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Michael’s Wheels Through the Years.

by Mike Mulholland


Michael’s wheels through the years. I have always been interested in cycles motor bikes and cars and any means of transport since I was a small boy and having driven many cars during my lifetime I thought it would be interesting to annotate them all to bring back many memories over the years

Mike Mulholland June 2009


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 1

1952 - 54 - (1940) BSA M20 500cc SV

The first transport I ever acquired at the age of 17 was. a BSA 500cc side valve ex-dispatch riders bike. (GPD 54) I purchased it from the liquidators of my Uncle Eddie who lived in Holloway North London the owner of a medium sized building firm that unfortunately had got into financial difficulties, going bankrupt. At the time of purchasing the bike I did not have a licence to drive and the bike which I purchased for £30.00 inc a sidecar had to be collected from Holloway, so taking the No.35 tram from Camberwell to Holloway, I pushed by myself this enormous motorbike complete with sidecar attached from there to York Close in Camberwell probably a distance of over eight miles, all the way via. Caledonian Road, Farringdon Street, Blackfriars Bridge, Elephant & Castle, Walworth Road and on to Camberwell Green and home, god knows how I managed it, I was only 17 at the time. My first task was to remove the sidecar, which I managed to sell for £15, making only £15 paid for the motorcycle, I managed then get the bike running, bearing in mind this was a 500cc motorcycle, I had a few practise runs in the courtyard of the flats where I lived, no licence, no tax or insurance. With self instruction and study of the Highway Code I eventually managed to pass my driving test Group G – I failed the first time – the actual test was taken at Lewisham, around the side roads in Burnt Ash Hill, the examiner just walked around in those days and stepped out in the road when he required you to carry out an emergency stop, he must have had a lot of faith.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 2

1954 – 1956 -- (1949) BSA “A7” 500cc STAR TWI/

About 18months later I decided to graduate to a more sophisticated machine and decided on a BSA 500cc Star Twin which as can be seen from the photo was quite a smart machine. The M20 was making quite a racket so I decided to fill it with thick tractor oil before putting in for part exchange to a local dealer. From memory the A7 cost me approx £150.00 a considerable amount of money to me in those days and it was the first time I took advantage of Higher Purchase to pay for it. It was obviously a vast improvement on the M20 and I was very proud of it. I remember I got a wonderful set of aluminium pannier boxes made up with the assistance of the welders in Holdrons where I was serving my apprenticeship with Philips Electrical at the time, I was just sneaking them out of the back entrance of the factory after they had been manufactured when I saw the Works Manager coming into the premises on one of his frequent visits from the main factory, luckily he did not see me so I was still safe with my apprenticeship. I kept this motorbike for about 18 months but decided as I was going into the army soon to serve my time as a National Service soldier, I would sell it – I later regretted this as I was posted to Central London – Regents Park Barracks in the REME for the duration of my two years and it would have been useful for my trips home to Camberwell and Balham where I lived during those two years.


Michael’s wheels through the years 1954 – 1955

Page 3

- (1929) SI/GER JU/IOR 8HP.

I then decided I should graduate to driving a car, my father at the time had a Morris E. type van, a company van, although he had not passed his driving test having a paid driver to drive him. I began to learn to drive with the aid of the Moody boys, neighbours of ours in the flats. I had no formal lessons, first of all I could not afford a driving school and not too many people were taught professionally in those days. I would go to my Dad’s local pub “The Paulet Arms”, to ask to borrow his van and quite often would tell him that Alfie Moody was waiting outside the pub to take me around, but in fact there was no Alfie and I would drive around by myself, no “L” plates for practice, although he did call my bluff a couple of times, in fact when the time came to take my test, Lenny Ester another friend who was going to accompany me had not got out of his bed, the test being timed for 9.00 a.m. in Lewisham, so with no more ado I jumped in the van and went for my test alone, luckily I passed this test first time. I still kept my motor bike, but I also bought a Singer Bantam Car for £10.00, it was a peculiar little car, we had lots of fun in it, mainly on trips down to Horsmonden in Kent where I regularly travelled to with a little crowd of mates from the flats, by that time several of my friends were driving, in actual fact Horsmonden was the downfall of the car in that I collided with a Co-op milk float that was on the wrong side of the road in Horsemonden and wrote my car off. I always remember it was a Co-op milkman, insured with the Co-op, as I was, and they had to pay, as the milkman was prosecuted for driving with undue care and attention, the Co-op paid out £30.00 insurance. We also had to phone my Dad to come down and pick us up from Horsmonden.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 4

