Sunday, 28 July 2013

The motoring mysteries Life On Cars still needs to solve

THIS year is definitely the year of the anniversary. Porsche’s 911 is 50, the Corvette is 60, and even the humble Hillman Imp has knocked up its first half century.

So it’s probably passed you by that today marks four years since Life On Cars choked into cyberspace for the first time. Since then, this blog – and the sister newspaper column in The Champion – have gone on a high octane journey through a world of car shows, reviews and test drives, taking in a few broken down Minis and sunburnt afternoons along the way.

However, there are a few questions which – despite having a finger on the pulse of all matters motoring since 2009 – still haven’t been answered. Niggling issues and unsolved mysteries, such as…

Does The Audi Lane actually exist? 

The more I drive on motorways, the more I’m convinced the outer lane has – perhaps through the signing of a secret EU protocol at a summit in deepest Ingolstadt – been reserved exclusively for cars with four rings on the radiator grille. Whether you’re in an entry-level A1 or a thumping A7 V12 TDI, your 95mph entrance into The Audi Lane is politely welcomed. Daring to venture there, however, in anything other than an Audi seems to result in the image above dominating your rear view mirror…

Can I get Allegrodote into the motoring lexicon?

An Allegrodote, in case you missed the article earlier this year, is an anecdote solely covering the Austin Allegro, particularly if it’s one that isn’t true. With BL’s great hatchback hope itself celebrating its fortieth birthday, it’d be great to see whether the car which inspires more urban myths than any other could be given its own special term to mark the anniversary.

Is the Renault Clio the most sensible secondhand car ever?

It struck me earlier today that almost everyone I know seems to have an owned a second generation Renault Clio, made by the French firm between 1998 and 2006. Whether it’s the 1.5DCI diesel – of £30 a year road tax fame – or the strikingly quick Renaultsport Clio 172, they do seem to reflect frankly ridiculous value for money. Which is why, I suspect, most of my mates have got one.

Why do cheeseburgers at car shows always cost £5.50? 

This one I’ve yet to understand – a cheeseburger at a car show, whether you’re in Dorset or Cheshire, Lancashire or Lanarkshire, almost always costs £5.50, making me suspect there’s some sort of layby-based cabal somewhere determining the price. That is, of course, with the exception of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which when I visited earlier this year marked itself out as a car show of a higher calibre. This, I think, explains the £8 you paid for a burger there.

What will the next Fiat 500 spinoff be? 

We’ve already had the 500C, the Abarth, the hideous 500L, the even more hideous 500L MPW and now the frankly unbearable 500L Tracking. Chances are that by this time next year you’ll be able to buy a 500 Roadster, a 500XXL Fire Engine, a 500 Beach Buggy and perhaps a 500 Submarine. All of which will be worth £500 in a used car auction near you in the not-too-distant future.

Can you go green-laning in an electric car? 

I was wondering this earlier today when I’d stopped laughing at the Hummer electric car a UK design firm has come up with. Land Rover came up with an electric Defender earlier this year, but I am left wondering what would happen to an electric 4X4 if, for instance, you took it wading through a river in the Cumbrian countryside. Potentially, the results could be shocking…

Why are Peugeot interiors always messy?

An old colleague of mine got so cross when I put this particular pet theory across that the column I’d been planning for that week got quietly canned, for offending owners of 307s everywhere. It does, however, leave the ongoing mystery as to why so many unloved car interiors I’ve seen are in Peugeots, from a 406 Estate practically blacked by cigarette smoke, the 407 with Seventies-esque disco lighting on account of its numerous technical warnings, and a 206 lined with old McDonalds bags and a distinct whiff of vomit, even though it was barely a year old at the time.

Do ‘GB’ plates make you motor look more modern? 

A mate of mine put this to me today and – annoyingly – he’s absolutely right, although I’m not entirely sure why. All afternoon I’ve been checking out whether cars have the telltale EU blue strip at the side of the numberplate, and determined that all the cars that do somehow look newer than otherwise identical ones which don’t. Weird, but true.

Why are all classic cars described online as ‘BRAN FIND’? 

Genuine classics which are in ‘barn find’ condition are worth a fortune – witness, for instance, the E-Type which sold at auction for £109,000 after spending most of its life hidden away in the aforementioned agricultural building. However, that doesn’t excuse clumsy eBay sellers flogging any old tat as a ‘barn find’, inadvertently mis-spelling it as ‘BRAN FIND’ in the process. In the world of crap secondhand buys, any car of any age or merit can be described as ‘BRAN FIND’ if it's spent even a short of amount of time in a garage or other building.

Will my MGB GT ever be finished? 

Speaking of which, my MGB – which actually did spend a decade of its life in a barn – has over the past three of Life On Cars’ four years kept me busy with visits to shows and appearances in the pages of Classic Car Weekly. While it’s had a small fortune spent on it there are many, many jobs it could still benefit from – least of all, a proper tune up after its latest excursion made it sound like a cement mixer with a cold. I wager, though, that it’s the automotive equivalent of painting the Forth Bridge. Maybe it’s a job that’s never meant to get finished…

Life On Cars thanks both of its readers for all their support over the past four years

1 comment:

  1. Interesting to see that blog i am going to follow it for further used cars