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It's all a load of bollocks, quite frankly

Pass the blanket and slippers, I’ve bought me a Rover.

A Rover 25, yesterday

A Rover 25, yesterday

So, we’ve bought yet another car, though this time it’s not through choice or wanting to. Some inconsiderate cow of a woman-person decided it would be a good idea to have a game or Russian Parking Roulette. What would have been a routine visit and lunch at the local supermarket turned out to be a total twat of an occasion, as the aforementioned woman-person in her Renault Laguna caved in the rear door of our “beloved” (ha!) Corsa, and the insurance company declared it a write-off. The fact that this wrote off a 10 year old car is deeply frustrating and needless, especially as we’d spent a small fortune on the Corsa just before Christmas and got the thing mechanically just so. As working for a franchised Fiat and Alfa dealer when the scrappage scheme was in full force made me cringe as to what good cars were sent to the crusher, so to know this little Corsa was being sent to an early grave was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow. However, things change and move on, and so it had to go. But what to replace it with? We needed something to carry us and a toddler approaching his terrible twos. Oh, and all his crap – literal and metaphorical.

We were due to go on holiday, typically, and two days before we were due to drive from Cornwall to Teesside the Corsa got collected by the insurance company. True, we had Edgar the 205, but I wasn’t about to do nigh-on 500 miles in a 954cc French buzzbox with wife and child on board. If I was doing the journey myself, I would have done! So, we were going to hire some brand new peace of Korean misery, but quotes were flying in excess of £350 to hire a car so bearing that in mind, we set to work to find a car that most people on Autoshite would be proud of. There wasn’t much for what we wanted to spend and the decent stuff was too far away. Plenty of stuff on Gumtree, again too far away. So we thought sod it, we’ll hire something and buy something when we’re away.

The following day we took a walk and at the end of the road was a 1999 Rover 25 in metallic blue, with 8 months ticket on it advertised at £475. My wife, knowing that I’ve gone on about the renowned OMGHGF of the K Series engine, asked if these are the ones that go pop regularly I confirmed it. We contacted the seller man-person, who turned out was a trader man-person who I’ve sold a few motors to in the past. We had a good look at it, looked at the vast amount of service history which included a replacement head gasket with the modified parts done within the last eight months. So we slept on it (not literally, that would be stupid) and reconfirmed how much it would cost to hire a car.

The following morning, the wife-person says something along the lines of “Well, if we beat him down in price, buy the car, it’s going to cost 100 quid maximum more than hiring some little box. If we don’t like it, we can sell it on and if it breaks we’ll bin it and grab another one.”

I liked her train of thought, so we thought sod it, we’ll buy it. Wife-person phoned up man-person, haggled a bit and got it for £430. We picked it up Wednesday evening, bearing in mind we were going away Thursday.

So, what is it?
Well, it’s a dark metallic blue Rover 25 1.6. Three owners from new, one of them clearly blind as one of the previous owner-persons fitted it with ghastly Lexus lights. SWMBO-person likes them and alas they’re staying put. If they meet with an “accident” then so will I, I’m told. Its interior has been relatively well looked after, got four good condition alloys, a pretty much full 14 year service history and (after the holiday) 107,000 miles on the clock. The bodywork has a few rust spots and in some places on the bonnet the lacquer has seen better days. Other than that, it wears its years well.

Equipment levels aren’t bad – leccy sunroof, mirrors and windows. It also has occasional central locking, ABS, airbags, power steering and comfortable multi adjustable seats. Rover definitely engineered this car for the older person-person. People with lumbago as there are so many different lumbar support positions. People with glaucoma or some other sight related deficiency as the steering wheel is the same thickness as the average German saloon, the gear knob is the size of a desert and all the switches are chunky and easy to read. Oh and there’s wood! Wood!

“Hmmm hmmm heh. He said wood, hmmm hmmm heh.”

