Having incredibly found the car I was looking for after one day, it only remained to head to Manchester to collect it.
After kindly being given a lift into town (in a Mk3 Volkswagen Golf no less), I purchased my train ticket and waited upon the platform.
There, I pondered the demise of the railways. Staff who don’t really care, buildings that were built by incredible Victorians and ignored by everyone since, and views littered with rubbish – a glimpse behind the scenes.
It’s all a bit depressing, and thoughts of the romance of train travel quickly desert the mind.
Happily, the train was on time and not actually that bad to travel on. I got two seats all to myself and started to read Ian Rankin’s excellent latest book – Standing in another man’s grave. Once the train was moving though, the ever-changing countryside dragged my attention away from Rebus’s latest adventures. Little lambs, an Osprey nesting platform, snow-capped mountains, a Renault 21 Turbo and a Reliant Scimitar GTE all commanded my attention – and that was just the section to the curious town of Borth.
By the time we reached Crewe, changing at the very pleasant town of Shrewsbury, the view had changed somewhat.
I took photos of old train carriages because it was a distraction from the building football fever on the train. Sadly, Manchester United were playing at home, so a lot of people who had never lived anywhere near Manchester felt the need to visit the city to indulge in some mild yobbishness. It wasn’t too bad thankfully.
Then we reached Manchester. I’m afraid it all got a bit hectic here. I grew up in a city – Birmingham no less, so a pretty big one. Yet these days, I’m utterly stunned by the sheer number of people you get in urban environments. It was a bit of a shock to the system having sat on the seaside in Aberystwyth that morning pretty much on my own.
I’d already paid for the car, so some hasty paperwork ensued while I quickly checked the car over. And I did it REALLY quickly, fearful that now I’d signed the logbook, it would be me liable for any parking fines should a warden happen upon our chosen handover location. The good news was that the structure looked sound, including the rear crossmember – a very common rot spot.
In hindsight, I should have checked the car more thoroughly when we first reached it, here in a multi-storey car park.
The car looked good, but I now had to navigate my way out of Manchester City Centre. I had a sat-nav, but the seller reckoned I wouldn’t need it. He was pretty much right – I found my way onto the M56 and began to discover issues.
A front wheel bearing was humming away rather loudly, the turbo was making some odd noises (bearings or air escaping – I haven’t decided yet) and fifth gear was also noticeably more noisy than all the others. Then, after 30 miles, the ABS warning light came on. Bother.
I stopped for a photo shoot. Note how dry it was here. That wouldn’t last…
Turning the engine off and restarting cured the ABS fault. Easy! I decided at this point to plug the Sat Nav in as I didn’t have a map and had forgotten how to get home. Not long after I set off again, the heavens opened. At this point I discovered both that the windscreen wiper was hopeless and that the heater was also rubbish.
I don’t understand how people can drive around with knackered wiper blades. It rains a lot in the UK. Surely being able to see is good?! The last BX was even worse. I ended up having to swap the front blade for the rear. This time, I decided I could live with it. The knackered heater was something else though. I’m not sure what’s wrong but air doesn’t seem to be coming into the car, so I suspect a stuck flap. I ended up having to clear the windscreen with a glove, while trying not to feel the cold.
It wasn’t the most enjoyable drive home. At one stage the rain was so heavy that flooding was a real risk and visibility was absolutely dreadful. There was more exciting weather to come though…
Ok, so this was rather more enjoyable. Enough snow to make Wales look even more beautiful than normal, but not enough to create OMG SNOW KAOS on the roads. At this point I discovered that it had winter tyres fitted! I even had a set of snow chains in the boot – thankfully not needed.
The car won’t go down as one of my better purchases I don’t think. I was a bit too trusting and didn’t ask enough questions – perhaps getting a bit blasé after a fair degree of blind purchasing success. It isn’t a bad car though, and any sub-grand buy has the potential for tinkering. It was good value for what it was at £500. Especially as the key factor is that it has covered (by the time we got home) a rather staggering 305,900 miles. That’s further than the distance to the moon. The engine has been replaced (200,000 miles), but careful maintenance has allowed this car to keep going. Hopefully it’ll continue to do so under my ownership.