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Gav’s Dad’s Triumph 2000 Mid 80’s Aston Martin V8 Vantage Gav’s 1991 MG Maestro Gav’s 1999 Kawasaki ZZR600 Gav’s 2002 VW Passat 2.0SE Gav’s 2006 Sorento 2.5CRDi XE name’s Gav...and I’m an addict.

I love cars. I eat, sleep and breathe them. I love driving them, looking at them, taking pictures of them, reading about them and even cleaning them. It’s an obsession. An addiction...but definitely a blessing and not a curse.

It’s been this way as long as I can remember and this is, for the most part, down to my dad. You see, he’s always been in the motor trade, involved in car trading, car parking and the supply and manufacture of lead-acid batteries. He had so many different cars when I was a kid I couldn’t help but be excited about what he was going to arrive home in next. The highlight was a silver Jaguar XJ6. I’d never experienced anything like it. Red leather seats, wooden dash, silky smooth engine and auto ’box. The only other car which came close was a Triumph 2000. Black leather trim and wooden dash, it was like a poor mans Jag but to an addicted 8 year-old it was the dog’s dangly bits.

Most of my Saturday mornings and summer holidays were spent at my dad’s workshop cleaning cars, moving them around, loading and unloading vans, helping out in the battery shop or out on deliveries. By the age of about 12 I could drive anything (on private land of course) and remove or fit a battery with ease. I even learnt how to make a most things, it’s not all that complicated once you know how.

My bedroom wall was always plastered with car (and bike) pictures and posters, the most prominent one being a white Lamborghini Countach. I had a huge collection of manufacturers brochures collected from motor shows and local dealers. Sadly, most of them have long since been filed in the bin, which is a pity as some of them would have been worth a bob or two. I had shelves full of model cars, die-cast ones and ones I’d made from plastic kits, and dreams of being a racing driver. Whilst those dreams never came true (yet) I did once take part in the Ford Sierra Rally Search in 1987 at Croft. I didn’t make it past round 1, but for a newly qualified 17 year old up against some vastly more experience rivals, a placing about halfway up the results list wasn’t too bad! Plus it was a blast.

The first car that made me stop and stare, just by the sheer noise it made, was a mid-eighties Aston Martin V8 Vantage. I was like a little puppy. My ears pricked-up and I bounded to the door to see what it was, just in time to see it blast past. It was a defining moment in my life and I’ve been hooked on V8’s ever since. There’s no sound quite like it and it surely is some kind of icon to petrolheads and motor nuts the world over.

By the time my seventeenth birthday arrived I had already applied for my driving test. I had four ’official’ lessons and passed my test on the first go about six weeks after my birthday (and believe me...that was almost too long to bear). By that time I already owned my first car, a Mini 1000 in Brooklands Green with Orange and brown striped interior (nice!) and three spoke leather and aluminium steering wheel. My Dad managed to pick it up for a couple of hundred quid from a dealer he knew and I had spent the last few months fettling it up, doing some body repairs, t-cutting, polishing, under-sealing and making the inside habitable. To me, it was as good as a own car.

About six months later, and rather stupidly, I sold the Mini to pay for a holiday to Majorca with the lads. As soon as I came back I started regretting it. As a student, I couldn’t afford to buy another car and had to resort to persuading my mum to lend me her Austin Metro (!!!). About as much street cred Austin Metro. Still, she was kind enough to let me use it, although if she knew what I got up to in it she’d have soon changed her mind. Well, I was seventeen you know, what do you expect?

For 12 months I managed not to crash it before going off to University. That’s when my love affair with the car went through a rough patch. As a poor student I had to resort to Shanks’s Pony or the marvels of the South Yorkshire public transportation system. Still, the cheap beer helped take my mind off it.

A couple of years later, whilst still at Uni, my dad again came to the rescue and managed to pick me up my next car, a metallic gold 1981 Ford Cortina 1.6GL. It was the bee’s knees, brown crushed velour, wooden dash, a bent front bumper, dented front wing and rear door, perfect for a student. When I eventually left Uni and got a job the old Cortina served me well for a few years.

My next car was a step backwards, a 1985 Ford Orion 1.3L in Cedar Green. I have nothing good to say about it at was a complete shed which was sold for scrap about 12 months later. Mr girlfriend (now wife) kindly loaned me her Red 1991 Vauxhall Nova 1.4SR. That was great, and after the Orion was in a completely different league. My next car was a 1996 Vauxhall Corsa 1.2LS in metallic blue (needs must!). It Next, I was back on track with a Red 1991 MG Maestro. Blimey, it was quick! The engine management system tended to have a mind of its own though, and would sometimes send the revs soaring when the engine was cold...which made stopping at the lights wasn’t only the colour that made people notice it. After that, came a Red 1996 Ford Mondeo 1.8LX. And, yes, it was great to drive. It was revvy, if a little noisy, and the steering was informative and accurate and it was comfortable, as well as being able to go round bends.

Whilst I had the Mondeo I went a bit mental and bought a Kawasaki ZZR600. After passing my bike test on a 3 day crash-course some years earlier I’d been desperate to get my own bike. I guess I thought it would provide some relief from the sensibleness of my daily family transportation. In some ways it did. Mostly it just scared me stupid. I’m sure my family felt the same. Before this I had a perception of what fast was. That perception turned out to be totally inadequate - and this was only a 600!!! The noise from the ram-air induction system and the brutal acceleration was addictive and made me want to screw the nuts of it everywhere I went. I quickly added two new phrases to my vocabulary - ’weight distribution’ and ’counter-steering’. Two vital skills to ensure successful negotiation of a bend. Unfortunately, whilst I had the basics, I never had the ability (or perhaps the bottle) to tackle bends as quickly as I’d have liked, which is probably just as well. I sold the bike after 2 years having only covered about a thousand miles but I’m glad I had it. Would I have another? Probably not. There are too many numpties on the roads and just too little protection on a bike. That doesn’t mean I don’t still love them, and I salute the brave warriors I see tonking it along the back roads on their ’blades and R1s, it’s just that four wheels are definitely more my bag.

After the Mondeo came a Metallic Blue 2002 VW Passat 2.0SE which was a big step up in quality from the Mondeo although not as enjoyable to chuck around. Loved the blue dash lights though.

And now, my current car is a 2006 Kia Sorento in black (check out the review and long term reports elsewhere on this site). Not exactly a car you’d expect a petrolhead to go for but it suits my current requirements perfectly...and our other car is a Mazda RX8, which provides all the weekend joy I need. The Sorento is huge, reasonably economical, comfortable, pretty nippy, and the additional ground clearance is just what I need for the many family trips to the Irish Republic (the reason I bought it). It’s also a bit of a bargain. OK so it handles like a barge and that high centre of gravity makes it lean like a 2CV in the bends (almost) but it also means I can have almost as much fun at 25mph round a roundabout as I can at 40 in the RX8.


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