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Confessions of a Petrol Head

I’ve always been a petrol head, since before I knew what petrol was!

I think it can be traced back to my (very) early childhood just outside Wickford when my best friend – Timoth Bray –
had two pedal cars, (a Jeep in camouflage colours with a white star on the bonnet, and a red convertible) and I didn’t have one.

While I don’t consider myself to have had a deprived childhood, my parents conceded that perhaps that was an error, and that I’ve over compensated since.

When I was a teenager I had a poster of Jochen Rindt (his car at least) on my bedroom wall.

I’ve made some mistakes, over the years, but here’s the (incomplete) pantheon.


My first car – a hillman imp van… cost me £175 in 1975.
It didnt have a headlining which caused a few problems in the wintertime, but (within weeks of my acquiring it) it had a stonking cassette player that was state of the art in its day!

Somewhere in here I had a Mark One Ford Escort (Pale Blue with a matt black bonnet) and a Triumph 1500TC.

Then in 1979 I purchased a Mini.

The mini soon boasted a sharp radio cassette with auto-reverse (again, leading edge in those days),
wooden dashboard, clubman air vents, air horns and all sorts of extras…
All powered through a Fiat Miriafiori fuseboard in the glovebox.
I loved that car!
I sold the min in 1983, and used the funds to buy a Sinclair Spectrum (the big one, with a full 48k of RAM) and a colour TV to use with it – my first computer.

In 1985 we bought 1980 Ford Cortina Carousel. Bizarrely this had electric windows retro-fitted… our first car with leccy windows!


My first company car in 1987 – a Rover 820SE.

The Rover was an oyster silver colour, and was a nightmare, trashing three cylinder heads in four years, not an easy thing to do with an automatic!

I researched the history of the car with my local dealer (after the third cylinder head) and learned that it was built on the Friday before an August Bank Holiday weekend.

That was state of the British motor industry in the eighties.

That was replaced in 1991 by a Nissan Bluebird Executive, which in turn went back when I left HSBC (Midland Bank) in 1993, after some eighteen years.

Nissan Bluebird - at

The Bluebird Executive was – Wikipedia notes  “the real pick of the crop from the Bluebird range”…”These had their own range of colours, leather interior, body kit, lattice alloy wheels, air-conditioning and a vast array of standard equipment”

Saab 900i

I bought a Saab 900i in 1995.


Our first Mercedes – 1997 – 2000


Our Second Mercedes – 2000 – 2007


Our 3rd Mercedes – a 350SL – 2007-2008 – man I loved that car!

Our 4th Mercedes – another C Class – 2008 – date (still not got a picture yet).


Alongside the Mercedes, I had a Honda Civic Coupe (an IBM company car) in 2001.


Then after leaving IBM, a Toyota RAV4  between 2001 and 2006.

The RAV4 was in turn replaced by a PT Cruiser from 2006 – 2011.

In the Summer of 2011 our cars comprised a C Class Merc and a PT Cruiser.

Then in November 2011 I traded the PT Cruiser for a Peugeot 307CC


I kept the ‘Pug’ until the summer of 2015 – the story of her departure is documented here.

In December 2016, after Val’s passing, I decided I needed something to make me smile,
It’s something that Val and I had discussed, and so I ordered ‘Galadriel’,
if you can’t smile in a rag-top Mini then you’re probably beyond help.

She’s a Cooper, Automatic, with Mini’s ‘Pepper’ accessory pack.

I guess it’s just as well I’ll never be invited to drive a reasonably priced car on Top Gear.




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