Since starting to drive in 1976, John has owned, or had long-term use of:
Mk II Ford Cortina 1300L (green)
Datsun Bluebird (metallic pale blue)
Austin Allegro 1300 (beige!)
VW Golf 1.1 (red)
Fiat 126 (red – which, as you’ll remember, tried to kill him)
Mini 850 (red)
Mk I VW Golf GTi 1.8 (red)
Rover 2600 (red)
Mk III Ford Escort 1300 Estate (yucky brown)
Peugeot 205 GTI 1.9 (white) (his first brand new car)
Peugeot 205 Junior convertible (ice-white) (his only soft-top)
Peugeot 309 (blue)
Seat Ibiza GTI 16v (black)
BMW 330i SE (silver)
Skoda Octavia vRS with subsequent AMD conversion (cat-vomit yellow)
Citroen DS 21 (grey)
Skoda Fabia 1.6 auto (black)
Porsche Cayenne S (black)
Fastest car – empirically, the BMW, but the 205 GTI felt faster!
Fastest drive – not saying where, but after modifications 160mph in the Octavia
Slowest car – Fiat 126. 0-60 in, um, soon-ish, maybe?
Best roadholding/handling – Porsche (biggish 4WD but handles like a sorted GTI)
Most comfortable – Porsche (tight, but even comfortable after 17 hours on the road)
Least comfortable – Mini (even the 126 was more comfortable!)
Biggest rust-bucket – Ford Cortina/Datsun Bluebird (too close to call!)
Most reliable – Ibiza (J’s first experience of VW’s non-VWs was a good one)
Least reliable – Porsche (aka the moneypit)
Biggest boot – Octavia (strange, but true, except for the cross-braces)
Smallest boot – 126 (under the bonnet)
Most space – Rover (otherwise, a truly sh*te car)
Least space – 126 (tiny, tiny, tiny)
Smallest engine – 126 (652cc)
Biggest engine – Porsche (4.5 litres)
Most mpg – 126 (it was too scary to go fast – and with a top speed of bugger all, what was the point?)
Least mpg – Porsche (but R’s Dodge gets even less on petrol, though LPG is more economical)
Easiest to drive – Porsche (power, good auto box, good handling and roadholding, comfortable …)
Most fun to drive – Ibiza (flat under 2,000 rpm, but get it on song and it flew!)
Most work to drive – 126 (really, really, not a lot of fun)
John’s favourite – Octavia vRS (the BMW was a beautiful car, beautifully built but not worth 2x the Octavia)
Least powerful car ever – US Ford Escort 1.9 with the air-con on – seriously, you had to turn the air-con off if you wanted to overtake anyone
Scariest car moments – when the 126 tried to kill me; when the auto-box on a US hire car refused to kickdown on the on ramp to a busy freeway; any and all US combined on-off ramps (one of the stupidest ideas in the driving world!); Mexico City in an elderly Dodge Dart, in seven lanes of traffic going one way and a bus lane going t’other; LA in the wrong lane of an eleven-lane freeway, with the exit approaching fast; sliding down Acomb Bank with the handbrake on, while the Bellingham bus slid backwards alongside, and a corner was approaching; getting out of the car at the top of Acomb Bank to see what was going on, feeling myself slide, grabbing the car and feeling IT slide
Oldest car – the Citroen. It was a 1967 model, the first model year with turning headlights, and had an automatic clutch/wand gear selector
Best car trips – over 3,000 miles in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee and back to Florida on a US holiday; driving the Grossglockner Pass in the Ibiza; Hardknot Pass in the Golf GTi; dirt-road driving in Death Valley in a hired Thunderbird; racing the clock back to the ferry, five-up, in France in the 205 GTI; half way up a Polish mountain in the Porsche – with all systems engaged!
Most surprising – a loaner Vauxhall Corsa with a 3-cylinder engine. Sounded just like half a V6.
Most disappointing – a 2001 Golf GTi – I test drove the standard Golf GTi back to back with the unmodified Octavia … and bought the Skoda and kept the spare cash to spend on mods
Least accessible – Rajmund’s truck – we had to have some steps made so I can get up into the passenger seat, and I’ve still never driven the beast!
Best mate’s car – Richard’s Lotus Cortina
Craziest car weekend – I’d ordered but not yet received the Ibiza. A lady from a market research company rang me and invited me to go with her company to Dusseldorf. When I, and 80 or so other hot-hatch owners, got there, it was the final customer clinic for the first New MINI. I met the designer, too, in a model shop where we were both buying model cars.
Only vehicle to need more water added than the Porsche on the longest day – Eddie’s Transit van … his ex-wife had, unknown to us, stabbed the radiator with a knitting needle. We were driving from Hartlepool to Gatwick… (for the worst flight … LGW to Malaga on a Dan-air BAC1-11)
Vehicle I’d most like to own – and here I admit it changes by the hour, but
Dammit, when I picked up this picture I remembered this one. Can I have two dream cars at once?