However, the way it drives is totally different. It doesn’t drive like a 107,000 mile car, feels about half that. It’s quite sporty. That 1.6 K series lump is smooth, refined but an absolute gem when you apply the right foot. Indeed, it’s a very rev-happy unit. The steering turn in is a marked improvement over the Corsa, being a hydraulic system rather than the ball ache electronic unit. It handles nicely, corners well, though the gearshift is a bit too clunky. Boot is a good size and the front is roomy enough, however because of the sloping roof, the rear headroom is a wee bit clip.

So, to summarise: Corsa gets side-bummed by stupid woman-person, nasty man-person in transporter takes it away, we buy a 14 year old Rover with a K Series engine instead of hiring a new car with full warranty back up and breakdown cover. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

Well, ye of little faith, nothing so far. In just over a week it did a trip from Cornwall to Teesside and back again and including the driving around the North East, that’s 1200 miles. 1200 fault free, comfortable miles. It hasn’t missed a beat. Plus for the wife to go to work and back everyday since getting back home (35 mile round trip). For the moment, this car is a keeper, but hopefully we’ll keep it longer than for the moment as we’ve grown quite fond of it. It has minor irritations that need sorting, such as the dreaded water in the boot, which just so happens to coincide with the rear screen washer not working, the central locking sorting and a quick engine service. But for what we paid, this is a seriously good little car.

Looking for a cheap car? If you’re prepared to accept that at some point you’ll have to have the head gasket done, you could do a lot worse than a 25. The interior build still seems solid after those years and miles, the whole car still feels tight. It’s good fun to drive and refined at the same time. Try one, just don’t believe that they’re only for old people!

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April 12, 2013 Posted by | Motoring | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remixed, remade, remodeled. Now fuck off!

The Professionals, The Prisoner, The Sweeney, Only Fools and Horses, Minder, The Italian Job, Get Carter. What do these television programmes and films all have in common? No, you’re wrong. They’re amongst my favourites and have all been subjected to or about to be subjected a remake.

Why? We don’t bloody need them! Honestly! The Professionals worked brilliantly as Martin Shaw, Lewis Collins and Gordon Jackson catching the villains screeching around in various rear wheel drive Fords, notably the Capri and RS2000 Escort. Not as some bird, a yank and a pussy Brit driving carefully around in a couple of Datsuns. Likewise with Minder, it worked with “loveable rogue” Arthur Daley played by George Cole and his long-suffering minder Terry McCann played suitably and brilliantly by Dennis Waterman. Hell, he even wrote the theme tune, sung the theme tune. You expected that, right? But the new one? No thanks, I’ll stick with my DVDs of the old series.

The Sweeney with Jack Regan portrayed by good old grouch, the late great John Thaw, cannot be bettered. Especially with Dennis Waterman (again) as his foil character George Carter. “Get your trousers on, son, you’re nicked” and “We’re the Sweeney son, and we haven’t had any dinner” are two of the best lines to eminate from Regan’s orifice. I have every confidence in Ray Winstone and wish him every success, but The Sweeney was a programme of its time and is where should stay in its own original format.

One remake that should never have got the green light is The Prisoner. Never has a programme fucked with my head so much, but in a good way. No programme has ever been a product of its time as much as this. Conceived by a rather smashed Patrick McGoohan (whilst still working on his other programme Dangerman) in the late sixties, it suits the whole psychedelia era and was limited to one series. That was enough. It’s my all-time favourite TV programme. None of it really made sense, it was confusing and the end of the series made you think “What the…” Perfect! So what about the modern remake? Never has a programme fucked with my head, but in such a terrible, spirit crushing manner.

Don’t even mention that God-awful 90s film version of The Avengers. Eeeeeeeek!

The original Italian Job to me is cinematic perfection. Italy. Minis. Old Alfas. Old Alfas being left for dead by Minis in a cheeky English chappy kind of way. An excellent storyline, a great cast and of course Michael Caine and Noel Coward. And the best ending of a film ever. You could make your own mind up as to what happened. The new one, however… Oh dear. It’s an okay film as it is and it has Charlize Theron in it so all is good on that front. But Charlie Croker was a Londoner, not a bloody yank. And it’s just trading on a name, hoping it will sell more. Very little of it is in Italy and they have those massive, quite frankly fucking dreadful, Minis made by BMW. Wasn’t much of a job either. Perhaps if it were just called “The” rather than trading on the name, I’d have liked it more.

