Blog : My life in cars

Audi S8

I’m beginning to think that my lengthy spell of Compulsive Heap Purchasing Disorder (CHPD) is incurable. I’m not too unhappy about it for 95% of the time – it’s an ailment, which one comes to terms with. Most of the time, you spend your life justifying your latest hopeless, groaning, smoking purchase to your family and friends, and smile inwardly at their lack of taste and discerning if they don’t quite understand why a 17-year-old family barge with fist-sized rot holes in is actually a very good thing.

Ever since the DVLA was mad enough to award me a driving licence back in 1987, I’ve been buying cars that, in reality, only their mothers could ever possibly love. The current cars in the list are an eclectic bunch: an Audi S8 bought before Christmas, and which I’ve spent quite a bit of time and money to get into anywhere near usable condition, an Audi 80 CL, which I really like for its honesty, a Saab 9000 Aero that’s been around (on and off) since 2007, and a broken Citroen Xantia Activa. I really need something British in the fleet – something that I can’t be accused for not having driven enough over the years.

I started with an Austin Allegro with three gears instead of five and an obsession with trying to turn left, no matter what I did with the wheel and pedals. You’d think I’d have learned – gone and done what all my mates did and save up for a nearly-new Metro, Fiesta or Micra. But oh no – not me – I had to go and buy an Audi 1005E with a wonky rear axle, a Mini 1000 with a rolled-up copy of The Sun acting as bracing for the dissolved sill, or a Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1 with a cloth stuck in the carburettor to stop it stalling at idle.

Each time, I’d think I’d had enough of some hopeless heap which really would have been completed with a ‘Police Aware’ sticker on it, I’d take a breath, sell the thing, and go and buy another.

All through my life, my choice in cars has been governed by this compulsion of take on a hopeless cause and make something good out of it (I mean why buy an ’82 Skoda Estelle and age ten years in the three winter months I owned it?) But, in the end, there are no winners, and only one serious loser – my wallet. I guess that’s the bottom line – I love lost causes and trying to turn them round…

I had to go and buy an Audi 1005E with a wonky rear axle, A Mini 1000 with a rolled up copy of The Sun acting as bracing for the dissolved sill, or a Cavalier Mk1 with a cloth stuck in the carb to stop it stalling at idle…

So, why this ramble? Well, I’m wondering whether any doctors out there could give me a hint on potential cures. More than 30 years of motoring pleasure on, I’ve still not been able to ween myself off the drug of knackered has-been-mobiles and into something a little more financially astute. CHPD has me by the throat, and I seem to be suffering now, as much as I ever did.

A few times, I tried to get out of the addiction by purchasing nearly-new cars but, after a year or so, boredom sets in and I start trying to justify going back to my old ways by saying things like, ‘wouldn’t it be good to have a car that doesn’t depreciate?’, or, ‘isn’t this new Audi/Citroën/Land Rover/Subaru lacking in personality?’ Followed by a swift sale, and a move back to square one.

One way of justifying CHPD is to try and turn it into a money-making bonanza. I buy a car, and sell it on for a few quid profit… except that, in putting it right, I’ve spent all the future profit, and a little bit more. I once made £700 on a Peugeot 405Mi16, and felt good about it, until I realised that I needed to spend all that on a Citroën BX 16 Valve to make good, and then I ended up selling it for a loss.

So, do I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat wondering what the hell I’m doing with all these cars – thinking about what I could have been driving with the money I’d wasted along the way? You think I would be – and yet, I’m not…

I remain happy and contented and I know in my own mind that I’d be bored to tears with anything newer and more competent. I like to think of driving as a great adventure – and where’s the fun in owning something you can depend on?

To prove, here’s a list of what I’ve been through so far (off the top of my head). My two sons have already said that I’ve probably missed a few off, so I’m sure I need to update this. But, as I head towards 50, it seems like a good time to take stock and show you all the extent of how bad my CHPD is!


