I ABSOLUTELY adore Minis. My first car was a Mini, cost pounds 20 and was older than God. It came with two months' MoT and was a complete rust heap. It was the car I intended to pass my test in it, but there weren't many volunteers to take me on the road with the L plates on.

So it just sat outside my house slowly rotting away. When I did pop outside to start it up, it just spluttered and died. It stayed there over Christmas and became a standing joke.

My sister sent me a card and rewrote the words to "A Partridge in a Pear Tree". You know the sort of thing: "One sparking plug, two flat tyres, three rust holes and a Mini with no MoT."

Unfortunately that experience did not teach me a lesson, because in 1986 I decided to be all grown-up and buy my first new car, a Mini. My boyfriend at the time rightly pointed out that what I was doing was buying half a car. He didn't put me off, though, because I had my heart set on buying the Piccadilly special edition.

Luckily I listened to what the salesman was telling me. Firstly I ordered a sun roof, which was great because it did make the Mini feel a lot bigger. Also I signed up for all those extra warranties. Usually these are a waste of money - after all, what's going to go wrong with a brand new car? Well, as I found out, just about everything.

Luckily, one of the guarantees was a six-year promise that there would be no rust. If there was, they would fix it. Sure enough, within seven months rust had started to eat away at the car's underside. Then, in the middle of a busy street, it just conked out. It needed a new water pump.

Suddenly I was finding that the Mini was spending more time in the garage having the rust seen to and various minor repairs than I spent using it. I thought I had half a car, but it actually turned out to be no car at all. So I sold it.

Minis are fun, but I've decided that brand new ones are naff. An original Sixties one would be brilliant. It looks the part and would probably be a lot more reliable.

Janey Lee Grace can be heard on Radio 2 with Steve Wright weekdays 2pm- 5pm, and on her solo Saturday-morning show. She was talking to James Ruppert

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