Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

One of Four. My last 10.

In Renault on December 30, 2011 at 10:56 pm

One of my friends says I drive faster than anyone he knows.  Perhaps this unlikely car is the reason why.

As a car enthusiast from about the age of 4 my father guided me towards the Renault 10 as a “first car”. At the age of 18 I listened to his advice and promptly boughta  Fiat 127 instead. My little Italian marvel went like the clappers but was always going wrong.

So guess what came next?

Yup a Renault 10. A rather faded metallic blue one. Or maybe it was grey, whatever the original sheen had long gone and I vividly remember the day I collected it from the Red Lion Garage in Mortlake.

It was comically slow, and gave away 2 bhp to the little Fiat.  So there I was a young tearaway with just 43 bhp on tap.

But boy did we have fun.  The small fuel tank was empty by mid afternoon and a bunch of lads walking along the A23 just rushed up behind me and pushed at running speed a full mile to the nearest petrol station.  Corners needed respect as the engine hung out the back and the suspension was made from primitive swing arms.

This was the start of something special. I pretty soon came to realise the car could he husteled at ludicrous speeds.  The trick was to “keep your foot in” or risk an almighty spin when you lifted off.  So slow in, quick out was the motto.  The car needed to be delicately balanced.  Push to hard and the light front end would just wash out with understeer.

The best fun was had in the snow.  This thing was grown up cousin to the superb Renault 8 Gordini.  I once took Roz back from a party long before we got married, and in the snow at 5 mph in central Croydon I had a monstrous spin.  I dropped off and went out again to hone my technique.  The skinny tryes cut through the deep snow letting me set it up for the bends, whilst the heavy 5 bearing engine at the back provided unbelievable traction.

Remember this was all years before ABS, but somehow I never even banged a kerb.

So amybe this is were i gained my confidence behind the wheel.  I have no idea how many trips from Coulsdon to Cornwall ensued, but well remeber a classic battle with a then current BMW 635. On the largely un dualled A303 it just couldn’t lose me.  The dual carriageway straights saw me fall back, but on the single carriageways and twisty stuff I caught up.  The R10 was so narrow I could squeeze through narrow gaps any normal car would never attempt.

Oh, and I forgot to mention this car could handle abuse.

The engine was torquey, there were 4 disc brakes (yes, I even changed the pads myself).

More to follow….




Follow that

In BMW, Hyundai, Travel on December 28, 2011 at 9:30 am

I know I’ve neglected this BLOG, but I haven’t forgotten how to buy a “new” car. As you’ll see from a previous post I was quite taken by my last purchase, a Hyundai Sonata 2.4 auto.

For all you badge snobs out there I can show you I really mean what I say.  I bought the 2.4 and ran it for a month until my son popped down to take official ownership.

The nett result was I was left with my Renault Wind, and as a main car I’m afraid it was found wanting.  All that road and wind noise finally took its toll.  After a long run to Belgium and back I decided to look for something more relaxing.

This is it.

Another Hyundai Sonata. Except this one has a 3.3 litre V6 and a 5 speed auto box.  Other useful toys include a chromatic dimming rear view mirror, nice sun roof and upgraded stereo with a 6 stack CD player in the dash and joy of joys a cassette player!  Driven gently it will turn in over 32 mpg, but using the power will see that figure drop to just 22!  That a very big “Ouch!” when you rock up at the pumps.

It still features a rather dreamy cruise control, which only works reliably on the felt or up hill.  So trips through specs cameras need to be watched with caution.

The boot is slightly smaller than on the 2.4 courtesy of a massive bass speaker in the back parcel shelf, and it also lacks the anti car jacking handle inside.  Mind you I’ve never been bundled into a boot by a car thief or kidnapper so that shouldn’t be a problem.

I really miss the integrated phone & i.pod system that was in the Renault.  And a map is not half as effective as our BMW 3 series integrated Sat Nav, but I am delighted by the “new” Sonata. It glides over speed bumps, howls when the accelerator s squeezed and has carried me over 3000 trouble free miles in our first month together.

In fact I’d have the lusty V6 Sonata rather than the allegedly frugal 2010 3 series every time.

More pictures to follow.

Oh, and I forgot to mention.  That was 4 cars purchased in a 12 month period!

Now we’re into 2012 it might be worth mentioning a few interesting developments.

1: I’ve now added winter tyres to the Sonata. Michelins up front, and Pirellis at the back.  They set me back £810, but allowed me to stay legal during early February in Scandinavia and Germany.

2: The grip they provided on icy lanes in Sweden, and fresh snow in Denmark and Germany was sensational.

3: I have fallen in love with the Autobahn, with a shallow downward slope the Sat Nav clocked me at 149 mph (whilst the speedo claimed 150 +).

Oh, and I averaged about 27.5 mpg on my Swedish jaunt.  Ferries & bridges cost me dear. The Severn Bridge into Wales cost about £8, but the bridge from Malmo to Copenhagen cost over £50!

Thinking about getting a BMW 335i SE Coupe I’ve seen up in Newport, but after doing 240 high speed miles in relaxed comfort today not sure I need to.  Mind you 22 mpg isn’t very good, must squeeze the pedal more gently in future.