I remember an elderly MGF that I owned which had just been subjected to well over a thousand quid in new parts and what seemed like a hundreds of man hours. Cruelly, the third failure occurred after what was probably its most satisfying drive. That broke my heart but lead to rule 3.
Never ever spend more on new, non-essential parts for your car than it is worth, although as a concession you can spend equal its value. Note, this excludes service and low-level MoT repairs on really cheap cars. This is a rule I’ve yet to conquer and it just goes to show even I’m not perfect. I simply cannot resist spending any available cash ‘improving’ an old knacker. New dampers are my favourite game, followed by poly bushes and full resprays. I don’t count Mobil 1 or Avon tyres as anything but absolute essentials of responsible car ownership. It was rumoured Mike Satur’s early retirement was cancelled when my addiction to mid-engined Metros (see Fs and TFs) was overcome due to Airedale ownership.
If you do manage to display Churchillian resolve towards your current favourite crap car, there is one other rule to consider, but one which I merely suggest you follow. This one is tricky to advise on, let alone enforce. Basically, unless you have absolute faith in your knacker to get you from one end of the country to the other without hassle and at a moment’s notice, your car is essentially no good.
I’ll give you an example, but do bear in mind I live in the far end of the grim North. A telephone conversation might go something like this; Southern Chum; ‘Sward, I’ve heard Bristol Cars is changing their showroom stock around’ Me; ‘I’m on my way’. So unless you have this level of foolish faith you in chariot of chod, bin it. After all in doing so, you’ll adhere to Rule 1. You’ll move on to the next adventure in unfashionable personal mobility in no time at all.
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.