Tom my brother had purchased an old London pre-war taxi-cab with cast iron artillery wheels in fact he purchased three of them one after the other i.e. when one broke down beyond repair he would buy another, the going rate then was about £10.00 to purchase – if only we had those 3 cabs now – why I mention the taxis is that the sequel to the crash with my Singer car is that I acquired a four wheel flat bed trolley from work which had cast iron wheels and a tow bar with a crude steering mechanism on the front wheels, and by cutting the trolley in half made an ideal towing ambulance, which we hitched onto the taxi’s rear bumper by rope, we towed the wreck back to Camberwell and dumped it into a Mr Evan’s milk yard, at the rear of our flats, with a view to getting it back on the road later - luckily I had taken the rear cast iron wheels from the trolley as during the course of the journey from Kent two of the cast iron wheels shattered on the way home and needed replacing. Unfortunately before we could get started on the repairs, a scrap metal merchant saw the car and cleared it away – perhaps Mr Evans had something to do with it.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 5

1956 - TROJA/ MI/I MOTOR CYCLE E/GI/E.

The mini motor was an oddity, there were several variations on the type of motors used to power a standard push bike and I acquired this one after I disposed of my A7, a bit of a come down. I remember at one time driving up Dog Kennel Hill in Dulwich quite a considerable hill and smelling the burning rubber from the rear tyre, as the means of propulsion was by a serrated roller resting on the rear tyre and they were very harsh on the tyres. I know that you did not require number plates or insurance and although the picture above appears to show a tax disc I cannot recall having to tax the bike I had I’m not even sure if one had to have a driving licence. I did not keep this motorised bike for long although I do recall being stopped by a policeman on one occasion accusing me of exceeding the speed limit alongside Clapham Common but when I told him it was my birthday, my 21st. in fact he let me off with a warning. . I think I disposed of the bike soon after I met Mary – it probably was not compatible.


Michael’s wheels through the years 1959 -

Page 6

(1938) FORD 8hp.

The Ford 8 was the first car I purchased after coming out of the Army we had moved by this time to Chestnut Grove in Balham and taking Jackie our eldest daughter to the baby minder 2 – 3 miles every weekday strapped into a seat on the back of a bicycle was getting too much for both of us, particularly if the weather was not to good, so as our finances were getting a little better I started to look around for some wheels, I was quite fortunate in that a chap named John, the son-in-law of Mrs Godwin our landlady, being married to Joyce her daughter, sold me his old 1938 Ford for £10, luckily there were no M.O.T’s in those days, so from there on we had some transport. We took our first holiday away in that car, staying at a bed and breakfast in Lynton, Devon – I remember saying to Mary, as there was two ways into Lynton, one up a steep hill, one not, she was navigating, whatever we do we must not take the steep hill down otherwise the car will not make it back up – we did, and I had to make a five mile detour to avoid returning up the hill. I also remember having to patch a hole in the tyre with old bits of leather – tyres contained inner tubes in those days, because we couldn’t afford the three pounds necessary for a new tyre out of our holiday money – but all in all we had a great time.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 7

1960 -61 – (1955) DORMOBILE

Soon after this journey realising the Ford was on its last legs I started to look around for more reliable transport and it was about this time that my brother Tom had to go into a sanatorium, when he was diagnosed as suffering from TB, he was in the process of buying a second hand Bedford Dormobile on hire purchase, I therefore agreed to take over the payments during his time in hospital in exchange for the use of the van until he recovered so at least Mary and I had some reliable personal transport and I was able to transport Jackie in more comfortable means to the baby-minder. I was also able to visit my parents in Putney at the weekends and take Jackie over to see them. We even ventured up to Aberdeen in the Bedford on one occasion which was quite an arduous journey in those days taking up to 15 hours there being no motorways then.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 8

