Me and My Car

When I went shopping for a new car it was power I was after and a head-turning open top so I settled for a masculine work of art, my Mercedes SLK convertible, says Paul Hunt

Cars have always been a passion of mine and the draw of speed and power never seems to fade away. This may surprise a few of my friends who first saw me behind the wheel of my trusted Austin Allegro back in 1989 but, as they say, times have changed.

When it came to updating my car a little over a year ago, what I was met with was a pleasing dilemma and one which, considering the beauty and power of the beasts on offer, can best be described in equine terms.

Picture if you will, a crowded field of thoroughbreds in all shapes, sizes and colours. All well bred beasts possessing the usual impressive German and Italian manufacturing lineage and all vying for my undivided attention. However, much to my surprise, after several hours of sorting the wheat from the chaff, what had been a complex array of choice had narrowed itself down to a hotly contested three-horse race – the three litre BMW Z4, the three and a half-litre Mercedes SLK and the three litre Porsche Boxster.

After great deliberation, the retractable hard top roof of the Mercedes finally won me over, as well as the 3.5 litre engine which, I was assured, would propel me from zero to 60 in just over five seconds.

While surveying my purchase, what was apparent was the extent of the SLK transformation. Whereas the old version was, frankly, the domain of the sweaty-palmed hairdresser, what now stood before me was a masculine work of art which oozed confidence and charm.

As a relatively young, free and single man who is eternally optimistic about the English weather, the two-seater convertible Mercedes suits me down to the ground and performs just as well on the short hop from home to office as it does on a 200 mile slog up the M1.

When I next change cars, I would opt for a few more gadgets to satisfy my unquenchable craving for technology but as for the model, that is anyone’s guess. In two years’ time, there will undoubtedly be sleeker and faster models unleashed onto the market but at the present time, you really can’t beat the SLK 350.

There is, of course, the option of the big brother, the SLK 55, but the risk of death, the inevitable cluster of penalty points and the astronomical price tag may yet preclude me from that dream.

Litle Deed
Birmingham Midshires has roots dating back to 1849 and is the result of an amalgamation of some 50 building societies including Liverpool and Birmingham & Bridgwater. Building on these strong foundations, Birmingham Midshires’ continued growth and success has seen it become the largest private employer in Wolverhampton.

In April 1999, Birmingham Midshires became part of the Halifax Group, further enhancing its position. Retaining its well established brand and product range, Birmingham Midshires now draws on the considerable resource and expertise of its parent. In September 2001, Halifax and Bank of Scotland merged to form a new force in banking – HBOS.

“The seminal moment for BM came in 1999, when we were bought by Halifax,” says Tim Hague, director of BM Solutions. “The business thought long and hard about how it could add value to the group and, from that point onwards, our specialist lending strategy.

“Since then the business has gone through a spectacular period of growth, outshining anything else in our 156-year history. As for Birmingham Midshires as a whole, if we were independent we would be a FTSE 100 business in our own right. What sets Birmingham Midshires apart is its people and their passion for the business. Our teams in Pendeford, Wolverhampton and Cardiff lead the market and continue to make all the difference to our business.”

First And Last
Tom Gurrie, head of intermediary sales, Chelsea
My first property was purchased in 1984 with a mortgage of just 19,500. A small two-bedroom semi-detached home in Sale, it was our home when my wife and I married. I was then working as an insurance agent selling low-cost endowment policies of all things. Halifax gave me the mortgage after having to save with it for six months.

As our family grew, we moved home a number of times including a relocation to Worcestershire. Now back in the Manchester area, our children are growing up quickly and we have a three-bedroom semi in Altrincham. This is being extended with the help of a mortgage and further advance from National Counties. The house is in a really good location and will probably suffice for a couple more years or so. However, I think there may be one more move and one more mortgage left in me yet.