Get Carter? Another Michael Caine flick and another of my favourites. Sly Stallone? Next please!

Now the latest culprit is Only Fools and Horses. One of my favourite sitcoms. To be remade for American audiences. Oh dear. I’ve nothing against Americans. I like some of their cars very much. I like the occasional cheese burger. With cheese. I like some of the people very much too. And one of my favourite current TV series (Criminal Minds) is American. But why in the name of all that is holy must they take everything that is good and remake it? What are you going to do to improve on it? You can’t really recreate two brothers who look nothing alike selling cat flaps from a suitcase out the back of a shitty three wheel van (which incidentally is NOT a Reliant Robin, it’s a Reliant Regal Supervan 3) in some grotty Peckham market. We’ve already had the prequel Rock ‘n’ Chips and the bloody awful Green Green Grass spinoff. No more please.

A remake of Red Dwarf, which by the sound of it was so disastrous that the pilot episode remains unaired, was commissioned by the Americans. I shudder at the thought. If you want Red Dwarf, you watch Chris Barrie, Danny John Jules, Craig Charles and Robert Llewellyn. A remake of Fawlty Towers was also commissioned. Not set in Torquay. Without John Cleese. Listen to me: IT WON’T FUCKING WORK YOU BUNCH OF RETARDS!! That was proven as it never went past the pilot episode. There are many, many more.

The same in some instances applies to music. Cover versions are fine if a:) played by a band who is a fan of the song live as a tribute or b:) takes the song and does a totally different take on it. Sampling of certain songs over and over again, largely by hippety-hop artists is getting tedious. Listen hippety-hoppety bluds, innit: You haven’t improved on the original, but instead usually robbed a old song’s best to avert the attention away from essentially the fact that wot you writ is a load of shit.

There are one or two exceptions to the rule. For instance, Jimi Hendrix’ version of All Along The Watchtower is a far, far superior version to Bob Dylan’s original. And I was never a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, but I do like Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC’s new Sherlock.

But on the whole, remakes are something that is causing me a great deal of stress. Why TV bosses cannot commission something new and original rather than try and remake and rehash stuff every five minutes is beyond me. Eight times out of ten, remakes shouldn’t get any further than the mind of the twat that thought it was a good idea to do in the first place. Now fuck off, there’s a good chap / chappess.

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February 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remixed, remade, remoddled. Now fuck off!

The Professionals, The Prisoner, The Sweeney, Only Fools and Horses, Minder, The Italian Job, Get Carter. What do these television programmes and films all have in common? No, you’re wrong. They’re amongst my favourites and have all been subjected to or about to be subjected a remake.

Why? We don’t bloody need them! Honestly! The Professionals worked brilliantly as Martin Shaw, Lewis Collins and Gordon Jackson catching the villains screeching around in various rear wheel drive Fords, notably the Capri and RS2000 Escort. Not as some bird, a yank and a pussy Brit driving carefully around in a couple of Datsuns. Likewise with Minder, it worked with “loveable rogue” Arthur Daley played by George Cole and his long-suffering minder Terry McCann played suitably and brilliantly by Dennis Waterman. Hell, he even wrote the theme tune, sung the theme tune. You expected that, right? But the new one? No thanks, I’ll stick with my DVDs of the old series.

The Sweeney with Jack Regan portrayed by good old grouch, the late great John Thaw, cannot be bettered. Especially with Dennis Waterman (again) as his foil character George Carter. “Get your trousers on, son, you’re nicked” and “We’re the Sweeney son, and we haven’t had any dinner” are two of the best lines to eminate from Regan’s orifice. I have every confidence in Ray Winstone and wish him every success, but The Sweeney was a programme of its time and is where should stay in its own original format.

