Me and My Car

I\'ve had a lot of problems with the Range Rover I bought in January but at least I\'ve stopped my daughters installing pink furry dice on the rear view mirror, says Charles Haresnape

I bought my Range Rover in January this year and it represented a real landmark in my relationship with cars. My previous car was an Audi TT, but I decided it was time to go for luxury and substance and an impressive three litre engine. It might not beat the midlife crisis of Porsche drivers but when it gets going it really does go.

I knew I’d need a bigger car like a 4×4 when my daughter started university as I’d be transporting her and her cop- ious amounts of luggage between Edinburgh and Newcastle frequently.

I chose the black version of the Range Rover because I think it looks better than the other colours available. But it’s not the most practical of colours as it gets dirty quickly, especially when I’m driving off-road.

While my experience with it has been good on the whole – it’s comfortable, stylish, easy to drive and handles well thanks to its automatically adjusting suspension – there is a down side in that there always seems to be something wrong with it.

I’ve had so many problems with it it’s almost unbelievable. The latest is a novel whirring sound when I accelerate despite the fact that the turbocharger has recently been replaced. I also have a squeaky, retracting steering wheel.

In terms of the interior it’s great to ride around in a big leather armchair and it has some good gadgets such as a fantastic stereo system and a TV which comes in handy when I’m waiting to collect my teenage girls from various social events.

I also get to listen to U2 every now and then on the stereo, when I can squeeze them in between the dodgy bands my daughters like. They might get most of the stereo time but I draw the line at their attempts at interior design, and put my foot down when they tried to install some pink fluffy dice on the rear view mirror.

I don’t think I would have the same car again, partly because of the number of problems I’ve had with this one and partly because I’m conscious of global warming and am starting to feel guilty about driving around in such a big car. I think I’ll go for something different next time – maybe a Lexus. Southern Pacific Mortgage Limited is nearing the 10th anniversary of its incorporation in October 1996. The name derives from SPML’s original US parent company, Southern Pacific Funding Corporation although the lender has been wholly owned by Lehman Brothers since 2002. SPML achieved 2.4bn completions in its last trading year, making it a top 20 lender by gross mortgage lending.

Originally one of the sub-prime lenders that emerged in the mid-1990s, SPML now offers options across a wide credit range from near prime to heavy adverse, Right to Buy and buy-to-let. SPML’s online range is available only via its online decision in principle and contains near prime and buy-to-let options. Secured loans are offered by sister company Southern Pacific Personal Loans. For most of its life, SPML was situated in Kensington High Street but it moved to Broadgate in the City of London in 2005. Earlier this year, loan servicing, IT, human resources, and legal and compliance transferred to Capstone Mortgage Services, Lehman Brothers’ newly created mortgage servicing subsidiary.

John Prust, SPML’s sales and marketing director, says it is an unusual name for a UK mortgage lender, as it is so geographically remote from the place it is named after.

“We have thought about changing the name but it’s now a successful brand so we’re sticking with it,” he says.