Episode 249. Twelve Cars In A Year Epilogue.

So then, with the twelfth, and final car of my Twelve Cars In A Year project dispatched to its new owner. I've now had time to sit, and reflect on what the heck just happened. So here for your reading pleasure or otherwise are some of my pointless views, now that I've had a chance to sit down, have a cup of tea, mull things over for a bit, and gather my thoughts.

Now, you may, or may not remember that this little adventure into buying and selling a car each month for a year was concocted during the Christmas break back a few years ago. I was having a discussion over several Ciders with some of my friends about how many cars we'd each owned and I wasn't doing so well. 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, he cannot afford one because he wasn't as lucky as the rest of us. My response was to tell him 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 even more 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! We told him that for this kind of money 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!

Now it does need to be mentioned that as a rule I don't drink, I maybe have half a dozen pints of Cider throughout the whole year, however in 2014 I hadn't done that, so as I sat there with my friends I decided to play catch-up and have my half a dozen pints of Cider all in one go. This, as I'm sure you can all imagine loosened me up somewhat to some pretty wild ideas, like trying to buy a car a month. However initially I did think it would be easy to do, but it wasn't as easy as I'd imagined it to be. The first hurdle that I encountered was to do with niether the buying, or the selling of the cars, but the insuring of the cars. I just thought that every month I'd call up my insurer, and just change the details, easy, and ofcourse pay the admin fees etc. However, that didn't go according to plan, and after just the third car, my insurer didn't want to play this monthly game of car swap, and told me that if I was to keep doing such a thing, then I would need to find another kind of policy. In the end I sought refuge with a company offering a traders type policy. I phoned them up, told tham what I was trying to achieve, and asked them if they could help me. They said they could, and my new policy was set up straight away. Now, having experienced this type of policy I find myself wondering why all motoring insurance isn't like this? How much better it was to have a policy, pay the premium, then whenever I needed to change my car simply log onto the website, insert the details, and it was done, simples! No faffing around on the phone for hours on end while they've got you on hold waiting for an operator, no messing around with having to pay more, or less depending on what the car before, or after was, and no admin type fees. It was a peice of cake and I genuinely believe that this is how motoring insurance should be done.

The other hurdle was ofcourse the idiots that infest the fleabay. Don't get me wrong, I knew they were out there, and I expected to encounter them from time to time. But I hadn't counted on the frequency of the encounters, or indeed the mind-numbing stupidity of some of the inhabitants of the Bay of E! The frustration this caused me, and the stress levels of some of these encounters really was a struggle sometimes. So much so that infact sometimes I really thought that I should just forget the whole damn thing and get a new hobby like cross-stitching or something! 

 
To those of you who have followed me through this little adventure who buy and sell cars for a living... I salute you!

Something else I expected to become a bit of a hurdle to overcome was that I had planned to use the vehicle as the sacrificial family car for a month, enjoy it with my family, take some photos, and then write about my experience with the car, whatever it might be. I thought that hopefully it might be an interesting read, which doesn't include too many photos of me and my car waiting for the RAC to turn up while I'm in a cloud of steam by the side of the road! I honestly thought that I would be firm friends with the RAC patrolmen, and probably know them all on a first name basis by the end of the year...
 

But with the exception of this little incident which cost me £288 in Germany it was happy motoring. The only other thing, that was more a pain in the bum than a hurdle really was the Vehicle Excise Duty, or Road Tax if you like. The way they do it so that you have to buy the tax from the beginning of the month whether you buy the car on the first day, the seventeenth day, or the thirtieth day you have to pay for the whole month, this is such a swindle especially as the seller has also very often had to pay for the VED for a whole month too whether they sell the car on the first day, the seventeenth day, or the thirtieth day! Therefore the car is taxed twice in the month it is sold in. They say that the DVLA make no profit out of this, and they say that the DVLA is self funding, and is currently running at a loss, and is unable to support itself. How is this possible? My personal opinion is that like most, if not all government departments there's quite a lot of deadwood in the DVLA, and what they really need to do is streamline everything, and cut out all the deadwood, then maybe atleast they could manage to break even without inflicting higher taxes on our cars, and the double taxing of them when we buy and sell them... Anyway, here's the end of my partly political broadcast!

