14 July 2008

jump in my car

Just a quick post of tonight's Top Gear, which mostly examined the ability of several of British Leyland's finest products to confirm why British Leyland became a spent force so long ago.

As background, I grew up with British Leyland and its forerunner, the British Motor Corporation. We (the fambly) were the BMC agents in a NSW country town. The Mayor, a staunch conservative, was the Holden dealer. The newspaper was the Daily Liberal. The old man had different beliefs that must have seemed odd, it was only when he went to uni a few years later that he figured it all out. Get the picture?

So, Top Gear and 3 of BL's finest, all evidently Monday builds. A Triumph Dolomite Sprint. Well, I had a Dolly in Singapore, not the Sprint but a car that had been owned by the Managing Director of the BL agents there. It went better than any standard Dolly motor had any right to, it certainly had a distinctive, fast loping idle that indicated head and cam (only one) work.

It broke its timing chain about a kilometre from home after a high speed run at night down the east coast of Malaysia, Mrs VVB wide-eyed in the front and offspring numbers 1 and 2 asleep in the back. Talk about good timing - ha ha. When I came to sell it a mate from the Hash House Harriers expressed interest in it as a car for his wife, took it for a drive and came back to say it was far too powerful.

The Austin Princess? Never released in Australia although there a very few personal imports. On our first posting, to Algeria, I couldn't reconcile myself to not having my own car. Then a bloke in the UK Embassy decide to sell his Princess. I took it for a drive and was hooked: quiet, comfortable and every square inch was covered in velour. Buying it would have been a disaster because of the Algerian regulations on ownership of cars, but fortunately he decided to take it back to England before I could dothe deal.

Finally, the Top Gear fellows tested a Rover SD1. I never had one of those (but I did have a P6B). I once drove an old, bright lime green SD1. Again, covered in velour - except for all the bits that had fallen off - and as slow as a wet weekend.

Sorry, no pictures, I'd need to start a flickr account or something. Most readers won't care anyway. As for the others, they know what these beasts look like but may be interested in committing some comments about the Australian Top Gear, still to grace our screens. How could you now have presenters mimicking each of Jeremy, Hammond and Captain Slow? It's formulaic, character-driven and predictable and you'd need to replicate that model, yes?

Now, for those two others who, with me, were going to audition: who of us was going to take which part? I kind of fancy myself as a more compact Jeremy but my driving skills are more James May. Not a good mix.

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