1961 – 1962 - (1951 HILLMA/ MI/X (/PD500)

My father started up his own business in April 1960 forming the Hygienic Wall Cleaning Co. based at the Elephant and Castle and Tommy had by this time out of hospital, had more or less recovered from TB, and his Bedford Dormobile, that I was making use of was required as transport for the newly formed Company so I had to give up my means of transport, and again I was on the lookout for wheels, and decided to purchase a 10 year old Hillman Minx NPD 500 it was considered quite up market at the time because it had a radio fitted which was quite rare accessory in a 1949 car. This was a good solid little car, it was during this period that MOT’s came in so it had to be submitted for a test but they were not as stringent as they are now. We drove up to Aberdeen on at least two occasions and toured all over Western Scotland i.e. Fort William, Inverness and across to Skye, Mary’s mother accompanied us on one occasion. It was also useful to have a reliable car because early in 1964 I changed jobs and went to work for AERE Harwell which for 4 months entailed driving backwards and forwards once a week from Balham to Oxfordshire prior to finding a house and moving down there.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 9

1962 -1963 - (1960) BEDFORD VA/

Soon after we purchased our first home in Grove nr Wantage in Berkshire (now Oxon) the Hillman Minx failed it’s MOT seriously in that it had severe corrosion in the chassis, I managed to dispose of it for a fair price to someone who needed the engine and gear box but had to look around for other transport. At the time one of Dad’s vans had been in an accident and was badly smashed on the drivers side so he offered the van to me, it was still drivable so I drove it down to Grove from Putney in it’s smashed state and got a friend to weld the replacement section on, in fact I got the replacements panels and windscreen from a similar van dumped on a bombsite at the Elephant and Castle and managed to cut the required section away from the salvaged van, this van gave us good service, I would drive every month to Putney with our two eldest children to visit my father and mother and also went up to Aberdeen on a couple of occasions, in fact I had the van fully packed to leave for Aberdeen to stay over the Xmas and New Year 1963 when the news of the Lakonia came through that the liner was on fire in mid ocean with my parents aboard and I obviously had to cancel our plans.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 10

1964 (1963)VAUXHALL VX4/90

On the death of my death of my parents on losing their lives after the tragedy of the Lakonia I left AERE Harwell and Mary and I moved up to Putney to look after my sister Evelyn who was just 16 and as I had no occupation up here I was made an offer to be a Director in my late father’s Cleaning Co i.e. Hygienic Wall Cleaning as it was known as then, which was being run by two of my brothers Tommy and Terry, my first task was to collect my father’s car from his driver Mike Battle, my dad was not driving at the time. The car being the Vauxhall VX4/90 which was a souped up luxury Vauxhall Victor, obviously I would have preferred to have taken over the car in better circumstances as it was way above the standard of car I had enjoyed previously, this became my car for my sole use. I drove around London first of all being shown the ropes by a ex ministry man who was employed by the company and then on my own socialising, supervising and surveying for the company which I enjoyed.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 11

1965 (1964)VAUXHALL VX4/90 - Reg. /o. DPC 54B

I was so pleased with the previous VX 4/90 that I decided when the time came for renewal to replace it with another similar model, in those days cars were only good for about 30,000 miles, after that one could smell oil in the cabin and the engine would probably require a major overhaul apart from other problems with bodywork and transmission Unfortunately Vauxhall’s at the time whilst having fairly reliable engines and transmissions were prone to bodywork rust at an early stage but the VX4/90 was a very nice car to drive although no comparison with similar models today (2009). At the time I was probably driving approx. 15,000 miles per annum mainly in inner London so the car had a fairly hard life.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 12

1966 – 68 (1966) VAUXHAL VISCOU/T 3.3 Reg. /o. FAF 849D

It was interesting how I obtained this vehicle in that my brother Tom asked me to go down to Cornwall to have a look at a caravan that was for sale that we could use for a site hut in the business, I travelled down in the VX4/90 but when I saw the person selling the caravan decided that it was not suitable for our purposes, when he saw the VX 4/90 he asked if I was interested in selling it, which I had not even thought about and he said he could get me a very good deal on a new Vauxhall Viscount in exchange so after we had sorted it out I did the deal, using the cheque I had for the proposed purchase of the caravan and drove a brand new Viscount back home, from memory the cost new of this car was about £750 but I was paid £450.00 for the VX490 with 28,000 miles on the clock a good deal! In actual fact the spare wheel and tools were back at Peckham for the VX4/90 and I had to make arrangements for them to be sent down to the dealer I had purchased the Viscount from.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 13

