Motoring: My Worst Car

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The Independent Online
I DON'T have any trouble in remembering my worst car, but in so many ways it was also my very best. It wasn't so much a car as a truck: a 1951 Ford F1 pick-up. I had this urge to own an American car, and the Ford fitted the bill. I even convinced myself that it would be practical. That huge rear deck, I thought, could be used for shifting all sorts of stuff. In the end, I ended up with a cross between a troublesome car and a high-maintenance old house.

What made it so unreliable were the electrics. There was no problem with the engine which was a huge five-litre V8 and never gave any trouble. The electrics though were plagued by poltergeists that caused it to stall, and there were dozens of quirks. The windscreen wipers got slower the faster you drove. I would also have to lean out of the window and even them up because they came out of alignment. Then if I were really unlucky the window would drop down straight into the door. So I'd have to remove all the trim to get it back.

Oh yes - still on those windows - the quarter light was not exactly watertight, and if it rained, you would get soaked. The door locks never worked, the steering was very loose, and being left-hand drive wasn't ideal because the pick-up was so huge. There were massive blind spots, the wheel arches made it feel 20ft wide, and there were several insurance claims relating to a few manoeuvring misjudgements.

I spent more on maintenance than buying the thing. The biggest outlay was fuel. It did nine miles to the gallon and you could see the fuel gauge - one of the few instruments that worked - actually moving. The time when I took it to a gig in Leicester in the rain and spun in the outside lane of the motorway convinced me that the Ford was just too much trouble. My passengers booked into a hotel rather than make the return trip.

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