all of my cars.
I’m not quite certain exactly when my obsession with cars began, but I do know that I have always been obsessed with cars. I’ll admit that I know nothing about how they work, or how to fix them, but everything else is known on an expert level. Ish.
I’m the sort of loser that takes pride in knowing what car is in front or behind by the shape of the light cluster. In the dark. Throughout my teens, I’d play on games such as Driver, Grand Theft Auto (we all know Vice City was the best) and Gran Turismo. This wasn’t to race or to murder people, it was to simply drive the cars around the worlds they created for me to play in. I did this for years, right up to the point where I could drive something for real.
I had my first driving lesson on my 17th birthday. I was captain of Kris-with-a-K’s 2006 Nissan Note 1.5 DCi. It surprised me how un-Grand Theft Auto the roads of Staffordshire were, it didn’t seem socially acceptable to mount the pavement and take out an entire bus stop of Wilkos dwellers. I found learning to drive hard and frustrating, demonstrated in my taking three times to pass.
The first two test examiners were fine, so fine I can’t really remember anything about them apart from one of them was called Amanda, who took delight in slamming the brakes on outside Cannock hospital when I failed to spot a red light at a pedestrian crossing. The third and final examiner, I forget his name, was a prize twat. The weather was absolutely foul, and so was he. WHY DID YOU DRIVE THROUGH THAT PUDDLE?… because the whole road is flooded. WHY ARE YOU DRIVING AT SIXTY?… because the speed limit is sixty. WHAT IF A TREE BLOWS DOWN INTO THE ROAD?… fuck off.
I distinctly remember his words once we’d parked up: ‘I wish I didn’t have to pass you, but I technically have to pass you. You need Pass Plus lessons.’ Apparently he said this to everyone. Either way, I was free to roam the roads. Here is the extensive list of vehicles I’ve had the opportunity to abuse ever since.
2004 Kia Picanto 1.1 LX – July 2009 – December 2009
I thought I’d have a better picture of this one, but a picture taken from a Jaguar E-Type is a fair compromise. This was my Mum’s car, purchased brand new in 2004 for the princely sum of about 47p. It was just when Kia started to make vaguely decent cars. To be fair to it, my Mum and Sister kept it going for 10 years and clocked over 100,000 miles in it before it was part-exchanged.
My Dad will maintain that everyone hated this car. Hatred was only reserved for the clutch, for it was an arsehole. Unforgiving on driving lessons, unforgiving on hills. Unforgivable. There was a period of time where the Picanto was being rinsed by my Mum, Brother, Sister and myself. It had to work bloody hard to stay sane. A highlight of this car was feeling like cock of the north, being able to give my friends a lift back home from town. I felt cocky until the handbrake snapped off in my hand, on a hill. It was quite fun explaining that one when I got home.
1997 Ford Fiesta 1.25 Encore – December 2009 – December 2010
This was my first car, my first love. It was a freebie from someone at my Mum’s work, it had served another family hard since new. It was now my turn to ruin it. Technically it was for me and my Brother, but we all knew that was never going to happen. I still think about this car often, there’s nothing quite like your first proper taste of adult freedom.
I spent hundreds of pounds on cleaning stuff for it, drove it up and down the country to car meets, ruined it with alloys that were too big, and once slid it quite dramatically into a hedge in the snow. One of the best things about this car was getting into car meets. I saw many places and met many people. It brought a Felicity into my life, which I’ll always be grateful for. She’s someone I met at Watford Gap services, and the rest is history. I’m still annoying her ten years on. Cars are good like that.
1997 Mazda MX-5 1.8 Dakar – December 2010 – September 2011
This one came a bit out of nowhere. It was my Dad’s mid-life crisis car for a short while, this was until he realised he hated driving regardless of what he was driving. The baton was passed to me. This is a car that I regret having at the age I had it. I was… 19ish? Something like that. I simply did not appreciate it for that it was. For what it was, was fucking delicious.
I did realise this to a degree; it sounded amazing, it was a proper little sports car. Pop up head lights never, ever get boring. Ever. They’d entertain at a wake. The colour was beautiful, even the door handles were lovely. It wasn’t entirely perfect, however. It leaked, a lot, It wasn’t amazingly comfortable, made god-awful noises when first fired up, and anything above 55MPH was a death wish.
In hindsight, I should never have let go of this car. I’m pretty certain I’d still have it now if I hadn’t have been so bloody precious.
2011 Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 Limited Edition – September 2011 – January 2014
‘Limited Edition’ was ironic, as these bred like rabbits. Thousands of them littered across the nation. I did not like this car. I’d just received my first permanent contract at work, earning vaguely OK money. I wanted new and shiny, and new and shiny was what I got. 0% interest free, no deposit and £189 a month, what was not to love?! Loads. There was loads not to love.
