There are a number of things I’ve noticed now I’m approaching what's termed “Middle-aged” or just “old” by the less polite and and anyone younger than 30.....There’s my inability to get out of a car/off a sofa/out of bed without emitting some form of groan, that’s a given and so doesn’t count. Of slightly more concern is that I seem to have become erring on the slightly right wing, more complainy and colder earlier in Winter. I believe I’m also supposed to be contemplating the purchase of a sporty topless mistress or a nubile young car, or some other arrangement of the previous, to begin my impending midlife crisis. But that’s rather unlikely given getting older also seems to have meant my becoming less brave too. Which is a shame because were I braver, I’d be picking up the telephone to register for an auction that’s happening in Royal Leamington Spa next Saturday. I bought my first Peugeot 205 Gti 25 years ago. It was a 1.6 and it was a mistake. Not the car. That was wonderful. My being allowed to own one was the mistake. I could barely afford the insurance much less its maintenance and buying a 7 year old car with 90,000 miles and 8 previous owners, it was always going to empty my National Savings account which it did rapidly. Mine had no sunroof which Performance Car Magazine’s Used Car Guide said was important as it meant it would be of interest to rallyists who might potentially buy it from me at a later stage. I don't why I thought that was an important factor, but it was. And besides, the factory fitted roofs leaked. Its absence from my 205 didn’t mean I wouldn’t end up getting wet whilst being inside the car at some stage though - There was a moment when driving home from work one night when I thought my trousers were on fire. The “smoke” billowing from the footwell I soon realised was steam thanks to the heater matrix exploding and dumping the car’s coolant in a part of the car in which its coolant didn’t belong. Principally all over the floor.
There was no Google to answer our questions in those days. Getting music from one's telephone, involved calling "Dial-A-Disc" (16 was the number) and listening to what they played you, in order, on a loop. Instead of the internet, those of us currently over the age of 40 relied on something called “Common Sense” and “improvisation” (ask your parents kids). And so I thought to bypass the matrix with a length of 15mm copper tube and a couple of jubilee clips. This worked of course, although there wasn’t much in the way warmth in the cockpit anymore and it was the middle of Winter. “Wear a coat” I thought. However, keeping my young bones warm wasn’t as big a problem as visibility - The moisture from the never-again-to-be-dry carpets would condense on the inside of the windows meaning I had a constant battle to see where I was going when I was driving, and ice on the inside of the glass once the car had been parked for a few hours. I didn’t care though. I had a 205 GTi. The car of the moment for over 10 years and with good reason. Nothing I’ve ever driven since has driven like it, hunkering down its back end the more you goaded it through corners with just a whiff of self-induced lift off oversteer. An iconic hatchback that everyone wanted and I had one. In fact I’ve had 3 over the years including a 1.9. In 1992 a 7 year old Gti could be bought for not much more than a couple of boxes of Findus Crispy Pancakes and a copy of LookIn magazine. Unfortunately though, over the years as my bravery has slackened off, value of both the 1.6 and 1.9 versions have got stronger and stronger. Next Saturday Classic Car Auctions have 3 almost concourse examples up for sale including a 1989 1.6 Gti that’s had just 2 owners from new. The guide price for this and another 1.6 in the same auction is between 5 and £7,000. There’s also a 1.9 Gti which is being sold with no reserve - The last one seen at auction had just 7,000 miles on the clock and sold earlier this year for nearly £31,000. Details of all three of these cars and the rest of the auction’s catalogue can be found HERE ….And yes, I wish I’d kept all 3 of mine.