an automotive photographic archive

Vauxhall Viva (1971 - K reg)

My first car (October 1985) and it cost £125 which was less than my bicycle! As with most first cars, this is when I got to experiment with wire mesh gauze and fibreglass filler. I learnt to drive in this car too, but hurtling along the A303 in Wiltshire @ 45mph with a string of traffic behind was quite scary for a novice. The sale paid for most of my driving lessons by a professional.

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Triumph 1500 TC (1976 - P reg)

Bought in October 1986 for £750 with money saved over the summer holidays. It looked like a Dolomite, however, this car was one of the last TCs before the name and spec change (chassis/engine numbers indicated this). Painted French Blue it was an excellent little motor with overdrive and Dolomite Sprint alloys (all studs and wheel nuts had to be replaced due to big firm, tyre fitter in Salisbury cross threaded most of the alloy nuts with the air-wrench!). The gearbox main shaft sheered in May 1987, all drive was lost but a replacement 'box was found and back on road by October, however, the replacement did not have the overdrive. Later there was a complete brake system over haul in 1988 and by the end of '88 the engine oil was contaminated with water, so I cut my losses and sold it for £200 in March 1989. I did do some off roading, I drove part of the 'Old Shaftesbury Drove' (a local by-way) from Coombe Bissett to Fovant in Wiltshire and it did get stuck a couple of times.

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Ford Capri 1600 XL (1975 - N reg)

Well, for £200 quid I couldn’t say no to the poor mans sports car in January 1989. My first impressions whilst test-driving this car were… ‘not a lot’. It lacked the finish quality and extra refinery of the Triumph and the heater didn’t work. In fact I didn't like the car much at all but it was legal and got me back on the road. I soon grew to like the MkII Capri and so joined Capri Club International. During April/May 1989, 7x13 alloys with ‘205 60s’ were fitted. Incidentally the tyres fitted were Bridgestone RE71s @ £70+ each and three of them lasted 55,000 miles. Those Bridgestone tyres virtually eliminated the back end twitch, even in the wet, which was so common with these cars.

The head gasket blew big time near Swindon on the M4 in May 1991. It was my poor attempt at cylinder head replacement that was to blame! I think the car went through 3 alternators (one hanging on by one bolt) and 1 radiator in the 3 years and some major welding for the MOT just before being written off in an accident in January 1992. It is still the best value for money car I’ve ever had so far, with maintenance bills just topping £1,000 over the 3 years, not including the alloys, tyres first time around and stereo.

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Ford Escort 1.3L (1979 - T reg)

Worst car to date somewhere around early 1991. After 3,000 miles in less than two months the rear axle locked up. Car sat about for months, so got the MkII Capri back on the road. Left the car behind in Crewe, Cheshire.

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Ford Capri 2.0 GL (1979 - T reg)

January 1992, I was given this Oyster Gold 2 Litre Capri days after the crash of the XL. It was the first car I had that propelled me over 100mph (some where down the A303 in Wiltshire UK). For the first 6 months of ownership I commuted 100+ miles a day in this car. Come August 1992 the motor was worn out and replaced with a recon short block, a good clean 2nd hand cylinder head and the whole car lowered 2" and I re-jetted the twin choke carb. It certainly looked better and for having the alloys salvaged from the previous Capri, the bodywork wasn't too bad either. It was fast too with the rejetted carburetor making a lot of difference. From about October 92 things started a down turn. It never made it for the day trip to France (points closed up after some street racing on the Brighton Ring Road). To ensure it had weekly attention the car became thirsty on oil and water (about a gallon of oil every month).

In 1993 I was stopped about 9 times in this car by the police on routine checks and 1994 saw the demise of this car rapidly increase. It survived the winter without any anti freeze, one day being so cold that the heater wouldn't blow any warmed air through because the block & water pump were frozen solid! It did defrost after driving for about half an hour (12 miles).

Another occasion saw the car struggle with another day trip to France and after missing the boat it over heated badly in Brighton. I Managed to get to France (next boat) with water pouring out from the water pump gasket as fast as one could pour it in; whilst the technique to refill the cooling system was when the engine was still running! A month or so later, the car blew the head gasket on the way back from Fast Ford, Blenhiem, near Oxford. It sat about for a few months and then sold for about £60 to a banger racer.

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Ford Capri 2.8 Injection Special (1985 - C reg)

I had seen this car local to where I lived in July 1994, and knew it was for sale so decided to get a loan to buy it. However, I found out that the seller had part exchanged it for another car, so, looking through the Auto Trader (Southern) a week later, I came across the very same car that I had wanted to buy near my home and the trader was asking £1400, £100 less than the private seller!

