Me and my car

I’ll admit my Honda CRV may not attract too much attention when parked alongside some of the exotic motors that have appeared in this column but it suits me down to the ground.

It manages to provide me with a comfortable means of transport to and from my many business meetings. I reckon I do in the region of 30,000 business miles a year and the Honda gives me a great platform for my family and my hobby. I have a retired thoroughbred who requires lots of attention and space in my car for horse-related tackle.

I take him on cross-country rides and it is really handy to keep a lot of the equipment I need in the car. This is more than possible in the CRV which is said to have the biggest cabin of any compact 4×4. The boot expands to 950 litres when the rear seats are folded.

I particularly like the 60/40 split-fold arrangement and the fact that both sections slide backwards and forwards, allowing a choice between more legroom and more luggage space.

On the driving side, I’m a fan of the high seating position and good all-round visibility which helps me when parking.

I think the dashboard handbrake is an American peculiarity and it’s a bit of a pain if you use it at junctions and live in a hilly place.

Although it is a smooth and well finished vehicle, I’ll admit that it’s not an off-roader in the same way that the Land Rover Challenger is. On the other hand, I can’t see myself doing many motorway miles in a Challenger.

My CRV is a good compromise between roadworthiness and off-road ability and has never yet got me bogged down in a field. You only get four-wheel drive when it’s needed, so for the rest of the time you’re driving a front-wheel drive car. In practice, the system cuts in more often than you’d expect, leaving the front wheels sometimes grappling for traction when pulling away from junctions.

Apart from minor niggles, I can’t fault my Honda CRV. My partner particularly likes its three-year or 90,000 mile warranty and its healthy residuals.

Apparently, you can expect to recoup close to two-thirds of the original list price after three years, which obviously reflects well on both the contract hire rate and cost-per-mile figures.
Sue Cox, business manager, Bananas Inc

As most readers know, Safe Home Income Plans was born out of the equity release industry’s darkest hour in the 1980s when many clients used funds released to invest in what was then a booming stock market. When the market started to nosedive negative equity resulted and the industry had a problem. But how could clients differentiate between safe and unsafe schemes?

The need to establish standards was clear but the search for a name for the standards organisation was more problematic. Five product providers got their thinking caps on and eventually an executive from Allied Dunbar came up with Safe Home Income Plans Group, or SHIP.

The name immediately struck a chord – what better image than that of a majestic sailing ship helping clients find safe passage through the sometimes choppy waters of equity release? Paradoxically, Allied Dunbar withdrew from the equity release market shortly before the launch of SHIP and the remaining four providers, Hodge Equity Release, Home & Capital, GE Life and Ecclesiastical Life, went on without it.

“The simplicity of the name and logo have been a significant factor in our success,” says Jon King, chief executive of SHIP. “Clients value benefits and guarantees and our name and logo communicate these attractions well.”

Tony Jones, managing director, Pink Home Loans

My first mortgage was with Nationwide. Within six months of joining I was eligible to apply for a staff mortgage, so I opted to buy rather than rent. The concessionary mortgage rate was only 4% at the time, which was a bonus as the base rate was fluctuating between 12% and 15%. I bought a two-bedroom bungalow in Audley, Staffordshire. I only lived there for 12 months as I was relocated to the South Coast. This was the first of seven job-related house moves I have had.

My home now is a large property in the Cotswolds, backing onto National Trust land. We decided to move somewhere tranquil but within commuting distance of major cities. My mortgage was taken out four years ago and is a fixed rate with Abbey. I will be changing my mortgage at the end of the year and am considering taking out an offset deal.