1968-69 - (1968) FORD EXECUTIVE Mk IV Reg. /o. SHV 690F

When the Viscount became due for a change after two years I opted for the Ford Zephyr Executive estate which was a really well appointed car. From memory it cost £1500.00 at the time, it had automatic gear box, a first for me, leather seats, a beautiful wallowing ride, although vehicles did not have air conditioning in this period, it was also useful to accommodate our increasing family as we also had Stuart by this time. I used this car more frequently than previous vehicles socially as we had a residential caravan down at Herne Bay that we went to most weekends and also we had holidays in Cornwall. This car was not without it’s problems although it blew a head gasket on one occasion to our visit to Herne Bay and I had to be towed in and I had to get brother Terry to rescue us to take us home from the caravan, but all in all it was a great car to drive although not very economical on petrol.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 14

1969 – 70 (1969) VAUXHALL VE/TORA ESTATE 3.3 Reg. /o. YMD 806 H

Due to more family trips and an increase in the family to four I decided that I needed an estate car when I was due to change the Ford as we now expecting another addition to the family in Elen, and would require more room to transport all our paraphernalia when going away for weekends etc. The Ventura Estate was a very good car, I never had any problems with it and it was quite lively having a 3300cc. engine and a comfortable car to drive, as I always had automatic since driving the Ford. We moved from Wallington to Caterham whilst I had this car and moved the bulk of our possessions and furniture using this vehicle in September 1970. The company had decided to lease our cars at this stage, leasing it from a well known supplier at the time Godfrey Evans who were responsible for all the maintenance etc, but after this vehicle we did not carry on with the arrangement but purchased future vehicles


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 15

1971 -1973 - (1971) VOLVO 145 ESTATE – Reg. /o. KYK 497K

Soon after I moved to Caterham the Vauxhall Estate was due for exchanging for a new car and I decided to keep to an estate as we had found it very useful and opted for the Volvo estate. Was very happy with the Volvo but it was not as lively or sporty as the Vauxhall but was very rugged. This is the first car I took over to Guernsey for our annual holidays in August, driving down to Weymouth the car was craned on to the ferry there being no roll off – roll on ferries in those days. I normally used to travel down with three of the children and our friend Bill Boyce whilst Mary would normally fly with Elen and Bill’s wife as she was not too keen on the boat trip. The Volvo made a great changing room and storage for all the seaside equipment required on holiday.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 16

REGISTRATIO/ /UMBER MJM 444

I obtained this registration No. “MJM 444” towards the end of 1974 at a cost of £80, there was not such a big industry in the buying and selling of number plates in those days. As a matter fact I had the opportunity of purchasing “MUL 1” a few months previous, a price of £100.00 was asked I was about to settle the transaction when the seller said he wanted another £50.00, I said forget it – that plate is probably worth at least £10,000 now, I was offered £4000.00 for “MJM 444” about two years ago. When I first got the plate it was quite a rigmarole to get it transferred one had to take both vehicles to a driving vehicle licence office to be examined for chassis and engine numbers and it cost about £15 to carry out the transfer, I have transferred this number plate it to at least 12 cars now and although the process is much simpler the cost has risen to £80.00 a time, the cost of my original plate.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 17

1973 -1976 - (1971) VOLVO 145 ESTATE – Reg. /o. GGJ 576/ then MJM 444

I was so impressed with the reliability of the Volvo 145 that when the time came to change my vehicle I decided to go for another Volvo which was the successor to the 145 i.e. the 245 estate having a slightly larger engine and a bit more poke. This was the first car that I affixed the “MJM 444” plate on after I obtained it. Unfortunately I had a very nasty experience with this vehicle in that one day driving back from Dover on the motorway I realised that the steering had completely gone with no response from the steering wheel I was travelling 60 – 65 mph at the time luckily the bend in the road was going the to the right and I managed to glide on to the hard shoulder, Ron Smith a fellow contractor was in the car with me at the time and was literally sick when he realised what happened – luckily outside the car. I called the AA, at first they were not very keen to remedy the fault, bolts had fallen out the universal joint connecting the steering but the patrolman fixed it eventually after I had signed a disclaimer against any future mishap and we gingerly went on our way.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 18

