Lancia in reverse

An old joke about Italian tanks having 7 reverse gears reminded me of an amusing incident some years ago:
We were driving from the pub, the Windmill at Linton at closing time; in those days pubs closed at ten thirty sharp. As we were still thirsty several of use decided to go to the pub in the next village which we knew would have a ‘lock in’ and serve beer after hours. My chum Alex set off first in his rather nice Lancia, a good car if a little unreliable. We followed in Nick’s Austin Landcrab, a comfy six cylinder machine with armchairs for seats. Although not a fast car Nick could really make it move and we drove quite quickly to keep up with the Lancia. As we were leaving the village I think Alex must have thought we were not following as we saw up ahead the Lancia brake and then the reversing lights came on. It started to reverse quite fast. Nick came to an emergency stop but the Lancia kept coming. It should be noted at this point that Alex is fairly rotund, could not comfortably turn his head very far and was accustomed to reversing using the mirrors. We realised that he had not seen us and thinking quickly Nick threw the Austin into reverse and started to back away. Still the Lancia kept coming. We were going backwards at top speed, the engine screaming…. but the Lancia was much faster. It hit us square on, I’m not sure what was going on in Alex’s beer fuelled mind, but he stopped and put the car into first and drove off.
We followed to the pub, at a safe distance, and questioned him as to what he was doing. He replied that he had not seen us, decided to come back to find us but hit something so carried on to the pub! Fortunately there was little damage to either car.

Mini Clubman

Was travelling with number one son to Birmingham the other day and we were naturally discussing cars.  I expressed my usual need to change the Merc and get something newer and more economical topic; this conversation has been running for about a year now.  I floated, gently, the idea of a Mini Cooper S into the mix…  I was a little taken aback at the snort of derision from No. 1, he was not keen at all.  I’m glad I didn’t mention that I wanted the Clubman Estate version!


Not wishing to swank, but spent the New Year festivities in Marrakesh, and a good time was had by all.  However, the point of this missive is to remark on the multitude of taxis in the city.

There are two types of motorised taxi services available, the ‘petits’ taxis and the ‘grande’ taxis. The petits are nearly all Dacias, all in a uniform dirty beige and only able to carry three passengers.  They can only operate within the city, but because of their limited carrying capacity, there were four of us, we never used them.

Merc W123Now the grande taxis were much more interesting.  Similar colours but almost uniformly big old Mercedes Benzes.  E Classes (Einspritzung – Fuel Injection) with various engine sizes of the W123 range (1976 – 1985)


There were also many of the older W114/115 range with engine sizes ranging from 2.0L petrol (Model 200) to the 280D and 300D.

The condition of the magnificent vehicles was fairly poor, battered and worn but considering their mileages still running and working well beyond their design life.  850,000KMs was on the speedo of one that we sat in.

I suppose that the dry warm conditions of the area has contributed to their longevity, but there was something special about the W114/115 class; light and airy yet satisfying solid feeling.  Modern cars seem so dreary.


Forlorn Mercedes

I have done the drive from Harrogate to Leeds more times than I care to remember, and when I had a ‘proper’ job in Leeds it was of course a daily commute.  On the Harrogate Road, near the Esso garage on the right as one heads south to Leeds there is an Edwardian (I think) semi detached house typical of many in the area, but with a red Mercedes R107 500SL in the drive.

It has stood without turning a wheel for at least 12 years, maybe more.  The paintwork is looking shabby, the tyres appear to be still inflated but there are plant pots surrounding it and a very forlorn 500SLcar it looks too.

I would love to know the story behind this, that model of car in good condition can sell for up tp £50,000.  I suspect that this particular example may be beyond salvage now, but why has it been left to decay?  I have had several examples of these over the years and enjoyed every one, it seems so sad to see one in this condition.  I wish I had the nerve to knock on the door and inquire.