Use your words

Question of the week – 25/05/15


QOTWHamiltonMonacoWhat has been your greatest car-related tactical mistake?




  1. Asking Damon Hill for an autograph at the 1995 Brit GP. He refused!! – and later crashed out – he he.

  2. Using the built-in satnav when Google Maps exists.

  3. I bought a Vectra once. That was a massive tactical balls up.

  4. Deciding to show off my impressive 4WD drift car control skillz to my then-new girlfriend when there was 2″ of snow on the ground.

    I may have been driving an Evo but, as I found out, my capabilities are very far from Mäkinen-level.

  5. Attempting handbrake turns in a car park. Slightly wrenched my shoulder out of the socket.

  6. Getting my Lotus Elise 111S a full C service by the dealer. Turned it from a lovely, reliable, fun car to drive into a car that the electrics would die on regularly … as in, just about every drive.

  7. Buying a lovely 3.2 V6.
    Spending a good amount of cash getting it all sorted right.
    Then selling it and buying a dreary diesel cos I got a job with a lengthy commute but then the job was truly awful so after 8 months I jacked it and got a lot nearer so I could have kept the creamy V6 loveliness.


  8. A £500 Alfa Romeo.

  9. Buying a Z4 convertible in 2012, when it sheeted it down virtually all year. To add insult to injury the rain eventually flooded the roof motor, costing £700 to fix.

  10. Not having a car.

  11. lift-off oversteer at 80mph in Calibra when i was 19 wasn’t the wisest choice i’ve ever made. Luton’s finest literally flattened a recently restored Morris minor though. The owners face was pretty priceless.

  12. Buying a 2015MY Defender.
    On the plus side, it’s a lovely way to test drive the rest of the LR fleet as I’ve driven mostly loan cars since I bought it as it’s been back to the dealer to get so many faults rectified.

  13. Spending the afternoon T-cutting my then girlfriend’s Mini all afternoon many years ago and getting it looking really good before taking it out for a drive and sticking it in a ditch,writing it off.

  14. In 2002 I bought a Fiat Stilo instead of a Ford Focus. Finally got a Focus in 2010 when the electrics packed up in the Fiat.

  15. Fitting crossply tyres to the rear of my rally-prepared Hillman Imp to make it a bit more slidey, then bit-more-sliding it into a barrel-roll on the A58 to Halifax. I can still smell the rusty warm water pouring out of the radiator onto my head.

  16. At 16, taking my dad’s R8 around my village, listening to Heart FM on full blast, as you do.

    The next day, my mum quietly came into my room with a disapproving glare and asked why ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry was playing, and not my dad’s usual Radio 4.

    I denied everything.

  17. Vauxhall Cavalier.
    17 year old me, c1986.
    Downhill hairpin (by downhill I mean 1 in 4).
    When applied sharply the handbrake will cause the Cavalier to rotate in its own length, fortunately avoiding exit by the sheer cliff-face to the outside of the bend.
    It was so steep I couldn’t even perform a hill start to retrace my steps as there was no traction. I ended up reversing downhill for half a mile to turn round and carry on, naturally looking as cool as a cucumber.

  18. Tagging the white line at Monaco in ’84.

    And not stopping for tyres in Adelaide in ’86.

    And waving to the crowd in Montréal in ’91.

    Oh, and signing for McLaren in ’95…

  19. The decision immediately following me turning to my passenger and saying “Watch this!”…

  20. I gave my 2011 Mazda 3 to my son. He was almost 18.
    within a month he crashed it and it was in the shop for a week. A week after he got it back he crashed it again, into a wall this time, and wrote it off.

  21. I once got rid of a car before the lease I had on it ended on the basis that it wasn’t very good. Naturally I gave it to someone else and went off to get a new one.

    All of a sudden, the new one became shit and the old one was rather good.

    *furiously flicks through contract terms and conditions*

  22. Failing to remove the CD changer from my mk3 Fiesta the night it got nicked. I can’t blame them for torching it after a quarter of a mile joyride, it was awful. But losing Disk 2 of the Best of Dance ’92 was a ruddy tragedy.

  23. Buying a Beetle. You know it was a sunny day…and it was a great colour….and….

  24. thinking Troy Queef articles were real..