1976-1977 – (1975) Jaguar XJ6 4.2 – Reg. /o. SUE 103 then MJM 444

This car was being driven by Susan Tommy’s wife and they unfortunately went through a divorce in 1976 and Susan who was an Australian returned to Australia leaving this car surplus to requirements as it was owned by the Company. Tom asked me if I was interested in taking it over as we would have lost a considerable amount selling it and Terry my other brother took over the Volvo estate from me I later transferred my Number plate MJM 444 on to it at the same time the SUE 103 plate was lost in the system – it would be worth a considerable amount of money now. I think this car must have been a Friday car because although it was a beautiful car in appearance and to drive I had nothing but trouble, with a new differential, trouble with the gear box and numerous niggley things like the electric windows staying down and door locks not operating, it was the worse car I have had mechanically of all my vehicles. I did take it over to Guernsey on one occasion but it did not look very elegant with a roof rack on the roof carrying all our seaside paraphernalia.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 19

1978 - 1980 - (1978) Honda Civic – 1.3

Because of the problems I was having mechanically with the Jaguar and the time it was spending in the repairers I decided to get a more appropriate vehicle, quite frankly it was not really a suitable car to drive around inner London, this being the area where the bulk of my clients had their offices. I went completely in the opposite direction size wise and purchased a Honda Civic which in fact was an ideal vehicle for getting around town and obviously very easy to park. At the same time I paid Hygienic, our company a nominal sum and kept the Jaguar for our use on high days and holidays, using it only if we had any long journeys, being able to accommodate all the family. This was a very reliable little car and when it came to the time to change Fiona my second daughter had just passed her driving test so I purchased it from the company and gave it to her for her 18th. birthday and she kept it for a while before part exchanging it in for a new primrose yellow Morris Mini.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 20

1979- 1984 - (1969) T1 Bentley Saloon Reg. /o. (TUB 807G) MJM 444

I then decided to sell the Jaguar as I was still having several problems and on a spur of the moment decision on seeing a Bentley advertised of which I had always coveted; I would have gone for a Rolls Royce but thought it a bit ostentatious, so decided instead to go for the Bentley. Stuart came along with me, he was only about 14 years old at the time and after haggling a bit and part exchanging the Jaguar for a good price bought the Bentley, it was rather embarrassing on the way home having to fill up with petrol and not having a clue how to open the petrol filler door. When I purchased the car the number plate was shown as personalised i.e. TUB 807 but in fact all the previous vendor had done was miss the “G” off the licence plates and altered the tax disc, so I had to remedy that, but apart from that I had no problems with the car except from the wheel incident below in the five years I owned it. Obviously this car was only used on high days and holiday, it was used as a wedding car for Jackie’s wedding and on another occasion I went over to Ireland to attend Grace Battle’s wedding a daughter of a great friend of ours and use it as her wedding car but unfortunately after touring Ireland on the way back a wheel decided to virtually come adrift near Swansea in Wales and we had to hire a car to get home.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 21

1981 – 1983 then 1985 (1981) - Honda Accord Executive – 1.8

This car replaced the Honda Civic as my everyday transport and was one of the most reliable and best cars I have driven it was very well appointed for cars at that time having many of the present day extras that we accept as normal. I kept this car just over two years and then at that time brother Tom had lost his sight and had to employ a driver to drive him around so we decided to keep the this vehicle for use by his driver as it was still in very good condition. Just before Hygienic ceased trading I purchased the car from the administrators as I would require transport on leaving the business as due to my company car having to be sold. Later when I purchased another car for myself in April 1986 I drove the Accord with Mary 1200 miles down to the island of Hvar in Yugoslavia, as it was then known, Fiona who had married a Yugoslavian was living there. We went via Italy calling at Peter dePanizza’s mothers in Brixen Northern Italy and then gave the car to Fiona. Mary and I having to fly back – unfortunately the car was virtually destroyed about a year later having sustained an engine fire.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 22

