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Me and my car

For years I hardly needed a car of my own but since I gave up the motoring freebies my Mini Cooper 1.3 has proved itself to be a genuine pile of rubbish, says Nick Gardner

In my previous incarnation as motoring editor of the Sunday Times I didn’t need my own car. I had a new model delivered every week to test drive. In fact, I got so bored of driving new cars I once couldn’t be bothered to go and pick up a Lamborghini Diablo from a Park Lane showroom to drive for a weekend. Mind you, after hearing what happened to the last Ferrari I had on loan, they were probably relieved.

Anyway, there’s always the odd week that you don’t have a freebie motor on loan so in 1998 I bought myself a three year old red Mini Cooper 1.3i. I’ve always been a Mini fan and this was far and away the best I’d ever owned – wooden dashboard, electric sunroof, half leather seats, spotlights. The works.

The logic of buying the Mini was that it was fun to drive and would be cheap to run, given I was hardly going to use it.

And all the time I didn’t need it, it was good as gold. In fact, I went for months without even starting it, but it always started first time when required.

But three years after leaving the cosy world of motoring journalism I need a reliable car and the Mini is falling apart. It starts about half the time so I always park it on a hill with a clear run ahead of me so I can bump it if necessary.

It failed its MOT recently because of excessive exhaust emissions and a faulty indicator. The exhaust had also been knocked by a speed bump so the manifold touched the underside of the car. This heated the chassis up so much that it melted the interior carpet.

Furthermore, last week somebody stole the chrome petrol cap and the electric sunroof sprang a leak. I also think something’s gone wrong with the suspension because I can no longer drive over a speed bump without scraping the underside.

So the time has come to rid myself of this cursed pile of rubbish and get myself a decent motor. I’m sticking it through an auction next week with a reserve of 500. Unless my silky sales patter has tempted you. Any offers?

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