  25. “Investing” my life savings in lotus, only to find out it wasn’t LOTUS after all!

  26. Swapping a Jaguar XJ TDVi for a Volvo XC70.

    It did make sense and it’s been a faithful companion ever since, but it’s a bit like a working dog compared with a family pet. The Jaguar had a spark, a touch of magic, that the Volvo lacks.

  27. The day I decided getting the headunit from under the passenger seat was more important than looking where I was going. Crunched 3 parked cars…

    Or the day I realised downhill in the rain, four up in my old Punto doesn’t make for optimum braking conditions.

  28. Choosing the ‘sensible’ option of a very nice low miles/quiet/refined/economical, (in context) 1.0 litre Metro A+ engine for 100 notes – needed to replace the Mini 1275GT unit I’d just blown-up in my Midas years ago.

    Wouldn’t be so tragic but for the offer at the same time of a fast-road rebuilt genuine 1275 Cooper lump, ready to go on a subframe for the same price – with the offer of expert help to fit it thrown in…

  29. Selling my stripped and ready to restore 3 door Mk1 Escort because it was living at my parent´s and I moved a 2 hour drive away to a flat, so no garage. Even if it was still sitting there in the same condition now (10 years later) it would be worth nearly 5 times as much as I got for it. All I have to show for it now is a 2.9 Cologne V6 (which was going in it) which may or may not run – probably “may not” – tucked away at the back of my parents´ shed.

    Also, replacing my Jag XF with an older Merc E55 seemed like a good idea at the time, but definitely wasn´t.

  30. In the early 90’s swapping a Morris Marina 1.3HL for a rover sd1 2.3 in dodgy maroon.

    Fire and frying pan spring to mind.

  31. Getting into a car.

  32. Buying a Subaru with a little rust on the fenders. Thought, that won’t spread quickly. A year later I could see the road between my feet and the door only stayed closed by using a stick.

  33. Letting Gloria drive home from Mortons.

  34. Buying a 2002 Renault Laguna iDE from a car auction.

    What the hell was I thinking?

  35. Believing my line manager when I was told the RDX60 project is only on hold: it’ll be back on in a couple of weeks. And then spending 2 years doing crappy projects, sometimes for Fiat.

  36. Buying a Talbot Solara as my first car (an Alpine was thrown in for free to ‘sweeten’ the deal)… then owning 3 more before I came to my senses.

    Owning a Peugeot 605… oh the humanity.

    Taking one of my SAABs to a main dealer for servicing… a team of poorly trained baboons would have cocked it up far less. And would not have charged me £90 p/hour labour.

  37. Giving the “hot girl” at work a lift home, much to amazement of my workmates, because she thought Beetles were cool. Then my exhaust fell off. She didn’t talk to me after that.

  38. Stomping my Mk1 Golf Driver into the back of an Orion I didn’t see – water inside car misted up windscreen as soon as I put heaters on after a 2min drive after hiring the VHS Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead. Oh and subsequent Polo Coupe S – good car ruined by previous owners. And Polo G40 last drive meriting cop attention in a way I could have avoided. 4 cars later – Fiesta Zetec 1.25 – don’t trust car reviews before driving the thing yourself as it was as powerful as Nick Clegg is now.

  39. Letting them bring that case of beer on to the coach

  40. This is all tremendous gang. Keep ’em coming.

  41. Ignoring the knocking noise from the rear of my Triumph Spitfire, thinking I’d deal with it later. Shortly afterwards one of the rear half shafts parted company with the diff, essentially leaving me with 3 wheels – not fun at 70 mph on the Peterborough Parkway. Once was forgiveable, but I really should have seen it coming the second time it happened a couple of years later…

  42. Not informing the HMRC about my dealings at Uncle Ernies used classic car showroom sponsored by CVC.
    Turns out giving out loaners to my daughters Tomato, Petronas & Dodo and not filling in the rental agreements is frowned upon. Now I owe HMRC a billion quids!

