Car History Album

Tuesday 21 February 2017

I was sorting though some old folders today and I found a photo album of my first cars and motorbike from when I was first driving in 1991. I thought it would be a good idea to make a collection of all my vehicles to date and have digital scans of the original photos from over 25 years ago, before they fade too much.

Below is a history of what I have driven and drive now.

1991 First Car - Vauxhall Chevette

2 door 1256cc engine. This was a very basic car and I paid only £200 for the car which was approx. 3 weeks’ wages at the time. It lasted a couple of years before the rust issues caused it to fail the MOT and it was replaced with another Vauxhall Chevette in 1993 (no photo) - A 4 door model which I paid £50 for and swapped most of the good bits from the first car onto the newer model which had less body rust.

Vauxhall Chevette

Vauxhall Chevette back

1994 - Ford Fiesta Mk1

With an 1100cc engine and a bad paint job with vinyl squares on the back end.

Ford Fiesta Mk1

Ford Fiesta Mk1 back view

1995  - Fiat 126

This car with a tiny 700cc engine in the boot was purchased for my brother to learn to drive in on our old allotment which was big enough to have a figure of 8 loop and a jump half way along the straight.

I paid £30 for the car which was bright orange but we painted it green so it would blend in better when parked next to the allotment shed. The fuel tank leaked badly and so we used an old motorbike tank strapped into the back seat to run the car. We rolled it several times and it lasted over a year before a new and improved jump ramp broke the gearbox on landing!

Fiat 126

Fiat 126 being painted

1995 - Austin Metro 1275GT

(no photo) Same off road only use as above, paid only £50 for the car and used it until someone stole the wheels and we had to take it apart to take it to the local recycling centre in the back of the Ford Fiesta

1995 - Austin Maestro

A much larger car than before but with only a 1275cc engine the performance was hopeless, it had low mileage of less than 30,000 miles when first purchased from a local older lady driver who had only used it to go into town once a week for many years from new and it had never gone above 40mph! The engine soon developed a lot of problems with open road use and it only lasted just over a year before rust and a blown head resulted in it being scrapped.

Austin Maestro

1996 - Austin Mini Clubman Estate

The Mini was purchased with an 1100cc engine which I found burnt a lot of oil due to broken valve seals, I found a 1275cc engine locally from someone who was breaking a Austin Metro 1275GT car and I installed the engine outside the house using some long metal bars to lift and replace the engine. The oil stains can be seen on the road.

Mini Clubman Estate front

The gearbox was setup for the 12” wheels on the Metro and so with the 10” wheels on the mini the acceleration was very fast but it wouldn’t go more than 80mph (on a private road). The brakes on the car had drums on all wheels with no servo assistance and they suffered badly with brake fade when hot.

Over the time I owned this car almost all the mechanicals and subframes got replaced with most of the work being done with the subframes and the new engine off the car in my bedroom.

Mini Clublan Estate

1999 - Renault Clio

My first car which was purchased from a car dealer and was only a few years old at the time.

Renault Clio

2002 - Citroen Saxo VTR

This was my first brand new car and over the time I owned it, I had made many modifications to the car, with a lot of the “upgrades” being posted on the blog. I sold the car 8 years later when we started the high level photography business and purchased the Land Rover Defender. The Saxo was a very quick and fun car to own and drive.

Saxo Front

Saxo rear

2005 - Yamaha DT 125 motorbike

Purchased as a summer play bike to go on the local byways with friends but I sold it the next summer after too many near misses with local car drivers who don’t see motorcyclists on the road.

Yamaha DT 125 bike

2010 Land Rover Defender TD5

I purchased the Land Rover Defender with the intention of using it as a work vehicle with the 15m high level photography mast rig we had purchased but this business didn’t take off as planned and we only did a few commercial photographic jobs with the kit.

I got a roof tent to use to go camping but the roof tent weighed over 70kg and was very difficult to put on and off the vehicle and this was only used a few times before going into storage and then sold in 2016.

