Me and my cars

I have been interested in cars for as long as I can remember and I have been fortunate enough to have been a member of Fife Constabulary's Traffic Department (before the days of Road Policing Departments and Camera Enforcement Units). Consequently I have been given some of the best available driver training in the country and given some beautiful well maintained vehicles to allow me to put this into practice.

To give something back and because I was a car enthusiast I joined the IAM in 1983 and was appointed a local examiner in 1986, conducting the IAM's Advanced Driving test in the Car, Motorcycle and HGV/PSV Categories.  This role changed in August 2006 when I was given an IAM Staff Examiner's position, looking after Motorcycling in Scotland & Northern England, a position I held until March 2014. Whilst a serving Traffic Police Officer I also specialised in Road Accident Investigation and Reconstruction and am well aware of the consequences of in appropriate speed, drink and recklessness on the roads. So how do I reconcile high speed driver training and today's camera infested roads...

My 325i sensible and get hold of something which gives the thrill on the quiet back roads without requiring excessive speed. What fun is there is battering down the autobahn at 150 m.p.h. in a straight line with no wind noise and the electronics managing the machine to perfection? Compare this with 60 m.p.h. around some challenging twisty B class road, the wind in your hair, your bum only a few inches off the road, no power steering and relatively good acceleration & road-holding.  The Quest was on...

...the result?

The Fleet...

My cars to date have been, in order of ownership from 1974, as follows:

Hillman Imp:
(Acquired Autumn 1974) Originally a standard 1968 model with the 850cc engine, which I ended up fitting a radio; air-vents; tachometer; electronic ignition, wider tyres, wheel spacers. Over and above my means of transport this was also used for a few road rallies... the navigational kind.

Photo of model but not my actual car.

Library Photo -
                      Hillman Imp

MG Midget:
(Acquired Autumn 1975) 1275cc A series engine; chrome bumper, 1970 model. Over the time I had this car I fitted uprated springs and shox, electronic ignition; Cooper-S distributor; polished & ported cylinder head with larger valves and uprated valve springs; Webber 45 DCOE with custom inlet manifold, Janspeed centre-branch exhaust manifold leading into larger bore straight exhaust, which terminated in a Peco straight through silencer; renewed the front brake disks, fitting competition pads and shoes; fitted brake servo (from a Hillman Hunter estate car so it really stopped!); spot lights; front air dam; Aerodynamic double bar roll-cage; wider tyres; additional gauges; radio cassette; head-rests; new soft-top; hard top; smaller steering wheel (made it far easier for someone 6'4" tall). This car was superb fun and until I got married was probably the love of my life! At this time I became the area Sec. for the MG Owners Club in Fife and Tayside and Elinor and I would take the car around the country to various events. The Midget was eventually sold to a close friend who subsequently sold it to another mutual friend so I was still assisting in servicing/modifying it for a number of years after it had moved on.

(Acquired 1979) Jubilee limited edition in British Racing Green with gold flashes and the V8 steel and alloy wheels. A cracker. By this time I was married so there were limits on what could be spent on the car. However I ended up fitting the Leyland ST front air dam; uprated front shox; converting the rear shox to adjustable spax telescopic; fitting the V8 ST springs all round; replacing the front wings (metal moth!); fitting a kenlowe fan; electronic ignition; radio cassette; glass sun-roof; having the car re-sprayed. This one was brought up to a superb condition and was great fun to drive at home or abroad, easily accommodating Eli and I as well as our English Setter (not abroad!), whose basket fitted neatly into the rear hatch area. However a few years further down the road our daughter was on the way so a more family oriented vehicle was required. Hind-sight is a wonderful thing. I should have kept the MGB GT and laid it up and bought a cheap family car, however the B moved on.


Triumph Dolomite 1850:
(Acquired 1982) Bought from a friend this car went well, was very similar to the Triumph PI in its cockpit and with 4 doors was practical. Then I moved from beat policing to the Traffic Dept. and wanted something more like the company car (BMW 525i).


BMW 525:
(Acquired 1983) Not the injected model and probably a retrograde step going for a larger and older car, but nice to drive, plenty room for the family - wife, son, daughter & dog. But not the most economic car at around low 20's m.p.g. Virtually no mod's to this vehicle, just routine servicing and colour coding the front grill. Having been a fan of the Ford Fiesta when it first came out and liking the special models etc. We got the opportunity to buy a good condition XR2 at the same time a colleague wanted the BMW.

BMW 525

Ford Fiesta XR2:
(Acquired 1984) Standard non-EFI engined model, but the full XR2 spec' for its day. With the children up and into car seats/seat-belts the two door model gave some security - no doors for them to accidentally open. Quite a sporty drive and reasonably economic. Front Spot and Fog lights fitted and I think that was about it... other than wider tyres.


