I REMEMBER my worst car quite fondly. It was a bright orange Mini which cost pounds 200 and was held together with wire and clothes pegs. You might wonder how the pegs were used; well, that was to keep the choke out. It would not run without it. In all, I had six in a neat, colourful row.

As for the wire, on one occasion the exhaust dropped off. A garage quoted some horrendous sum to replace it, but my brother came to the rescue. He got a coat-hanger and wired it up and I never had a problem with it after that.

Otherwise I had no end of trouble trying to get it to start, especially on a cold day. It would refuse to start for ages until the battery was almost flat. When it finally did get going, it was extremely uncomfortable, mainly because there were freezing-cold draughts. I never found out where they were coming from - I suspect it was from the hundreds of rust holes. Probably the worst thing about the interior was the revolting upholstery, a very nasty shade of brown.

In spite of all those problems, I really loved that Mini. When it did start it would whiz me all over Notting Hill. It was nippy, practical and I could park it in the smallest spaces. Then, one morning I got up and looked down my street. Where I usually parked there was a little space. I could not believe that someone had ignored all the BMWs and Mercedes and picked on my little Mini.

The police eventually found it burnt to a crisp in the middle of a golf course. When I rang them to report that the Mini had been stolen they said that they knew it was mine - the boot was full of cooking sheets, knives, forks, pots and pans. I suppose you could say that my Mini was well and truly cooked.

After that I did the grown-up thing and bought a brand new Mini. Unfortunately I don't own one now, but I plan to get another as soon as I can, which I promise you won't be orange with a brown interior.

Lesley Walters, a TV chef, appears on `Ready Steady Cook'. Read her 15-minute recipes in `Ready Steady Cook Fast Meals for Two', published by BBC Books at pounds 6.99. She was talking to James Ruppert