Motoring: Down to earth with a bump

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I have got a lot to be thankful for when it comes to Fords. They bailed me out when I was on tour by lending me a Cortina estate. It meant that four adults, a child and a dog could get around in relative comfort.

Then there was my first car, a terrible Popular which was held together with string, I think. It struggled to 30mph and looked dreadful, but for a cheap first car that was all I could expect. I preferred that Popular to the really awful Capri I ran in the Seventies.

Part of the problem was that the Capri came after my favourite car, which was a Triumph Spitfire. That was really fantastic, light, quick and a very pretty sports car. I imagined that the Capri would be just as sporty as the Triumph, but a little bigger.

It was certainly was bigger, but that was not the problem. The first thing I did to it when I drove the Capri home to my flat in Mayfair was scrape one side of the car down a wall. It took most of the paint off. And it felt slow and cumbersome after the Spitfire.

The steering was dreadfully heavy which made it a nightmare to park. There was a huge blind spots at the back because of the huge roof pillars, and what seemed like a tiny rear mirror. I had a whole series of mini- prangs. I remember my brother borrowing the Capri not long after I had had the side panels remodelled and getting hit from behind.

Maybe it was a magnet for minor accidents. What made it even worse apart from the reluctant steering wheel were very stiff gears. It just added to the trauma of parking. And with a boyfriend and Doberman on board it felt a claustrophobic. I don't think I have ever hated a car so much. That Capri had to go.

All I had to show for it after a year were a lot of repair bills and huge biceps. These days I squeeze three Dobermans and a husband into a Honda Civic, but if anyone would like to lend me something bigger, I'd love to hear from them. Provided of course that it isn't a Capri.

Alexandra Bastedo starred in the Sixties hit television series `The Champions'. She has appeared in `Absolutely Fabulous'. Her book, `Canine Care & Cuisine - The Healthy Dog Book', is published by Robson Books. She was talking to James Ruppert.

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