Everyone is having a bash at reviewing their year, so I’ll join in. What has 2015 meant to me? Well, let’s start with the fleet. It began like this.
Yes, just two cars! My 2CV of almost 15 years (back in January) and the XM that I had only owned for a couple of months. I already knew that the 2CV’s time was running out, so I needed to contemplate life without it. The primary consideration here is my wife, who views driving the XM with all the enthusiasm of a dog due a visit to the vet. There are many, many reasons why she will not drive it. Size, the fact it has power steering, the four-pedal set-up, size, the heavy clutch, size and it’s also a bit large, with many parts of its great length that you cannot see from behind the wheel. This is the problem when you introduce your partner to the world of the original Mini. EVERYTHING else is too big.
I’m not one to refuse a challenge though, so having accepted that there’s no way I was going to buy another Mini (cost being the main reason), I sought out an alternative. Step forward the Perodua Nippa. Amusingly, in my 2015 fleet prediction, I joked that I’d flog everything and buy a Perodua Kenari. As it happens, the Nippa ticked more boxes. It’s easily the most simple car you could buy in 2001 as even the Kenari usually has power steering. I found a peachy one with just 24k on the clock for £300. I still can’t quite believe it, but it has become an essential little part of the fleet. At 3.4 metres long, it’s barely any longer than a Mini and though it feels a bit unsteady, you can also corner in it at silly speeds. The steering is wonderfully direct.
The Nippa joined the fleet in March, just in time for the 2CV to be retired in April – though I did manage to get her to her 200,000th mile before that happened, and she even managed to lead a convoy of 2CVs back in Easter time!
The other fleet prediction was that I would buy an Ami or Dyane. As the year wore on, that one proved more and more difficult to achieve. Income was low, perilously so and I was thankful for a short stint working at the local community bus company. I had to pause my trustee role temporarily, but was glad of a little work during a rather barren spell. The joy of freelance life.
So, buying a Dyane or Ami would have to be done with very little budget. I managed it though! Running that car with no money has been tough, and I took it off the road at the end of October to save a little road tax, and save it from corrosion. Given that it has barely stopped raining during December, that was a good call. I did at least manage to get to the Goodwood Revival in it!
Which just leaves the small matter of the Free Volvo, which heads to a new home tomorrow. Not a great addition to the fleet perhaps and it has certainly come a long way from replacing the XM. Which is still here! Amazing. The fleet ends 2015 as the XM, Perodua and Dyane – and the 2CV of course.
Other happenings have been fun too of course. I’ve driven a BMW-engined 2CV – on road and track – and finally managed to drive almost every 2CV spin-off too. A Slough-built 2CV, Amis 6, 8 and Super, an early Dyane and a Mehari. Shitefest gave yet more glory in the form of a Talbot Alpine, Volvo 850 diesel, Renault 16 automatic, a tuned BMW E30 Touring, Lancia Y10 and even a Honda Accord Aerodeck.
For work, I finally got to enjoy some time behind the wheel of a late-1960s Porsche 911 as well as a Jaguar E-Type V12 – though frankly, I think I preferred the Austin 3-Litre that a friend allowed me to drive to Pride of Longbridge and back in April. It was wonderful to have so long to drive a car I’ve admired for so long.
Many of the cars above will be in magazine features you will be able to read in 2016 – I’ll let you know where nearer the time. The Austin 3-Litre report has already featured in Classic Car Buyer, as has my detailed report of what it was like to be part of the pit crew for a team in the 2CV 24-hour race. I thoroughly enjoyed that and it was my first night with no sleep in many, many years! Parents – how do you do it?
I’ve also been pushing my YouTube channel very hard in 2015. It’s lovely being completely free to pick the cars I want to drive, or just make a video on whatever happens to be to hand! I’ll never make any money at it, but it’s fun all the same, and it has been very pleasing to see my total stats go up from about 20,000 views to more than 115,000 as of today.
Work has been picking up again too, which is good. Having very little money does become rather tiresome and there are things other than cars that need my funds too!
For that reason, I’m still pondering about restoring the 2CV.. That’ll (probably) be the subject of my next Blog, which should be 2016 fleet predictions. Will the XM continue to own my heart? What will the future be of the smaller members of the fleet? Stay tuned…
Thanks for your support in 2015, especially those who glanced up at the top right-hand corner of the screen and clicked the Donate button. I appreciate those who took the trouble to leave comments either on my blog or YouTube too. It’s nice to know that the words I hurl at the screen offer some enjoyment, trivial and ridiculous as they often are. I wish you all the best for 2016.