Theme : Disappointment – The Remembrance Of Cars Passed

As is traditional after Christmas Day, we get reflective. So much time. So few cars.
Cars DrivenAbout five years ago, before my memory began to fail me too much, I started a list of vehicles I had driven. By vehicles I meant cars, vans and motorcycles. I didn’t count more than one of any identifiable model (for instance I have driven dozens of Cortinas alone), though I used some discretion with vehicles that were substantially different by having, say, a smooth V6 instead of a wheezy inline 4. Since then, with various acquisitions and hire cars, I have now totalled 106 vehicles.

Breaking down the statistics there are 13 Germans, 16 Italians, 40 British (a bit of a technicality since that includes 21 Fords and Vauxhalls), 27 French, 3 American, 5 Japanese and 2 Korean. Of these, I’ve judged only 37 distinctive, 4 being motorcycles, in that they gave me an experience, good or bad, that I hadn’t had elsewhere, though in fact looking at the list, I can actually recollect what each one was like in some way or another. Only 30 of them were vehicles I had an ongoing access to, being either owned by me or someone I knew – the rest were hired, borrowed for a short time or test driven. It is possible that I have omitted one or two vehicles that were uniquely unmemorable, but I’m not so sure. It’s amazing how retentive my memory can be when it wants to and how evocative mention of each of these cars is.

Aside from my own Citroen SM, the most exotic car I drove was a Jensen FF. The worst car was possibly the Vauxhall Viva I learnt to drive on. The most surprisingly competent was a Peugeot 504 Estate. The cars I’d most like to drive again are a Jaguar 420G (Mark 10), a Citroen GS, a Hillman Imp, an MG Midget and a Fiat 124 (this last being the first vehicle that I ventured onto the open road in, unaccompanied). Note, I said drive again because, having driven them decades ago I wonder what they are like now. Except for, maybe, the GS I doubt I’d actually want to own any of them.

Even then, I still regard it as a major disappointment for someone who has been obsessed with cars for so long that, in over 45 years of legal driving, I’ve only just reached three figures.

I wish I’d bought more cars, but I have an unfortunate loyalty to any heap of metal I purchase and some of them have stayed with me far longer than they should. I know people who will hire cars that interest them, who will take cars they have no intention of buying for test drives, who will go to track days and sample exotica, hassle their friends, etc, etc. Some puritanical streak in me prevents me from doing this, so all those many questions I’d like to know the answer to (such as how easy is it to lose a 911) I will never be able to answer. My only consolation is that, of my modest list, the car I’d put at the top I do actually own. That would have to be the Nissan Cube, wouldn’t it?

14 thoughts on “Theme : Disappointment – The Remembrance Of Cars Passed”

  1. Coincidentally, my driving timespan is about half of yours, and a rough calculation shows that I have driven around 55 cars in that time. So we seem to have a similar pace. As in your case, there are few test drives of cars I didn’t intend to buy, and hardly any I asked a friend to drive theirs.

    Roughly a third of the cars were Citroëns, another third came from Germany (every model only counted once). The model I drove the most instances of is probably the XM. My dad had three which I all used, my brother had four, and I drove three of them. Then there was a seventh one which I tested but didn’t buy. On the other hand, I quite certainly had more than seven different Passat estates from our company car pool, but I dont count them as separate entities, as they all have the same spec, only changing gradually over time when a new Passat generation is introduced.

    1. Compiling such a list for myself would be a disappointment. I’ve been a serial monogamist with respect to my cars and the rest of the drives have been small flings with rentals which limits my experience to Golf/Astra/Focus class.

