Motoring: My Worst Car

Henry Cole's Spitfire and Range Rover
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Indy Lifestyle Online
MY FIRST ever car was a Triumph Spitfire. It was finished in maroon and brown, which was rampant rust. It suffered from all the usual maladies that affect British sports cars. The hood let in the rain, there were oil leaks, it overheated and continually broke down.

The worst experience with it was tearing down the A3 one day. Suddenly I felt this incredible draught and wondered where it was coming from. I looked down and all I could see was tarmac. The whole driver's-side floor pan in front of my seat had just rusted away and dropped on to the A3 as I was doing 70mph.

Never mind the rust, the worst thing about the little Spit was that it kept on overheating. I spent a fortune on new radiators, hoses and pipes, but nothing seemed to cure it. I would still come to an unscheduled stop shrouded in steam. Then one day a friend said to me: "Henry, if I was you I'd reposition your numberplate." He was right, because the plate was bolted right over the air intake. I moved it and never had another overheating problem.

Sadly, that didn't make it a better car, so the Spit got cubed. The next disastrous car was a Range Rover finished in Surrey Green: a top of the range Vogue SE.

I found it fantastically fast and opened the bonnet one day for a closer look. Nestling on top was a silver box, which turned out to be a supercharger. The electrics were always a pain. One day after using it as a camera car in Liverpool, the driver's seat stuck in the forward position. Being electric, once seized, it couldn't be shifted, so I had a three- hour night-time drive back to London wedged right up against the windscreen like a little old lady.

The Range Rover had loads of warning lights that flashed all the time. I got so fed up and found them such a distraction that I put black gaffer tape over them. Maybe I should have paid a bit more attention to them because pulling away from the lights one day the supercharger went bang. It made a terrible mess and because it was welded to the engine rather than simply bolted on, cost a fortune to sort out. I originally paid pounds 22,000 and ended up feeling lucky to get pounds 6,000 for it three years later.

Film producer Henry Cole presents `Stars and Cars' on Channel 5 at 8pm on Thursdays. He was speaking to James Ruppert

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