  • 1982 Alfa Romeo Alfasud 1.5 Super
  • 1997 Alfa Romeo 156 2.0 Veloce
  • 1998 Alfa Romeo 156 2.5 Veloce V6-24
  • 1999 Alfa Romeo GTV V6
  • 1978 Audi 100 (C2) GLS 5E
  • 1979 Audi 100 (C2) CD 5E
  • 1986 Audi 100 (C3) 2.2 CD
  • 1980 Audi 200 (C2) 5E
  • 1987 Audi 80 (B2) CL
  • 1982 Audi 80 (B2) CD 5S
  • 1982 Audi 80 (B2) CL (current car)
  • 1986 Audi Coupe (B2) GT 2.0
  • 1986 Audi Coupe (B2) GT 2.0
  • 1988 Audi 90 (B3) 2.2
  • 1988 Audi 90 (B3) 2.2
  • 1988 Audi 90 (B3) 2.0
  • 1997 Audi A6 (C5) 2.4 V6 SE
  • 1999 Audi S8 (D2) (current car)
  • 1999 Audi A2 1.4 SE (current car)
  • 1976 Austin Maxi 1750 HL
  • 1977 Austin Maxi 1750 HLS
  • 1977 Austin Allegro 1500 Super
  • 1975 Austin Allegro 1500 De Luxe
  • 1983 Austin Allegro 1.3 HLS
  • 1978 Austin Princess 2200 HLS
  • 1981 Austin Metro 1.3 HLS
  • 1984 Austin Metro Vanden Plas
  • 1983 Austin Maestro 1.3L
  • 1984 Austin Maestro 1.3HLE
  • 1983 Austin Maestro 1.6 Vanden Plas
  • 1995 BMW 525i (E34)
  • 1998 BMW 528i (E39) Touring

