Is it cool to own a Rover 75/MG ZT?

Honest John certainly thinks so. In the past few weeks, they’ve featured both a 75 and a ZT, noting that these are modern classics worth buying. And that is even more true as good examples can easily be picked up for under £1000 at the moment. ‘If ever there was a car that has become the epitome of an up-and-coming classic,’ they wrote yesterday, ‘the Rover 75 is it.’


Continue reading “Is it cool to own a Rover 75/MG ZT?”

Do I need to stop calling myself a petrolhead?

Perhaps I need to stop calling myself a petrolhead.

To be sure, I fit the criteria in all sorts of ways. I’ve memorised the technical data for far too many cars since the mid-90s. My head snaps round whenever I hear the rumble of a V8. I take photos of random cars in car parks. And I do most of the repair work on my cars.

But I’m reluctant to let go of good cars. And this is where I begin to question my petrolhead status, because a real petrolhead would be buying and selling cars regularly, trying out and experiencing different things. Continue reading “Do I need to stop calling myself a petrolhead?”

Adding to the fleet: Our ‘02 SEAT Leon Cupra

We’re a one-car family. At least we were, and the plan was to continue as such until next year, when a job change would necessitate a second car. It just happened that when I was scrolling through eBay this week, we found a car that would suit my wife perfectly.

She’s always wanted a Golf or a Leon. She likes hatchbacks, and the Mark IV Golf and Mark I Leon have been some of her favourites. On Sunday morning, I was on eBay and spotted this Leon Cupra. The advert fit all the requirements, so I sent a message to the seller, who responded to my questions almost instantly. Everything looked good – service history, low mileage, and a brand new MOT with no advisories. The rest is history, and yesterday we brought it home.


Continue reading “Adding to the fleet: Our ‘02 SEAT Leon Cupra”

Farewell, Shed 7

James Ruppert coined the idea of ‘bangernomics’ a couple of decades ago. ‘Bangernomics,’ he says, ‘is a big, important sounding word for something very simple, which is buying and running a car on a shoestring. It means not worrying about depreciation or cosmetics, and gives you a nice warm feeling in the pit of your wallet.’ For the last four years, Ruppert has been driving an E38 BMW 728i, dubbed ‘Shed 7′, a vehicle he suggests really encapsulates the idea of bangernomics


Sadly, Shed 7 recently met an untimely end, with a split radiator, and the head gasket and a few seals gone as well. This is a shame for a car that Ruppert says is ‘quite simply…one of the very best cars I’ve ever owned’.


After the Volvo I owned in Florida, mentioned in a previous post, I was really drawn to the idea of cheap motoring. And so, when the time came to buy a car over here, I was excited to learn about the idea of bangernomics and inspired reading about Ruppert’s 728i. In fact, I spent quite a bit of time searching for an E38 myself before I eventually found my E39

Bangernomics appeals to me for many reasons. It means you can drive a nice car like a BMW for small amounts of money, there is the enjoyment of searching for the right vehicle, it provides an opportunity (should you want it) to get your hands dirty carrying out your own maintenance, and provided the car doesn’t blow up or get wrecked, likely won’t lose any further value. And although I confess to being more concerned with cosmetics than I ought to be, I expect to be a life-long member of the Bangernomics club.

Farewell, Shed 7. Though I never knew you in the metal, I owe a lot to you.

(Photos via James Ruppert on Twitter)

Volvo 240 memories

There is a red Volvo 240 that I see parked around Durham every once in a while.


I always enjoy seeing it because it brings back memories of the 240 I owned for a year when I was living in Florida. 


The car I had prior to the Volvo, a 1994 Mazda 626, had blown a head gasket, and at 193,500 miles, I decided had reached the end of its life. I needed a cheap runabout for a year, and found this 240 for $600. It was solid, no rust, and though very dirty inside (I think I found about half of the Gulf Coast beaches in the back seat), it ran really well. I gave it a tune up, replaced the ball joints, and cleaned it up (the interior was actually in fantastic condition), and it ended up serving as perfectly reliable transportation for a year. In fact, I would have happily driven it across the country. Yes, it was painfully slow – though I could get it sideways in the wet – but it was also a lot of fun to drive around because everyone noticed it.

As solid as it was, it could have been a great project car, actually, especially when I learned that there are all kinds of conversion kits for fitting small-block Chevys into these things. But as we ended up leaving the country, I sold it. I later learned that the subsequent owner failed to take care of it and, as a result of never changing the oil, blew it up. It’s always sad when a car that could have easily done another 100,000 miles meets an untimely end.

Giving the site a revamp

For the past year or so I have been using this site to review cars I’ve hired. Whilst that has been a lot of fun, I don’t expect to be hiring cars much any longer. And that is because of the car you see in the photo below.


That’s right, I’ve gone and bought myself a 1999 BMW 528i. As a result, this site is going to undergo some changes. On the occasions when I happen to hire a car, I’ll continue to post reviews, but I’ll also use it to post stuff related to the BMW, such as details of repairs and maintenance I carry out, links to things of interest from the automotive world, and perhaps the occasional opinion piece.

I’ve also started up a Twitter account with a purely automotive focus, so if you’re interested in that kind of thing, you can find me @jakebeldercars

Stay tuned for more!