Buying a Morris Minor.

Quick Recap

My friend Jess and I found ourselves at the edge of Exeter looking at a Morris Minor 2dr saloon. A few days before I had been looking at classified adds on Gumtree…Classified Classic Car Hunting

Running? 

 With a battery attached the engine was coaxed into running for a few seconds. Whilst I might not know much about Morris Minors, I do about the A series engine and this one was sweet sounding.  Assessing a Car

Dashboard & General Condition
After wrestling  a seat into the empty cabin, I sat behind the wheel, the dash being very different to the later ones. The iconic central Morris Minor Speedo not only stylish but also very practical as it allowed both right hand and left drive vehicles to be made much cheaper.  

Yet here was a dash that looked much less 1950’s and more 1940’s. Cream painted tin, chrome, and bakerlite with Banjo 3 spoke steering wheel… The lighter  panels offset  by the rich blue of an earlier window out respray.  

 All the tyres would need replacing and to be honest the amount of welding needed scared me silly. Yet…  Welding One Small Patch?

Jess and I went back for a little chat beside Bel, my MX 5. He said it was bad, but it could be far worse. The expense being the body on a Morris Minor as the rest is fairly cheap.  Yet the engine was good and we gambled on the transmission. He went on to say, Morris Minors seem to have either good oily bits and poor bodies or the other way round…  

From the floors up she was solid.  

https://youtu.be/q9WvF7gD_3M

https://youtu.be/_5qK4wW33Mk

Negotiating a price.  

As Jess looked over the Moggie again I sat down with the seller. 
 

We have all watched those shows where people rip the seller off and flip the car for a big profit. Others have described them as sharks with smiles… 
I’m not like that, but when I do low ball, I’ve learnt that if we are getting on it is much easier. 
After telling the seller that I was going to take the mickey and that he wasn’t going to get upset. He wasn’t, told me up the price by £100 and knowing he was being a gent, we didn’t shake hands, but I gave him a £200 deposit… I knew it that he had come down a long way and I wasn’t going to insult him any further.  MX5 Goodbye.

After visiting a nearby supermarket, taking the rest of the money out I paid the seller.  Arranging to pick the car up soon, Jess and I left to see a friend locally for a socially distanced coffee before heading back down the A30 to Cornwall roof down… 
I’d bought a Morris Minor, and early one, but what had I actually bought? 

MX5 Goodbye.

 

Lock down… What a few months.  

The world seemed to  go into what I’d been dealing with from mid January. When I write this, I mean the social isolation and dealing with unknowns.  Thankfully, the nature of my work meant that I was allowed to travel for it. Working outdoors with my own tools for once had a few advantages.  

With the operation to my knee being far larger than expected the recovery was equally longer. 2 1/2 month after my knee brace coming off is my leg beginning to feel a lot better. 

So … Apart from going back to work what have I been up too…? 

After looking for a long time for a cheap longboard type paddleboard I found a bargain, less than 2 miles away. This being well within allowed travelling distance during the initial stage of lockdown. I will admit to low balling on an offer, what was already a bargain became a steal. The board, oh, it is an older Drops Spirit. Made and sold around 2009. The board is a classic longboard type shape, a little narrower than many later boards at 28 inches wide and fairly long at 10’11.  https://www.supgower.com/2009/11/drops-paddleboards/

I’ve been using my other boards to surf, like the lovely Fanatic Ray 11ft wd that I bought from Julie, my bothers wife. https://standuppaddlemag.co.uk/2015/06/05/recreationally-versatile-fanatic-ray-pure-11ft/Yet for a long time I’ve wanted a more authentic and manoeuvrable  sup surfing experience. After getting this board it fulfils 95% of my paddleboarding requirements with one board. Nice to paddle on the river, on a calm sea, yet in smaller surf, after getting used to it, simply amazing. I even did an accidental 180 when paddling out on my knees the other week.  The board started going backwards and then did a 180 degree turn, I stayed on. Opinion is divided if I can call this as my first. 
I’m sliming down my quiver to 4 boards, and one of those is only staying because one day I might be good enough to use it and I have the magazine which my brother wrote and article with  photos of him using it.

