My Worst Car: Andy McNab's Renault 5

It started best when hit with a hammer
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The Independent Culture
THE FIRST Renault 5 I had was brilliant. It was a 1,100cc version and it had a vinyl sunroof, was terminally rusty and there was a bungee rope holding the front wing on. But despite all that, it was a brilliant little runaround.

I thought that by going to a Renault dealer and getting a loan, I'd have the pick of a very good crop of little cars. As it was, the used white Renault 5 that I chose proved to be a disaster.

It was the exhaust that went first. It fell off, but the dealer said that the warranty never covered it, so I had to pay out for that. The next thing to go was the starter motor. It was knackered and the only way to get it working, which meant somehow persuading the brushes inside to spin around, was to hit it with a hammer and a rod of steel.

Alternatively, I would just sit in the thing, if I couldn't be bothered to get out, and just rock it from side to side. That would get it going too. Within a year, serious rust started appearing just about everywhere. On top of all that, the electrics on the car were a right drama.

I bought a Renault 5 workshop manual, but that only meant that I made things 10 times worse. I took the dashboard to pieces and ended up leaving it hanging open, the ignition switch dangling at the end of some wires like it had been hot wired. But strangely enough, I must have done something right. The mess that I left behind actually made it work better.

After 18 months of hitting this Renault with a hammer, and living with an interior which looked as though a bomb had hit it, I had to get rid of the thing. I decided that I would get much more money for it by winding the mileage back. I used a Black & Decker power drill but made a hash of it because none of the numbers lined up.

Luckily, a local Citroen garage was doing a pounds 500 part exchange deal against a Citroen BX. They didn't even want to see my old Renault. I just drove it onto the forecourt, took the keys to the BX and drove away. They probably threw the Renault in a bin, but the really ironic thing was I still had another year and a half of finance to pay off. So that Renault 5 didn't go away for quite some time.

Andy McNab's `Bravo Two Zero' video, starring Sean Bean is released by BBC Worldwide priced at pounds 14.99. He was speaking to James Ruppert