1984 – 1985 (1984) Mercedes Benz 230 W123 Saloon Reg. /o. MJM 444

The Company was doing quite well at this time and I decided to upgrade my transport and purchased this Mercedes Saloon it was a very comfortable car and obviously much roomier than the Honda with my growing family. I was rather annoyed when a lorry backed into putting a large dent into the boot whilst I was attending a meeting in a Telephone exchange luckily the driver of the lorry was spotted by someone in the building and I was able to get the damaged paid for but it was upsetting to have this damage on a brand new car. I had this vehicle for nearly two years but when the company was wound up in October 1985 I had to hand the vehicle over to the administrators.


Michael’s wheels through the years 1985 – 1990

Page 23

(1984) MERCEDES 230E SALOO/ W123

I have not a mistake in showing the above picture twice as it gets a bit complicated here. After the Company went into liquidation Dave Thorpe the MD of our other Company Decorating Masters offered to lend me a surplus vehicle i.e. a dark blue Mercedes, my previous one having been dark green, an offer I accepted I used this car on loan for about 9 months and then had to return it to Dave, I then drove the Honda Accord that I had previously purchased for a few months, I had already transferred “MJM 444” on to this vehicle. I then made an offer to Dave to purchase the Mercedes and also bought a surplus used Ford Escort from him for Mary to use. This vehicle I drove down to Yugoslavia on several occasions, a return journey of 2500 miles loaded up with materials etc. to help Fiona decorate and furnish her house over there, it sometimes took quite a lot of explaining at customs. On one occasion I had a very lucky escape as when travelling at approx 80mph on the autobahn I hit what I thought was a shoe box in the middle of the road but it was a cast iron ramp from an HGV, it tore of the sump from the Mercedes and the car was enveloped in a cloud of smoke I managed to get onto the hard shoulder without further mishap and the German AA towed me into Aachen the nearest town, a local garage had a new sump fitted – luckily there was no other damage and I we were on our way, Mary was with me, and caught the ferry only one hour later than my scheduled time – German efficiency.


Michael’s wheels through the years 1990 – 1993

Page 24

(1990) Mercedes Saloon 200E – W124

Having sold the bungalow in Woldingham for a very good price and downsizing to a house in Caterham and also the fact that the Mercedes 220E was nearly six years old with a fair mileage on it I decided to buy a new 200E Mercedes, I obtained it in early 1991 and the next day drove up to Aberdeen with Mary as we were invited to Elen our niece’s wedding, at least the car got a good run in. I was employed by the local taxi firm at the time but used their vehicles rather than my own. I gave up the taxi driving and acted as a volunteer for a local organisation taking people to hospital and other social visits, I then volunteered to drive for the Surrey Ambulance service transporting patients to hospital, this involved an extensive mileage, the supervisor in the ambulance service was quite impressed with my vehicle when I turned up for an interview and driving test before they would accept me as a driver. I decided that the Mercedes was not really suitable or economical to carry out this type of work and Mary was needing a replacement car at the time so I part exchanged the Mercedes and Mary’s Escort for two Vauxhall Corsas, a more suitable car.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 25

1993 -1995 - (1993) VAUXHALL CORSA 1.4 - 4 Door

As stated I obtained this car with another 2 door Corsa as it was more appropriate for the Patient carrying with Surrey Ambulance and also a lot easier for parking and manoeuvring By this time I was doing a considerable mileage with the ambulance service i.e. up to 3000 miles per month so it was to my advantage to use an economical car such as the Corsa as I was paid only on a rate per mile basis although the rate given enabled one to make a small profit. This was a very reliable little car and in two years I had about 60,000 on the clock with no problems. Because my mileage was so high with the ambulance service I did very little mileage in this car privately.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 26