  43. 1. Deciding to impress my mates by racing a Triumph Spitfire down Bristol Portway in mum’s 1.3L Marina. By the time we reached Shirehampton there was no water in it. Didn’t know this of course, but since it “smells a bit hot” dumped a bucket of water straight into the rad. Loads of noisy fun as the cold water hit the block with a noise like a machine gun going off. Several happy weekends followed changing the head gasket to no avail ’til Mum had to stump up the readies to get the head skimmed. Didn’t half sound rorty after that tho’. Ah, we was ‘ard up but ‘appy…

    2. Deciding to ignore the stripped threads on one of the bolts holding the dizzy in place on my Rover 2000TC. It did let go. The second of two huge backfires actually blew the main box apart. Motor was still running (a bit lumpy..) so was able to slink off down the high street unsilenced accompanied by the gentle tinkling of bent steel on road.

  44. I managed to make cheap shitty Volkswagens even more shit, and also cheap. Out of a job now,

  45. Letting my brother drive my TVR. Mr Toad from Wind in the Willows comes to mind.

  46. Writing off my 2004 Civic Type R and if that wasn’t bad enough, replacing it with a 2005 Ford Focus TDCi to be “sensible”.

  47. As a student, driving between two petrol stations to find the the best price and running out of fuel precisely half way.

  48. 1) Talbot Horizon. A tactical mistake in that it was An Pile of Rusty Crap, only called the Horizon because that was the point at which people could no longer hear the tappets.

    2) Being near any Nissan that isn’t a GT-R. For “near” read within 1 mile, as that is the radius at which any of them can suddenly pull out on you and bugger up years of careful detailing work. Jokes, Kumquats, Microbes, they’re all the same.

  49. I once drove a Daewoo Matiz… not by choice I hasten to add, I do have some self respect you know.

  50. Letting Pastor drive the bastard thing.

  51. A few months ago I was at a race in China and on the morning of the race was rearranging my facial hair as part of my race preparations. You wouldn’t believe how dumb I was – shaving the right side of my chin there was poor grip and I accidentally took it to a length of 0.47cm when normally I don’t have it any shorter than 0.51cm! And that mistake caused me to crash out! HAHAHAHA what a dumbass!

  52. I knew that diesel engined cars are the worst thing ever. I knew that anyone who says different should be put on a bad kind of register to protect others from their deranged views. I knew what these people are like and I knew I don’t want to be like them. I knew I don’t want to be the sort of person who talks about fuel economy and torques. I knew that diesel is foul stuff that gets everywhere and only belongs in lorries. I knew that anyone who paid good money to achieve nothing other than making the world a noisier, smellier place should be spoken of in the same way as Pol Pot, Stalin or Rolf Harris. I knew all of that.

    I bought a diesel engined car.

  53. Buying a Citroen GSA as a first car. What was a lovely classic motor got absolutely shafted by a 17 year old me. Watching too much Tiff Needell at the time put it into my head that lift off oversteer was an excellent idea. This lead to me trying to get it sideways in front of some mates, going over a curb and destroying the rear suspension. It then sat in a garage while I paid £30 a month for 3 years until eventually it got scrapped. I’m still ashamed of myself 14 years later.

  54. Not taking the white plastic sheet off the driver’s seat of my Scimitar SS1 after getting it serviced. Then deciding to do so at 60 mph on a twisty road when it wrapped itself over my head making me look like a KKKlansman with his hood on back to front.

  55. When about to trade in a 1980 metro 1.3 I thought it would be a good idea to take it through a car wash first. Pressed the start button, went to wind the window up and it dropped into the door, much frantic scrabbling to try and lift the glass and hold it in place like some demented Garfield toy! Then had to drive nearly 100 miles on the hottest day of the year with the window up, in a car with heating problems. As I drove away from the dealer in the new car the metros radiator blew, soiling itself on the forecourt, a fitting end

  56. Teaching my missus to drive, less than 3 days into it, shes the wrong way onto a roundabout.
    Reversing, I get out to show her the distance till she hits the car behind, where upon, she revs the nuts of it and dumps the clutch, moving said car about 10 foot down the road.

  57. About 20 years ago, I swapped my near-mint MkIII Escort XR3i for a 1986 Sierra 2.0i Ghia (a single-cam one, not even the DOHC). My XR3i was in Sunburst Red, with four-leaf clover alloys, Ford-copy Recaros, and that black squishy rear spoiler that XR3is came with. ’80s hot hatch heaven, in other words.