Early in the lockdown  lots people started posting lots of top ten lists, me being me, albums, films, etc… No, so I did my top ten cars. Yes, I’ve done that before on here I know… My favourite being Bel, with a very close second the Triumph Spitfire. Yet, Bel is an expensive car to keep. So sadly, is time to time to let her go. Soon she will have a fresh MOT and now is the right time to sell. Hopefully another person will enjoy her as much as I have.   http://www.classicaraddict.com/my-top-5-cars-ish/

 

 Bel costs me, even on a limited mileage policy £240 a year, and road tax is £275, mot £45. That is £560 pounds a year before she turns a wheel. A lot of money when you have none. If she was my daily driver and could carry a hard paddleboard there would be no question. She would stay, but time to let her go…  

Bel will be replaced, with a tax and MOT free car, or what DVLA call an historic vehicle.  Here in Cornwall, there a lot of these running about as daily drivers. Some young people appreciate the lower costs, yet, without an annual road safety check, I can but wonder how safe a lot are. Older cars require  a methodical approach to  maintenance  . Like for example a printing press it takes time to learn what but once you have it becomes more a question of noticing what is wrong, rather than right. 

I’m pretty fussy about the structural  and mechanical aspects of my vehicles, and far less so on appearance. Whatever she is replaced with, will still have a check over at least once a year by my trusted garage. That second set of experienced eyes worth so much.  

Having mentioned to the last owner of Bel that she would soon  be up for sale, I’ve been gently hassled since. With her booked in for an MOT next week she soon might be gone.  Bel has been my favourite car I’ve ever owned, like the close run second, the much missed Triumph Spitfire 1500, she wasn’t super fast, yet could cover ground like nothing else. 
Sadly, the combination of running costs and being unable to carry ridged paddleboard means she has to go.   

 

As I’m writing a friend has sold her little motorcycle, we are both grieving for lumps of steel, alloy rubber and plastic that have touched our souls.   

Old Friends.


We sat across from each other. Old friends, once been closer, but over the years a little distance, perhaps more than we would have liked. It had been over a year since we last had met.  http://www.classicaraddict.com/motorcycles-and-renewed-friendships/

Far warmer in the pub, beside warm log burner. Coffee, good and cheap. About 15 years ago when I had my Kawasaki Z1000 MK2 my friend had gone for 15 mins and came back 45 later. He later bought a Suzuki Bandit 1200 and now has a collection of bikes that many would envy. Our shared connection being first bikes and then all things with an engine.  

My relationship with bikes, well motorcycles has always been a lot more  ambivalent. When younger, they were my life, freedom at its best. Yet now, and despite having two in the lock up waiting for me to get around to fix them I don’t ride.  

With the brace still on, we chatted about dealing with injuries as we get older. My friend spoke about driving, and how thankfully when he had his wrist problem a while back, he still could. Likewise, now I can drive again, far easier in Tug (Vitara,) than my MX5, yet I can. http://www.classicaraddict.com/no-driving-for-6-weeks/ 

We spoke about what we missed when restricted. For me it is the water. My friends and I despite all of us growing up fairly close to the wild north coast of Cornwall never really got into water sports. My older brother was one of the local surf gods from an early age. I was never that good and to be honest bigger surf scared me. Yet the water and the beach has always there. I moved to the South Coast of Cornwall 25 years ago, here it was more swimming and sailing initially.  For a few years I had my own little boat, sailing all year and every condition.  It was only 3 years ago I fell in love with paddleboarding.  

I’m writing sitting in Beerwolf Books, Falmouth http://beerwolfbooks.com. Across from me there are a couple of students in deep discussion about post modernism and Marxist theory. They remind me of how I used to belong to that group when I reading for my undergrad. Even then, I approached it from my default perspective of pragmatic cynicism. I belonged, but didn’t when studying. Someone once commented that I was too practical to be truly academic. I think they meant that when using a hammer, I didn’t hit my hand.   