  • 1979 Citroën GS Pallas
  • 1988 Citroën AX GT
  • 1991 Citroën BX TGD
  • 1990 Citroën BX TZD
  • 1993 Citroën BX TXD Turbo
  • 1989 Citroën BX GTI
  • 1988 Citroën BX GTI 16V, in black
  • 1989 Citroën BX 16 Valve (Ph1), in black
  • 1990 Citroën BX 16 Valve (Ph2), in black
  • 1990 Citroën BX 16 Valve (Ph1), in red
  • 1989 Citroën BX 16 Valve (Ph1), in white
  • 1991 Citroën BX 16 Valve (Ph2), in white
  • 1981 Citroën CX Prestige
  • 1984 Citroën CX 20 Pallas
  • 1986 Citroën GTI Automatic
  • 1982 Citroën CX 2000 Pallas (current car)
  • 1987 Citroën CX Croisette
  • 1995 Citroën Xantia Activa, in red
  • 1996 Citroen Xantia Activa, in blue
  • 1996 Citroën Xantia Activa, in maroon
  • 1998 Citroën Xantia Activa, in silver (current car)
  • 1998 Citroën Xantia 1.9TD SX (left-hand drive)
  • 1998 Citroën Xantia 2.0 VSX
  • 1998 Citroën Xantia V6 Exclusive
  • 1994 Citroën XM 2.0i Turbo
  • 1995 Citroën XM 2.0SEi Turbo, in white
  • 1994 Citroën XM 2.0VSX Turbo, in maroon
  • 1995 Citroën XM 2.0TCT Exclusive
  • 2002 Citroën C5 Exclusive 2.0 Petrol
  • 2008 Citroën C5 Exclusive HDI Estate
  • 2006 Citroën C6 Exclusive
  • 1978 Datsun Sunny Coupe
  • 1986 Fiat/Bertone X1/9
  • 1979 Fiat Strada 75 CL
  • 1990 Fiat Tipo 1.7 diesel
  • 1984 Ford Escort 1.6GL five-door
  • 2004 Ford Focus 1.8 Zetec
  • 2007 Ford Mondeo 2.0 saloon
  • 1975 Honda Civic
  • 2007 Honda Civic Type-R
  • 1977 Jaguar XJ6
  • 1989 Jaguar XJ6 3.6
  • 1996 Jaguar XJR
  • 1988 Lada Riva 1300
  • 1988 Land Rover/Range Rover V8
  • 1994 Land Rover Discovery TD 300
  • 1999 Land Rover Freelander TD ES
  • 1998 Land Rover/Range Rover 2.5 Overfinch tuned (allegedly)
  • 1976 Lancia Beta HPE
  • 1990 Lancia Thema 2000 Turbo
  • 1992 Lancia Dedra 1.8 LX
  • 1990 Lancia Delta 1.3 LX
  • 1988 Lancia Delta Integrale 8V
  • 1988 Mazda 626 2000 Executive
  • 1995 Mazda MX-5
  • 1988 Mercedes-Benz 230TE (W124)
  • 1996 Mercedes-Benz S280 (W140)
  • 2002 Mercedes-Benz SLK 230
  • 2002 Mercedes-Benz A170 CDI
  • 1987 MG Maestro Turbo, ex-development car
  • 1996 MGF VVC
  • 2003 MG ZS 180
  • 1977 Mini 1000
  • 2011 MINI First
  • 2001 MINI Cooper
  • 2001 MINI One
  • 1976 Morris Marina 1.3 De Luxe
  • 1994 Nissan Primera 1.6 LS Hatchback
  • 1983 Peugeot 104
  • 1976 Peugeot 304
  • 1994 Peugeot 306 diesel
  • 1997 Peugeot 306 GTI-6
  • 1991 Peugeot 405 GR Injection
  • 1990 Peugeot 405 Mi 16
  • 1997 Peugeot 406 1.9 turbo diesel
  • 1997 Peugeot 406 Coupe V6 Auto
  • 2006 Peugeot 407 Coupe
  • 1979 Renault 18 TS
  • 1988 Renault 21 Symphony
  • 2002 Renault Twingo
  • 2003 Renault Avantime
  • 1984 Renault Fuego GTS
  • 1990 Renault Alpine GTA
  • 1971 Rover 3500 (P6) automatic
  • 1982 Rover 2600 (SD1) automatic, in red
  • 1976 Rover 3500 (SD1) automatic, in gold
  • 1976 Rover 3500 (SD1) manual, in white