    The Sierra, on the other hand, was a dog. Finished in Jewish Racing Gold, it was an auto with beige velour seats and lots of electrical toys (for toys, read problems). It caught my eye, as at the time, my Dad had a really rather tasty 1990 Sierra 2.0i Ghia (DOHC), which I secretly coveted.

    Two weeks after the swap, the auto ‘box decided that it no longer liked 1st, 2nd, or reverse gears, and refused to select them. Another fortnight on, and only 3rd worked.

    I still miss that XR3i.

  58. So excited to take a girl out I forgot to gas my 1968 Triumph GT6. Ran out of gas on an incline & she had to get out & help me push it off the road. We’ve been together 30 years now (the girl, not the car….though I wish I’d kept that too).

  59. Believing the depth markers next to a ford. In my parents’ Mini. Four hours before I was due to collect them from Gatwick in it.

    And may the Range-Rover driver who stopped to tell me that the depth markers had been a foot out for years before leaving me to climb out through the sun roof spend eternity on the M25 near Heathrow with a radio that only receives Kiss FM.


  60. On behalf of my non-sniff frequenting brother: Taking the slip road of a duel carriageway ‘enthusiastically’ in his vile old Opel Manta, making it onto the inside lane, no wait, the white line, no wait, the outside lane. Phew, lucky there was an Aston DB5 for him to broadside or he could have hit the central reservation…

    And for me? I once owned a Maestro Vanden Plas. Oh the humanity!

  61. Trying to appease a gendarme with my schoolboy French. I think I called him the illegitimate sone of a goat. Had to pay the fine.

  62. being asked to roadtest a customers A4 (straight after launch in 1994) by the Customer Service chap who is a friend of mine at HQ… took it for the weeend to evaluate the cure that technical had come up with… on way to London on the saturday an XR3i did a U turn in front of me in Milton Keynes… I can still see the airbags inflating… the rust from the ford.. and the man crawling out of his can saying ‘im sorry im lost’. result, 1 written off A4 (with no technical problems I hasten to add). Although parts of the car did live on in a training room so all was not entirely wasted. Customer got a replacement vehicle as a ‘gesture of goodwill’… and nothing more was said…

  63. Accompanying my older brother from Bournemouth to Aberdeen in a 1966 Simca 1300, with a dodgy battery, duff brakes, a leaking radiator, and a broken bench seat backrest support – we propped up the seat with spare wheels for my Vauxhall. There was also a motorbike frame in the boot, which we could not prove that we owned; and of course, no tax disc. A rozzer in an unmarked Escort stopped us somewhere near Barnard Castle. Good job he assumed that the L plates were for me, not the driver.

  64. Dr. Technical’s story reminds of the time I followed a Mk1 Range Rover through a flood in my Singer Chamois (posh Hillman Imp) realising something was amiss when water started pouring out the top of the steering column and the car was starting to float/slide sideways – having the engine in the back fortunately got me out of trouble…

  65. Not tightening up the wheel nuts on my Morris Marina.

    Thinking the clacking noise when turning corners was just it being a Morris Marina.

    Until the wheel came off, the car sank a foot, juddered to a halt while gouging a lovely furrow in the tarmac and I saw the wheel rolling slowly down the road.

  66. Reporting a stolen tax disk from my A35 to the local cop-shop in Leicester back in ’70, where I was duly collared to stand in a line-up as an old lady had been mugged leaving a bank.

    The suspect the chose to stand next to me in the line-up and the old lady picked me out as her attacker!! – luckily the rozzers didn’t believe her – phew!

  67. midnight of 19th feb 2000 when i thought “be a nice night for a trip down to the beach” i came round a week or so later after head butting my vectra ‘A’ pillar at 60mph!!

  68. Back in ’94, trying to prove to my new girlfriend that you could spin all four wheels on a Landie Disco coming out of junction. The Copper who nicked me for doing 45 in a 30 remarked “we heard you before we saw you and to be honest, feel like giving you a medal instead of a ticket for getting to that speed in such a short distance in that.”


  69. Buying the world’s sheddiest Princess 1800HL in 1985 for a hard-earned £600, replacing tyres, exhaust, battery, alternator, thermostat, radiator and wipers and scrapping it within a year for £25.

