When bangernomics goes wrong

I’ve written frequently about bangernomics, the principle of buying embarrassingly cheap cars and running them for as long as possible without spending anything. For the best part of six years, me and my far better half Samantha have been driving around in sub £500 motors without any issue.

It works well for us. Sam only has to drive seven miles or so to her workplace, while I usually have a press car on hand to drive, allowing me to face long journeys with a degree of confidence that even the best 15 year old Vauxhall Omega can’t match.CHAL Banner

There’s also a big American sports car for when we’re really stuck, but with just two seats and two kids to squeeze in, it’s not the most practical of solutions. One of the downsides of bangernomics is that you get in to the habit of looking for cheap cars that could just work for you when one eventually reaches the end of its life.

You also develop a bit of a reputation, so people now come to me offering their future-classic Nissan Micra that has more rust than metal. It may be surface rust to you, but it’s still something that used to be metal but is now no longer metal.

That explains why there are six cars on my driveway today. There should only be four there though, but despite the amount of motors available, we can’t get out of the house and in to town, at least not in a car.

I’ll discount the Corvette first. It needs two rear tyres at vast cost, something I’ve not got round to yet as I fear American Express might not let me keep my card. Given the weather conditions I’m facing today, I don’t fancy taking it out on the roads with what little tread is left. While I’m not averse to a bit of sideways action, upside down and on fire is probably more likely at the moment.

The Quantum Saloon kit car is currently sitting lifeless, with a brake disc that refuses to separate itself from the car. As the weather has closed in, enthusiasm for the job has waned and I now fear that the off-white lump of plastic will sit there until spring.

Swedish engineering has finally failed on the SAAB 9-3. After fifteen years and, if the service history is anything to go by, virtually no maintenance, the automatic gearbox is struggling to actually engage a gear. If it does manage to find a gear, it then laughs at us as it then shooses to take itself out of gear at random times. This does not make pulling on the A1 entertaining. With a holed exhaust and some tired bodywork, it’s probably time for this one to head off to the great big scrap yard in the sky.

Lancia Dedra i.e. Turbo 1994 Front Right
The much maligned Lancia Dedra

The Chrysler Grand Voyager I picked up a few weeks ago is still sitting awaiting prep. By prep, I mean tax, insurance and an MOT, which it might or might not pass. Only once it has been through the test will the decision be made to keep, move on or scrap the purple behemoth. Secretly, I’m hoping it’ll pass without too much of an issue, especially as it’s only had one owner for the last 18 years.

Italian engineering from the 90s isn’t renowned for being rock solid, but my trusty Lancia Dedra proves otherwise. The engine is strong, everything that’s electric works as it should, and the bodywork has only the lightest patches of rust. I’d jump in this one in a flash if it wasn’t for one minor detail; it’s parked 10 miles away as my driveway just isn’t big enough for all six motors.

Phil Huff and The General Lee(xus)
The General Lee(xus)

Which leaves me with one car left, the incredible General Lee(xus), a Lexus LS400 that’s seen a tough life with Top Gear, a racing team and now me. Painted bright orange and with a Confederate flag on the roof, it’s the most inappropriate homage to the Dukes of Hazzard’s General Lee that I could come up with. It’s not pure madness though as the car actually goes on pan-European rallies and helps raise plenty of money for charities from BEN to Sparks.

It regularly gets driven over Swiss mountain passes, through the flooded streets of Venice (no, not the canals) and between the countless lanes of traffic in Rome. It gets hot, it gets worked hard, and it has occasional arguments with immovable objects. Yet it still runs perfectly, refusing to do anything beyond coughing politely if I’ve not switched it on for a while.

It’s even got a set of Continental Sport Contact tyres with plenty of tread on them, so weather conditions simply don’t bother me. I can sit in the armchair-like seats in air-conditioned comfort, listening to stereo system that’s still better than the one I’ve got at home, isolated from the world outside.

So why aren’t I driving the Lexus today? I forgot to MOT and tax it. Six cars, and not one of them is driveable, or at least not legally. There’s only one thing for it. I’ll have to buy another car, one that comes with tax and MOT. Problem solved.

Bangernomics still wins.

[button link=”http://www.contracthireandleasing.com/car-leasing-news/when-bangernomics-goes-wrong/” rel=”nofollow” color=”orange”]This article was first published at ContractHireAndLeasing.com on 21 October 2013.[/button]

The following two tabs change content below.
Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, DAD.info and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

Latest posts by Phil Huff (see all)