Now then, what you're really here for is to read about the cars right? So without further ado, here we go! So here's some facts and figures. To do this little project I spent a whopping £10,507.27 on cars! Obviously not all at once, but if I had kept them all, thats how much I would've spent. When I sold them all I got back just £9,443.05. This means of course that this little project cost me £1064.22 to do, which means that it cost me on average £88.68 a month. So that was just under eight packs of 20 smokes at last years average prices per month, well most of my friends who smoke, spend that in a week. So I guess that all in all, £88.68 a month doesn't sound too bad to me for a months fun! This price ofcourse doesn't include road tax, insurance, or fuel, as no matter what I was driving I'd have to have those anyway.

Speaking of fuel. During my little mission I drove my 12 cars a total of 13,112 miles. This 13,112 miles burned off 348.73 UK Gallons of fuel (321.56 Petrol & 27.17 Diesel) all of this fuel together cost me £1,767.83... I'm pretty glad I didn't have to fork out fo that all at once. But this all equates to an average miles per gallon figure of around 37.59mpg! Thats not too shabby considering that I had a V8, two V6's, and two 4x4's. 37.59 (s)Miles Per Gallon, I must say that I'm pretty impressed with that, I was expecting it to be much much worse.

Finally we come to the cars themselves. I'm going to talk about the cars I felt were the worst three, or the three I enjoyed the least if you prefer first. 

I know this is going to upset the fans, but for me the worst car of the twelve was the 2001 Volkswagen Golf Cabrio.

It was a tough call for me to pick this car as the worst car, but one of them had to be, so this is it. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't that it was a bad car, it's just that it was a very bland and boring car. Had it have been a tin-top it would've been truly un-remarkable, and very un-inspiring. It did everything you'd expect it to do, but nothing more. The thing that struck me most of all, was just how basic it was, back in the nineties I had a mk1 Vauxhall Corsa van, and in all honesty that had a better interior than this Golf did. I know that people who love Golfs tend to really love Golfs, but I never did see what all the fuss was about. As you may know Mrs Clint drives a Focus Cc as her daily, and I'm guessing that Ford aimed this car at exactly the same people that Volkswagen aimed their Golf cabrio at, but why you would ever pick the Golf over the Focus is beyond me. The Focus Cc, and I realise that it is a little bit newer than this particular Golf is, but the Focus is better in every way. It looks better, it drives better, it's more comfortable, and even the build quality is better. I know there must be Golfers crying into their Pringle jumpers right now in disbelief that I've picked out the Golf as the worst car, especially when I had a Citroën Ax durin this project, and they're right, the Citroën Ax isn't as good as the Golf, and I'll try to explain why when we get to it.

Car number eleven, or the second to worst car if you will, for me was the 2004 Jaguar X-type Estate.

I think that the biggest problem here was its engine, I think if I had bought one with a petrol engine it would've been better. I also wonder if part of the problem was the frame of mind I was in when I bought this car. But the fact was that for me this car never felt special. In my mind it didn't feel as good as a Jaguar was supposed to feel, and to be fair my Dads Rover 75 Diesel estate felt more special than this X-type did, and that in my mind didn't seem right.

Car number ten, the third worst car was again another close call, but in the end it was the 1993 Citroën Ax.

Golf lovers, and Jaguar lovers probably can't beleive that I thought that this little Citroën is better than Golfs and X-types. But this was so hard for me to pick this as number ten, because the truth is that it wasn't a bad car for the type of car it was, and this is why it's at eight rather than where the Jaguar is, or where the Golf is. I just felt that both the Golf, and the Jaguar especially should've been better than they were. However, although I'd never really wanted a Citroën AX it was a bit of a surprise to me just how good it was. It was peasant motoring, but in all fairness to it that is exactly what I expected, what I didn't expect was it to be as good as it was. Even though it followed a tough act, the Ford StreetKa I still found it quite good to drive, and far better than I expected. Had it have been a Citroën Xm as I was looking for, instead of a Citroën Ax it wouldn't be sitting here at number ten!

So that takes care of the cars I liked the least, the next six I just thought they were ok, not bad enough to be the worst three, and not good enough to be the best three, so in at number nine was the 1988 Mercedes 500 SEC.

