Oh gawd. It’s ‘silly car purchase season’

I was doing so well. I’d somehow got from January to August with only one new vehicle purchase, and the return of an old friend. That’s quite remarkable for me, especially after the crazy year of 2011 when at various points I owned a V8 Land Rover, a Reliant Scimitar GTE, a Range Rover, a really rather ropey but rare BX, a Rover 75 and a Peugeot 309 – as well as the stripey BX first time around and the 2CV of course.

I was determined to be far less restless in 2012 and until August, I was doing really well. The Maverick was the right vehicle at the right time and I donned my rose-tinted glasses to expect my stripey BX to be as good second time around as it had been before. It wasn’t. And I already had another rusty BX. This gave me great stress, so I sold the ‘worst’ BX to someone who could tackle its many issues. Fair play to him – he has as well!

Problem was, the BX I was left with was still in desperate condition. The rear end was chronically rotten, the cambelt needed changing and then the clutch started to deteriorate. It really needs replacing. I tried to blind myself to the truth. I could still save it! And I still could. If I had lots and lots of money. I don’t though, so it looks like The Green Tiger is destined to become a parts stash to keep other BXs going.

Then a BX 17TXD Turbo came up for sale at entirely the wrong time. The drive back form the CXM Rally in Milton Keynes had been pretty awful. The BX felt sluggish and the clutch was horrific. Two nasty traffic jams didn’t help. My love for the car was fast diminishing. I tried to remove the tow bar so it could be welded up, but bits of it kept falling off – and that was just when I removed the electrics! Then I decided to investigate a noise coming from the rear brakes. I discovered rotten discs and pads which fell apart when I removed them. Getting this car back into fully working order was going to take a LOT of time and money. No dice.

So, when a turbo-diesel BX came up for sale on the BX Club website for not a lot of cash, I couldn’t really refuse could I?

The only problem was that it was in Nottingham. This hurdle was overcome when a neighbour said she was driving to Leicestershire that very weekend. So you see, it was totally beyond my control. It was definitely destiny. Allegedly.

I agreed to buy the car sight unseen as frankly, it was cheap enough to be snapped up by someone else if I wasn’t quick. Some people may baulk at the idea of buying a car 140 miles away without seeing it, and then driving home in it, but a true gentleman (or lady but these are rare) of Autoshite takes such things in his stride, reckoning that there’s a fairly good chance that however bad the car is, it is probably better than the car he/she is already driving around in.

Happily, I wasn’t wrong. A quick check-over revealed that it was considerably more solid than my BX estate and the only real issues were a clonk from the front end and a flicker from the STOP light indicating a low LHM level. You know, the vital fluid that powers the steering, brakes and suspension. Hardly a biggy.

Citroen BX turbo diesel

The new purchase. It’s turbocharged! The wheels and front spoiler are to be banished…

I handed over cash, collected some paperwork and was on my way back home. I was briskly onto the M1 where I discovered a really nasty steering judder at 70mph. This was going to be a frustrating journey home. Then I discovered that if you accelerate up to 80mph, it gets really, really bad, slow down to 70mph and it seemed fine…or was it just less bad? Anyway, the threat of developing Vibration White Finger seemed diminished so I pushed on.

At Newtowns in Powy, after just over two hours of driving, I was considering the BX a good buy. Sure, it had a few issues – like that front end knock, creaking from the front AND rear suspension (sticky struts and worn arm bearings respectively) – but this was joyous to drive. I could actually keep up with traffic and quite often, leave it behind in a cloud of soot. A 0-60mph time of just under 12 seconds may be pretty tardy by modern standards, but I’m used it taking 20 seconds or more. I was flying!

Citroen BX with spoiler

Not sure about the rear spoiler either, but it is standard for this model.

The handling was ok, but I wasn’t really pushing it due to not knowing exactly what was clonking up front and a lack of confidence in the tyres. I reckoned by this time that there was something worn in the front suspension/steering being made worse by a wheel balancing issue. The Peugeot alloys fitted to it lack centre holes, which means most places can’t balance them properly. One weight looked like it had fallen off too. That wouldn’t help!

By now a bigger problem was the wiper blades. The one fitted to the front was horrific, not aided by non-working screenwash. At Newtown, I put the rear blade on the front – a right faff with the stupid rear spoiler in the way. That improved things but it still felt like I was driving along with someone else’s glasses on. It would have to do as petrol stations these days sell brightly coloured, hideously nasty food rather than bits you might want for a car.

However, my new purchase DID get me home, and in style. I was beginning to love the strong wall of torque that this engine develops from low engine speeds. I was worried I’d have to rag it silly to get a shift on, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, it’s only first gear that’s a pain. By the time the turbo has spooled up, it’s time to change gear!

I’ve given the car a more thorough check-over today and the important jobs are going to be to replace an inner track rod to get rid of that clonk, and possibly a balljoint. The rear suspension arm bearings desperately need replacement too. The creak is because they are so worn that the arms are at a slight angle and rubbing on the rear axle beam. Oh, and replace two utterly broken LHM return pipes. That might well be why it’s losing so much fluid, though there is also a declared leak on the pipework near the pressure regulator.

I’m looking forward to getting this one fettled and then battling to keep it nice. After purchasing two cars in a month, I’m now hoping that’ll be it for 2012, but there will still be plenty for me to Blog about I’m sure!

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