I  can drive, which is truly amazing with my leg in a brace. Most days and timing it for 2 hours before low tide I head to Swanpool beach. There, a little group of regulars surf the gentle swells we get. Long boarders and paddleboarders together. What has really amazed me is people know who I’m, they chat before heading to the water. The last few years have seen an explosion of those of in and on the water. I belong to that group, much more than I expected.  http://www.classicaraddict.com/one-more-wave/

As we sat drinking our coffee, catching up. My friend spoke of touring on his bike and how mutual friends also had done European tours on theirs. I laughed, bikes could never be practical, for how could I carry a board? My travels consisting of looking stretches of water and rideable surf, not too big or crowded.  

Two old friends catching up, seeing the difference yet understanding some things are the same. For him, the open road calls, for me, it is the water. 

 

Suzuki Vitara MOT, 4th Time.

Another year, another MOT…  

Wow, where has the time gone? Can this be Tug’s forth MOT with me?   

At the time I was doing my masters in Professional Writing and had decided to write about what I knewcars.  Well, among other things as well, but classic cars have always been there. It could be said people became hooked on hydrocarbons during the last century.  I was and still, I’m among the worst. Well in regards to cars and bikes anyway. My last post spoke about surfing and car culture. My passion is a mix of situation, work, marital, financial, environmental and my own often dubious mental state.   

The picture of Classicaraddict is just after I’d bought her. I’ve written about this in the past, but it sums that moment the brain catches up with consequences of the latest impulse buy. It didn’t start off well with the fuel filler pipe collapsing the day after I got her legal… 
My friend Nigel recommended that I should look at one. At the time, his project Vitara was a bare shell exposed to the elements.  Tug has changed how I work and after 4 years I’m still constantly amazed about how capable she is. I’m also constantly shocked at the fuel consumption, aside from that, they are just what Nigel said. MK1 Vitara’s are amazing little off-roaders.  
 

Oddly they seem to be creeping up in value once more.  A lot seem to rust like well, Suzuki Jimny’s and MK1 and 2 Mazda MK5’S, (Oh bugger.) Also, because they were cheap, plentiful and good off-road, many got used and abused.   

I do use Tug off-road a lot, but don’t really abuse her. She is my workmate, my colleague, my friend. In the last 3 ½ years I’ve only welded her twice. The first time was around the rear seat mounts a month after I bought her. The second was two years ago and a little around the driver’s side tow bar mount.  Last year when Dan at Dan CB Tyres fitted the exhaust, I checked under her…  We were both were amazed at how good the floors and chassis are.  I know how bad they can rust as Nigel’s didn’t have any floors at the time of me getting Tug.   

Over the years I’ve done the fuel filler pipe, cambelt, plugs, leads, air filter, radiator, exhaust silencer, petrol filter, battery,  two sets of front brake pads and rear shoes. Two clutch cables, one clutch, rear brake cylinders (both sides,) front to rear brake pipe, cylinder head gasket, one injection unit, two internal door handles, passenger external one, both door catches, two passenger mirrors and lots of oil changes.  Oh, and all the transmission fluids. 

It seems a lot, but over those 3 ½ years and 31000 miles, it isn’t.  Checking the old MOT’s, I’m averaging about 9000 miles a year… Wow! A lot of gear is carried which means at least the weight of another full-size adult, and then towing a trailer as well. No wonder the brakes take a bashing… 
In my keeping, she has failed two MOT’s first time and passed two… I always try to prep a car properly and joke it is the only time I get to see the back seats. They are still there but hardly used.  

 

Considering the time frame, she hasn’t been expensive to run. Well apart from fuel…  

Now worth more than the £350 I bought her for. About £800 to £1000 with the fresh mot, if not a little extra at the moment. Apart from fuel, insurance, and road tax I doubt that anything else could have been so useful and cost so little over the years. Now that I have Bel my little MX5, Tug does far fewer longer drives which is one reason I’m shocked at the annual mileage. She is used most days for work and pleasure, often with trailer in tow and paddleboard on the roof.  