Not a bad car at all, but the problem here was that I have already had one of these some years ago, and this one wasn't as good as my first one, or even close. Of course there may have been some rose tinted glasses worn during the ownership of this particular 500SEC. But looking back through photos of my old cars it's pretty evident to me that my first one was in extremely good shape, and this one unfortunately is just a bit average. Had I had never had one of these before, then this almost certainly would appear higher up the list.

In at number eight the 1994 Vauxhall Carlton estate.

Frankly an absolutly lovely car, and drove without fault, but like the Citroën Ax, it was just not quite what I was looking for. It was clear that it had been cherished in its time, and it was lovely to both look at and drive, but I think what really let it down was that it had the looks of something a bit sporty, but its engine just couldn't back up its sporty looks. A beautiful car, but a bit too much of a sheep in wolfs clothing.

At number Seven we've got the just as lovely 1997 Rover 416 Touring.

Condition wise this was without a doubt the car that was in the best condition, it really had been looked after, and really was bordering on a showroom fresh finish, I liked this car a lot. But stupidly I spent too much time listeneing to all the nay-sayers telling me the head gasket was going to go at any minute, and I spent the whole time driving it worrying about head gasket failiure, and this is why I didn't enjoy this car as much as I should've... I'm such an idiot, I should've just driven and enjoyed this car for the wonderful little thing that it was.

In sixth place, the 1996 Toyota Rav4.

Again a fantastic car, and the one that Mrs Clint thinks should be at the top of the heap, it was pretty good off road, and pretty good on the road. I liked it a lot and had planned to keep it, and let Mrs Clint use it, and thats what I told her we were doing with it, but then when someone offered the right kind of money, or close enough for it I sold it. To say Mrs Clint was upset about this would probably be somewhere close to how she feels, so I have told her we'd find another one once my toybox has a bit more room in it.

At number five, the other 4x4, the first car of the Twelve Cars saga, the 1997 Vauxhall Frontera Sport.
 

 
In a nutshell, I loved it. Whenever I drove this thing I found myself grinning from ear to ear like an idiot. It was big it was roomy, and it drove like a car... In all honesty I'm probably going to try to convince Mrs Clint to have one of these instead of the Rav4!

At number four, the 2001 Vauxhall Omega Estate.
 

What a truly brilliant, wonderful and underrated car. Despite breaking down in the middle of Germany in this car, and having to wait over eight hours before the RAC got around to organising someone to pick us up I really enjoyed this car. Such a lot of car for so little money. I really thought that the Carlton being such a late one in the model line would've been above this in the list when I picked it up. But the fact is that the Omega, despite being stone cold stock was just far better in every way. I really do think that at some point I would like to have another one of these.

And so here we are, finally arriving at the top three. I struggled to decide which way around to put these last three cars, to the point that I thought about assigning numbers on a dice to each of the top three cars, then rolling the dice to decide which came where. But after some long and careful thought I decided this is the order they should be in, so then Pop-pickers in at number three the 2003 Ford Street Ka.

This is litteraly only in at number three because it only has two seats so I couldn't get Mrs Clint, and our two little Monsters in at the same time. But for me on my own, or with just one of my little family, it was brilliant. I bought it at the right time, the sun was out, and the roof was down, I cannot praise this little car enough, for me, for recreational driving, this is the car. I'm sure that an MX-5 would be far better to drive, and far more enjoyable, but I've not had one of those yet, so that's an experience I'm yet to have. Having experienced the joy of driving the little StreetKa it was the inspiration that made me buy Mrs Clint the Focus Cc. I figured that it would be very much like the StreetKa, but with four seats, and to some extent it is, although it has to be said that the StreetKa's small size and nimble handling does make it a little bit more fun to drive than the Focus Cc. Would I have another one? Without a doubt.

In at number two, I honestly felt like flipping a coin to decide the top two, but number two is the 1995 Citroën XM.

It was really tough to decide to make this car number two, I liked it a lot, it drove well, looked cool, was comfortable, there really was nothing I didn't like about it. I do think that had this been a higher specification model, and in a bit better condition then it would've almost certainly been number one. But being a lower spec model, and in average condition it just missed out.

So now, here it is, the best car (in my opinion) of the Twelve Cars In A Year saga, which no doubt you've already worked out is the 2000 Jaguar S-type.