  • 1986 Rover 3500 (SD1) Vitesse Twin Plenum
  • 1993 Rover Metro 1.4 SD
  • 1990 Rover 216 GTI 16V (same car owned three times)
  • 1992 Rover 214 SLi, in blue
  • 1992 Rover 216 GSI
  • 1993 Rover 216 GSI
  • 1995 Rover 216 Coupe
  • 1995 Rover 216 Coupe
  • 1994 Rover 220 Coupe Turbo
  • 1990 Rover 416 GTI 16V auto
  • 1995 Rover 420 GSI Tourer
  • 1995 Rover 416 Si (HHR)
  • 1995 Rover 416 Si (HHR)
  • 1996 Rover 216 Si (R3), in red
  • 1996 Rover 216 Si (R3), in silver
  • 1994 Rover 618i
  • 1995 Rover 620 SLI
  • 1995 Rover 620 Turbo
  • 1996 Rover 620 Turbo
  • 1986 Rover 820 SI
  • 1995 Rover 820 SI
  • 1995 Rover 820 Vitesse Sport saloon
  • 1988 Rover 827 Vitesse fastback
  • 1990 Rover 827 Sterling saloon, ex-development car
  • 1995 Rover 827 Sterling fastback, in light grey metallic
  • 1995 Rover 827 Sterling fastback, in dark grey metallic
  • 1993 Rover 827 Coupe, in BRG
  • 1993 Rover 827 Coupe, in Nightfire Red
  • 1996 Rover Vitesse Sport Coupe, in Wootcote Green
  • 1997 Rover 825 Sterling Coupe
  • 2001 Rover 75 Club CDTi
  • 2000 Rover 75 1.8 Connoisseur
  • 1985 Saab 900 T16
  • 1988 Saab 900 T16S
  • 1995 Saab 9000 EcoPower, in blue
  • 1994 Saab 9000 Aero, in black
  • 1995 Saab 9000 Aero, in blue
  • 1995 Saab 9000 Aero, in blue (current car, jointly owned)
  • 2004 Saab 9-3 Cabrio
  • 1980 Skoda Estelle 120 LE
  • 1994 Skoda Felicia 1.6 Estate
  • 1984 Suzuki SA310 Swift
  • 1984 Talbot Tagora 2.2 GLS
  • 1988 Talbot Express Auto-Sleeper camper
  • 1994 Toyota Celica GT-Four
  • 1982 Triumph Acclaim HLS
  • 1982 Triumph Acclaim CD
  • 1978 Vanden Plas 1500
  • 1980 Vauxhall Chevette GLS Saloon
  • 1977 Vauxhall Chevette GL Saloon
  • 1978 Vauxhall Cavalier 1600 GL
  • 1980 Vauxhall Cavalier 1600 GL
  • 1976 Vauxhall Cavalier 1900 GL Coupe
  • 1980 Vauxhall Cavalier 2000 GLS Sports Hatch
  • 1979 Vauxhall Cavalier 2000 GLS Sports Hatch
  • 1994 Vauxhall Cavalier 1.8i LS hatchback
  • 1980 Vauxhall Royale Coupe
  • 1982 Vauxhall Carlton 2200i CD
  • 1994 Vauxhall Calibra 2.0
  • 1988 Volkswagen Polo
  • 1998 Volkswagen Golf 1.9 TDI SE
  • 1980 ZAZ 968


  • 2008 Subaru Forester Boxer Diesel
  • 2008 Subaru Outback Boxer Diesel
  • 2009 Suzuki Swift DDI-S
  • 2012 Vauxhall Astra 1.7 CDT Sports Tourer
  • 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf
  • 2013 Renault Captur
  • 2017 Renault Scenic
  • 2017 Skoda Superb Sportline Estate
  • 2018 Range Rover Evoque
  • 2016 Volvo V40
  • 2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport
  • 2019 Volvo V90 T8
  • 2019 Peugeot 508 Fastback GT-Line
  • 2019 BMW 320d Touring


  • 1999 Ford Mondeo 1.8TD LX
  • 1999 Ford Mondeo 1.8TD LX
  • 1998 Rover 416 Si
  • 1999 Volkswagen Golf 1.9TDI SE
  • 1998 Mitsubishi Carisma 1.9TD
  • 1999 Ford Mondeo 1.8TD GLX
  • 2000 Citroën Xantia 1.9TD VSX Estate
  • 1999 Citroën Xantia 1.8TD SX

Nurse, pass the drugs!

Audi 80

Keith Adams
Latest posts by Keith Adams (see all)


  1. What a great list – I am very envious .
    Can I suggest you really need to add an MGB , Spitfire, Midget and MGZT to the list to make it complete .

  2. Keith – CHPD, another example of medicalising everything today! In your state you need the district nurse’s standard issue car, the Morris Minor – see Open All Hours – plus whatever Dr Finlay used around the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands. And, at a pinch, what James Herriot, the vet, drove through the Yorkshire Dales in All Creatures Great and Small.

  3. You had a Misubishi Carisma 1.9 D( probably non turbo by the initials) as a company car. No wonder you bought a load of interesting bangers like eighties Alfa Romeos and Rover SD1s. Even the Lada would have been more fun than this tedious looking, tedious to drive car that probably led to Mitsubishi abandoning the family car market as the Carisma was such a drab car compated with its predecessors.

