I've owned many cars over the years. The first car I really wanted was one of these.
It might even have been this poster that got me started. The open highway, the road already conquered receding at a rate of knots in the rear view mirror, the speed (I mean that looks fast even in a painting), the young lady, (she should be wearing a headscarf of course) - the whole idea of a Jaguar sports car had me in its grasp.
But most seventeen year olds don't start their motoring career in a two seater Jag and I was no different. I did not buy an XK150 as my starter for ten but in 1968 lashed out £25 for an Austin A35
This grey is even the colour of of my first automoblie although mine was never as shiny as the one illustrated. Also the one in the picture seems to be missing the brown trimmed holes in the door sills I thought came as standard on this model. I re-engined this with a BMC GoldSeal engine which cost me £17 15s 0d after I snapped the crankshaft in the original engine. Engine changeover done with washing line over a plum tree - OSH would be pleased. I used to run this car a lot of the time on a paraffin/petrol mix 'cos it was cheaper than all petrol and I had no dosh. Ran like a dog in this mode (but it ran) and needed decoking every four weeks or so. Used to make gaskets out of postcards and candle wax. Happy days - or at least I thought they were then. Looking back on it it now it seems a rather daft way to go motoring.
Had four and a half years at University in the middle of London when I didn't need a car (and couldn't afford one) and it was of no concern to me that the Austin had fallen to bits. Even the GoldSeal engine couldn't get around on four wheels, a hundred weight of bog and nothing else. Don't know which dump it ended up on.
Next car was a Minivan.
Mine was white - well sort of. I can't remember why I bought such a heap of junk (and mine certainly was) but I strongly suspect it was because it was astonishingly cheap. Note the air vent which I used to tell people (especially those of the female persuasion) was a sunroof. I left the UK at about this time; this was not entirely because I owned such a crap car. I thought I had sold the white Mini van before I left. When a year later my Dad was still getting parking tickets for it from all sorts of unlikely locations across London it was obvious that the white rust bucket had joined the realms of the undead. I think Dad killed it with a barrage of letters to Councils - or a stake through the heart or something.
Whilst in Papua New Guinea for a couple of years I owned no cars but had a Honda 125 trail bike.
This rusted away before my very eyes as I lived on the coast and drove it on roads (when there were any) made of crushed coral. Although I didn't own a car during this period I would often requisition a short wheel base Toyota Land Cruiser from the Public Works Department car pool for the weekend - as you do when you have a government driving permit.
I could have equally taken a grader or a road roller but they were a bit hard to parallel park.
Arrived back in London one Saturday morning and by tea time I had bought a Volkswagen Golf from virtually the first car showroom I could find. I needed wheels.
Mine was orange - how 70's is that?. This car was a bit of a landmark for me. It wasn't new (I am only one car away from that automotive nirvana) but was the first car I had owned that looked as though it wouldn't fall to bits before the end of the week. It also had a radio. This was bloody marvellous and I spent most of the late summer of 1977 tooling around the British roads listening to Test cricket. Still not much traffic in the late 70's and '77 was a good summer. An open road with John Arlott, Brian Johnston, The Boil, The Alderman and FS Trueman. It doesn't get much better. Well it could have as I test drove a Porsche 911 about three weeks after buying the Golf. It scared the living daylights out of me and I hung onto the other German car for a few months longer. A decision that probably saved my life.
Time to buy a new car. Not just new to me but new to anybody. What did I chose? A black one of these.
This was great. Me first tasty motor. Looked the business (just look at those twin headlights), quite quick, easy to drive and even smelled new. I loved it and it took me about three months to write it off. Not my fault your honour, honest. I was driving to work in the winter and a tractor couldn't stop as it tried to brake on an ice covered drive coming out of a farm and slipped sideways into a line of rush hour traffic. This was the only time in my life that I have won a lucky draw. Although I say wrote the Alfa off I didn't really as the bloody insurance company refused to declare it a total loss as it was so new and insisted on repairing it. Ratbags. After a long time at the panel beaters the black Italian was returned looking almost as good as before - but not quite. However it never drove at all well again and I wanted it gone. So go it did.
It was at about this time that Mrs Obald came along and she came complete with one of these.
The Citroen Dyane is the upmarket version (sic) of the 2CV. A bit like saying a Swan Vesta box is the upmarket version of a standard matchbox. Enthusiasts for these cars (and there are such permanently chemically altered fools around) laud the praises of these people's cars. They are wrong; they're garbage. This was my first encounter of the folly of buying a car on shape alone. I was to fall for this beguiling ruse myself some ten years later. I was not in the slightest bit disappointed when this bit of froggy junk left our presence to be employed driving a sewing machine - a task it should never have left in the first place.
Being as I'm a reasonable sort of a bloke I couldn't stand for SWMBO walking to work so a replacement for the French rubbish was required. As I was in my Italian phase we went for one of these.
Fiat X19 with styling (it really did have some) by Bertone. Only four colours available; silver, ice blue, maroon and gold. I chose (?) the gold and was the first car I had owned that had this new fangled metallic paint. This was a great car to drive. Mid engined, weighed about 500 grams and cornered like it was running on railway tracks. It had a targa top that you lifted off and placed in the front where all my cars up to this point had kept their engine. This reduced the luggage carrying capacity of the vehicle from two toothbrushes to one. I was very sorry to see this car go. At about this time I had my first spell of living in the country and first spell of owning a boat and so I had better get one of these as well as the Fiat.