I’ll start with the positives. It was huge inside. Comfortable enough. Massive boot. Cruise control was a complete luxury. The rest of the car was shit. It was so slow, from standstill it would stall for fun. I achieved better economy from the MX-5 that was ancient in comparison. It went back to the garage FIVE TIMES throughout our time together. The most entertaining breakdown occurred on an incredibly busy junction outside a Tesco Extra, in a Friday afternoon rush hour. I absolutely hated that car.
If it wasn’t quite clear, I hated that car.
2006 Mazda MX-5 1.8 – January 2014 – December 2017
At the earliest opportunity I swapped the Corsa for this. I’d realised my mistake in getting rid of the first one, and having become far too sensible in buying a flat meant I required some rebellion in my life. Enter, the MX-5.
It still stands as the car I owned for the longest period of time, and is likely to retain that title for some time. There isn’t a fat lot I can complain about with this car. It just WORKED. Only at the very end of our time together did it start costing a little bit of money, but even then it was manageable. We did three MOT and services together with little extra cost. I ended up (somehow) doing around 46,000 miles in it. Again, I embraced the car club life with it. Perhaps not enough, I do regret not taking advantage of it a little more and taking it to far-flung places with a little more scenery.
It was also the car that taught me how to drive like an absolute bellend. It wasn’t necessarily a quick car, but it was a sports car, and drove like a sports car. Rear wheel drive on a dry, empty road made for some fucking hilarious aimless drives.
2017 Seat Leon 1.4 FR Technology – December 2017 – October 2018
A new job with a big-boy wage saw the excuse and opportunity to buy what I’d consider to be a thoroughly adult car. It was a brand new, top spec, all the bells and whistles, darling. It was quite simply, quite nice.
At that moment in time, that’s all it was. Quite nice. This period of time in my life demonstrated that hindsight is a beautiful, beautiful thing, the car is included in this. At the time, it was alright, but fuck me what I’d do to go back to having such a lovely car. The headlights were the best thing. Never have I fangirled over a pair of headlights. if you ever get the chance to get a car with full LED headlights, take that chance. Your life will never be the same again.
One of the issues with the car was that it was a lease car. Lease cars are great, I got an absolutely stonking deal on it. But it never felt like it was my car. For someone who rather likes cars, it made the experience a bit detached. For all that, however, it ended up being a symbolic car. Some good things happened in that car, and some absolutely awful things happened, but it ended up being a complete haven away from the real world when it was most needed.
2002 Renault Megane 1.9 DCi Expression Plus (was it Expression Plus? Who knows, who cares) – October 2018 – September 2019
I’ve just said out-loud ‘Christ, did I really have that car for that long?’ That car, fuck ME.
Half the intention of this post was to write about this monstrosity, but as I’m writing this now I’ve decided it was THAT bad it can have it’s own bloody post. You can have that one next week. Long story short, I couldn’t afford the Leon after life shat on me, so I had to quickly buy a cheap car. It’s now scrapped.
2019 Skoda Citigo 1.0 Colour Edition – September 2019 – present
We bring ourselves to the present day, and the very car that is sitting outside my flat as we write this. There was never an exact plan to end up with this car. The plan was to buy something a bit jazzy again, I was thinking Mini Cooper S or a BMW coupe like the basic bitch I strive to be. Yet again, life didn’t exactly pan out in the way it was supposed to, and I needed to get a cheap car. Quickly.
I’d learnt from previous mistakes coughRENAULTFUCKINGMEGANEcough and went looking for something that was very new, but very cheap. Turns out there’s not a great deal out there, so the Skoda Citigo it was. I thought it might end up being a slight compromise, but it’s turning out to be nothing of the sort. I had a vague idea that it was alright from my car journalist friend Tom having had one. I know what cars I like and don’t like, but he hates most of the cars I like. Both liking the Skoda was, and remains to be, a minor miracle.
Don’t get me wrong, it ain’t perfect. It’s bumpy as fuck, suspension is non-existent and passengers get sea sick just looking at the thing. It hasn’t got DAB radio and I’m pretty sure the windscreen was an optional extra. Despite this, it proves to be one of best cars I’ve owned. It cost peanuts to buy and pine nuts to run. Pine nuts are pretty expensive actually… it costs shit all to run. It stands as the only car I’ve had broken into, which confirms the crackheads of Manchester City centre also like it.
With just myself in the car, I can razz it around like a gooden. It drives perfectly well at a steady 69MPH on the motorway, and is like a Tardis inside. It’s a bit basic, but it does the job wonderfully. It’s a car I’ve grown very fond of very quickly, and anything after the FUCKING MEGANE is a blessing.
There ends the insight into my car history that nobody asked for, YOU’RE WELCOME. You may have noticed that some of the pictures have the same number plate on different cars. This is because I have a personalised number plate. This is because I am a complete and utter wanker.