There is no reason that she shouldn’t keep going for years to come with a little TLC and I’ll keep her until I change my work and then I’ll struggle to part with her… I’ve never been bored driving. Scared once or twice yes, but never bored. 
The smile is there every time I get in and then it dims a little as fuel is needed again

Thank you Tug, my Spanish lady with a Japanese heart.  
You are the perfect example of a practical classic…

Importance of Gut Instinct.

May… Wow…

Classicaraddict did meet Classic Britain, more than once… The last time resulting in a 350 mile drive in Tug towing a trailer.

Bel went to Devon 3 times in 2 days at the end June.  The last time was accidental when it appeared that my wallet was dropped at Ashburton petrol station after we picked up an Austin Maxi for my brother.

Both last Sunday and Tuesday previously there was a sense something is not right…

After picking the Maxi from South Devon we made our way down the A38 and back into Cornwall and headed towards my dear friend’s house at Trevelmond near Dobwells.  Just as I pulled past him to so he could follow me the final couple of miles of course we stopped…

There is a rule of thumb when it comes to helping people get cars is that as soon as you can smell the kettle, or think that you might get to the chip shop before it closes the gremlins pick their moment to strike.

In this case, he turned the wipers on and one fell off… Having retrieved that one and almost reaching insight of the steam off the kettle, we pull over again. The front brake was sticking…Something that did not surprise me. We did make it and spent the next hour sorting the brake caliper. We then left to head home.

As my brother followed me down the 1-mile single lane road towards the main road my internal radar started to ping. Where was my wallet?  As my heart started to race, a frantic search of the car soon revealed that it wasn’t there.   I sent my brother west, telling him once again to drive very carefully. I then when to the two places we stopped on the bypass to check to if my wallet had fallen out. (It hadn’t)

Then I played the memory game, ringing petrol stations that we had stopped at, until I rang the nice people at Ashburton petrol station, the time was 8.05 pm.

They asked for my name, yes we have it here, here being 45 miles away. They also said I’d never make it. All I can say is that clearly, they never have driven an MX5.  They are not fastest cars outright, but for covering ground quickly and safely, they are amazing.

I did make it with shall I say a little time to spare…

After popping in to see my friend Jude who lives close by I then headed home down the A30 with the roof down. The stars only being interrupted by the occasional fog bank. The last of which the car following me at safe distance turned out to be a police one.

 

I’m not sure what gut instinct is, or that sense of something is not right. When it strikes, I’ve learned to pay attention. For instance, Sheldon from Classic Britain wanted to take his Rover P6 to get some parts the following Sunday. Despite the extra fuel expense, we used Tug my little Suzuki Vitara.  I knew that we would make it, with his car I could not be sure.

There will be another blog post on that after Sheldon edits the footage he took of the day.

 

Part of gut instinct is to think about what you want to achieve and then look to see what can go wrong and try to eliminate as many as possible. Like carrying a spare fan belt….Oh, bugger….

Classicaraddict Meets Classic Britain.

 

Classicaraddict met Classic Britain…

Before Christmas, I stumbled upon a Youtube Channel called Classic Britain. First what attracted me was the content, the presenter, Sheldon was clearly a grade A Petrolhead and his scruffy Rover P6 (Kismet) is a really interesting car. After a little while, I also worked out they are based in West Cornwall.

The Mentor… 

Oddly we never get to see Sheldon, but we do get to see Lucas,  his friend, and Mentor.  Their friendship is clear to see, and infectious.  Lucas, smart, funny and has lived a life. He gives no shit’s about what others think. Yet, and having met him and his charming wife, what is clear, they are both good people.  Caring about those who are privileged to enter their world.
He also knows his stuff when it comes to old cars.

 

Man Behind the Camera.

