Motoring: My Worst Car; Gloria Hunniford's Austin Maestro: Her Maestro's voice

I'VE ACTUALLY been quite blessed with cars over the years. They have looked after me pretty well. I can still remember my first car, which was an Austin Mini estate. It meant everything to me and gave me freedom to go where I liked and do what I wanted.

Another thing I can never forget is my worst car, which also happened to be an Austin, but a much less useful one - a really horrible Austin Maestro.

It was the Eighties, and I always made a point of buying fairly new cars, so I could rely on them. Not something I could do with that Maestro. The worst thing about it was the electronic voice - state-of-the-art stuff at the time - which was supposed to inform you how the car was performing, but very irritating if you happen to be a driver, or passenger.

That robotic voice very quickly drove me insane. The funny thing was it never told me anything very important and broke down when I least expected it.

The worst occasion was in the middle of the West End of London. The fuel gauge always played up and that voice would constantly remind me that the petrol was low. Even so, I always drove into the red, because I knew the gauge and the voice were lying. But in the middle of the Marylebone Road, it wasn't. It was the ultimate humiliation. I caused traffic chaos and had to push the stranded car out of the way. I didn't even have an empty can in the boot. it was a dreadful experience, and I'm much better organised now.

In a way, I ignored one of my car-buying rules, which is that I have to like its shape. That Maestro was a boring boxy thing, which probably explains why I've had a beautiful Jaguar XJS for eight years, which has never let me down.

`Open House' with Gloria Hunniford transmits every weekday, at 2pm on Channel 5. She was speaking to James Ruppert

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