As of 2 June 2004, and until further notice, I am no longer a car owner.
I have a love-hate relationship with cars. I love cars and I love driving (and always have), but I know in my heart that they are instruments of evil, both because they destroy the environment (I am a member of Greenpeace, for what it's worth) and because they bring out the worst and most selfish side of people, including myself.
This, then, is my hall of shame -- the engines of destruction that I have personally owned.
My most recent car, and without doubt the coolest car I have ever owned. People never used to come up to me and say "nice Golf; what is it, a 1600?" before! It even has it's very own dedicated web page.
It was also amazingly cheap, and although I had to spend a lot of money maintaining it, it ferried me the 40 miles back & forth between San Francisco and Mountain View on a daily basis pretty reliably for about three years, and more recently got me from one side of the United States to the other without serious incident.
I sold it on eBay Motors for almost double what I paid for it in June 2004.
My first (and so far only) proper "grown-up" car, I bought this Golf because I needed to drive 80 miles up and down the A3 each day to commute between my house in Putney, London and my job in Farnham, Surrey.
I had quite a few problems with it at first, and spent many frustrating hours dealing with an unhelpful dealer (TFL Putney Ford, boo hiss) and a hugely expensive finance company (Ford Credit UK, boo hiss again).
Although under-powered, the Driver was a lot of fun to drive; basically it's a poor-man's GTI, so it handled pretty well but because the engine was less powerful, it was considerably cheaper to insure (and less likely to be stolen).
My first Volkswagen, which I bought from Stuart Allen, an old friend from High Storrs School in Sheffield.
Although a fairly basic model, this was the first car I owned that cost more than £1,000 and wasn't a total junker; I bought it to commute between Islington in London and Cambridge when I got my first proper job with the mda (in fact I needed a loan from the mda in order to buy it), but in the end I had to move to Cambridge anyway because I couldn't afford the petrol costs.
I also did a lot of miles as part of my job, often driving around the UK doing training sessions at museums around the country with a full-size desktop computer in the boot -- mda didn't have enough money to get me a laptop.
Audi 80 LS
Probably the worst car I've ever owned (and I've had some pretty bad cars!), and to make matters worse I bought this dog from my father. I blew the engine before I'd had it a week, and things went downhill from there on.
Triumph Dolomite 1500 HL
I bought this car just after graduating, in the hope that it would become a semi-classic shortly afterwards. It didn't, but I did have a lot of fun rebuilding the engine with my father after blowing it on the M1, and subsequently driving it across Europe to Southern Italy for my MA placement. Sadly the return trip proved to be too arduous for it, and it travelled from Florence to the UK on the back of a Green Flag National Breakdown recovery truck.
Fiat 131 Supermirafiori
I got this car as soon as my insurance premiums allowed me to graduate from the feeble 1300cc Citroen (see below), and had a lot of fun razzing around London in it. Of course I blew the engine on the M1 (a recurrent theme, and a special skill), necessitating the purchase of another identical car to act as an engine donor (I also nearly died of hypothermia, sleeping in a dead vehicle in Leicester Forest East waiting for a garage to open).
Unfortunately, it seems my relationship with this vehicle was doomed from the start -- I also had two collisions, the first of which resulted in a pointless court case (I was immediately acquitted) and the second of which resulted in the loss of the car.
Citroen GSA Club
My first ever (real) car! A quirky vehicle with hydropneumatic suspension that enabled the car to be raised and lowered, tyres not much wider than a mountain bike, bizarre but wonderfully effective brakes and an unnecessarily-complicated horizontally-opposed four cylinder engine -- I think air-cooled (like VW Beetles and Porsche 911's), but I could be mistaken.
I was the victim of a sting operation when I sold this car -- my house in Kentish Town was mysteriously robbed the day after I sold the car for cash, and the money (which was hidden) was stolen.
My First Car
OK I know this is cheesy, but the fact that my father bought me racing car toys and drove cool cars like Mark II Jaguars when I was a kid may explain why I appreciate cars.
This shot of me behind the wheel at the age of 2 was taken in November of 1970 in Letchworth:
The picture below was taken in June 1972 in the driveway of our house at 59a Willian Way in Letchworth, Hertfordshire.