July to September 1995 approx £1,800 spent on a re-spray, minor body mods in the way of smoothing, detailing and the wheels painted. Vinyl stripes and tinted window film were applied by myself and a smooth dash facia inserted (created from formica, by my father-in-law). The car was stolen from a lock up in June 1998 but recovered later that month by Dorset Police in Weymouth after a tip off from a Capri Club member. The insurance paid up to get the Capri back on the road by December 1998, not without its problems with the 'Approved' garage. Never feeling quite the same again, it was then driven unitl it was laid up in June 2002.

Fast forward nearly fifteen years and the decision was made to sell the Capri - The Capri market was bouyant and 'ebay' prices were reaching ridiculous amounts of money for rough examples. Despite the front end being in very poor condition, including the bonnet the rest of the car wasn't too bad considering and had been under cover of a car port for the duration of it's rest. The remaining pictures of the gallery were taken the week before and on the day of collection. It was a bit of a sad day, but I doubted I'd ever get the the Capri back to it's former glory. Sold in March 2017 for £2250.

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Ford Capri 1.6 L (1978 - R reg)

Went to look at a rough Capri Mk1 1300GT down near Poole. Then, noticed this MkII at the side of the road in Wimborne on the way back. A deal was done (£100) with the owner on the phone and the car was collected the following week. The car started 1st time and hadn’t been driven for over a year. From the number plate this car became known as ‘Roger’, and despite its rough looks got us out of transport trouble quite a lot, in fact, commuting 80 miles a day to work for a couple of weeks as the daily driver (Citroen BX) was literally falling apart. The car was donated to the Avalon Capri Club (June 2000) for their annual show at Knowle Hall.

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Ford Corsair 1700 Deluxe Crayford Convertible (1966 - D reg)

I won this from the River Cottage TV series on Channel 4. Answered a simple question, donated £10-00 to charity and then won the car in a draw! It is a lovely car, very different from anything that I’ve driven, the steering being somewhat vague. Its history seems to be based around the London area and was originally green. Interesting note; the window winder mechanisms are modified Triumph Spitfire items, I had to carefully cut up two expensive 2nd hand replacements and re-weld together to fix the window winding problems.

The car wasn't in too bad condition but it had spent a lot of time laid up in people's garages. The 1st summer of ownership it managed to over heat badly that necessitated the removal of the cylinder heads. Didn't find anything damaged, except the radiator needed a good clean. The car was MOT’d for the summer of 2002, but still had a serious overheating problem. The car was laid up in the garage from October 2002. As from April 2011 a blog was set up about the Corsair as it was decided to get started on recomissioning the car.

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Peugeot 405 GLX Estate (1994 - L reg)

This is my first breakaway from Ford ownership for sixteen years in July 1995, in fact it was my first front wheel drive car! Thanks to my brother-in-law, for donating it. Being a diesel (non turbo) it was a bit sluggish and wallowed around bends, but better room than the Suzuki for the family and dogs. After a year of service, various things like the drivers door electric window packing up and a rear door not unlocking, it was time to give it to a member of the family, with a fresh MOT, July 2006. It made way for the Passat.

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VW Passat TDi Sport Estate (2003 - 53 reg)

A replacement to the Peugeot was needed, so in July 2006 something more up market and robust was sought. Compared to any of the cars that I have driven this is probably the most luxurious. I would even compare it with my 2.8i Capri for the sheer pleasure of driving. It has the 130bhp diesel engine with 6 speed box, 16 inch alloys and stiffened suspension.

Had our first problem with this car in April 2008, when the alarm would unexpectedly go off. A search on the internet forums and the fault was traced to water trickling down from near the pollen filter into the passenger footwell and causing the ECU wiring under the carpet to become damp and short circuit. Dried it out, problem sorted. Later at around 105K, a pipe from the turbo had split after a wiring loom cable tie had chaffed on it. June 2009, 125K on the clock, the gearbox was changed due the differential bearing wearing out. See UK Passats forums for more details by searching 'differential bearing'. As from March/April 2011 the gearbox noise came back at around 150K.

The Passat, as at March 2017, was going strong and the mileage was close to 250,000 miles, and still with a whining gearbox. September 2019 and the mileage had gone around to 285,000. The front offside front wing was badly corroded, a heatshield was loose around the rear exhuast silencer and rattled and the fuel enconmy had dropped by about 5mpg on average. The EGR valve finaly gave up at 288,000 and required a thorough clean, but then the daily communte had changed in Oct 2019 from fast main roads to slower roads and not really getting above 50mph. There were no immeadiate plans to replace the car at this point.