Episode 146. Aixam 500-5. WJ52 WNV. (Part 6).

The last part of the Aixam saga... Finally!

I feel like I've had this thing for ages, but in reality it's only been a couple of months or so. I was getting to the point where I thought that I would never sell it. Not because I particularly wanted to keep it, although, just lately I have been having quite a laugh in it. But because everyone who has come to view it has then driven it and then told me that it wasn't for them! Although, to be fair I did actually talk a couple of fellas out of buying it for their own good.

These two chaps thought that they could drive the Aixam on a banger rally. But before they even started the rally they needed to drive the Aixam from Colchester in England to Reims in France where the start of the rally was. That in itself is a distance of 300 odd miles! Then, upon arrival in France they would be driving to Venice in Italy over three days. Taking in stops in Switzerland on the way and covering just over 800 miles. 800 miles in three days in an Aixam!? With all that rattling and vibration!! I told them that I was happy to sell it to them, but they would be far better off buying a proper car! In total they would've covered about 1,150 miles from their home in Colchester to Venice, and presumably they would've had to have got back too! Although by the time they got there I think I'd have been ready to set the thing on fire and hitch-hike back home! Thinking about it now I should've let them take it, then followed their progress, but I honestly thought that I just couldn't in good faith let them try to make that journey in this thing!

Anyway, thankfully today it did finally find a new home...

And away it goes! Hooraaah!! I'm not sure what plans the new owner has for it, but I doubt it involves driving it! The new owner turned up, got out of his van, and looked down on me and said, "I'm Big Al!" I looked at him and thought, yep,  I'd agree with that. "I've come for the Aixam." He continued. I thought to myself how is this fella going to fit in this? Perhaps he has another one, and he's going to use them as skates! Big Al then asked me if it's OK? I told him that it wasn't like a proper car, and everything shakes, rattles, and rolls when you're driving it. He laughed, and then said "Right let's get it loaded up!" I said OK, and told him if he would like to set his ramps up I would drive it onto his trailer for him. Big Al thought that was a good idea, and started to set up his trailer. I climbed into the Aixam for the last time, and turned the key. The Aixam roared into life, OK, it didn't roar, but it started, and I drove it onto Big Als trailer. We did the paperwork, we agreed a price (which was probably far less than I would've got for the Bini). He tied the Aixam down to stop it blowing away, and then away he went!

As I watched it disappear down the street I was pretty glad, although I do have this feeling in the pit of my stomach that when he gets home, and tries to drive it off the trailer he's not going to be able to fit into it. He was about 30-40% bigger than me in all directions! After we did the deal I shook his hand and no foolin' my hand could only just span his palm!! But worse than that what if he manages to get in, but then he can't get back out again? They're gonna have to cut the roof off this thing to get him back out! Unless of course he's bought it for his kids to drive or something. Anyway, why ever he bought it, I wish him all the best luck in world with it, and fingers crossed I won't be at the bottom of a giant beanstalk with an axe at some point soon chopping it down while he's climbing down it after me!

So what are my findings about the Aixam, well...

It's not very comfortable, and it is quite cramped inside. This is because although it's about the same size as a Smart ForTwo on the outide, the Aixam has four seats, whereas the Smart has just the two. But not only that, it's noisy inside too, I'm sure it's probably noisy on the outside as well, it's just you can't hear what it's like on the outside while you're driving it. The back seats, much like the front are not built for comfort either. My two little monsters said that they were OK, but not like sitting in a real car! Also, unlike a real car, you can't go picking stuff up in it either.

Nothing fits in the boot, nothing! Even just going and getting a few items from the grocery store means that you're dropping the back seats down in order to take your shopping home with you! I think that I'd even go as far as to say that the boot on the Aixam is a pointless exercise, I wish I could say that at best it serves as an emergency hatch incase you can't open the doors, but it doesn't because the lever to open the boot is located inside the drivers door shut! If you can't open the drivers door, you can't open the boot!

Then we come to that powerhouse of an engine, the 500cc heart of a mini digger!

Surprisingly in this little thing that engine is not too bad, don't get me wrong, it screams like a banshee, and it's not fast, but it's fast enough! It screams away under the bonnet whisking the little Aixam alone quite nicely, but, if economy is what you're hoping for, then look somewhere else because economical this is not! To put this into context, from my 1980 Trans Am I getting somewhere around the low twenty miles per gallon. In the Aixam I was averaging about 15 miles per gallon, FIFTEEN!! Thats ridiculously bad, I'm not comfy, I'm not safe as it has the structural integrity of a tupperware sandwich box, I'm deaf, I don't look cool, and I'm not even saving money or the planet by driving it! What actually is the point of this thing?

This is a question that literally loads of my friends have asked me, and I really wish I had an answer for them, or for you. But the truth is, I've no idea. I know that in France you can drive them legally from 14 years old, and also if you've been convicted of drink driving you're still allowed to drive these. But here, in England you can't drive them at 14 (unless you're in a car park late at night apparently), and if you've been drinking and driving you can't drive them either. I guess that at best they're probably OK to tow behind a campervan, but then, so are a lot of other small cars, like the Ka for example, and thats another 3 feet longer so you get a lot more room, and, it's a proper car.

So why then would you go out and buy one in the first place? Well, I don't know. But I do wonder if they could be used as a punishment, like, you've been caught using the phone while you're driving, instead of points and a fine, three years of drving an Aixam! Or, you've been caught speeding, instead of points and a fine, a sliding scale of years driving an Aixam depending on just how much over the speed limit you were travelling? In fact the Aixam could be used for all manner of minor motoring offenses as both a punishment, and a deterrant! But apart form that, for people who weren't being punished for motoring crimes the only real benefit I can think of with having the Aixam was that I was never short of having places to park, I could get that thing in pretty much anywhere. It was great for parking. I guess the reason I was interested in it in the first place was that I was curious to see just what it was like to drive, and I really thought that it would be bordering on free to run which it really wasn't! I will say however that I am glad to have had it, it's been an experience, and I'm happy to say that the more I drove it, the more I liked it. I even eventually got the hang of the Continuously Variable type Transmission, and one I've put it into gear I leave the stick alone... Don't even reach for it anymore!

I can't say that in the future I'll look back on my time with it and think that it was a highlight of my motoring exploits, but it was pretty exclusive. In the short time I've owned the Aixam I've seen countless Bentleys, quite a few Ferarris, and Lamborghinis, I've even seen a couple of DeLoreans, but not one other Aixam!! I reckon that puts me in a pretty exclusive little club! But would I have another one? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaa... NO! Not even if you were paying me to own one! We have had some fun in it, we've had some laughs, and we've even had some adventures. But it's done now, I've experienced the Aixam and what they're about, and it's now time to move on, drive something that I feel like I'm driving more than wearing! Something with a bit more leg, and headroom, something I can breathe in! Something that I can relax in, and most of all, something that doesn't leave me with white finger and tinitus after I've driven it!