For the Love of Older Cars

For the Love of Older Cars
Photographic proof that I've always been a fan of older cars.
Photographic proof that I’ve always been a fan of older cars.


I’m not taking about classic cars here, I’m talking about the type of car which doesn’t need hooking up to a machine for you to work out what’s wrong with it.

We’ve always bought older cars, in fact I don’t think we’ve ever owned one younger than ten years old. I like a car with a bit of character and of course we always named our vehicles judging by its personality. I also like the fact that with an older style car it’s a heck of a lot easier to fix things when they go wrong.

I remember fondly one of our first cars, Betsy. Betsy was a red car which had lightened somewhat and now looked orange. She had a fair few miles on the clock and if I remember right she was a Sierra. Oh we had some fun with that car. I remember travelling up the M62 to visit family and having to pull off regularly to put a little more fuel in as there was a small hole in the fuel tank (yes really) which meant if you overfilled her she’ll just spit it out. It alo meant you had to watch carefully for peeople ahead of you throwing cigarette butts out of their car windows…..

Well that particular problem was soon sorted and a year later  more drama hit when the head gasket blew as we were travelling through town. One of my brothers towed us home and we did the garage ring around for quotes to repair faithful Betsy. After much clicking of tongues, umming and ahhing the best quote at the time if I remember correctly was a little short of £350, with parts, labour and VAT included. We were horrified. Back then we were in our first rented house and paying £300 a month for it. The car hadn’t cost £350 to buy!

Roy couldn’t be without a car because of work and we certainly didn’t have any intention of paying a garage that much. Thankfully we didn’t have electronics in our cars then so I went down to our local Millgate Motors for a Haynes manual, paying I think £10.99. Roy having read the relevant parts forwards and backwards headed to Andrew Pages for the parts he needed, which cost him £6.99.

Starting early first thing the next day Roy stripped the engine down, checking the Haynes manual often and by the end of the day, after much blood, sweat, tears and a fair bit of swearing Betsy was back on the road and raring to go again. The whole operation cost less than £40 from beginning to end. £40 is approximately what it would cost simply to hook up a more advanced car nowadays to a diagnostic machine just to find out why different lights have come on and what should be done about it.

We are not looking forward to the time when we no longer have the option of buying an older car which doesn’t have the modern eletronics many do today. Roy quite likes the DIY aspect of repairing and maintaining our cars and especially avoiding costy bills where possible. Don’t get me wrong, we paid the full whack for necessary repairs and the MOT (sob), and would be prepared to pay out for anything specialised such as if we’d put the wrong fuel in (it happens more than you’d expect apparenty).

Am I the only one set to mourn the loss of the “proper” cars which just need a wrench, elbow grease and a Haynes manual rather than super-special electrical training and computer programmes to keep it going?