THE PERFECT TENNER
How much car improvement can you get for £10? Our editor decides to find out by buying our scruffy Puma a few presents
THE STORY SO FAR Miles driven 836 Total mileage 54,651 What’s gone wrong Nothing this week, but it needs a clean!
DAVID SIMISTER A cheap pair of jeans. A half decent bottle of wine. Two tickets to see the new Trainspotting film. Oh, and four copies of Classic Car
Weekly, of course. Sorry, this isn’t my weekly shopping list, I was just trying to think of an intro. But the point is that it’s amazing how far you can make a tenner stretch, even in these economically uncertain times. In fact, I once bought an entire car worth roughly about as much, if some of the crueller chums who remember my old Renault 5 are to be believed.
But even I thought that trying to improve one of our £500 Challenge contenders for such a piffling amount of money was going to be a tall order. Our S-Class’ appetite for fuel and bits – don’t miss next week’s issue for more on the attention that it’s been craving lately – gobbled up all the money we were planning to spend on our Puma, so the challenge is to see how much car improvement a crumpled bit of paper with Charles Darwin’s mug on it would buy.
Which is no bad thing, because it’s an excuse to hop back behind the Puma’s steering wheel. I’ve long maintained that, with its peppy Zetec engine and sprightly handling, it’s my favourite of our bargain chariots, even with its slightly tired suspension and specks of wheelarch rust. It’s also the only one of the three that warrants an admiring last glance from me whenever I park it up and walk away – you can say what you like about whether or not it’s a classic, but I think that the Ian Callum-penned curves still look fantastic two decades on.
Having spent a few minutes enjoying the Puma’s snappy gearshift, my bargain hunting begins in Poundland. If you’re looking for car care products that cost virtually nothing, then the cutprice shops that you find in most town centres are a great place to start. After brushing past lines of shoppers looking at obscure DVDs, I find some wheel cleaner, interior wipes, sponges and a chamois for just £4 – but no windscreen washer, which Managing Editor James had managed to use up!
A few doors down at Wilko – a retailer so cheap that it now trades under its nickname to save on shopfront lettering – I pick up some screen wash for just £2, plus a nifty mat that can be trimmed to the Puma’s boot floor to prevent shopping bags from sliding about. Finally, a branch of Asda comes up with something I’m hoping that’ll make the Puma improvement more than just cosmetic – a bottle of Redex petrol system cleaner for just £4. I’m looking forward to seeing how much of a difference it makes to X147 OBV.
In fact, I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time with the fun-loving Ford and making it feel minty fresh again – but the Great British weather, with its insistence on raining roughly once every half hour, has put my anticipated afternoon of car cleaning on hold.
Even so, it’s surprising how much car care you can pick up when you know where to look. And chances are the effects will last longer than a cheap pair of jeans ever will.
The Puma is still running beautifully, but David will have his work cut out improving it on a £10 budget.
First job after the shopping trip was to refill the empty screenwash tank.
This lot cost us just £4, leaving £6 to complete the Puma’s budget makeover. Now if it would only stop raining…