Motoring: My Worst Car: Nick Ferrari's Triumph TR4a

It handled atrociously - well, it was six cars glued together

I COULD tell you all about my Lancia. It was a beautiful thing, styled by Pininfarina, but that company had a terrible reputation for making rusty cars and mine was depreciating by the minute. I fancied having something sexy and stylish; then, by some strange coincidence, a garage selling Triumph sports cars opened up in the next Kent village to where I lived. So I traded my Lancia and for pounds 500 drove away in a beautiful blue TR4a.

There I was, 22 years old, with my first-ever convertible. It was springtime, I had a wonderful girlfriend and I had just started to do shifts at the Sunday Mirror. Life seemed to be just about perfect and I had visions of me pulling up in great style in my Triumph on Fleet Street and getting loads of admiring glances.

Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out like that. For a start it rained a lot, and so I soon discovered that the hood did not exactly fit, and I was totally soaked the whole time. Rather more seriously, the Triumph was a total nightmare to drive.

The special feature of the TR4a was that it had independent rear suspension, but on my model it was a little too independent. In fact it had a mind of its own. I would describe it as trying to get a mule train across ice.

Now, I'm not the best driver in the world, but I could barely control the thing. Taking a right -hander meant parking up and having a bit of a rest before attempting such a heart-stopping manoeuvre.

Obviously something was wrong. Unfortunately, the dealer who had sold it to me had by now shut down. Luckily, a friend's father ran a garage and put it on a ramp. He pointed out all the welds and it seemed that I had bought a cut-and-shut. But rather than just two cars, I think there were half-a-dozen stuck together.

Using all my journalistic skills, I traced the dealer to west London. His house was just around the corner from Lady Diana's, whom I had been doorstopping with the rest of the press pack. So as I sat in the Triumph, my mates were nipping around the corner to use the phone box and saw me sitting there. They thought I'd found another royal girlfriend, so dozens of them came around the corner with all their tripods and ladders. By the time the dodgy dealer opened his front door, he thought that I had brought a media mob with me and so he gave me all my money back on the spot.

Nick Ferrari presents the `Big Boy's Breakfast' with David Banks on Talk Radio 1053/1089 AM weekdays, 6am-9am. He was talking to James Ruppert


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