A first car to remember – 1996 Peugeot 106 XL
I bought my first car off of a notoriously dodgy used car dealer (with a gold tooth) out of a layby just off of the A595.
I’d been eyeballing the piece of historical automotive tat from the window of the school bus for weeks before dialling the number in the window. Before the sun had gone down, I was the owner of a 1996 Peugeot 106 XL in an identifiable (see: horrid) shade of turquoise complete with bright blue carpets and orange-accented door cards that, unfortunately, matched the seats.
Upfront was a 1.5 diesel lump pulling with the strength of just 59 horses, and with only 3 doors (at the best of times), it was not just slow, but impractical too.
But these spirited little cars were the final glory days of Peugeot, and although I’d arguably bought the worst of the 90s lineup, I absolutely adored the thing. The skinny metal go-pedal needed mashing into the firewall to keep up with traffic, the driver’s door let me down on more than one occasion, resulting in a “Dukes of Hazard” inspired solution, and I lost impromptu drag races with unsuspecting road users everywhere I went. It was bliss.
87,000 Easy(ish) miles
Surprisingly, for a newly passed 17-year-old, I only ever had the one properly hairy moment in the car, during a 10-minute-late run to sixth-form with the oldest of my younger brothers sat beside me.
I was ragging the car along the country commute and, just before a blind left-hander, was flashed by both a bin lorry and the car tailing it. New to driving, I, naturally, thought nothing of it and ploughed around the hedge-surrounded bend at top speed (licking on 56 in a 60) to find a highway maintenance liveried Transit Tipper inconveniently parked in the centre of the northbound lane.
Behind the badly located road-resurfacers queued a white Renault Twingo and, in the lane to my right, a Fiesta making its move around the obstruction had spotted an increasingly large turquoise blur, complete with smoke billowing from the front, in their rearview mirror.
In a scene straight out of“The Fast and the Furious: FWD Drift”, I’d slammed hard on the brakes, something that the dodgy drums and lack of ABS didn’t enjoy all that much. Bloodcurdling tyre-screeching, a highly unstable lane change and swift shift from 5th to 2nd and the plucky Peugeot regained traction, inches from the car in front.
The left hand went up to thank the gobsmacked fellow French hatch driver now pulling around the Tipper and a half-glance to my passenger was all that was needed to confirm that “We’re not telling Mam and Dad about this”.
Taken shortly after repairing the drivers-side door for the second time, I have just as many questions as you with this picture. Oh, and I am wearing a pair of shorts behind that doorcard, I'm not some sort of automotive flasher...
The skidmarks stayed on that stretch of road (not my boxers, those promptly went in the bin) for months before I plucked up the courage to inform of my death-defying driving abilities.
Surprisingly, finding out your two oldest children starred in their own GTA-style cutscene went down like a mouthful of sick – who’d have thought it?