Now I will admit that on air, Sheldon comes across as far older than he is. From his voice, I’d of said he was late 20’s or early 30’s… Right up until the point he got in  Bel and I suddenly realised he was in his early 20’s.  Sheldon is one of those characters who have a power to them, a good-natured force of nature. Others become attracted, his passion infectious. They start chatting, remembering times past. More than once, someone came up and spoke to us as we worked on Kismet, the Rover. In this way, he reminds me of my friend Jess, who at 20 decided that a 1957 Morris Minor was his ideal first car. They share a strange magnetism that makes others want to help, and perhaps remind us of who were or could be once more.

Sheldon and those around him have an old-fashioned sense of decency that is sadly passing into another time. Perhaps being based in West Cornwall, helps, for time does more slowly down here. We have a different culture and the rules that go along with it.

Classicaraddict met Classic Britain, not for the last time…

Carry Essential Spares…

A couple of day’s earlier my friend rang me up with an issue with his 1957 Morris Minor. My gut instinct told me that it was either the points or the condenser.  I heard my voice saying the best thing to do was to carry spares…Now those words had come back to haunt me…

One of the reasons I’d come up to the North East was for the MX5 owners club record attempt Elvington on the 28th of April… In the past, I have been too car club meetings and I will admit that they are generally not my thing.  Yet… Once again MX5 owners are different. As I made my way down the A19 the number of MX5’s started to increase. Oddly a lot of owners seem happy to sit at exactly 70 mph. I remember a friend who had driven rally cars in the 60s and 70s saying that all cars have a natural cruising speed. Another dear friend who has had both 1.6 and 1.8 MX5’s saying that they like 80 mph… 85 and they get twitchy, 75 to 80 and they will run all day. I agree, when both you and your vehicle like a similar pace, driving becomes much more relaxing. 

So there I was, going along at 80, roof down, overtaking the odd other MX5 until I joined the back of a long line of them.  I only found when I and a few other fellow MX5 drivers followed them into a service station a few miles from the meet. They were from the Tyne Tees group… And a very nice gent in a red NB that had been following came up and said hello. I will admit leaving the service station and arriving a little earlier at Elvington. After following a car from Scotland in were lined up initially 3 across but due to the number of cars that turned up that became 4 across.

After registering, Bel receiving number 255… I met Sid GoPeform and his custodians.  I then had an hour and a half to wait before the record attempt. One way to do this was to queue for the toilets. More than one person was heard to comment that this was another record they had decided to attempt to break. It was then a question of going back to where Bel was… Not as easy it would be normally when far as the eye could see there where was MX5’s.

I did wander about looking at the whole range of cars on the track. From scruffy NA’s and NB’s to the restored, immaculate early ones, daily drivers and pristine later cars. Oh and a few customised cars.  Each car special to its owner. Oddly, Bel did stand out a little, her mismatched bonnet, gaffer tape on her rear quarter panels, rack and wearing her patches with pride.  I chatted with Brett from Total MX5 about the joy of owning a scruffy everyday car. One that is reliable…Oh how that came back to bite me… Yet one that we can jump in and drive a few hundred miles. 

It was then time for the record attempt. I’m not going to say much about with this post as I think it deserves a separate one with video.

I left after the record attempt and decided to drive across the North York Moors. Putting Saltburn into the satnav I set off. Soon the little number of MX5’s decreased until it was I was alone in following the instructions. I have a rough idea of the geography, but it is certainly not extensive.  I pulled over at a couple of spots to take photographs and enjoy the scenery. As I pulled away the second time, her alternator belt started to slip…

This was then my words a few days ago came back to haunt me. A few seconds later her belt snapped.  Now I was stuck, on the moors with no real idea of where I was.

If this was at home, I know enough people where I could leave Bel and get her fixed later. This is not the case. Sadly, if the alternator belt goes, the water pump stops working. You can limp a car home a few miles if you know how to drive gently. First thing I did was to switch off all unnecessary electrical equipment. I then switched the engine off going downhill and bumped started her at the bottom. With my heart racing and driving very carefully I made it back to Redcar.  I pulled into a well-known tyre supplier a mile from my mother’s house and she refused to start after. Two passing boys helped me push Bel across the road and I rang my mother who came out with some jump leads. Half an hour later Bel and I were back safe. I started to strip her down hoping that her power steering belt would be the same size at her alternator one…With a choice words… It turned out that it wasn’t. Close, but not close enough… About 3 cm too small.

