Our Love Affair with Cars

I have had a long standing love affair with the car all my life.  To date we have had thirty-three cars, almost all from new.  I dread to think what the accumulated depreciation might be, but whatever it is it was worth it.  At first we bought what we could afford, then what I could squeeze out of my employers, and later those built by the Germans and fast!  However, as we drift into old age, comfort has become our dominating selection criteria.

1961 Morris Minor 1000 1965 Vauxhall Viva 1968 Vauxhall Viva Estate
1970 Ford Cortina 2000 GT 1972 Datsun Cherry 100A 1972 Volvo 144S
1974 Volvo 244 1975 Vauxhall Chevette 1978 Talbot Alpine
1979 Volvo 240 auto 1980 Audi 80 GLE 1982 Volvo 343 DL
1982 Volvo 245 DL 1984 Volvo 245 GLT 1984 Volvo 345 GL
1986 Volvo 740 GLT 1987 Volvo 345 GLE 1988 Volvo 745 Turbo
1989 Volvo 440 GLT 1992 BMW 318i auto 1993 VW Golf GL auto
1995 BMW 318 SE auto 1996 MGF VVC 1998 BMW 318 SE auto
1998 BMW 320i SE 2000 Porsche Boxster 986 2001 BMW 320 Ci auto
2005 Porsche Boxster 987 2005 BMW 325i auto 2010 Audi A3 2.0 quattro
2012 Porsche Boxster 981 2017 Jaguar XE 4 door saloon 2018 Jaguar E-Pace 5 door SUV

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1 1961
Morris Minor 1000

Pale blue 2 door saloon
£500 (second hand)
YOR 183
My first car, purchased from my mother when my father died.  During my final year at university I used it to the limit.  On weekdays it was a minibus for my friends, on Saturday night it was a passion wagon, and from time to time it was my rally car.  I could fill the tank for less than a pound, and a 1,000 mile service (yes, every 1,000 miles) cost just 15 shillings!
2 1965
Vauxhall Viva

Light blue 2 door saloon
DCH 869B
My first new car.  It broke down within the first hour I had it, to the delight of my neighbour.  It was unreliable, underpowered, badly designed, and manufactured even worse.  Essentials, like seat belts, were extras and it rattled from day one.  Cheap and cheerful; overall, a great disappointment.
3 1968
Vauxhall Viva Estate

White 3 door estate
TRC 988G
Despite a bad Vauxhall experience, we bought another.  This one was much better, and served the needs of our growing family.  It purported to be an estate car, but if you loaded the rear with even a modest weight it lifted the front wheels partially off the ground and made it impossible to steer!  It seriously lacked grunt, but accommodated two small children and their gear well enough.
4 1970
Ford Cortina 2000 GT

Yellow 4 door saloon
DRC 140J
The only Ford I have ever owned, and likely to be the last!  It was a truly terrible car - an unreliable, poorly engineered monster typical of the times, but fast as hell!  I topped a ton for the first time in this car, when it was still legal.  The dealer became so embarrassed with my problems that a technician was despatched to fix it at night in my garage, away from prying eyes.
5 1972
Datsun Cherry 100A

Dark blue 2 door saloon
MCH 440K
Elsa's first car, and one of the first small Japanese models to appear on Britain's roads.  It was very well designed and built, its performance belied its tiny 988 cc engine and it came loaded with goodies then unknown on small European cars.  It never went wrong, was easy to drive and comfortable enough for our family of five.  However, it did little for your street cred!  With inflation running at 27% per year we actually sold it for more than we paid for it!
6 1972
Volvo 144S

Dark blue 4 door saloon
I bought my first Volvo on the rebound from Ford, and stayed with them for twenty years.  It was a big bruiser of a car requiring strong shoulders (no power steering), but its twin SUs made it quick.  It was huge compared with anything we'd had before but very safe.  However, the blue dye in the leather seats stained one of my customer's trousers beyond redemption!
7 1974
Volvo 244

