Your Cars: Michael Halls – What’s good about old cars?

I sit here writing this after a week of fixing the polo. The Volkswagen of which I speak is a 1988 MK2 to be a little more precise making it is two years older than me, however it’s done little more than 60 thousand miles and is now mechanically sound after a few little jobs that needed doing when I bought it. The car was intended as a little run around as it only cost me £150 and VW managed to shoehorn a mighty 1043cc engine under the bonnet. You would expect the car then to be a worthless piece of junk that would bring more tears and mishaps than an eye surgeon with Parkinson’s but it’s actually not bad! The fuel tank was leaking badly which is a common problem and the boot lock is seized solid but other than that it’s perfect for me.

The thing I love about the Polo is the fact that it is a car you have to drive; I mean actually drive it properly not like a modern car with power steering and traction control. The soft suspension makes it comfortable but surprisingly as agile as a Go-Kart around the back roads and because it weighs only 700 odd Kilograms and has skinny tyres with no assisted steering, the feedback in the steering wheel makes it feel like I have always imagined a classic mini is to drive which is no bad thing! I certainly would not want to take it on a long motorway run with its 4 speed gearbox and enormous road noise at 70mph but the car has reminded me that it is possible to have fun on the roads without even getting close to the speed limit. The best thing is the car only cost me £150 so if it does blow up then I’m not out-of-pocket. A new set of tyres would cost about the same as buying the same car again it was that cheap.

The Polo is now sporting a matt black paint job after I decided to try my hand at spraying in preparation for painting my project car and what better car to practice on? The paint cost a mere £12 and helped tidy the old girl up considerably and a few weeks on the rust still hasn’t come back threatening to rot the car to the ground.

I am aware that not everybody will be so lucky when buying a banger. If someone lists some known faults with a car they are selling there is a good chance that they are the only faults as opposed to someone who is selling a shed with no faults advertised or at least that is what my experiences have shown. It is also a good idea not to go for sought after models too such as the mk1 golf as these tend to fetch much higher prices.

Retro cars then are they for you? If you want something cheap then bargains can be had but don’t expect it to be trouble-free motoring by any stretch of the imagination; they will however offer you huge satisfaction when you are on the right road having fun and everything is working as it should, that is when you will find it hard not to be smug when you pull up next to someone in the newest model of yours which will have cost around 250 times what yours cost, and I can guarantee it will not be 250 times better.

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One response to “Your Cars: Michael Halls – What’s good about old cars?

  1. In the days of scrappage schemes, credit crunches and garages charging a fortune to hook up to diagnostic machines, a cheap 1980s supermini with lots of lovely old-school mechanical bits makes such sense. Even 1.0 litre cars are a good laugh to drive of that age with the light bodies.

    The description of being like a classic Mini to drive is spot on – I’m on my second Vauxhall Nova and you actually have to DRIVE these old little cars rather than just ‘operate’ them like a modern Polo or Corsa.

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