Video: Bangernomics

As you’ve no doubt gathered, I’m a big fan of running cars on a tight budget. Mostly because I have to. But I also find it very satisfying to keep cars going that otherwise might just be thrown away. We’re a terribly wasteful society.

So, in my latest video, I talk through some of my experiences and tell you how to safely grab a bargain. I also tell you how I sometimes got it wrong…

Video: Mitsubishi Pajero Junior

I love small cars, and 4x4s don’t get much smaller, or cuter, than the Mitsubishi Pajero Junior. Well, ok. There’s the Pajero Mini as well. Full details below! The test features on and off-road antics.

Another dream achieved. Baby 4x4!

Another dream achieved. Baby 4×4!

I’m particularly thrilled with this one, as I love 4x4s that have proper 4×4 functions. This is not a mere city car with chunky looks. The Pajero Junior was never officially sold in the UK, but many of the 70,000+ built were imported. It was replaced in 1998 by the Pajero Pinin – sold as the Shogun Pinin in Europe the UK, and built by Pininfarina. That’s also a 4×4 with very genuine ‘rough stuff’ ability.

Video: The Eco Car Con

The government is working hard to encourage us to buy brand new, environmentally friendly cars. But is it actually better for the environment than just keeping our existing cars going? Inspired by a question by one of my followers, I decided to investigate.

Could it be that new is not best after all?

Could it be that new is not best after all?

Now, this is not that easy to get to the bottom of, because there are an awful lot of variables. Certainly, my XM doing 10,000 miles a year kicks out about the same amount of pollution as a brand new Land Rover Freelander diesel auto doing the same mileage, or better than an electric car doing 25,000 miles a year. Yes, electric has a dirty footprint too – in the UK at least. Paraguay is actually leading the way with renewables while we still rely on dirty gas and coal. Encouragingly though, this summer apparently renewables were more productive than coal. A step in the right direction?

But it’s manufacturing that still generates most emissions. Now, this will vary dramatically from car to car, but as far as I could find out, building a car the size and specification of my Citroen XM today probably produces about 20 tons of CO2, whereas driving it for a year generates 2.5-3.0 tons. I do more investigation in my latest video.

Video: My relationship with the 2CV

After yesterday’s Blog post, I did probably-not-enough thinking, and have agreed to purchase the Dyane. More on that in the coming weeks! But, I thought it might be nice to indulge myself with some thoughts on why I like 2CVs (and other A-Series Citroens such as the Dyane) quite so much.

I’m not sure my video has all of the answers, but I hope you enjoy it. It includes some truly excellent external footage from my friend Keith Hicks. We had great fun nailing those sequences together last summer. It really has reminded me just why it is that I need an A-Series Citroen in my life ASAP!

Video Road Test: Mitsubishi Delica L400

It is still some surprise to me that my most-viewed Blog post of all time is a road test I did on a friend’s Mitsubishi Delica L400 – a Japanese import people carrier that uses Shogun off road tech to create a very multi-purpose vehicle.

So, I thought it was about time I did an actual video review. I borrowed his truck very briefly last night, and cobbled together a quick video. After all, I suspect a lot of people would like to know what it is like to drive one of these seemingly unstable beasts. You may well be surprised!

Road Test Video: Jaguar E-Type

To tie in with the 1st July 2015 issue of Classic Car Buyer, which features my full report on my experiences in a Jaguar E-Type Series 3 V12, I’ve made this short video which summarises some of my views. It also does the one thing that my words cannot do – it lets you listen to the car itself!

So, what is a last-of-the-line E-Type really like?

So, what is a last-of-the-line E-Type really like?

Be warned, it does also feature an out of control beard. Sorry.

My thanks to Hartlebury Castle and Great Escape Classic Car Hire.

Dream Drive: Citroën-Maserati DS V6

I’ve known of this car since at least 2006. Built by former Lotus engineer Adie Pease, the DSM is the car the DS should always have been – with a few added quirks. A bit of background first.

Citroen Maserati

My first sight of the DSM, in 2006 – here with the roof off.

When Citroën was developing the DS, it rather ran out of development funds. That led to the mighty D wowing the world with its starship looks in 1955, while that swooping bonnet hid a warmed-over Traction Avant engine – a unit with pre-war origins (which miraculously lived on until 1981 in the current catering van of choice – the H van). Later on, it got a better engine, but it never had enough cylinders. The initial plan was for a flat-six, but those plans were kiboshed by economics. Even Michelin, who then owned the company, apparently had limits.