Superb, just superb! This to me was exactly what I thought a Jaguar should be like, I really enjoyed this car, and for me it had it all, road presence, comfort, power, even handling, the whole package. But not just that, with the ridiculously low second had values the S-type is really good value for money, and I must admit, my ebay watchlist even has several in it at the moment! Will I have another one... Hopefully!

So here endeth the lesson in buying a car a month of a year. Was it all worth it? You're damn right it was, yes there was heartache, yes there were problems, yes it cost me a small fortune, but I had such a good time buying the cars, driving the cars, and writing about the cars that the good times far outweighed the bad. It really was quite exciting, every month my ebay watchlist was filled with potential cars for the month ahead, on more than one occasion I struggled to decide over which of the cars in my watchlist I wanted to be the star. Did I learn anything? Indeed I did. I learned that I am an absolutely rubbish car salesman. I'm just dreadful at it. I have a couple of theories as to why this is. On a couple of occasions I think I was bid up by the seller using someone to falsly raise the bids (the X-type springs immediately to mind!) But the main reason is that I think that when you do an advanced search of the completed listings on ebay it brings up all the items that were sold up to sixty days previously (I think) Therefore if someone is looking for a car, and does an advanced search of completed listings just to see what sort of price they should expect to bid up to, then they come across my car listed just a month before from a different seller they're going to wonder why I've only had it a month, why am I selling it so soon? What could be wrong with it? These people who have done this advanced search are then unlikely to bid on it, or they'll be bidding low, atleast, that's my theory anyway!

What was the worst thing about doing this? Well to be honest the worst thing was that I only got to spend a month with each car, for some of them a month was more than long enough, but for most of them I wanted to play a little longer, to get to know the car a little better, but the month had ended and I wanted to shift it on to continue with the story. Incidentally, if any of you out there are one of the proud owners of one of the stars of the story, it would be great to hear how the car is still going, so please do get in touch!

Moving on, I know that there were a fair few of you that were hoping there was going to be a Twelve Cars In A Year this year, and that would be great, but there isn't, sorry. The thing is if I had broken even I probably would've carried on, but I didn't, so I couldn't. But will I miss it? Yes, I really enjoyed it, I liked writing the posts about the different cars, and I liked driving them about, it was just brilliant. So the BIG question you might be asking yourselves is, am I going to do it again? Well, maybe at some point, as I'd quite like to revisit the idea, but not just yet.

Finally, some of you may be wondering if my friend kept to his word, and bought something cool or retro? Er, no! I don't think I'll have to worry about that as he's no longer talking to me! In fact, since just before New Year he's not talking to any of us. We all met up at a local coffee emporium for a bit of a brew, and a cake etc, there was some jovial talk about the Twelve Cars In A Year project, and I said to him now that I had completed the project, what he was planning to get? He told me that he wasnt getting anything! Because what I had done was both pointless, and crap! He then got up, told me that I was an irritating W+anchor, and followed it up by saying that infact all the four of us who were sitting in the coffee emporium were and left! Didn't even take his coffee and cake with him, and for the price of it there's no way I would've left that behind. Anyway, he's not spoken to any of us since, in fact my mate saw him in the street the other day and said hello, but got completely blanked by him. To be fair our friendship had been getting more and more strained since about the halfway point in the story. So not only have I not convinced him to dive in and enjoy the fun, I've actually sort of convinced him not to indulge somehow. Well done me (pats self repeatedly on the back!) The funny thing is that before he stropped off we were just having some light hearted banter. I am a bit sad about it all to be honest because my plan was not to make him feel alienated, but to get him to join in with the fun. I actually thought that he would probably get involved at some point in the year by having something off me, I thought that with the variety of cars I've had during this project there must've been something I had that would've filled the bill I would've thought. But no. I wonder what would've happened if I'd have failed, and there were several points along the year when I really thought I was going to fail, but I kinda got determined not to fail, and to finish the job... No matter how much of a struggle it was, or how much I'd have to spend. Incidentally, when I was struggling the shoe was on the other foot, and I was the target of the jovial banter. Anyway, not to worry, onwards and upwards eh, it's his problem, and I've not got the time or the energy to worry about it, as Freddie Mercury once said...


 Thankyou for reading!

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