How much car im­prove­ment can you get for £10? Our edi­tor de­cides to find out by buy­ing our scruffy Puma a few pre­sents

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Living with Classics -

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…

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