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Can I complete my 1983 'I-SPY Cars' book 34 years after I started?

2y ago

5.1K

You might be familiar with the I-SPY books. Popular for keeping kids busy on holidays in the pre-iPad age, they’re still available today, each covering a different topic and awarding you points for each object you spot. The less likely you are to spot something, the more points you get.

Way back in 1983 I was given an I-SPY Cars book and never completed it. In 2017, having unearthed it in my parents’ house, I’m going to finish the job.

Or at least try. Back in ’83 if you scored 1250 points by spotting most of the cars in the book and recording their registration plates in its pages you attained the rank of Car Spotter with Silver Honours.

But if you scored the full 1500 points you were awarded Gold Honours and were allowed to send your book off to the man on the cover, I-SPY patron, David Bellamy, who’d stamp it with his official seal and return it.

David Bellamy confused by a non-registered SD1

Bellamy was all over British TV in the 1980s but pretty much excommunicated years later after airing some non-pc views on climate change. I checked and he’s not dead, but he is 84, which means I probably ought to get cracking if I still want that official seal.

Fortunately, the 1983 me has given the 2017 me a head start. My messy eight-year old scrawl has recorded the car number plates for various cars, including the Austin Maestro and Metro, Ford Sierra, Vauxhall Astra and some unspecified Porsche.

And to give me a contemporary boost, the 2017 me - perhaps a bit naughtily - has leafed through some old car mags to pull out plates of cars I’d previously road tested: V12VTE for an Aston Martin, Bentley’s famous 1900TU plate, and the F4FNE fitted to a Ferrari FF.

But the car landscape has changed so massively in the 34 years since the book was published that even if I hadn’t lifted those numbers from my old mags, I wouldn’t have struggled to spot the once-elusive exotic cars in 2017.

You get the maximum 50 points for any model of Ferrari and any model of Rolls Royce, both marques being sufficiently rare in 1980s Newcastle that I never spotted either. But modern-day London is crawling with both. Even spotting an era-correct Ferrari 308 or 400 probably wouldn’t take that long if you took in the odd car show.

No, it’s the ordinary cars that are the problem. The Peugeot 305 and 505 Estate were once a common sight and so are only worth 20 points apiece.

But when did you last see either? Howmanyleft reckons there are just 64 305s and 74 505s registered for road use in the UK.

At least the young me managed to spot a Citreon CX, Morris Ital and Lancia Gamma to save the old me the trouble.

But the retro Panther Kallista is another car worth just 20 points. Apparently there are only 35 on the road.

Renault Fuego? 20 points. Only 18 left.

But I’d put money on seeing either before spotting a Talbot Matra Rancho, the weird fake-off-roader that predicted the current SUV trend 20 years before it happened.

I vividly remember seeing one at my local shops around the time I got the book but for some reason I never noted down its plate. I check Howmanyleft. There are three.

Hmmm. This might take a while. Hang in there David, I’ll be as quick as I can.

Tags: #i-spy #ispy #david-bellamy #spotting #cars #modern-classics #new-era #ferrari #lancia #citroen-cx #cx #fuego #renault-fuego #morris #ital #peugeot #305 #505 #ferrari #rolls-royce #rolls #bentley #1900tu #aston #aston-martin #ford #capri #talbot #matra #rancho #matra-rancho #samba #sierra #escort #1983 #1980s #1982 #1981 #1984 #1985 #1986 #alfa-romeo #lotus #fiat #datsun #sunny #bristol #audi #granada #honda #jaguar #mazda #retro #mercedes #morgan #opel #panther #kallista #renault #porsche #reliant #scimitar #rialto #rover #SD1 #saab #99 #skoda #900 #subaru #toyota #celica #supra #tvr #vauxhall #volkswagen #golf #astra #jeep #mini #land-rover

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