Motoring: My Worst Car - Kath Brown's Hillman Imp: Impish, but not charming

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Indy Lifestyle Online
WHEN I moved to London, I did what most people did and that was share a flat. Then I went one stage further and that was to share a car with my flat-mate. My brother-in-law, who knew a bit about mechanics, chose the car for us and we each chipped in the sum of pounds 50 and ended up with pounds 100 worth of Hillman Imp.

The ironic thing was that I couldn't drive. Now you might think: "Great, at least Kath got chauffeured everywhere." Not a bit of it. Because it broke down all the time, I was the mug who had to get out and push.

My abiding memory of those times is heaving the car up Denmark Hill where our flat was on the way to the launderette. We would load the car up with washing then discover that the Imp would only run for a few hundred yards. I would start pushing and we would always creep past people waiting for a bus who never said anything, but must have thought we were bonkers. I think, deep down, we just wouldn't accept the fact that the Imp would not work.

To my brother-in-law's credit, he always tried to fix the car. I think he felt a bit guilty really. It was always something different going wrong. Even so, it always managed to scrape past the MOT test every year, otherwise you could not rely on it one bit.

Probably the worst journey we had was to Portsmouth. Three times it broke down by the side of the road and getting to the coast took the whole day. By the time we arrived, I think we had forgotten why we had bothered to go there. I suppose we were still quite fond of the Imp in a way, despite the fact that it was so cramped in the back, painted a dirty white and covered in rust. I don't think other road users, or Imp owners, were that impressed. You see, owners tend to be fanatics and you are supposed to wave at other Imps on the road, but most stared back, horrified at our eyesore.

We struggled with it for a few years and, against all the odds, even managed to sell the Imp for pounds 75. Funnily enough, even though I now drive, I still find myself waving at Hillman Imps when I see them. I wonder where my white one is now?

Kath Brown is editor of the monthly women's magazine `Red', which was recently voted International Launch of the Year. She was speaking to James Ruppert

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