New wheels! Bought on eBay many months ago following a late night speculative ‘Best Offer’ bid I never expected to be accepted and before I had a specific MX-5 in mind to buy, they look so much better on a car than stacked up by the garden shed… They sport amber and black Eunos centre carry stickers the same as on this site and will need a refurb at some point but funds are tight and the new tyres that adorn them were a greater priority. Incidentally, the tyres are Uniroyal Rainsport 3s and were a great deal from Camskill. I love the deep dish look, and the way they’re 15” and yet still have a retro ‘small wheel’ look. Very pleased with them.

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I've owned my Roadster for a week now. In that time I've driven 400+ miles (the 5000 mile limit on my insurance is going to be pushed to the limit!), greased the door locks, given it a superficial wash, changed the gear knob, sorted out some of the boot carpet, removed the stripes & stickers so I can have a fresh start, sourced the paint etc. to do the sills, and had to replace the clutch slave cylinder (hence it being on a ramp in the photo).

Next week (time & weather permitting) it'll be removing the stripe-glue, oiling up the window runners, seeing if the alloys I bought for it fit (I don't think they will due to how low the suspension is) and maybe...start work on those sills. I'm a bit scared of them to be honest though!

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I've loved driving her (she's a she - I can't do this 'it' business!) this week and I've become reacquainted with all the things I loved about the MX-5 and have been yearning for these past three years. My particular favourites? The steering through roundabouts, the throw of the gear change, and the drop at the back under acceleration as you're pushed rather than pulled. All lovely...

nova

Vauxhall Nova 1.2 L 3dr Hatchback in Carnelian Red

My first car was a present from my Mum & Dad. It arrived a month before my 17th birthday and I spent that month applying Cambridge United stickers and painting the Vauxhall badges & trim lines yellow. Polished on a pretty much weekly basis I always referred to it as 'My Little Baby'. It served me well during the latter part of 6th form, my year out and my first year of university. It was also, of course, the car I passed my driving test in.

The Nova belonged to the days when small cars felt small and tinny, and its hideously offset steering wheel constantly rubbed against my leg, but I loved it and on the rare occasions I see one on the roads today (almost always later models with the separate grille & bumper) I can't help but smile. I know it will have been scrapped years ago, but of all the cars I've owned this is the one that I most wish I could drive again.

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Exciting stuff eh?!

We've been with ASDA European Breakdown for two years now.

On Saturday, driving home from Northern Germany and heading for the overnight ferry from Hook of Holland, the alternator went on our T4 just before the Dutch border & just after all the garages had shut up for the weekend. With two children under 4 in the party I called ASDA Breakdown and they provided the following service:

  • Asda-logoTowed us to a local ADAC garage.
  • Repair at the ADAC garage.
  • Taxi to a very nice hotel with family room.
  • Taxi to the airport.
  • BA flight to the UK.
  • Hire car from airport to home.
  • Regular updates via phone & text.
  • Regular calls to check that taxis/hire cars/flights were as planned and that we were OK.

Of course, the van was still in Germany when we got home. In a convenient twist of fate we know someone who works at a car import/export company which had a truck on its way to Hook of Holland and has offered to ship the van back to the UK for us. This does make life much easier but if we hadn't have had that option ASDA would have:

  • Flown me back over to Germany.
  • Taxi to the garage.
  • And then I'd have driven the van home.

(And should our shipping option not work out the offer for this is till there.)

I really can't speak highly enough of them. There was a slight moment of anxiety over the flight on Sunday evening (I hadn't mentioned the car seats & bag for the hold so the original Ryanair flight fell through quite late on) and I did spend a lot of time on my mobile getting/checking info. but I always felt like we were being looked after and...well worried about really. The people I dealt with on the phone seemed to care that we were OK and that everything was being sorted. I know it's just their job but when you're stuck in Germany with no way to get home that perception is a nice one to have.

What could have been a nightmare end to a great holiday actually turned into something approaching an exciting adventure, and although we've got bags of clothes in the back on the car we can't get to yet (plus the pressies for people!) we were, in the end, only a few hours later getting home than we would have been had we got the ferry as originally planned. And the hotel was nicer that the ferry! It was stressful at times, but my stress was due to us having broken down in the first place, not the support we subsequently received.

