My name is Greg, and I have a problem


Author: Greg MacLemanPublished:

As readers of Classic & Sports Car, you probably have a passion for vintage racers,  '50s open top sports cars or '70s luxury saloons. Which is why, when I accepted a job offer nearly five months ago, I decided to reduce my fleet down to just one classic. 

You'll probably be aware of my 1974 MGB GT – its knackered sills, bubbling bodywork and temperamental clutch. But you don't know that my name is also on the V5C of another classic (or not, depending on your outlook). I also own a 1988 Austin Maestro 1.3L, which I decided probably wasn't quite sharp enough to feature regularly in C&SC.


As a result, my beloved 'Nermal' (because he's not quite normal) is living in exile behind my brother's flat in Sidcup. He starts it for me once a week and provides regular updates on the size of the rusty holes in its sills. "Getting bigger by the day. You can almost see it expanding with the naked eye," was his latest report.

Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall Astra in more illustrious company

And it's not the only 'crappy hatchback' I've owned. I also had a rare 1982 Vauxhall Astra 1200S booted saloon, which was finished in glorious Smoke Blue with black steel wheels. It also had terminal corrosion problems, this time focussed on the bulkhead.

Vauxhall Astra

Booted saloon Mk1 Astras are very uncommon. This one starred in Police! Camera! Action! in 1990.

The trouble is, I found myself scouring the classified adverts yesterday for another. Why, I couldn't tell you. My other half would smother me in my sleep if she even had an inkling that I was considering buying another car. The target of my lusty attentions this time was a 1995 Fiat Cinquecento – not even a Sporting, but a plain Jane bog-standard white one with just 45,000 miles on the clock and 12 months' MoT. It's only £500.


If there's such a thing as car rehab, I need to check myself in.

I feel like a dirty old man sneaking off to watch blue films in the middle of the night. I know it's wrong, but I just can't help myself. 




We must be Brothers in arms! Just as you do, I too buy "crap cars" commonly known as Bangernomics. My current fleet consists of a 1997 Fiat Marea TDS saloon (family car), a 1995 Fiat Coupe' 16V NA (fun car), a 1995 Alfa Romeo 146L (Boxer engine), a 1998 Peugeot 306XSI (another fun car), and a 2000 Alfa Romeo 166 V6 (executive car). Why limit yourself to one or two cars when you can have five! Each one gives me a different pleasure when I drive them. It is like having an affair without all the heartache and cost of breaking up. My wife yearns for the day I sell them all and buy a modern car she feels befits our neighbourhood. Some chance! Afterall, I bought her a "modern" car for her exclusive use, a 2004 Fiat Panda Active. What more can a woman want? Let me know if there is such a thing as car rehab. I'll join you.
Fraternal Regards.


Five 'banger' cars...but seems they all have to be taxed, insured, repaired and tested as it sounds as though they're all in use to satisfy various whims......nice one, BUT please how do you afford all this expense?  Must be costing a fortune but please reveal the magic answer. 

Simon Stokes


I sympathise, the unloved and unwanted by many seem to appeal to me also. I'm not sure I'd ever buying sell any old cars as I end up with the stuff no one else wanted to start with. Five and counting, all in various states of disrepair, and I don't even use a car during the week as I ride a motorcycle. I have had that problem there too....

Still, one of the worthless collection joined you at Le Mans... I have visions of one day filling a stand at Retromobile with my £300 Saab 9000 as the centrepiece. I'd want to out do Fiskens etc...

As for the cinquecento buy it, will stop me from having a look...


Greg MacLeman

What a coincidence – I very nearly posted a picture of my 1994 Peugeot 306XSI as well! It was one of the best cars I've ever owned, but thought it may be a bit too 'new' for the blog.

Impressive shedding Falvio – keep it up!



Have I logged on to Practical Classics or Classic Car Weekly?

None of the cars mentioned are 'classics' to use the oft-abused term.

A 'classic' might be defined as fulfilling one or more of the following criteria:

1. A vehicle of exceptionally technically advanced design specification - with original thoughts in its design. Lancia is a good example here. And Citroen, particularly CX and BX but NOT DS.

2. A finely engineered car made in very small quantities - ergo hand made, bespoke and other such tacky terms will apply. Murad?

3. A car with such exceptionally daring, 'artistic' and bold styling and execution of its exterior that, with a well-engineered (not Aston Martin here) drivetrain it is both aesthetically and dynamically thrilling. Alfa Romeo BAT series, various Zagatos including Lancia Flavia Zagato.

4. A car with a true racing pedigree, that has driven innovation and development in the ensuing road cars. Lancia Aurelia B20GT, Alfa Romeo 2300, 2600, 2900, 2500... Possibly Bugatti but their engine designs were not original of course... Possibly Bentley.

5. A car made in large quantities that has brought technical sophistication to the masses AND has been continuously developed and improved throughout a long lifespan - the Fiat 500, Morris Minor, Mini and Beetle do NOT qualify as they are all cynical exercises in fooling the public into buying the same vehicle for many years. Ford Fiesta? Volkswagen Golf?


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