One remake that should never have got the green light is The Prisoner. Never has a programme fucked with my head so much, but in a good way. No programme has ever been a product of its time as much as this. Conceived by a rather smashed Patrick McGoohan (whilst still working on his other programme Dangerman) in the late sixties, it suits the whole psychedelia era and was limited to one series. That was enough. It’s my all-time favourite TV programme. None of it really made sense, it was confusing and the end of the series made you think “What the…” Perfect! So what about the modern remake? Never has a programme fucked with my head, but in such a terrible, spirit crushing manner.

Don’t even mention that God-awful 90s film version of The Avengers. Eeeeeeeek!

The original Italian Job to me is cinematic perfection. Italy. Minis. Old Alfas. Old Alfas being left for dead by Minis in a cheeky English chappy kind of way. An excellent storyline, a great cast and of course Michael Caine and Noel Coward. And the best ending of a film ever. You could make your own mind up as to what happened. The new one, however… Oh dear. It’s an okay film as it is and it has Charlize Theron in it so all is good on that front. But Charlie Croker was a Londoner, not a bloody yank. And it’s just trading on a name, hoping it will sell more. Very little of it is in Italy and they have those massive, quite frankly fucking dreadful, Minis made by BMW. Wasn’t much of a job either. Perhaps if it were just called “The” rather than trading on the name, I’d have liked it more.

Get Carter? Another Michael Caine flick and another of my favourites. Sly Stallone? Next please!

Now the latest culprit is Only Fools and Horses. One of my favourite sitcoms. To be remade for American audiences. Oh dear. I’ve nothing against Americans. I like some of their cars very much. I like the occasional cheese burger. With cheese. I like some of the people very much too. And one of my favourite current TV series (Criminal Minds) is American. But why in the name of all that is holy must they take everything that is good and remake it? What are you going to do to improve on it? You can’t really recreate two brothers who look nothing alike selling cat flaps from a suitcase out the back of a shitty three wheel van (which incidentally is NOT a Reliant Robin, it’s a Reliant Regal Supervan 3) in some grotty Peckham market. We’ve already had the prequel Rock ‘n’ Chips and the bloody awful Green Green Grass spinoff. No more please.

A remake of Red Dwarf, which by the sound of it was so disastrous that the pilot episode remains unaired, was commissioned by the Americans. I shudder at the thought. If you want Red Dwarf, you watch Chris Barrie, Danny John Jules, Craig Charles and Robert Llewellyn. A remake of Fawlty Towers was also commissioned. Not set in Torquay. Without John Cleese. Listen to me: IT WON’T FUCKING WORK YOU BUNCH OF RETARDS!! That was proven as it never went past the pilot episode. There are many, many more.

The same in some instances applies to music. Cover versions are fine if a:) played by a band who is a fan of the song live as a tribute or b:) takes the song and does a totally different take on it. Sampling of certain songs over and over again, largely by hippety-hop artists is getting tedious. Listen hippety-hoppety bluds, innit: You haven’t improved on the original, but instead usually robbed a old song’s best to avert the attention away from essentially the fact that wot you writ is a load of shit.

There are one or two exceptions to the rule. For instance, Jimi Hendrix’ version of All Along The Watchtower is a far, far superior version to Bob Dylan’s original. And I was never a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, but I do like Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC’s new Sherlock.

But on the whole, remakes are something that is causing me a great deal of stress. Why TV bosses cannot commission something new and original rather than try and remake and rehash stuff every five minutes is beyond me. Eight times out of ten, remakes shouldn’t get any further than the mind of the twat that thought it was a good idea to do in the first place. Now fuck off, there’s a good chap / chappess.

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February 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s in a name? That which we call a…

Choosing a name is important. I think we chose well with the name we gave our child, but there are certain celebrity types that have dropped major clangers. Yes, Mr Chris Diet-Bono Martin, calling your daughter Apple Blossom ICI Dulux Cherryade wasn’t the best of ideas now, was it? Still, it could be worse. For instance if you trace the history of the car, there have been some absolute stinkers over the years.