If I had a spare belt it would have been easy, yes, my words had come back to haunt me.

I’ll cover the belt change in another post, but there was a chance I had cooked Bel’s engine.  I’m pleased to say that I didn’t.  As for MX5 meetings, this was my first, it won’t be my last. But there will be a spare belt in Bel’s boot just in case.   

Classicaraddict on Tour…

Bel at Saltburn last year.

Classicaraddict on tour?…

I’m sitting surrounded by tech  I barely understand. At the suggestion of a friend, soon Classicaraddict will have a YouTube channel. Well, that is already there, as yet it has no content.

What does this mean to the Classicaraddict blog?

This will mean that Classicaraddict will become smoother and easier to negotiate. There will be more content as I intend to extend the range of what I’ll be covering.  For instance, now when I’m working on something, I’ll make sure I set the camera up first, and try to capture some of the essence of the experience. I’m no mechanic, but hopefully, people will find it interesting. 

First and foremost, I’m a writer, admittedly a dyslexic one, but that is what I do. The blog site is going to get tweaked later this week by my friend Esther Nagle. This remarkable lady has written on how yoga has turned her life around. She can be found at Space to Breathe Academy

Having read my English with Creative Degree with Falmouth University a few years ago there will be some automotive fiction and poetic prose. Not just mine but also others. Which nicely leads into reviewing books, films, some television.  At first, I’ll be covering the ones that I like. Later, and I might come to regret this… The ones I don’t… Like any of the Fast and Furious franchise.

The Vlog… Oh, I already have about 6 cars lined up to review, the first will be Andy’s Toyota Rav’4. Luckily, living in Cornwall we are surrounded by beautiful scenery.  This will provide a style to the content that will help showcase both the cars and county.  I’ll also be doing vlogs as I drive, this more informal style will allow me to talk about ideas in a relaxed manner.  To an extent, much like the Classicaraddict, I’ll do a few. See what works… And then take it from there.

Now for the Tour part… Classicaraddict is going to the MX5 Owners Club meet at Elvington on the 28th of April. On the way up, as already mentioned, Esther will work her magic touch on the blog site when I stop in South Wales. On the way back I’m meeting another friend at Exeter and having a look at the new Suzuki Jimny … Bel and I are on tour…

See you at Elvington.

Classicaraddict, AKA Alex Small.

Link to the MX-Owners Club.

www.mx5oc.co.uk

Bel, MX5 Update.



Now that I’m writing again, it is time to do an update on the fleet. The first is Bel, my little MX5.  So, after 8 months…

Small. scruffy red sports car on top of a hill overlooking a wild beach Cornish beach with waves crashing in.
Bel near Porthtowan

First, I never intended to buy a sports car, but then that goes for a lot of us… In other blogs, the buying and MOT process has been covered.  Since then we have shared about 3000 miles. Some longer trips, once even getting caught in the snow and of course lots of local driving.

Bel has proven to be remarkably reliable, well to anyone used to a British sports car she would be. I can feel confident even after leaving her for a week or so she will start up. For a cheap car, one that was saved from the scrapyard, this is amazing. After checking her fluids, she is safe to drive 500 miles.  And each one will be with a smile, roof down most of the time. Cruising at the legal maximum without strain. Even a lower spec 1600 is plenty fast for the overcrowded roads of Britain. 

