Saturday, 11 December 2010

A silver Peugeot 206

Is what I'm unfortunate enough to own. A car which has had more surgery than Owen Hargreaves and has had more parts fall off it than Michael Jackson. Sure, I'm lucky to have my own car, but when you consider all the hassle it's caused, you'd have to say I made a bad choice.
From a very young age the 206 appealed to me. I'm not sure why, I think it was something to do with the lights looking cool. As a 16-year-old with the prospect of driving prominent in my thoughts, a respectable car was a must. To fit in with, or maybe even to stand out from society, I thought a few modifications were essential. So when a guy a few years older than me at my cricket club rocked up with 'For Sale' signs in his done-up 206, I expressed my interest.
Soon after, the car was mine. And how I loved it. It had tinted windows, changed front lights and changed back lights. Not the crap sort you see on a lot of 206s either, these were rarer, better, eye-catching. In addition to these things, there were minor things that went a long way to helping the aesthetics of the car. Things such as a spoiler, alloy wheels and silver bumpers instead of the standard black ones. It even came wth an ipod dock so I didn't have to make any CDs, all my music was instantly there.
But my favourite thing about the car is, rather strangely, also the thing that's caused me the most hassle of all. The exhaust on my car is amazing. It sounds incredible when you get up above three thousand revs, yet is quiet when youre cruising along a back street. It's given me countless thrills, and many other people have commented on it. However today, on the M25, my exhaust fell off for the third time since being in my possession.
It could not have come at a worse time, either, as I was already running late, and pushing the time limits very fine as I attempted to get to Loftus Road in time to watch Queens Park Rangers play Watford. Before I got headed there though, I had to pick up Harry, which meant leaving the M25 and heading down the M3. Just as I moved into the inside lane in preparation for taking the sliproad, I heard the dreaded crunch that I'd feared may have been coming for a few weeks.
Now, it's important to note that the two previous times my exhaust's fallen off, it fell completely clean off. Once in Farnborough Sixth Form car park, and once at a busy roundabout near where I live. If it fell off in the same manner this time, it would have been smashed at 60mph by the car following me, and all hell could have broken loose. I was playing music fairly loud at the time, but the noise was unmistakable, and I immediately moved on to the hard shoulder, fearing what may have happened.
Thankfully, I got out of my car and moved round to the back of it to see the exhaust still connected, but dragging along the ground. The pipe that goes beneath the car had come apart, and was being held in place by just one loop of metal, wealded rather thinly to the car. Here lay a problem though, as I couldn't pull the exhaust clean from the car, meaning it was just going to drag along the floor. I was in trouble. On most Friday evenings this'd be a serious pain in the backside, but with a football game to get to and a mate relying on me to get him there, I was cursing anything and everything.
Time to do what I always do in times of need. Call Father. Sitting back in the car, I explained the situation, but didn't receive much help as Dad said he was off to a wedding reception with friends and couldn't do anything about it. He suggested pulling it off, but having already tried, I didn't think it was possible. Driving home wasn't really an option either as it was painful just moving at 5mph. And even if I did get it home, there was no way I could get back up to London to watch the football. Just my luck.
But as I hung up the phone, I heard a ping and I knew things had changed. It had fallen off. I quickly stopped and raced back to pick it up. Now, the first two times it fell off, it was only about three feet long. The end bit, the catalytic converter, and a small amount of pipe. That could fit easily in my boot. This time however, it was different. The whole thing must have been a good eight feet long, and fitting it in the car took bloody ages. Eventually, after a lot of faffing around, I managed to put the bulky end in the passenger seat footwell, with the pipe running straight through the middle of the car; the end scraping on the rear window.
Thankfully, that was the end of the drama, apart from an obscene amount of traffic on the remaining way home, and then on the way into London. We got into the ground about ten minutes after kick off, but given everything that had happened, it wasn't a bad result at all. Oh and Watford won as well, which was good as we were supporting them.
It hasn't been a good few weeks for my car, although to be fair to it, it's not been entirely its fault. I must accept some blame for being a complete mug when driving to Birmingham two weeks ago to watch Aston Villa play Arsenal.
With Charlie in the car, the banter was good as we made our way up the M40 on a very crisp winter's morning. A small amount of snow had fallen over night, and as I sped up the outside lane, it became increasingly white. Then the car seemed to lose power. At first I wasn't overly bothered, as I thought I'd taken my foot off the accelerator slightly. And when I pressed down on the accelerator and nothing happened, I thought, 'OK, the snow must be causing my tyres to lose grip, I'll move into the middle lane.'
Only when the accelerator still didn't work did it hit me. Surely not. It couldn't be. Please no. I looked at the dashboard and my worst fear had been confirmed. The petrol dial had hit rock bottom and I never noticed. I couldn't believe it. I was lost for words. Charlie was wetting himself while I racked my brain thinking of something to say or do. In conjunction with my view that Father can solve anything, I rang him. He explained how it 'happens to the best of us', and I should go to one of the orange road side phones and take it from there.
Eighty minutes and £138.65 later, we were back up and running. Thankfully, unlike today, we were in plenty of time, and still managed to arrive at Villa Park an hour early. Quality game it was too.
You might think that to run out of petrol one day, and have your exhaust fall off two weeks later was enough hassle, but no. Not for my 206. In the weekend between the two events, I wasn't given the chance to run out of petrol or have my exhaust fall off, because my car refused to start. I knocked on doors for jump leads, but to no avail, and eventually I ended up having to take the train home. What a nightmare that was, too, as I left Eastbourne station at 1835 on a journey that'd normally take a little over two hours. I arrived at Farnborough Main at 0050. Good lord.
Thankfully my return trip went as it should, but I came back to a car that still wouldn't start. A special mention must go to Callum as he helped me find jump leads on Wednesday evening. After a couple of false starts, the Peugeot lived again.
But is that really a good thing? Sometimes I think it'd be better if the little thing popped its clogs. Until I get some money, it'll have to stay, but I wonder what'll go wrong next. In addition what I've already said, I've had to get a new clutch after it refused to go into first gear; I had to get new brakes fitted after the front two failed, making stopping almost impossible. Those back lights I told you I really liked, well they sometimes worked, sometimes didn't. No rhyme or reason as to why and when they worked or not, but I've gone back to the standard lights now, which look average, but at least work the whole time.
Anything else? Not sure, I don't think so. That's probably it. I'll be sad to see it go when it finally does, I've done 37,000 miles in it so far, it's taken me from Eastbourne to Manchester, Portsmouth to Derby, as well as many places in between. I do love it, but it's crap. I wouldn't be at all surprised if one day it all fell apart leaving me just sitting in the seat thinking 'why did I buy this silver Peugeot 206?'