  70. Replacing my leaky old 320i E30 with a MkV Escort diesel, which had a knackered bush in the gear linkage and magically disintegrating water hoses. I drove it in a cloud of hatred and self-loathing for about 18mths before trading it in for a lovely Alfa 156 (I got a tenner for it, and counted myself grateful).

  71. Attempting to impress the hottie from the office in my brand new 330d, saying those immortal words “Shall we go a bit sideways?” when it’s pouring with rain.

    Then deciding that the best way to do that is to completely turn off traction control in a 265bhp rear wheel drive saloon.

    Hit a pole @50mph that showed national speed limit in effect.

    Wrote off £38k after only doing 4k miles. Gutted.

  72. Taking a lovely girl for a first date romantic drive in the hills north of Rome in a lovely dark red V12 Etype with the hood down and the sun softly shining. The road curving through a picturesque village nestled on a hill was perfect…everyone was going so well when the hairpin turn with the road dropping away sharply caused the view of the road ahead to momentary disappear.
    The heavy banging and bumping was a bad sign, with vision revealed I could see it was the end of the road and I had driven down the front steps of someones house.
    A quick reverse and all would not yet be lost…but alas no the car was stuck and it wasn’t coming out on its own steam. The owners of the house came out, a crowd quickly formed and there was much tittering. The final humiliation was that a rusty old Fiat 500 was fetched and used to tow me back up the steps. The humanity.

  73. Further to my earlier comment, the E55 which I replaced the Jag XF with has proven my suspicions of it being a huge tactical error by spectacularly failing it´s TÜV (German equivalent of MOT). It failed so spectacularly in fact, I´m secretly quite impressed.

    Confirms something everyone knows but I completely ignored because of the engine – Mercs from the earlier part of the 2000s are NOT GOOD.

  74. Buying a Citroen GS as first car. Much entertainment was afforded by watching it dissolve into rust particles in the rain, but the error was deciding to change the clutch myself after watching a mate do it on his Mk1 Escort. Cue the delirium of finding out that you have to dismantle the front of the car, disconnect the exhaust pipes and take the engine out to get at the clutch. Took me ages, and for an encore I changed the brake disc pads, cleaning the dust away with WD40. I was Lucky to survive the first road junction.
    Oh and there was the time when a spring failed in the passenger door lock, causing it to swing open when negotiating a corner. The dealer workshop simply said “oh yes,that can happen”!

  75. Swapping my beautiful, insane M6 for a 535d after getting scared of the 7.9mpg consumption. I should never have been using it for the 3 mile urban commute!

    Then letting a certain west London dealer service my new 335i Convertible which replaced the 535d. After 4 hours got a call that there had been an ‘incident’ in the workshop. On inspection this meant one whole corner of the car completely trashed, including the steering rack and most of the front end as well.

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  77. Getting tugged for speeding on the M5 one early Sunday morning in my first ever company car, a Scenic 1.6 RT back in 1998. Foot welded to the carpet.

    Get the rhetorical question from the officer – “Do you know how fast you were going?” No. “104.5” Me – I didn’t realise it could go that fast.

    All very well till fast forward 5 months and I have to hear said retort read out by the magistrate repeated with absolute disdain. Still wasn’t all bad, enjoyed my week off work.

  78. Accepting a job on Top Gear.

  79. Owning a mk1 Nissan Almera, and liking it. Infallible reliability butt my GOD was it boring! I believe the phrase “highway hypnosis” was coined by an Almera driver.

  80. Watching the last 3 F1 races, that about 5 hours of my life I’ll never get back!

    Red Bull ring, makes you sleepy!

  81. Early 2000s, went to a showroom to look at a Seat Leon with my then Fiance, agreed a deal on a new black 1.6 SE which she thought was nice and sensible.

    Went back the next day in secret and changed the order to a Black Leon Cupra thinking she would never know the difference.

    My girlfriend, who up to this point had thought of cars as little more than appliances became extremely knowledgable on the day of delivery and immediately started shouting at me and it the second I got it home.

    15 years later my now wife raises the incident every time she needs to win an argument.

  82. Believing my team boss after being that “…the superlicence is in the post”…dummkopf.

  83. Buying an Alfa 156 V6 twelve years ago…

    Because no other car I’ve been able to afford to run since sounds anywhere near as nice.

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