Here in Cornwall, on the narrow lanes, she has the right combination of speed, power, size, and grip. Every mile is a grin and when safe, even with narrow 14inch tyres she can carry a lot of speed. Her heater makes going top-down easy on the coldest of days. Yes, we did get caught on the edge of the snowfall. After my Vitara had passed her MOT in the morning, I was asked if I could do a Penzance to Newquay airport run. No problems, except I’d not checked the weather. As we went around the Hayle bypass we started to notice cars coming towards us with snow on their roofs, this did not bode well.  As we headed towards Avers roundabout near Redruth the snow on the ground started to get thicker. I made the decision to come off the A30 and either drop my friend off at the train station or go and get Tug, my little Vitara.  This being Cornwall, no one had any idea of how to drive in the conditions. Once we managed to get up the slope, I had worked out that you can drive an MX5 in the snow if you are careful. After dropping my friend off at the train station I popped the roof and tried to fight my way out of Redruth. With traffic moving slowly the technique I found was to go from grippy spot to grippy spot. sometimes resting her rear wheels on speed bumps to get a little momentum on the gentle hill. Bel seemed to be connected to my nervous system. The feedback was amazing. We managed to climb out of Redruth and carefully drop into Lanner, by the bottom of the hill the snow had cleared. If I wasn’t impressed before, I really was now. We had become a team. We were even spotted by a couple of friends, roof down…

You don’t drive an MX5, you bond, become one.

I’ll cover some of the work and the non-performance upgrades I’ve done in another post. In an earlier blog, I covered my favourite 5 cars I’ve owned. The best being the little Triumph Spitfire 1500. That spot is now shared, with Bel, my MX5.

They share the same essential essence.

And rust issues…

Finding a Unicorn Car for a Friend.

I’d put it off for far too long.  Early January and my friend wanted to replace his very high mileage Toyota Yaris with something a little better.  To be fair, we found him the Yaris about 5 years before and it had provided amazing service yet now at almost 200000 miles, the end was nigh. That amazing little engine had developed a death rattle…

Over the last year or so my friend had mentioned how he would like a 4×4. Now I’ve had Tug, my little Suzuki Vitara at that point for 18 months. So, I do feel that  I can comment. The trade off for 4×4’s is the extra weight of the internals, extra driveshafts etc… That some have separate chassis, the fuel consumption is bad. They handle worse on road. Now if you have a use for one, like I do, they are amazing… But.

I’d already talked him out of a Jeep Cherokee… Too big, expensive to run, and Jeep reliability.So not ideal. 

At this point. I thought I’d put him off the idea… Yet, once again here he was asking me to help. We are good friends, what could I do? The gardening doesn’t really start until the first full week in the new year. So first it was research time. The only choice that really covered the bases was another Toyota, this time the Rav4. Oh, and just to make life a little more interesting, my friend wanted an automatic.

Why a Rav4? Simply because Toyota made its best cars from the 1990s to the middle of the first decade of this century and they were the most reliable in the world.

We both live in Cornwall, which means that once you find a car, the chances are that it will be at least 2 to 3 hours away… I found a couple of auto MK2 Rav4’s listed, one near Taunton, the other near Bristol. The closer one had just been sold, the seller in Bristol didn’t get back to me… Facing a dilemma… Then I found an MK1 Auto Rav4 at a dealer in Honiton, in the pics it looked really clean… My friend now was in a meeting for a couple of hours… So I rang the garage, explained the situation. They said they would hold it until 1 pm.

We left at 1.30 in Bel, my little MX5, roof down, of course.

The garage was a Rav4 specialist with mostly MK2 models. There in the furthest corner, she sat. Clearly had not been moved since before Christmas. Her body looked clean, and underneath, for her age, she was amazingly tidy.  The salesman came out and was about to start her, but I got him to open the bonnet. First, I placed my had on her engine, it was stone cold. Then a quick check of her fluids, all looked good… As I was doing this, I explained what I was looking for and why. The salesman made a joke about dodgy second-hand car dealers. Then he turned her key and she burst into life. No smoke, no hassles.

I jumped in and we set off on a quick test drive that included a blast down the nearby A30. She ran like a dream, at first the brakes ground a little, but that was just the surface rust coming off. We then swapped seat and my friend had a little drive.

Thumbs up…

We left with the car an hour later. I fear my I might have inflicted my friend with the classic car bug. We drove home in convoy, Bel in front and the Rav4 that now had been named Phoebe following. Inside I felt a sense of relief. I’d pulled another out of the bag.

My friend Andy with his new purchase…
Phoebe and Bel at Victoria Services.