Land Rover Defender when first purchased

Over the years, we owned the Land Rover Defender we had replaced many parts including a clutch replacement outside the house which was very difficult to do and the entire cooling and heating system was replaced to try to get more heat out of the Land Rover heating system which was hopeless on a cold day. I installed a new set of heated seats from a top spec new Landrover which I found on eBay which made winter driving easier. It was a fun vehicle to own and drive over short distances but on longer trips I found it very tiring to drive.

Land Rover Defender Back

Inside the Defender

Land Rover Defender Inside

In late 2015 I started to get a lot of problems with my knees and I found it more and more difficult to drive the land rover and so in the summer of 2016 after driving less than 600 miles the previous year we took the decision to sell it and buy a new automatic car.

2016  September  - Ford Mondeo Estate

(No Photo) The 2l petrol Ford Mondeo estate was a temporary car to keep us on the road after the Land Rover sold in September.

We had ordered the new Ford Focus in August and the dealer told us it would be 4-6 weeks to have the car built and delivered but 4 weeks after the Land Rover had sold I was told that it would be late October before it would arrive and we needed a car to use whilst looking after our dogs while our parents went away for their September holiday.

I found the Mondeo on Facebook on a local for sale page and it cost me £350 which was less than the price of hiring a car for the time my parents were away.

We kept the car for nearly 3 months and it was very easy to drive and even though it had done over 160,000 miles it was a reliable vehicle. I sold it for £50 to a friend who is still using it as his daily drive.

2016 November - Ford Focus Titanium X

When looking for a new car we looked at many different used makes and models including Audi A3’s, VW Golfs and Mercedes C class but looking at the servicing costs and the ongoing emissions issues with the VW and Audi’s we looked at the Ford range.

Several of our neighbours own the Ford Focus in its previous versions and after talking to them we decided to take a test drive at our local Ford dealers St Michaels Garage which is only a couple of miles from home. They only had the 1 litre automatic model available and after taking it for a drive around the area including some of the steepest hills I was happy with the way it drove and handled.

We looked at the various models and options available and planned to buy the car outright with savings but the dealers told us that if we purchased it on finance it would have a £2500 discount which enabled us to buy the top end spec Titanium X petrol model with the 1.5l 182ps engine and 6 speed automatic gearbox with most of the optional extras. The finance deal required at least one payment to be made before a final payment so after the first payment was taken from the bank, I asked for the final total and paid it in full.

We went with the automatic gearbox over a manual due to the bad knee problems I have been dealing with for over a year and the option for the Ford PowerShift dual clutch gearbox wasn’t an option with the 1.5l 182ps engine and after reading about all the previous problems with the dual clutch system, I didn’t want to buy a car with a lot of known ongoing issues.

Ford Focus

In the first month of owning the new car, I drove it over 1200 miles which as more than I had driven in the previous 2 years!

The car has proved very reliable so far and the delay with the build of the car resulted in it having the newer Sync 3 sound and navigation system which has a larger and clearer capacitive touch screen and much faster processors for the infotainment system.

The Ford Sync 3 system would not work with our Apple iPod Classic 160Gb which we had used in the Land Rover and so we purchased a 250Gb SSD drive with a USB adapter to store our music and the cars Sync 3 system can read this and play either by Album, Artist or playlists with the build in voice search or by using the touch screen to find the track(s) to play.

Ford Focus

The only issue we have found with the new car is the fuel consumption which is much lower than the manufacturers figures but after looking at different Ford forums it seems it is the same as everyone else is getting with this engine and the auto gearbox.

Another reason for buying from the local Ford dealer is the ease of having the car serviced and any repairs which are needed with the garage only being less than 3 miles from home. After the problems my parents have had with their Vauxhall Meriva B and the dealers being in Bournemouth with servicing and recalls, being able to walk or cycle to the car dealers for servicing and repairs will save a lot of time and hassle.

Out of all the cars I have owned before, I would like to get another Mini Clubman Estate as it was great fun to drive but I did feel a bit unsafe when in traffic and looking up at the middle of lorry wheels.