Dark red 4 door saloon
GAU 944N
The 200 series was a big improvement, enabling Elsa to steer it without weight training and in-car entertainment that could be reached from the driver's seat (previously forbidden in Sweden).  My friends still judged the marque by attaching agricultural equipment to my tow bar, but as a committed family man I didn't care.  We kept it for seven years - a record for us that still stands.
8 1975
Vauxhall Chevette

Metallic gold 3 door estate
MF leased car
JMM 600P
My first company car, which I immediately passed on to Elsa as I had no intention of giving up my Volvo.  Another dog, with a horse-and-cart suspension, cheap seats and trim, no guts and even less charm.  It served its purpose fetching and carrying the kids and the shopping, but not a motor to remember.
9 1978
Talbot Alpine

Dark blue 5 door hatchback
MF leased car
YHV 593T
After three years my employer swapped the Chevette for another example of the rapidly declining British motor industry.  We only had it a few months before I changed jobs, but it managed to break down on the M6 and all the bright work trim went rusty (really!).  When you jacked it up the chassis twisted, and I have never felt so vulnerable as when driving this flimsy car.
10 1979
Volvo 240 auto

Yellow 4 door saloon
Gamma leased car
CAU 352T
New job new Volvo, and my first automatic box.  Another solidly reliable example of the Swedish work ethic; I managed over 30,000 trouble free miles in the year I had it.  My abiding memory of the car is hitting a brick at some speed on the M69 one dark wet night, and marvelling how easy it was to remain in control.  Changing the wheel beside a busy motorway was quite another matter.
11 1980
Audi 80 GLE

Gold metallic 4 door saloon
DCS leased car
LDU 750V
Having just reached my fortieth birthday, I felt it was time for something quick before I was past it.  This Audi was certainly fast, but it rivalled the Ford for problems.  They came in every form: engine (bent con-rods), electrics (timing), body (leaks) to name but a few.  Eventually the dealer sought help from the manufacturer, but even the most arrogant German technician I have ever encountered failed to oblige.  Audi - never again!
12 1982
Volvo 343 DL

Dark blue 3 door hatchback
WWK 170X
When Volvo produced a small saloon Elsa joined the club.  It shared much of the safety culture and build quality embodied in its big brother, and proved ideal as a second car.  At the time my company ran a fleet of over eighty cars, and I learned that we Brits had not yet worked out how to build a reliable car.  This little addition to Volvo's range ran like clockwork and never gave us a moment's trouble.
13 1982
Volvo 245 DL

Dark red 5 door estate
DCS leased car
WWK 171X
With two years in an Audi to guide me, I returned to Volvo with my first estate.  The two litre engine struggled to move its one and a half tons, especially when loaded, but it proved ideal for our growing family and newly acquired retriever.  It suited me like a well worn glove, having all its controls in familiar places and not putting any undue demands on the driver.
14 1984
Volvo 245 GLT

Grey blue metallic 5 door estate
DCS leased car
A632 KVC
Every two years my company car was renewed, and I enjoyed a steady progression up the Volvo model range.  This car had some serious power, and the firm suspension of an estate car gave it a lively cornering capability.  Its performance on the backroads of the Ring of Kerry made it a worthy forerunner to the modern off-roader.  However, it sorely needed four wheel drive on an Irish beach, when only the kindness of a local with a tow rope saved us from the tide!
15 1984
Volvo 345 GL

Dark red metallic 5 door hatchback
A631 KVC
Elsa had also become a committed Volvo driver, so she upgraded to the five door hatchback.  On the advice of the salesman we decided against the 'rubber band' automatic and stayed with a manual box.  This proved fortuitous when our son started to learn to drive, and gave him the perfect practice vehicle he needed to pass first time.  Heaven knows what tribulations it suffered when he subsequently took it out unsupervised!
16 1986
Volvo 740 GLT

Silver metallic 5 door estate
DCS leased car
C499 PNV
In the mid eighties Volvo radically changed the shape of their big saloons and estates for the first time in years.  The combination of modern engineering and latest model street cred proved irresistible.  For the first time a Volvo handled like a regular car rather than an agricultural vehicle.  It was still an angular slab, but at least some of the panels had round corners with just a whiff of style.  Utterly safe and reliable as ever.
17 1987
Volvo 345 GLE