Peugeot and, up to recently, Alfa Romeo have played it safe by giving their cars a numerical suffix to distinguish the different cars they sell. The Alfa Romeo 156. The Peugeot 205, for instance, has a certain ring to it and has become widely regarded as a classic, especially in GTi form.

Nissan (or Datsun depending on the era), on the other hand, haven’t been so lucky and have insisted on using names. The Nissan Cedric being one of them. Nissan Cedric doesn’t have a certain ring to it and has become widely regarded as a bag of shite, especially in car form. But I’m not letting Nissan off the hook here, especially as they seem to have a track record for providing names that provide more hilarity than the entire first season of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

My Nissan Drizzle 1.6 SLX

My second victim of name calling would be what has to be the most ironically named car in the history of mankind itself. Tell me, how can something that is as interesting as a Thermos Flask, as inviting as Devon and handles like a drunk man trying to lift a night storage heater be given a name that implies a positive disposition? I owned one of these bastard cars and the only thing positive on it was the + battery terminal. Mr Clarkson was bang on the money when he decreed the car should have been called the “Drizzle” or “Bank Holiday Washout”.

This, however, is not the worst case of naming from Nissan. In the Eighties, Nissan were to launch a new sports Coupe, complete with fashionable pop-up headlights and a turbo-charged 1.8 litre engine under the bonnet. Essentially, a budget (ish) coupe aimed at Capri owners. So, aimed at blokes then. Sure the car looked a bit of a damp squib but what do you think Nissan called it? No, you’re wrong. The car was called a Silvia. I mean Silvia, come on! It’s as manly as David Walliams decreeing he’s “a lady” prancing around to “Dancing Queen” whilst wearing a full ballet get-up in pink.

The Nissan Juke. As ugly as a hatful of assholes

Recent years we have had things like Micra, Primera and Almera. All very reasonable, all very acceptable, all very dull. Pretty much like the cars themselves, but those names you could get away with. Things like the Nissan Note? Abso-fucking-lutely not. Thanks guys but I intend to drive my car, not write and/or read it. And what fucking shit were they on when they came up with Qashqai? What the fuck is a Qashqai? What does it do? You mean you don’t know either? Fuck, we’re all screwed then. If it were the last car on earth I wouldn’t own one. Would you own a car called Qashpoint? I think not. However, I think Nissan’s latest effort takes the biscuit. To wow the world is yet another of those crossover four wheel drive efforts. Ladies and Gentlepersons, I give you the Nissan Juke. I really cannot wait for Nissan to bring out a commercial van version of it. What will they call it? The Jukebox I hope!

Anyway, enough of bullying Nissan for a moment. My car manufacturer of choice is, as I’m sure you know, Fiat. Things haven’t always gone well for Fiat in the naming stakes and remained numerically suffixed until the very early Eighties. They started with the Uno, which was a good car with a good name. It does tail off a bit. Punto, whilst sounds good, means nothing more than “point” but in Italian. The Stilo, which is supposed sound like style simply means pencil. The Tipo may well be the best and most cleverly packaged car in the last 25 years in terms if interior space, but why call it the Type? I won’t even go into the face that Fiat renamed the Fiat 132 to Argenta just as the Falklands conflict was heating up. Oh bollocks, I already did.

Other manufacturers stick to just naming shit randomly when they bring out special editions of particular cars. The one that made me really laugh was Citroen C3 Desire. I laughed so hard when I saw that. I’m sorry but a C3 is a car that you just cannot desire, especially in our experience. My wife had one you see. Swear at?  Yeah. Shake your fist at? Yeah. Kick? Woah hell yeah. When it inevitably goes all French and surrenders you want to kill it. But Desire? No, you desire a C3 in the same way you desire getting AIDS.

Dear old Pablo Picasso would be turning in his grave if he had the knowledge that Citroen had decided to name a range of decidedly average MPVs (that’s Multi Purpose Vehicle or My Life is Over to you or me) in his (dis) honour. I mean, what next, the Volkswagen Golf Beethoven? The Aston Martin DB9 McCartney? Stop it now please, stop it now.

September 15, 2011 Posted by | Motoring | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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