Hands up anyone who can tell us why we put ourselves through it? Classic car ownership, I mean. Don’t get me wrong, I love my SD1, but my God it is frustrating at times.
Took it to work at the end of last week for its annual check-up. You’ll be glad to hear that it passed the MoT after a couple of tiny issues were sorted. So, given that, Richard Gunn and I swapped cars for the weekend – I had his Citroen XM, and he got the Rover. Before you say anything, it was a good deal for me, because one car I have a tremendous admiration for is the XM: it looks good, is massively roomy, and rides and handles supremely well. I like them so much, I’ve had a few in my time.
Anyway, during the weekend, I received SMS messages from Richard telling me how much he loved the SD1. And who can blame him – he’s into BL (probably more than me), especially its products of the 1970s. And as my Rover has a brown interior… he was right at home.
So why the frustation..?
Driving it home from Peterborough, fill it up with fuel – go and pay – try to restart and… nothing. No dashboard lights, nothing. Arrgh. Open the bonnet and take a look, only to find that the battery earth lead has sheared. I can see the Audi owner looking at me from his diesel pump – I bet he was thinking something along the lines of, ‘nice old Rover – broken down again on the poor bastard owner’.
Still, at least it looked like a straightforward repair… And yet, because of where it had snapped, not an easy repair. At least the cable is stiff – it means I can prop it back into position and hope that it doesn’t drop off again.
One stressed journey later and we get home. Maybe not Devon all over again, but another journey with the fear of it cutting out on a busy and inhospitable A14.
So, it begs the question – why on Earth do we put ourselves through this? I mean the SD1 is a great car, and I will defend its honour with great determination, but, well… it does keep letting me down. Perhaps this is what classic car ownership is all about, but standing like a plonker on the hard shoulder of a wet and windy motorway does not seem like my idea of fun. Old cars are there to be enjoyed and I do like to drive mine, so why does it seem to have an aversion to performing this basic function?
Old cars are there to be enjoyed
and I do like to drive mine, so
why does it seem to have an
aversion to performing this
Maybe someone who said to me, “I admire your bravery – I enjoy classic cars through other people’s purchases”, has the right idea. SD1s are lovely things to look at as well as drive, but driving someone else’s would give you all of the pleasure without the pain.
We also kid ourselves about the economics of owning our old bangers. People ask me how much I paid for it… and the answer to that is £1700. Today, over two years later, it is worth £1750, so I can rightfully say that I have cheated motoring’s greatest expense: depreciation. However, we tell ourselves and anyone that will listen that they are cheap to run because of this. But how many of us who own such cars can honestly say that they tell everyone the whole story? And the small matter of all those parts we’ve needed to buy – water pump, distributor, whatever – are swept under the carpet, and conveniently forgotten.
Will I ever get rid of it? Nahhh… but on Tuesday night, had someone offered me a fair price for it, I would have ripped their arm off!
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.