Blue metallic 5 door hatchback
E777 KHP
Not to be outdone, Elsa traded up to the more powerful 1.7 GLE with all the goodies.  It served our family well as a runabout and learners' practice car for many years until our son inherited it.  Only the clutch succumbed to the rigours of five different drivers, another tribute to Volvo engineering.
18 1988
Volvo 745 Turbo

Dark grey metallic 5 door estate
DCS leased car
E778 KHP
This car was a beast; 180 bhp would accelerate its mighty one and a half tons to 60 mph in just 8.5 seconds.  I confess to enjoying the surprise of the young hot-hatchers when they became too assertive.  This car rekindled my love of driving, and with a little tuition from professionals on the Donnington track I learned how to tame the beast.  It was there I first heard the famous MG slogan 'safety fast'.
19 1989
Volvo 440 GLT

Blue metallic 4 door saloon
Savant leased car
G489 WVC
A final change of job, a final Volvo.  It was OK, but after the claret who wants to drink Lambrusco?  If you worked hard with the gears it was quite lively, and the Volvo engineering was as good as ever.  But it was rather small with not much performance, and could not carry the dog without hairs all over the back seat.  It lacked style and presence, but then only a car nut would worry about that.
20 1992
BMW 318i auto

Silver metallic 4 door saloon
Savant leased car
K233 YWK
After two decades of Volvo I was ready for something new - what better than the 'ultimate driving machine'.  For once the slogan was right; BMWs are wonderful drivers' cars.  My new company was reluctant to meet my full expectations, but even the modest 318 was a lot of fun.  It had a taut responsive feel which remained after years of use.  It was reliable and needed no unexpected maintenance. Above all, it begged to be driven.
21 1993
VW Golf GL auto

Silver metallic 5 door hatchback
K901 DHP
After I had broken the Volvo habit Elsa followed suit with a Golf, her first automatic.  The lively 1.8 litre engine had enough torque to handle it, and Elsa has never chosen a manual box since.  It survived two rear-end shunts without complaint, proved to be very economical, and required no unscheduled maintenance - all of which reinforced our growing liking for German engineering.
22 1995
BMW 318 SE auto

Blue metallic 4 door saloon
Savant leased car
N833 PVC
Now firmly in the BMW groove, I replaced my company car with another plus a few optional goodies.  The familiarity of the handling and controls was reassuring for a high mileage driver like me, which is no doubt why most manufacturers choose a style and stick with it.  I was also learning that the standard models of quality marques are usually rather basic and often require a hefty budget for extras to bring them up to spec.
23 1996

British racing green metallic roadster
N180 VVC
When the MGF was announced I was managing an IT project for Rover, and found my way to the MG General Manager's office at Longbridge.  After repeatedly pestering him about my VVC delivery he promised me the first one to be manufactured if I let him be; not as good a deal as you might think!  However, after ten days of trauma on delivery it proved to be a real cracker, and hooked us on sports cars ever since.
24 1998
BMW 318 SE auto

Dark red metallic saloon
We decided to replace Elsa's Golf with something a little bigger and ordered a new Passat.  After six months of unfulfilled delivery promises we cancelled the order and bought a BMW of our own.  UK dealers need to understand that when you decide to buy a car your expectation must be promptly met.  My American friends marvel at our patience.  Learning from this experience, I always make it clear when ordering that any delay beyond the quoted delivery date is a potential deal breaker.  It usually works!
25 1998
BMW 320i SE

Blue metallic 4 door saloon
Savant leased car
My last company car before retirement was, of course, another BMW.  But after the exhilaration of my MG even a 320 seemed rather tame.  So with reducing business travel and less driving excitement I decided to turn it in for a pay rise and use my MG.  It was inherited by a good friend and colleague who, in the best traditions of salesmen, neglected to clean it, put a huge mileage on it and thrashed it to death.  But the Beemer withstood all these privations and continued to run sweetly until I retired.
26 2000
Porsche Boxster 986

