Introducing Matt Marchant who will be sharing his experiences of running an old Clio with us. This could be a lot of fun and we might just learn something as well…

Last year I changed jobs. After just over 20 years at BT, I left for pastures new, which meant that my work commute also changed. Now, I was very fortunate with my last job as it allowed me to cycle to a local building, a mere 2 miles from my front door. My new job commute doubled this to 4 miles. Not that far you say and man-up.

Well, I tried to be good. For the first few months the weather was fine and I cycled to work as before, but after getting soaked and dirty on a daily basis from the road as winter drew in, combined with needing to travel between sites as my new role developed, I decided that I needed a more weather resistant solution. As we already have a family car, I didn’t want to buy another one with all of the additional costs associated with motoring.

So, I set myself a motoring challenge: Get dry again and on the road for under £500. All in. Everything. Oh and the vehicle must be capable of 55mpg minimum. Two reasons for this; Budget restrictions at the time and a ‘just for the hell of it’ personal challenge.

I bought a ‘1 careless lady owner’, 2003 Clio 1.5 dCi, full MoT, 120K miles with occasional service history and reasonable tyres from a colleague at work who was changing the car for something newer. The Clio also did 60mpg on a run, apparently, although the fuel warning light was on at time of purchase. All this for £170. Tick.

Now, I know diesel cars are on their way out and particulates are bad news for our environment, but the low CO2 emissions of this car attracted only £30 vehicle excise duty. Tick. There isn’t a car available that has a low-carbon footprint, including electric ones. All cars, regardless of drivetrain, have a life-time environmental impact which must be considered. Technological advances are reducing on-the-road emissions certainly, which is a great thing, but as the first law of physics states: You don’t get something for nothing. I suggest that replacing an electric car every three years will likely have a higher environmental impact overall, over keeping a well-maintained frugal small diesel car on the road for over say 15 years.
My previous no claims discount had expired years ago when I used to have a company car. This made getting insurance a bit more expensive than expected; a fully comprehensive policy was £243. That left me £57.00 to put a tank of fuel in to get to work.

Now, it must be said, that this car was not in the first flush of youth and with my mechanical ear tuned in, I started to notice things that required attention on the first outing. But it was mission accomplished and no one else seemed to notice the years of mechanical neglect and simply told me to turn the (working) radio up.

More next time…

Matt Marchant claims to be just the wrong side of 40, from the UK South Coast with a keen interest in repair and generally keeping equipment and cars going for just a bit longer. “Other than that, I’m fairly ordinary. I work full-time for my local Council and do repair work part-time, when I can. I live in Worthing, West Sussex with my wife and two daughters. I run a small repair blog at www.fixitworkshop.co.uk where I describe repairs, showing pictures and videos of the process. I enjoy sharing the repair process and encourage others to do the same.”