Blog : Back to bangers


My weekends are never dull when there’s an old car caper to get on with. With my citrus-flavoured Skoda’s front spring now fixed and paid for (see that blog if you fancy a laugh), I’ll be gladly delivering it to my partner in crime on the CzechWrecks rally, Andrew Elphick, and hope not to see it again until I start applying paint to its svelte flanks. With a roller.

However, the latest caper was a bit of a dull one in comparison to recent efforts – for a couple of reasons:

1) I made it to my destination in the car I set out in, and…
2) I really, really liked what I was driving… despite some set-backs.

The motor in question was a Citroen AX GT which had originally been owned by Practical Classics magazine, but was being offered for sale for a very reasonable sum of money because of space constraints down at the workshop.

With an offer like that, who was I to refuse? Indeed, as the example in question is one of the earliest cars off the line, bereft of the additional kit that was added in later years, the decision was something of a no-brainer! And that’s why I found myself, jump-pack and fuel can in hand, getting the old girl started for the long drive home from Stamford. I had no problem with the driving position (despite expectations to the contrary) and, once underway, the myriad of rattles and squeaks were forgotten about at the first series of bends.

…once underway, the myriad of rattles and squeaks were forgotten about at the first series of bends.

Yup – this little car was absolutely terrific to drive – go-kart steering, excellent acceleration, controlled and roll-free cornering, with an utterly controllable rear end. Not that I was being enthusiastic with the old girl, you understand. All that seems to be wrong with the AX is a loud gearbox whine, which I’ve yet to investigate. Current favourites are the input shaft bearings – or, if I am really lucky, a noisy wheelbearing somewhere. It’s loud in a straight line, louder in left bends, and silent in right handers. What do you reckon?

By the time I’d made it back to Austin-Rover Towers, I was in love with the little thing – and considering the previously impossible… replacing the Cavalier Sportshatch with it.

I’ve been using the Vauxhall for commuting duties but, as much fun as that is, something has to give. You see, with unleaded now at a ridiculous price (£1.17 per litre as of yesterday), its reasonably acceptable average of 28.9mpg simply cuts no ice. I reckon the Citroen should hit the high 30s, as long as I don’t use the second choke too often… and right now, that’s more important than it’s ever been.

So, who’d have thought it – me laying up the Cavalier from its daily duties in favour of the biscuit tin from France. You couldn’t make it up…

Keith Adams

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