      • Slightly better, Keith, but still a damned ugly, boring car that had one of the most inappropriate names in the business. To think, prior to the Carisma, Mitsubishi made such interesting and good to drive cars like the Lancer and the Galant. Also they had a habit of living longer than the Queen Mother as the reliability and build quality was Rolls Royce like, seemingly the Carisma didn’t have that selling point. ( Have heard of engine problems and build quality issues on them).

        • Heavens, yes. Drove one from Sussex to Somerset, for a client meeting when I was shortlisting for a company car. Dear reader, it lurched, so it was off the list.

  4. Gosh, I’m not even the same league – I feel quite deflated, squashed even, having had less than 120 cars since 1967! With regard to your illness, please be assured, there is no cure! Some people think that ‘everything’ is to do with money. In my case – and probably yours – if we suddenly found ourselves virtually penniless or the winner of a multi million pound jackpot – we would both continue unabated. For my part, in the latter case, I would fill a large barn (I’m talking B&Q size here) with the most eclectic mix of microcars, oddballs, misfits, commercial failures and one-offs! Definitely no Ferraris, Lambo’s (except perhaps an early 350 for nostalgic reasons cos’ I drove one of the first that came into the country).
    The question I’m always asked is – of all the cars you’ve had, which one would you like to have back? I wonder what your answer would be? Please tell! Mine would be my 1946 Jaguar One and a Half Litre saloon although my Vauxhall……….ahhhhhhhh!

  5. I’ve been a car owner since 1975 and never owned – or wanted to own – anything French or Italian….which rules me out of commenting on quite a few in that list. I always associated them with being a bit unreliable, fragile and – in the case of Citroen – a mechanical nightmare which lived in a world of its own.

    Looking at Keith’s list, I had a 1975 Cavailer 1900 4-door. That was a revelation the first time I drove it, with handling and performance previously unknown in such a ‘basic’ car. I also had a couple of Opel Manta Coupes (Cavalier with a different logo) and they were superb cars to drive.

    In AROnline territory, in the 90s I had a Rover 214 SLi which I liked more than I expected. A classy, smooth, faster-than-you-think car. It’s a pity that line ultimately came to a dead end; I’d happily have the modern version if such a thing existed.

    And a special mention for the 99 Focus 1.6 Zetec. That took handling and performance to a new level for a run of the mill saloon. That was the first Ford I ever owned. Until then I’d always avoided them because “It’s a Ford and everyone else has them and I want to be different”. It was gob-smackingly good for a family hatch. I kept it for 6 years, which was much longer than I’d ever kept any other car.

  6. Great list, and strong Lancia and Citroen content. 182 cars in ~30 years of car ownership takes some doing!

    Looks like you have six current cars, in addition to the long term press fleet cars knocking about at any given time. Honest question – how do you keep on top of maintaining and using all of them properly? Just staying on top of MOTs, tyres, tax and insurance must be a time consuming business, let alone any mechanical work!

    I also noticed 10 (ten) Citroen BXs and 9 Rover R8s. What makes you keep coming back to those cars – what drives you to buy a tenth BX after you’ve already had nine of them?

    My own (far shorter) list:

    1991 Rover 214
    1997 Fiesta
    1999 Golf GTI T
    2000 Puma
    1998 MX-5
    2003 Civic
    2003 3-series coupe
    2008 3-series saloon
    2012 A4 Avant
    2013 Honda CR-V (current)
    2000 Jag XK8
    2010 Mini Cooper S
    2004 Z4 (current)

  7. Never owned anything French, but in 1994 was the passenger in a Citroen BX 1.9 diesel as part of a sales job and was very impressed with the ride, economy and performance. Drove it once and it seemed a capable motorway cruiser and had a nice stereo.

  8. With the BX, if the suspension played up, do not bother with the Dealer Workshop for the first-time fix, instead track down the Master Technician who had left Citroen and set up as an independent.

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