My All Time Top Ten… Vehicles (aka My Vehicles)


(This post is part of a series – the first being ‘My Gadgets‘) Edit: and now part of the My All Time Top Ten series :)

1. Volkswagen Golf CL (Mk 1) 1985 – 89

golf-mk1

Classic 1400cc blue go kart! Boy the fun I had in this car!. Don’t tell my mum (RIP) but this was just the best vehicle I ever drove – light but nippy it was perfect for chasing girls around town just after I had passed my driving test, age 18.

Unfortunately it only lasted a few years as it got driven hard! In fact I wrote it off twice – once in a rear end collision a few hundred yards from my folks home back then (I was driving too fast – the accident was almost inevitable after passing my test first time, if you ask me!), and secondly on the way back from a trip down to the Zap night club in Brighton after I has forgotten to check the coolant and blew the head gasket on the M25 at dawn on the way home! My fried Simon Cranshaw woke up in the passenger seat as I pulled over for a 4 hour wait for a breakdown truck to ask if we were home yet!

Still it served me and my mates well (which I guess was ultimately the reason why mum decided to buy it as ‘her car’ in the first place – not!) My favourite memory in it was a trip I did with my best mates at the time – Sam Bell, Rich Moncrieff and Bendo Mann. We grabbed an ounce of hash and drove around the UK stoned for a week. I still distinctly remember the smell of Sam’s Belstaff after we spent a particularly rough night pitched on a sloping rain drenched hill side in Wales (but that’s another story, as is the one of how I learned to skin up on the lip in front of the speedo as I drove, my wrists shoved through the steering wheel to keep the car straight!)

2. Volkswagen Golf GTi (Mk2) 1989 – 2003

golf-mk2

What else do you persuade your mum to buy after you’ve blown up her Mk 1 Golf – a 1.8 GTi! No don’t get me wrong – I didn’t lean on her too hard – this was only the 8v version, but my God what a rocket!

Unfortunately for mum the purchase coincided with my heady slip into the rave scene. The car developed quite a notoriety amongst those inclined to drive all of the south of England in search of a booming sound system and some arc lights! I was the designated driver for our crew (a new bunch of best friends – Kieran Donnely (the legendary DJ – well in Oxford at the time anyway), Ruth Undy, Lloyd (always too stoned to remember his last name), and MC Jase, with whom I used to also crew for Acidica Productions.

It’s another story as to where we all ended up, but needless to say the spliff smoking continued, this time joined by some very long fast night stints at the wheel. The blim burned seats were the hardest thing to explain away (actually the Pirelli alloy wheels which I spray painted gold were worse!). Best thing about her was the removable Sony head unit I put in, along with the 2 6×7 speakers in an MDF rear shefl – boy did they sound sweet! No sub needed!

I did a good 40,000 recreational miles in her before selling her to Pizza Express chef Mo for a bargain.

3. Volvo 360 GLT (2.0)

Volvo_360_1

Don’t laugh! Ever since I was a small boy I had a desire to drive one of these. I must of loved the shape. And it turned out to be quite a little rocket. Despite having the weight of a Volvo the 2 litre engine and rear wheel  drive was a heady combination. I still remember the distinctive smell of this sedan and had many good times in her barreling down to Brighton where i eventually relocated to from Oxford.

4. Hanomag Henschel (which became Mercedes) 508 diesel medium wheelbase motorhome

hanomag-henschel

This purchase represents a slight change of tack. Not only was it my first expenditure on a vehicle out of my own money, but it reflects a definitive desire to get the hell out of Oxford, the drug scene, and the UK for a while in an attempt to define myself for a new me on my return.

When I bought the van it was a motorcross van with a garage at the rear – a bloody great thing, I was still living at my parents at the time (the last time) and had the benefit of a large drive and double garage in which to first dismantle and then rebuild with a double bed and a shower room. My girlfriend Helen and I promptly disappeared round Europe in JJ (JJH 630W) for 5 months. We covered 5000 miles hugging the coastlines of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece, getting as far as my brother’s flat in Athens, and even driving 7 friends of ours out from Athens airport to a Greek resort for a weeks holiday together :)

She didn’t last long though – it’s hard to find the space to park such a beast and even less common to find the excuse to use her!

More picks of JJ and the conversion in progress here – http://www.loftsites.co.uk/jj.html

5. Rover 25 vlsi

rover-25

There’s always one car in an automotive fan’s collection that is a spanner. I guess this was mine! I was settling down in Brighton and my girlfriend Sarah and I decided we both fancied the Rover 25 pretty much as soon as it was launched. Now don’t get me wrong – the 25 was actually a very drivable car, but it’s transmission was clunky and it had rubbish associations with the leather backed glove brigade so favour quickly waned…

6. Toyota Landcruiser FJ60

toyota-landcruiser

When Sarah and I got hitched I managed to persuade her that we should do a road trip for our honeymoon. I had always wanted to drive a 4×4 and the two ideas coincided in Drew – a Y reg Toyota HJ60 – a classic off road vehicle that is still commonly seen in developing countries today. I did up the exterior, converted the interior to put a double bed in the back with storage underneath, curtains, etc, and we set off on a 5 week trip which took us as far east as Prague and and south through the Alps to Tuscany. It was however a little confined in the back there so we did see a fair few hotels too. Great fun to drive though. Funnily enough I don’t think we went off road once!