Series III Land Rover 88. This was - well just a Series III Land Rover 88. Looked the part in the country and towed the boat. Practical but no more. But to be fair they were never meant to be anything else. However this was a landmark car for another reason. This was the first time I had owned two cars at the same time. Once you have been to this happy place there is no way back.
Well there is. You move to Singapore and find that cars are so bloody expensive that owning two is the equivalent of owning two super yachts. The burgeoning car pool is reduced quickly to this.
Back to earth with a thump alright. You think you are making progress up the automotive stairway to heaven and you find yourself buying a Mazda 323. Well it was new. And it had a radio. No, you're right, it was horrible. Another child arrives and we move up (sic) to this.
This is as painful to type as it must be to look at. This Nissan Sunny Estate (did I really own a Nissan? I mean the new GTR is technically a great car but that doesn't stop it being a bloody Nissan) although ghastly from an aesthetic and street cred point of view did serve us well. I must say that as it is true, but I hated this car.
Back to being two car family with a big mistake.
I thought the Saab 900i looked really cool. Maybe somewhere in the recesses of what I pass off as a mind I still do - no matter. So I bought a second hand one. There's two mistakes right there. Buy a car on looks alone and buy second hand. My wife told me not to do it and, as usual, she was right. For not the first time I ignored her sage advice and went ahead. The car I bought was a sort of dog vomit brown so I poured good money after bad and had it resprayed a very nice bluey grey. Right, the car now looked OK but it was an electrical disaster. The big heavy metal bits seemed to go round and work alright but all the electrical string just used to smell of burning (because it often was), give off smoke and make strange lights come on (or more usually off) at random times. Be very careful; these people make aeroplanes.
After this experimental dabble in the second hand market I listened to SWMBO and bought new again. Back on track again here with this.
Peugeot 205 GTI. I had the 1.6 litre as they didn't bring the 1.9 into Singapore. Great car - or it was until I forget to get the timing belt routinely changed before it snapped. A couple of bucks if you do it on a regular, change it whatever sort of basis. If you do it my way and change the belt after it snaps it costs thousands of dollars. One disadvantage of running a 16 valve engine is that if all 16 crash into the pistons that is how many you have to replace - 16. Despite this the 205 GTI was one of the best cars I've owned.
The bloody Sunny was ten years old and in Singapore terms that means it is off to the crusher for you. Couldn't happen to a nicer car. SWMBO replaced that with a Mitsubishi Space Wagon which she loved.
I'd had the Peugeot for a while. A while on my automotive timescale is about two and a half years and it was time for a change. I swapped one really fun car for one that was even more fun. I bought two really good cars in a row.
The Mazda Miata as it was called when I bought one (red of course). No one calls them Miata these days and they only answer to MX5. Best handling car I had owned since the Fiat X19 nearly twenty years earlier.
Time to leave Singapore and repair to the Land of the Long White Jap Import. Briefly dallied with my most recent (I'd love to write last but I wouldn't be so presumptious) motoring error.
What ever possessed me to buy a car this large with a 2.4 litre power plant is beyond me. It couldn't tow the skin off a rice pudding let alone a decent sized trailer boat. As boat towing was supposed to be one of its prmary functions it had to go. The Previa was replaced with a proper tow vehicle. In fact it was so proper I've had a couple of them. Not at the same time you understand.
The Toyota Land Cruiser is right up there in the best cars I have owned stakes. Excellent bit of kit. Well that's the boat towing and kid ferrying department sorted. What have I used to get to and from the fields?
Well I've had a couple of these.
A 1.8 litre and then a 2.6 litre. OK I suppose and initially bought becaus the A4 is not a 3 series BMW. The 1.8 was bit gutless and so hence the 2.6. I really quite enjoyed the Audis but there were plans afoot - vide infra.
The kids no longer needed ferrying and wanted to do the driving themselves. I left SWMBO to organise this. You know, Mum would know what sort of cars daughters would like - this sort of thing.
To say I was somewhat surprised when a purple one of these turned up at home would be an understatement. Me 'What size engine does that have in it?'. SWBMO 'Don't know'. Me '4 litres'. SWMBO 'Is that good?'. Me 'Have you tried insuring a four litre car for a sixteen year old?' Its four wheel driving qualities are not over exagerated; you could drive it up the side of a house. However comfortable it is not and frugal on fuel it is not - as if I cared. However it is the car that I have owned the longest ever in my car owning career; I've had it eleven years now and it is still used daily. Practice what I preach; even my wife has a four litre run about.
When it came to second daughter's car I thought I had better get a bit more hands on to head the Hummer off at the pass. Can't complain about the result - it is even quite agreeable to drive
Nearly thirty years after buying a VW Golf I get another one. This car is still around. With the kids now driving themselves and the my trailer boating days over there is no need for a big tow wagon so I no longer own a Land Cruiser and we are back down to three vehicles.
The Audi A4s were OK but remember where all this started?
How could I resist one of these after all those years?
Well I couldn't so I bought one. I've had the XKR since 2000 and apart from the Jeep (and the Sunny if you insist) is the only car I've ever owned for more than a couple of years. I love it and use it as my day to day car. I mean who couldn't enjoy driving to the fields with this lot under the bonnet.
Huge wheels, bigger tyres, f. off brakes, computer aided suspension, leave the traction control on as the 'bigger tyres' aren't given away with a packet of Weetbix, terrific sound system. Turn the Harman Kardon down a bit if you want to hear the whine of the supercharger as you roar past a stock truck. Love it. Nothing you can't overtake. And I've only fallen foul of the speed nazis once in nine years - and that was for 72 kph. What an embarassment.