Monthly Archives: April 2010

Welcome back to Motoring!

Some of the more awake of my readers will have noticed that this is the first blog entry for quite some time. I thought of writing a long and deep explanation and grovelly apology, but wisely thought the better of it. Instead ill bring you right up to date whats been going on since December, and where we are now.

Rusty, clapped out cars have been fact of life for all of us, me especially (you will remember with hilarity the speed at which Honda threw me out of their showroom last year) So with the close of 2009 bringing the MOT on the Civic to stark reality I had to decide what to do. Patch the rust? Hope to God the bushes hold up, or MOT man has a bout of blindness? Spend more on it? Or scrap it and spend the repair money on something with more ticket? I see the sagely nods of you who have been faced with a similar situation. Well the decision was put off as a good friend of mine happened to have the exact same car for sale, but a few years older, that had an extra 5 months of MOT on it and was practically giving it away. The women out there are now saying “But that’s just putting the problem off for 5 months…” and yes you are right but I am a bloke and of course I don’t think like that.

Money changes hands and I am in possesion of a new Civic, much like the old one but even rustier as I found out when I pulled the sideskirts off to search for a creaking noise. Quickly putting them back on I felt more confident as I couldn’t see the rot. A bit of tax and we are off! Yes! motoring heaven!

Well no, not really. The car is in need of several mechanical repairs, having clicky CV joints is a bit like playing russian

Now, THATS what I call RUST!

Remember, rust is lighter than Carbon Fibre

roulette every corner, you never know when its going to pop and you are going to walk home. Then there was the cambelt… the car shows 175,000 miles and there is no record of it being changed. This is like playing Russian roulette with two guns, you get to walk and the engine gets mangled if it fails.
All this paints a gloomy picture. No fun corners, no whiffs of lift off oversteer, no nothing. Only the fear that the car will explode like a clowns, right in the middle of the high street. Then the rear wheelbearing started to fail…

So why the hell did I not throw money at it and fix it? The answer comes from the wife (!?) She says that if I can make it last, we can save some cash for something ‘newer’ and ‘nicer’ and (worryingly) ‘family’ (Subaru Forester is an estate car I told her…) So she duly does some hours, delivers some babies and earns the money, while I flick through Autotrader and fail to make money from any of my writing.

At this point it has to be said that you really shouldn’t ask one of your best mates, who happens to be a huge petrolhead, to come over and ‘Help me find something’ because all you end up doing is looking at one silver Astra, then spend the rest of the night drinking coffee and looking at track cars on (was great fun though!)
We are now about 6 weeks or so away from having the money, and I have sort of settled on a Suzuki Wagon R, I like its Japaneseness, its small and its cheap to run. It ticks the boxes of low mileage, newish and reasonably practical. Comfortable too and space enough for kids and stuff for the beach so we are on a winner! I am a little worried about its total lack or performance, and even more so the reports that it tends to understeer rather than go round bends, but hey a bit of suspension work and a degree or so of camber will fix that! Then for no reason whatsoever, I find myself on the VW Polo forum.

I have always loved Volkswagens, one of my first cars was an old 1968 Beetle, a 6 volter with a massive 1200cc aircooled engine that made you choose between lights and wipers if it rained at night. But it had something that I have not found in any other car. Character. But character is no substitute for power and excitement, the Mk1 Golf had that covered, but was way out of reach of my meager teenage funds. Flicking idly through the forums ‘for sale’ section I stumble across what at first looks like a Mk1 Golf in white, but turns out to be a Mk2 Polo, I am about to move on, when I notice that its had some subtle modifications carried out by the owner. Out goes the Polo’s engine and in goes a fully rebuilt unit from a Mk3 Golf, then its head is ported and polished, has a nice twin choke Weber bolted on, the cam is reprofiled and an adjustable vernier pulley added. Flywheel is lightened and the bottom end is balanced. All this ups the power from 50hp to a 90hp and adds a nice big dollop of torque (the car weighs about 700kg) Underneath the wheels are kept on the road with some nice Eibach springs and adjustable dampers.
All of this makes a subtle and nippy little car that’s totally wrong for me as it’s not new, has a hard ride, won’t fit the kids very well and is pretty crap on fuel.

Of course I bought it straight away.

I have now had it for about two weeks and have drained most of Kuwait of its oil reserves, its absolutely brilliant to drive and I’m finding excuses to go buy milk on an hourly basis. Being an old Volkswagen it smells bad inside, but has the advantage of being reliable and well-built (unlike the new ones) It’s terrible on fuel, if pushed I get 35mpg, which means a very gentle trip to the Nurburgring or I will be filling up every 6 feet.

The moral? If you are fed up, for god sake buy something fun! Regular blogging has now resumed, its great to be back, I feel a rant coming on.

For those interested, here are some specifications of my new Polo:

Engine: Fully rebuilt 1391cc ABD, balanced bottom end, CR raised, ported and polished head, Kent Cams cam, 2G inlet, Weber DMTL carburettor, K&N rudebox, Facet fuel pump, 8P gearbox

Suspension: Koni Adjustable Dampers, Eibach 40mm springs, supersport lowering top caps.

Brakes: VWII calipers, 239 Brembo MAX disks, Pagid TQ pads.

You wouldn’t belive it to look at it eh?


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