7. VW Golf GTi Mk4 110bhp

golf-mk4-110

Settling back down in Brighton we decided to follow the trend and look at importing a car to save us a few bob, and the new Golf GTi (the first one in the country with the alloys pictured so we were told!) was £4000 of the UK list price. When the were released the top of the range model was actually the GT TDi, and the performance of the new turbo diesel engines VW built was just awesome. Importing was a strange process. We ended up going to some chaps house in North London to complete the deal

8. VW Golf GTi Mk4 150bhp

golf-mk4-150

We liked the Golf so much that when the 150bhp, true GTi, was launched we decided to upgrade to another import, this time with lots of lovely extras like leather, auto dimming rear mirror, rain sensors and low profile tyres. We even had it chipped with a Van Arken engine mod which took it up to 180bhp – awesome. We did many quick trips to the flat in Norfolk and back in this little beauty – my favourite vehicle of the whole lot :)

9. VW LT35 LWB Campervan – self build

vw-lt35-campervan

Some way down the line I my desire was rekindled for owning a vehicle that I could sleep in (odd that!). I picked up some old books, magazine and manuals from when I converted JJ and discovered the Self Build Motorcaravanners Club (http://www.sbmcc.co.uk) – a surprisingly active and popular forum within whose community I picked back up the skills of the trade.

I bought myself a £2k N reg VW LT35 diesel – a former glaziers van (I even had to remove the racks).  I spent £4k on the conversion (and sold her 5 years later for £5k :) put in everything from under-slung water tanks to the windows, all the electrics, gas and plumbing, shower room double bed and furniture! It took about 6 months of fairly solid weekends, evenings and even lunch breaks but it was well worth – we had many excellent trips in her, lots of festivals, and that sense of having a vehicle into which you could just flop at the end of a hard week and disappear off to various corners of Europe is priceless.

Anyway the pictorial story of the conversion can be seen over on my other website http://www.loftsites.co.uk/jj.html

10. Audi A4 Avant 2.5 V6 TDi Avant

audi-a4-avant-v6

We only sold the Golf when we needed the space to chuck a buggy and other kids stuff in the back. What do you get after a 180bhp GTi? Well I started researching and came across tyresmoke.net and started fancying myself as an RS4 Avant owner! Of course there was nothing any way near our price range so I stumbled across an estate we could afford – a 148 bhp 2.5l V6 TDi A4. This again had the full extras list, including leather, RS4 alloys and a lighting pack, and had the Audi patented Multitronic gear box, which basically meant that you could floor it from standing and go all the way up to 125 mph without a gear change – awesome. She also cornered like she was on rails – a real long range high speed cruise. Good value at purchase we did many miles in the Audi but she lost 3/4 of her value in 4 years :(

11. Saab 93 Convertible

saab-93-convertible

You little beauty! What does a divorcee looking to rekindle his boyhood freedom buy to the maximise pleasure of your 5 year old son?! A convertible of course, and in terms of value for money vs style the 93 convertible is an absolute beauty. Crucially you also get cracking performance from the huge 2 litre turbo pot that sounds great – just like a jet fighter – when you throttle it. Oh to be young again! Bring on the good weather :)

12. Fiat Ducato Adria Twin LWB Campervan

red-adria-twin

Last (but foremost) on this list for the time being is my new pride and joy – a ‘nearly new’ red Fiat Ducato (x250 chassis) Adria Twin 3 birth motorhome :)

Ever since I was a small boy I remember fondly campervan holidays in Ford Landliners and Bedford CF’s and wanted to continue this boyhood notion of having a home on wheels to escape in. For the time being this is the perfect culmination of my ‘vanning life. At last space to both stand up without bending (I am 6ft 2″) and lie comfortably across the van on a huge soft bed :)

Anyway they’ll be loads more to update this post with. You can read more about my hunt for the Adria here – http://www.loftsites.co.uk/fixed-bed-high-top-campervan.html

Thanks for reading :)

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http://www.aldissandmore.com/2010/02/23/my-vehicles/
2 comments
VW Golf
VW Golf

These pics really bring back some memories.

Simon Cranshaw
Simon Cranshaw

Ha ha! Yeah I remember that! The Golf was a nice car!

Not in the least bit copyrighted by Tim Aldiss 2012
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