  2. Mine is terribly short.

    1995 Ford Fiesta 1.4 Ghia
    2000 Ford Focus 2.0 Zetec
    2004 Mitsubishi Lancer (and no, not an Evo)
    1995 Mercury Tracer
    2006 Vauxhall Astra Sporthatch 1.8 SRI
    2005 Aston Martin DB9 6.0
    2006 Dodge Charger 3.5 SXT
    2007 Renault Clio 1.0
    2008 Honda Civic Type R
    2014 Jaguar F-Type S 3.0
    2005 Range Rover Sport 4.4
    2009 Renaultsport Clio Cup 2.0
    2015 Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost
    2015 Ranger Rover Sport SVR 5.0

    1. I forgot to mention a 2002 Ford Focus 1.8 diesel estate. It was such a terrible device, I struggled to compute how it was practically identical to my 2000 2.0.

    2. My crap version of a good car was a Peugeot 405 Estate we owned at work in the late 80s. It was a non-turbo diesel (some of our younger viewers might not even know such things existed) with ‘leisurely’ performance and horrible wet-weather understeer.

    3. It transpires I forgot a few cars:

      1998 Vauxhall Astra 1.4
      2009 Seat Ibiza 1.6
      2009 Hyundai i30 1.5
      2013 Honda Jazz 1.0
      2015 Ford Kuga 2.0 diesel
      2015 Honda CRV 2.0 diesel

      I am only revisiting this for the sake of completeness, you understand.

  3. By digging a bit deeper in my memory and compiling a similar list as Sean did, I remembered some more cars, so I have now what I think is a pretty complete list with a total of 66 entries: 3 motorcycles, 12 vans and 51 cars. Country-wise, as expected, there is a strong French predominance:
    26 France
    19 Germany
    6 Italy, Japan
    3 USA
    2 Korea
    1 Spain, GB, Russia, Sweden.

    Disappointing facts:
    1 – I’ve only ever driven one Peugeot, one Alfa Romeo, one Lancia and one Volvo – and not a single Saab.
    2 – The list doesn’t contain a single coupé or sports car. The closest things to the latter are an Audi S4 (first model, Audi 100 based, 5 cylinder Turbo) and my own Xantia V6 Activa. (or an Opel Frontera Sport, if we judge by the name…) The most exotic ones, at least in the eye of a central European driver, were an American Ford Escort, a SsangYong Tivoli and a Lada Samara. While the Tivoli was actually surprisingly fun to drive, the other two were a nightmare.
    3 – I’ve never driven a car that was made before 1970. Although, with 2CV, DS, Ami8 and 504, there are some whose origins go back to earlier decades.
    4 – I’ve never driven a yellow or purple car (I don’t remember all the colours, but about these I’m sure). However, there were two orange ones and a surprising amount of green – probably not very surprising, as the ’80s and ’90s are strongly represented in the list.
    5 – The second frequent marque after Citroën is VW, largely due to our comapny’s fleet. Most of them I don’t really remember, it’s only the T3 van that sticks in my mind as a fun car to drive. Besides that, it also comes second after the 7 XMs in terms of different instances of the same car. I had five of them, and very colourful, too: light blue (twice), bright green, orange, and white with a rainbow-coloured company logo.

    1. That´s a substantial list. The car I seem to have driven most examples of is the Ford Focus. The only one I didn´t sample was the CC. The only convertible I ever drove was an Olds Cutlass from about 1992. It was incredible heavy and flexed like a wicker basket. The oldest car I have driven was a Fiat coupe (the Pininfarina thing) convertible which I moved about 50 metres before getting out in fear.
      A light blue XM is a thing of great rarity. Ditto the bright green. That was then, I suppose. Orange? Do you mean Mandarine Red (I think it is).

    2. Oh, maybe my sentence was a bit misleading: the one with the nice colours was the VW T3. The XMs were dark grey, dark blue, dark green and dark red.

    3. There’s an interesting new slant. If I returned to my list, could I remember the colours of all the cars on it? I’m pretty sure I’ve never driven a lime-green car. That’s a sad omission.

  4. There were many I didn’t remember, either. All the rental cars or test drives with some standard grey or blue, for example. Regarding lime green: this was the colour of the most exotic and sporty car I’ve ever been in – only as a passenger, unfortunately. It was my colleague’s Lotus Elise in, as they call it, “Isotope Green”.

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