Episode 178. Vauxhall Frontera. P75 KAJ. (Part 1).

Now before I start rambling on, this is not a new little adventure, this little project happened five years ago, in 2015, and was originally published for want of a better word on Retro Rides. At the time I was pretty new to the idea of writing anything online for other people to read. My typing was slow, well, much slower than it is today, although it's still slow by most peoples standards. But as it was slow, and it would take me forever and a day to write up my thread posts I tended only to put the edited highlights. Five years on, my typing skills have improved, and although I'm still not the fastest typist, I thought that I'd quite like to re-visit the project, and add the bits I left out originally due to my slowness, and laziness!

This all started during the Christmas break back in 2014. I was having a discussion over several Ciders with some of my friends about how many cars we'd each owned and I was losing, a lot! Between the five of us the banter was flying,  and although I was the butt of some of the jokes, one of our friends was the target of most of them... My automotive back catalogue was just about into the teens, which by all accounts was pretty poor for a fella who had been driving for the best part of quarter of a Century. But his was not even into double figures, and he had been driving for thirty years. Anyway, the banter kept flying his way until he finally snapped, and he said that he could only ever be an armchair car enthusiast because as much as  he'd love to have a cool old car, but cannot afford one! He wasn't as lucky as the rest of us! I responded to this by saying what a load of rubbish that was, of course he could afford one if he wanted one. But, he was adamant he couldn't. The general feeling amoungst the group was not so much that he couldn't afford one, but it was that he is a little bit tight, and his wife holds the purse strings really tightly, and so I pressed him further on the subject, and asked him how much money he could afford to spend on a classic, retro, or otherwise interesting car. He said that at the very most he could afford to spend not a penny more than £1000! For this kind of money, we told him, he could have something quite cool sitting in his driveway. But he was adamant that he couldn't get anything interesting or cool for that money. We were all pretty amazed by this little statement, so we asked him what kind of car did he want? His response? I dunno, something like a Shelby Mustang, E-type Jag, or Ferarri or something like that! Well, I guess we'd all like one of those! But not one of us who were part of this discussion have any of these things, although, a couple of us have Mustangs, one of us has an old XJS, and the nearest any of us has to a Ferarri is an old Fiat... And that's my old Multipla! So after a fair amount of laughter, and some more banter we all came to the conclusion that he was being unrealistic, and that if he could prize the purse strings out of his wifes hands for a moment then a good, fun, and interesting car could be parked outside his house for less that a £1000! By now it was safe to say that he was getting pretty cheesed off with it all, and he was having none of it! So stupidly, probably because of the Cider I said something really foolish! I suggested we have a little bet, and that would be that I would buy, drive, experience, and then sell one car a month for a year. To try and keep to a realistic budget, and to make it so that was affordable to him, we decided that each of these cars should be less than £1000. However I did also say that if something comes up that I considered to be especially cool or interesting, and I can afford it, then I can spend more! The deal was that if I managed to get through 12 cars in a year, then he was to stop being a whiney-ass armchair enthusiast, snatch the purse from his wifes hand, and go out and buy something interesting to drive, and stop complaining that he can't afford a cool retro or classic car!

To be honest this was not the first time I'd played this game. I had played it twenty odd years previously when I was working part time at a local garage. The difference was that then the cars were 'borrowed' and not mine. This was because I was still in my first few years of motoring at the time as I'd only passed my test three or four years previously, and the cars I carried out my 'test drives' on were fairly new at the time, and so were out of my price range. With that in mind this time the rules were that the cars I chose whatever they may be must be MOTd, and in running order, and not a project, although being tatty is ok, as long as it's got an MOT for atleast the month so that I could drive them, but the longer the better really. They needed to be interesting to me, not just any old car just to have one a month. I felt that it would be pretty pointless to just buy anything that came along just to make up the numbers, so it needed to be something I wanted to own. Lastly, they also needed to be mine, as in, have my name on the V5c. This was not supposed to be a money making excercise, as I am not a dealer in any way shape or form. But that being said I did want to get back what I put into buying a car, as this way I could carry on playing!

So with the rules set out, I cracked on looking for a car, and here's the first one of the year... 

Januarys car was a 1997 Vauxhall Frontera Sport with a 2.0litre engine, and 139590 miles on the odometer...