The SM was launched in 1970, and finally here was a car with DS-like suspension and steering (albeit further developed) and a worthy engine at last – a product of Citroën’s purchase of Maserati. The V6 engine has a 90 degree angle, which is largely due to it being a truncated V8. There are four camshafts, sodium-filled valves (often replaced) and a soundtrack that can gently cause excitement amongst the hair folicles of a motor enthusiasts neck.

Nine years later, riding in a dream machine.

Citroën did build a few DS V6s, but only really to test the SM’s hardware. That said, they did take one of them ice racing just for a laugh and that car is still in the Citroën Conservatoire. It’s a car I have a lot of time for.

So, if you wanted a V6 DS, there were few options other than to build your own. Over a few suitable drinks at a Citroën Car Club meeting, that’s what happened when Adie Pease and owner Edward Davidge let beer replace common sense.

Just to add to the fun, they opted to use a semi-automatic gearbox, as used on the DS but never the SM. Oh, and they’d already turned the car into a four-door convertible – the entire roof is removable.

While I’d known the car for years, I’d never had a chance to meet the owner until he turned up at a small camping event I’d organised near home. When we decided to head into Aberystwyth to soak up some sun, I was thrilled to get a chance to have a ride in this car – one I’d lusted after for so long. When he said I could have a drive if I liked, it was all I could do to stop running around in circles and jumping for joy. That sort of thing rarely gives the owner much confidence.

However, I did get my hands on the keys and soon found myself trying to manoeuvre a very powerful car, with five people in it, in a very tight car park, backwards. A few things made this difficult. One, the DS is wider at the front than the rear, so you can’t just rely on your mirrors when reversing through a tight spot. Second, this DSM uses a semi-automatic gearbox, which has a centrifugal clutch. It’s a mechanical, automated clutch over which the driver has no control. Thirdly, the clutch set-up ‘needs work.’

Citroen DS DSM V6

Yes, that is my hose reel. Sorry about that. Here, the DSM has its roof fitted.

Disaster was averted and I was able to drive away from Aberystwyth in a big, floaty car that made noises I could listen to all day. Make no mistake, this is a car that demands your attention. Your first experience of a DS, SM or CX can be a terrifying one. Super-direct steering is allied to super soft suspension, while the brakes are incredibly fierce, and controlled by a rubber button on the floor. My experience with these cars paid off, and I kept all of my movements as slow and controlled as possible. The reward is a car that shrugs off the worst of roads – not actually too much of an issue in rural Ceredigion as the roads are fantastic.

With the engine warm and a hill looming, I could give it a bootful and let that Italian engine really sing. Power was actually a bit lacking – the car could do with a fettle admits the owner – but go beyond 3000rpm and she really hitches up her skirts and dashes for the horizon. It feels quite racy apart from one aspect – that semi-automatic gearbox. A small stalk protrudes from the steering column, and can be casually flicked by your right-hand without having to relinquish your hold on the steering wheel. The actual gearchanges are performed using hydraulic power, though you do need to lift off the throttle. That’s because the clutch is disengaged as the change is made. You have to time your return to the throttle perfectly. Too soon and the clutch is not yet engaged, and you just end up with revs. Too late and precious momentum is lost. It’s a ridiculously sporty engine allied to a not-at-all sporty gearbox. Yet somehow, it works.

The tight, twisty roads of mid-Wales were no problem at all, as the DS has fabulous road manners. the hydraulically-assisted steering is wonderfully direct, and nicely weighted. Grip is plentiful – from the tyres, if not the seats. My passengers had to hold on tight. It didn’t seem to take long for me to get used to this car. I quickly adapted to the need to blip the throttle on downshifts, as otherwise, the centrifugal clutch tends not to re-engage very quickly – which can leave you feeling like you’ve got no engine braking and a gearbox full of neutrals. Easing off on the throttle helped make changes smoother too, though there’s a real knack to getting a perfect gearchange, especially when really going for it. The owner told me to go for revs – I wasn’t going to ignore such an invitation!

The problem here is gearing. It’ll quite happily do 70mph in second gear! Fourth is very much an overdrive, but there’s quite a gap to third. That means you often end up hanging on to third gear, just because fourth result in too much of a rev drop – and a loss of momentum. Not that a screaming V6 is particularly onerous to listen to, but it remains a minor imperfection.

I hate to grumble though, because this is a very rare thing indeed. This is one of those ‘meet your hero’ moments that definitely did not disappoint. In fact, the only negative thing is that I was so fired up about the experience, that photography went straight out of the window. I can only apologise. I was having the time of my life.

PS – I did get a video while I was travelling in the rear. Sadly, the engine noise is not very prominent, but you can enjoy the views!