Fleet update, August 2019

2002 SEAT Leon 20VT

I nearly sold the Leon last week, unexpectedly. A friend’s car died, and they were in a bit of a panic to find another. But they found something else (and truthfully, probably more suited to them), so the Leon stays. Which is fine, because it continues to run just fine.

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On Italian roads and a hired Fiesta

There is a bridge over the railway tracks in my town that has recently been resurfaced. And it stands out dramatically, because the moment your tyres touch it, everything becomes as quiet as a whisper. It stands out even more because such properly surfaced roads are so incongruous with the general state of Britain’s roads, increasingly deserving of notoriety.

Should you want a ‘grass is greener’ experience with respect to the quality of our roads, however, go for a drive in Italy’s Lazio region (even if the region itself is lovely).

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A long overdue fleet update

Some time ago, I set myself the goal of posting at least monthly here, and have failed miserably this year in doing so. As there is no one I am accountable to for this, I offer no excuses – I have other priorities in my life, and have willingly set this aside. Still, this site has been getting a surprising amount of traffic in the past few months, so I wanted to offer a quick update on a few things, with the hope that over the remainder of the summer, I will be able to write a bit more regularly again. Continue reading “A long overdue fleet update”

Take the long way, it’s good for you

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”

A taste of vintage motoring

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.

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2178 miles around Europe in a £1000 E39

Tell someone that you are about to embark on a 2000-mile road trip in a 19-year-old car you paid £1000 for more than two years ago, and they’re likely to question your judgement. Cue Jeremy Clarkson leaning in towards the camera, raising an eyebrow, and uttering those immortal words: ‘What could possibly go wrong?’

Well, in this case, absolutely nothing went wrong. In fact, thanks to the car, this was probably the most comfortable and enjoyable road trip I’ve ever been on.

A wet Monday morning, all packed and ready to go.

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I nearly wrote my car off today

Because I spent the first 24 years of my life near Toronto, Canada, I have seen my fair share of winter driving, occasionally in some pretty extreme conditions. So it was to my surprise today to find myself in the middle of the most terrifying winter driving experience I’ve ever had, in the North of England, with only a couple of inches of snow on the ground.

Wandering into the North Yorkshire Moors for a lazy morning of recreational motoring, I found myself on a rather narrow, snow-covered road. The road had a few hills, but was relatively flat, and I was having no trouble with traction in the E39. Following the map, I could see that I was about to rejoin a proper two-lane B-road, so decided to press on. What I wasn’t expecting was for the last half mile of the road to feature a 15-20% downhill grade. Or that it would be covered in a sheet of ice.

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A perfect evening drive

Someone, somewhere, has probably concocted a recipe for the perfect drive, using some sort of advanced scientific analysis. But as science was never my strong point, I am more inclined to think that there are probably several different recipes that would do the trick, depending on the circumstances.

As a case in point, I went out for a drive on Friday evening. Taking a familiar route, I circled through Northumberland and the southern end of the Scottish Borders, mostly using A-roads. Normally, if I want an enjoyable driving experience, I look for less-travelled B-roads that require more attention and engagement. However, after a long week of work that left me feeling tired and worn out, I wanted something more relaxing.

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