1995 – 1998 - 1995 VAUXHALL ASTRA - 1.8TD

Although as I previously said the Corsa was a great little car, I needed a larger car as the patients seemed to be getting bigger and also I required a larger boot to accommodate wheelchairs, Zimmer frames etc so I opted for my first diesel vehicle, the Vauxhall Astra, I found its characteristics rather strange at first compared with a petrol engined vehicle and had to adapt to it especially among the very steep hills in the Caterham area as one could run out of puff on a hill if you were not careful with the gears, in that I had to get used again to a manual gear box as automatics are not the norm with diesel vehicles, I was of course pleasantly surprised by the fuel consumption which compared very favourably against my previous vehicles, as I was still ticking up the high mileages previously mentioned.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 27

1998 – 2000 - 1997 Corolla Diesel Estate 1.9

The Astra having done a considerable mileage I decided that it was time for a change and having got used to a diesel engined vehicle decided to go for another, still a manual gear box, a Toyota Corolla Estate that I purchased and part exchanged for the Corsa, it was a six month old vehicle previously used as a demonstration model and as it only had 2000 miles on the clock and was approx £2000.00 less than list price, I thought it a bargain so I decided to go for it. I really needed a estate because quite often I could not get the various paraphernalia carried by the patients into the car boot. This was a very good car I had no problems with it and got first class service from the local Toyota dealers and again the vehicle was very economical, it was quite a good looking car as well – my particular vehicle was in a rather fetching colour of metallic dark green.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 28

2000 – 2002 - (2000) TOYOTO YARIS VERSO 1.4 ESTATE

Again due to the high mileage sustained I had to consider changing the Corolla for a new vehicle and took a liking to the Toyoto Yaris Verso it was a bit wacky looking but was well appointed, I did look into purchasing a new Corolla Estate but they were getting a bit pricey for what they were. The Yaris was petrol engined and although looked a small car externally it was surprising the amount of room inside particularly the leg room in the back seats and it was ideal for the ambulance duties. The patients particularly liked the high seats as it was easy to get in and out of the vehicle. Another advantage for me was it was still very economical and I was back to an automatic gear box again. I had my first mishap for many years in this vehicle, in that down a country lane in the middle of nowhere having taken a wrong turning I was reversing up to turn round when I backed into a hidden fence post smashing the rear window and writing off the rear door i.e. £1000 of damage luckily I was insured but I was not pleased particularly as I had two patients on board – but I did have the vehicle back and repaired within 8 days.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 29

2002 – 2004 - 2002 RE/AULT SE/IC 1.6 Auto.

Again after two years with over 72,000 miles on the clock on the Yaris it was time to change although the Yaris was still running very well. I saw that SAGA had a special scheme for buying cars offering to take the previous vehicle from me I looked into and decided it was a good deal and purchased the Scenic still collecting from a local agent who had quoted me approx £1500 extra above SAGA’s deal to sell and exchange on the Scenic. The Scenic was a very roomy and comfortable drive although not as economical as the Yaris and of course I still had automatic. In September of 2003 we moved up to Cambridgeshire using the Scenic to bring quite a lot our belongings up here obviously that meant I had stopped driving for Surrey Ambulance and I did not pursue driving for the Ambulance Service in Cambridge so that was end of my high mileage driving and the Scenic had already got approx 54.000 miles on the clock in the eighteen months I had owned it.


Michael’s wheels through the years

Page 30

2004 – Present – (1998) LEXUS LS400 Saloon

I

I had always coveted having a Lexus ever since being driven home in one by a friend who was the chauffeur for the Chairman of RTZ and realised it was impractical whilst I was doing ambulance driving. But when I ceased doing this work I started looking round for a suitable car and eventually purchased the one above from the Lexus dealership in Sheffield for £17000. the price new would have been about £65,000 in fact I purchased it unseen but it had a years warranty, built in theft tracker and after all it was coming from a Lexus main dealer, the dealer driving it down from Sheffield. It’s obviously a beautiful car to drive and surprisingly economical for a 4 litre engine I regularly get 30 miles to the gallon on a long run on motorways. It is only used for high days and holidays it had 36000 miles on the clock when I purchased and has still less than 60000 miles after five years (2009) in my ownership. We decided to keep the Scenic for a while and dispose of Mary’s Nissan Micra as it was a more practical vehicle but after a year the gearbox was sounding a bit dodgy on the Scenic, we exchanged it for a six month old Vauxhall Corsa for Mary.


Michael Wheels during the Years