So there we are. I'm sure some people will have had less positive experiences but that's modern life I guess. We however are very happy customers and I wanted to share this with you.

Lost In Germany

Ford Orion

Shortly after Ford released the second (and last version) of the Ford Orion I found myself sat in front of one perusing its design. Never before had I found it so easy to rip a design apart. There were just so many bits that didn't sit right in my eyes and looking back at one now (see left) they all come flooding back: The cavernous, ill-defined wheel arches; The way the front & rear quarter light plastics don't fit the window spaces properly; The inexplicably unrelated crease aft of the rear doors that was presumably supposed to make the extended boot look integrated; The ill-thought out area beneath the door mirror where it's all kinks and lines to try and make it work. You can't see it properly in the photo here fortunately, but it's a feature of the Peugeot 208 too so it doesn't matter too much here.

Whilst on break duty a couple of weeks ago I found myself stood in front of a new Peugeot 208. And so I perused, and found a spiritual successor to the Mk. 2 Ford Orion. First off I must say that I quite like the back end, but unfortunately that made the front/side seem even worse. There are just so many bits to dislike I've had to label a photo. Like so:

peugeot208_1 And here's why I think it's awful, even by Peugeot standards:

A - The side crease at the bottom of the doors isn't in itself a problem. I love flame surfacing as a rule, but just as the attractive rear reflects badly on the front, so this crisp line looks out of place on an otherwise bulbous design. Where does it go to at the front? Where does it take the eye? Nowhere. It's just a tight anomaly in rounded-land.

B - The whole scuttle area is a mess. I presume that the wing bulge which goes from the back edge of the headlight to the door mirror is supposed to hark back to the 206, but it looked awful on that car too. Again it doesn't seem to go anywhere - it's just there like a growth - and although it is mirrored to some extent by the bulge through the rear door handles it's not as well defined and comes and goes with the light. It's almost as if they couldn't quite work out what to do there with the surface so they threw the heritage card at it.

C- I don't have a problem with non-aligned shut & styling lines. I like the back end of the original Ford Focus. But here the kink of the door, parallel shutline/quarterlight lines and totally unrelated A-pillar shutline all placed on top of that wing bulge looks a mess.

D - Where's that bonnet line going? At a totally different angle to everything else that's where. I did think that maybe it was put there to create a dog-leg with the shutline labelled F but the headlamp shape scuppers that. Why not bring it along the lines of the car and then up the A-pillar?

E - The headlamp shape. Front corner meets grille, seemingly for the first time and not even as passing acquaintances. Top edge pops up to allow for the DRLs just enough to be noticeable, but not enough to look like they meant it. Back edge is wide enough to have (another) unrelated angle on it. Bottom edge at the shutline is better but, again, obvious enough to show without being a strong feature. I'm not averse to the odd-shaped headlight, but it seem here that Peugeot were looking for ways to avoid the 207-look just for the sake of it.

F - Another odd angle! The headlight kink comes straight down but the shutline goes to the wheel arch at another angle entirely. One or the other surely?

G - That 'mouth'. They've somehow managed to make it look sunken and prominent at the same time, like some bottom-feeding fish. The grille seems to bear little relation, in 3D, to the shape of the hole and even straight-on it looks not quite right - the first time I saw one coming towards me I honestly thought it had been in an accident. And Peugeot...why the badge and the name? The latter just looks superfluous and necessitates a wider gap under the bonnet.

A worthy successor to the Ford Orion then, although I believe the 208 is a better drive. After the lovely Pininfarina-styled 205, 306 & 405 Peugeot went increasingly bulbous with a wide-mouth-frog look dominating. They took that as far as they could and a change of direction is fine, but the 208 above, the drooping and disjointed tail of the 508 saloon and the dreadful detailing at the rear of the 5008 are examples of a look created by a mishmash of the previous organic look and a desire to be more Germanic. Next up it's the new 308, and whilst it's not awful like the 208 it is somewhat bland - it could be anything. Peugeot design isn't anywhere at the moment, and it used to be distinct and attractive.