Well, I'm guessing that there's a fair bit of head shaking going on, but never mind, I like them, and I think they're pretty damn cool! I must admit though, on the train journey to pick this up I was starting to have sencond thoughts on what the heck I had got myself into. I'm not a fan of public transport of any description really, and the train ride to collect it just re-enforced this feeling. The train was pretty packed, and for a good portion of the journey I had to stand in a rather packed carriage with the smell of the gentleman under arm who was standing next to me. Atleast, I think it was his, but in all fairness the train was really hot and it could well have been mine! Still, it could've been worse, my eldest Monster was just under four feet tall at the time, So I'll bet the smell, and heat of the carriage was worse for her!

So, how much did it cost, well including the rather expensive, uncomfortable, hot, smelly, and very slow train journey, the Frontera has cost me about £580. It has about six months MOT on it, and is in running order, although a little scruffy! So then, first impressions? Well, it is a little scruffy, but thats OK, the photos in the ad showed that so I was ready for it! The battery was a little flat, and the interior was filthy, and stunk of wet dog!! Lovely! Also, to add insult to injury there was no petrol in it! I started it up, and the fuel guage needle crept slowly up to the red, not onto it, up to it... Great! So I asked the seller, where the nearest petrol station was. Oh he said, there's one in the village, about 1/4 of a mile away, and he pointed me in the right direction, and so, before we wasted any more fuel just sittig there, off we went. The seller was absolutely correct, there was one in the village, but unfortunately for me, as it was a Saturday, it was closed! I found a local and asked him where the nearest petrol station was? You're in it, he said, but this ones closed on the weekend! I chuckled to myself sarcastically, but I was actually feeling quite desparate! The local fella went on, the nearest one is in Salisbury, about 15 miles away... 15 miles away!! I thought to myself, oh CRAP!! I looked at my Monster and asked she if she fancied a long walk if we run out of fuel? She just laughed sarcastically at me! Rather annoyingly I usually take a can with me, but the last time I went to pick up a car via the train they wouldn't let me take my can of petrol with me on the train as it's a fire risk! So feeling that there was no way I was going to make the distance to the fuel station, but with no other real option, I tapped in Salisbury (which is on our way home anyway) into my SatNav, and according to that, it was only 13 miles away, OK then, thats far better! As we left the village my anxiety levels were through the roof. Not only did I somehow have to coax this Frontera 13 miles on vapours, but I had absolutely no phone signal whatsoever. So should I run out of petrol, which in my mind I was definately going to do, then we weould have to walk however far it is to the nearest petrols station, and then walk back carrying the can of petrol. Still, despite being January atleast it wasn't cold, or raining! I feathered the throttle for what seemed like an eternity, but finally, by some miracle we made it, so here's the obligatory petrol station shot...


Seeing that petrol station as I came down the hill towards it filled me with a sense of relief. I could taste the victory, even if I ran out of petrol now I could probably coast the the forecourt, or even push it if I needed to! Better yet, as I pulled in I noticed the sign with the prices, PETROL... £1 a litre!!! I filled up!

With the petrol paid for, and a fist full of snacks for my eldest Monster and I, I tapped the co-ordinates of BelongaClint into the SatNav... 26.4 miles, and we headed off. The drive home felt far more relaxed than the drive the petrol station, and I began to settle into the seats of the Frontera, and listen to all the new noises that an unfamilier car makes for its new owner. 45 minutes or so later we were pulling up outside BelongaClint, and our maiden voyage in the Frontera had been completed successfully.


All the negative thoughts about the train, and problems that the car might have that the seller might not have disclosed in his ad had evaporated away. I was however still pretty ticked off about the seller leaving next to no fuel in it, as he must've known that I would somehow need to drive it for nearly fifteen miles on fumes! I struggled to comprehend why he had done this as whenever I've tried to sell a car I usually try to leave it with about a quarter of a tank on board, and I live 200 yards from a petrol station thats open 24 hours a day! I have always thought that this was common practice, if not common decency. But perhaps I'm wrong, but whatever, I won't be caught out like this again, next time I'm taking a can of petrol, even if I have to buy an old suitcase to hide my fuel can! Even if I have to run the risk of turning into a Human torch, and the carriage into a fireball I'll find a way to camoflage that petrol can so that I can get it on the train without detection!

To Be Continued...

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