Silver metallic roadster
After my appetite had been whetted by the MG I wanted a proper sports car to enjoy the freedom of retirement.  For a driving enthusiast there is only one marque - Porsche - so I bought my first Boxster.  The car was quintessentially Teutonic: beautifully engineered, built with great care and attention to detail, and fearfully expensive (by my standards!).  It took many years and countless hours of professional instruction to learn how to drive it properly, but once mastered it is hard to envisage driving anything else purely for fun.
27 2001
BMW 320 Ci auto

Silver metallic 2 door coupe
By now buying BMWs had become a habit hard to break.  It was also the best way to safeguard your residuals by trading in the same make when buying new.  The 3 series coupe was an elegant variant of our familiar choice, but despite the wider door access to the rear seats was not easy, particularly for our grandchildren.
28 2005
Porsche Boxster 987

Grey metallic roadster
The announcement of the new Boxster 987 was a sufficient incentive for us to replace our now five year old sports car.  This time we included all the goodies the old one lacked: satnav, bigger wheels, leather, heated seats, park assist and a host of other fripperies to create our dream roadster.  The package was completed with what the Americans so aptly dub a vanity plate.  We took the car all over Europe, enjoying some wonderful sights and epic driving routes in most countries with mountains!
29 2005
BMW 325i auto

Blue metallic 4 door saloon
When Elsa retired we decided we needed a 4-door saloon for everyday use; so we chose yet another BMW, this time a 325.  Not really much to look at, it was however the usual combination of excellent engineering and quality build.  Nevertheless, as cars become more sophisticated their facilities also become much more difficult to operate.  The iDrive on this car was so opaque that we never fully mastered it.  When we finally sold it to a savvy friend he was able to demonstrate how many facilities we had overlooked.
30 2010
Audi A3 2.0 quattro

Silver & black hot hatch
When Elsa wanted to downsize her car we chose an Audi A3, hoping that the marque had improved since the 1980s (see car 11).  Having grown accustomed to high performance and specification we opted for a fully loaded 2 litre turbo quattro.  Its quality is to usual Teutonic standards and it performs almost as well as our Boxster, but it is very thirsty even with a gentle right foot.  The five door hatchback configuration makes it a practical car for picnics, large luggage and awkward loads.  It has been faultless to date.
31 2012
Porsche Boxster 981

Dark blue metallic roadster
A more muscular body, lighter, faster and full of the latest technology convinced me that I should replace my seven year-old 987 with the new 981.  So I stumped up two grand deposit and waited patiently for five months.  Aware that this could be my last sportscar, I loaded it with extras: seven speed double clutch automatic box, big wheels, touch screen satnav, leather, and everything else I was used to.  The personal registration came too, making the transfer of my insurance a challenge - Boxster to Boxster, same number!
32 2017
Jaguar XE 4 door saloon

Silver metallic
Dealer loaner
When delivery of our new Jaguar E-Pace was delayed we were loaned a Jaguar XE, because our Audi A3 had been taken in part exchange.  Although the XE had a 2 litre turbo engine it was a deisel, which made it slow as well as polluting, and proved to be the worst performing car I had driven for years.  However, we were grateful to use a comfortable saloon while we waited seven long months for the SUV cross-over we had ordered, and avoided any further depreciation on the A3.  It was also a good opportunity to experience the Jaguar paradigm for controls and navigation in anticipation of our first ownership of the marque.
33 2018
Jaguar E-Pace P250 5 door SUV

Silicon silver metallic
The new E-Pace was announced in July 2017 and we ordered one from the brochure just three days later.  As we wanted a vehicle that we could access without the indignities of age, we had already decided it would be a medium sized SUV and had come close to buying an Audi Q2, but the largest petrol engine offered at the time was only a 1.4 litre.  So the E-Pace with its 2 litre turbo 250 bhp petrol engine seemed like fun, but we had to wait even though we were among the first to order one.  I collected it on my 78th birthday - in the snow!  So far it has been faultless: fast, comfortable and, as befits a car made on the same track as the BMW 5 Series, immaculately finished.