Ford Escort Diesel:
(Acquired December 1986) D-reg, our first new car. Really a family car but when the "company" are supplying BMW 525i, Rover SD1 3.5 V8, Ford Granada 2.8i, Vauxhall Senator 3.0i, why did I need a fast car! The Escort was a great wee car and was very very economic. However the children kept growing (in size, not numbers) so a larger car seemed to be the way to go.

Escort 1.6 DL

Montego 2.0 Turbo Diesel:
(Acquired 1990) G-reg and bought as an ex demonstrator. A lot more lift and top end than the Escort and although a boot rather than a hatch, a lot of useful space. Fitted the rear boot spoiler to be able to see the rear of the car when reversing (and for looks). However as the children grew and required more bits and pieces for various activities an Estate was on the cards.

Montego 2.0 DSL

Citroen ZX 1.9 Turbo Diesel Estate:
(Acquired 1994) M-reg. The estate model had just been launched and the turbo diesel was only available in the top spec with alloys etc. so other than a tow bar there was nothing to add to this new car. Nice to drive, quick off the mark, not quite as economic as the Montego, but far more refined and capable of spinning the wheels in 3rd if you were not careful. Purchase of my E-Boat gave a requirement to have something more substantial to pull the boat rather than relying on friends (BETH E-160) so...

ZX 1.9 Turbo Diesel

Land Rover Discovery TDiS:
(Acquired January 1998) Having latterly had new / almost new cars this was a case of trading in a M for a M, but the Disco had only 30k on the odometer and was in good condition. Certainly not as economic as the ZX but this car would go anywhere and pull anything, had 7 seats and with the seats folded away could carry almost anything. A few ventures with the Scottish Land Rover Owners Club confirmed the vehicles competency and the Disco moved the boat with ease. The joys of the low ratio box and the diff' lock. Having secured a pontoon mooring at Anstruther the need to move the boat regularly diminished. Lyndsey was away from home at University and Chris had his own car so the need for the big car decreased. So...

Discovery TDiS

Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 SXi:
(Acquired October 2002)  Spring 2002 saw Eli getting a new Corsa and her AX went to Chris (who promptly followed the family tradition by putting on a full body kit from the GT model, inc' alloys and wider tyres). This wee car was not the most powerful car I had ever driven, but was nice to drive, got around 45 m.p.g. and had quite sporty road manners. So in October 2002 I copied Eli and changed the Disco for a new Corsa.

Completing my 30 years police service in September 2005 and no longer needing a commuting car at the same time Chris turned 21... Chris got the Corsa as a 21st present though I borrowed it back or used Eli's Corsa... when the weather or journey reason does not suit the bike.

Corsa 1.2 SXi

Robin Hood 2B
(Acquired October 2003)  Full details on the Hood.

The Hood was the first answer to the "quest" I mentioned, above.  However a shortage of time led to only 550 miles on the Hood from MOT 2004 to MOT 2005, so after much thought I sold the Hood in January 2006 to Thierry Magot from nr St. Tropez.  I think the car will be best suited to the climate of the South of France.

MG Midget
(Acquired Spring 2006)  First registered 1st January 1977 and bought by my parents in November 1985.  The car was fitted with a reconditioned engine and unleaded cylinder head during the 90's then rebuilt using a new body shell, in 2002 for my folks' Golden Wedding Anniversary.  However as the years past father changing agility made his use of the car more infrequent, culminating in the car passing into my custody early in 2006.

Click Here for further details and pictures

Vauxhall Zafira 1.9 CDTI SRi:
(Acquired February 2010)
Elinor traded in her 1.6 Petrol Zafira for the 150 BHP Diesel variant.  We rarely use the 7-seater configuration but the flexibility of seating means the Ikea or B&Q trips are easily dealt with... and its nice to drive as well :-)
Zafira 1.9
                  CDTI SRi
Smart Roadster
(Acquired January 2013)
From the sublime to the ridiculous... 698cc; 3 cylinders; 80 BHP; shorter than the MG, but a tad wider. 6-speed gearbox with auto clutch.  Not really fast but great on the twisty back roads, especially with the "top down."
Smart Roadster
SEAT Ibiza 2.0 TDi FR
(Acquired August 2013)
Elinor traded in her black Zafira for the 140 BHP Diesel 5Dr Ibiza.  "Downsizing" but still capable of carrying her golf sticks and trolley whilst retaining some get up & go and returning better mpg with a lower VED.
Ibiza FR
SEAT Leon 2.0 ST TDi Technology
(Acquired March 2017)
Elinor traded in her Ibiza  for the 150 BHP Diesel 5Dr Leon ST (Estate).  A bit bigger than the Ibiza with the estate format better suited to grandchild transport plus the conveyance of DIY tools to/from friends and family homes.  Still has get up & go and returns good mpg with a low VED.
Seat Leon ST

Whilst my IAM information pages are contained within my Motorcycling pages, the majority of the information is relevant for Car driving so you might want to have a look here.

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