A few times a year, I go to a meeting near Scarborough for a couple of days, and the usual route to get there from my home in the Selby area is to take the A19 to the A64, and the A64 across, as highlighted on the map below. If there is no traffic, this route should take right about an hour. However, this is a journey I make somewhat regularly, and only once have I managed to do it in an hour. Usually it will be one hour and fifteen minutes; my most recent trip took over an hour and a half. Continue reading “Take the long way, it’s good for you”
Here is the thing about Brexit: there are no facts. Both sides of the debate talk as if there are indisputable facts that we must heed if we are to make informed decisions, but the reality is that we only have hypotheses and predictions. That is not to say that these are not valid and an important part of the discernment process, but we have never been in this situation before, and the outcome, whatever the final deal will be, cannot be known beforehand. Only in retrospect will we see how all the variables and complexities came together to shape the future of the United Kingdom. At this point, we cannot expect people to make a decision based on facts, because there really are none.
Sure, you could buy that Fiesta or Golf. Most people would. After all, you want to be sensible with your money, and find a cheap but reliable daily driver. But why not find a balance between sensible and interesting? It can be done, as many have proven. In fact, in just the last few days, I have found three cars that would tick these boxes admirably.
2004 Subaru Outback 3.0 Rn
October began with some unwelcome noise from the rear of the Outback as the rear wheel bearing started to go bad. It turned out to be just a few hours’ work to install a new one, and all is quiet again. In the process, I noticed the rear brake discs getting thin, so those will need attention prior to the car’s next MOT in April.
Veteran cars have never held much appeal for me, despite the fact that the very first automotive book I owned, a gift from my grandfather, was all about cars of this era. While they are the forerunners of the cars we have today, they have always felt rather remote, resembling more the carriages they evolved from than anything in the last sixty or seventy years. In my mind, they were just slow and finicky, rattly and uncomfortable, and happily consigned to the pages of history.
When I moved a year ago, however, I met someone who has been a part of the veteran car scene for decades, and gained a lot of new insight into and appreciation of that era of the automobile. He owns several veteran cars himself, including a 1912 Renault AX, and his most recent purchase, a 1925 Austin 7 ‘Chummy’. Today, he brought the Chummy round, and took me for a spin through town.
Last night, my wife was trying to find something on Google Maps, and in the process noticed that the satellite image that contains our house had been refreshed recently. Looking more closely, we realised that we could pin it down to a two-week period this summer, because there were three cars outside our house – the Outback on the driveway, and the E39 and Leon on the road. I bought the Outback on 16 June, and sold the E39 two weeks later.
It took me a year to sell my 1999 BMW 528i. No, I did not spend a year advertising it and dealing with no-shows and time wasters. It just took that long to work up the courage to actually list the car on eBay.
You are happily humming along over England’s poorly surfaced roads in your Subaru Outback when you hit a section of freshly-laid tarmac. The road noise just about disappears, although you suddenly hear a faint whirring sound that seems to be coming from somewhere towards the rear of the vehicle. It varies with speed, and immediately your thoughts turn to the worse: Differential getting ready to blow itself apart? Gearbox going south?
If you’ve followed either this blog or my Twitter account for any length of time, you will know that I have been dealing with ongoing water ingress issues with my SEAT Leon for almost as long as I’ve owned the car. This is a common problem on most, if not all, early Volkswagen PQ34 platform cars; the material they used to seal the places where water can get in was of a poor quality, and breaks down over time.
The first winter I had the car revealed the extent of the problem. All the door seals had broken down earlier in its life, and been repaired incorrectly by one of the previous owners. After several weeks of wet weather, I discovered literal puddles in the car, mostly in the passenger footwells. It took forever to get the interior dried out, and involved some tedious work to repair the door seals. The pollen filter housing seal had also perished, though that was a simple task to replace.
What you see below is a car that has just passed its MOT with no advisories.
Back in July, I knew that wouldn’t be the case, however. The front strut mounts were worn quite badly, the cheap Chinese tyres I had used as a stop-gap were cracking on the sidewalls, and one of the inner CV gaiters was torn. It was also leaking a little coolant from somewhere, an ongoing problem that I have been trying to diagnose for quite a while now, and like I always do before an MOT, I intended to give it a service. So I got the Leon up on jackstands, and used all the available daylight hours to sort out these few issues. Continue reading “Fleet update, September 2018: The SEAT Leon”