PetrolBlog recently reviewed the Bangernomics Bible which, in short, is about buying and running a car for the cheapest possible outlay. I was so inspired by the book that I decided that I’d like to have a go at running a Banger for myself. So when the Audi and Citroen developed temporary faults, I was presented with the perfect excuse to look for a ‘PetrolBlog Shed’. More petrolhead logic perhaps, but like we need an excuse to buy another car. Besides, this is public service at work here.
The brief was relatively straightforward. The budget would be £500, the car should have at least six months MOT and ideally a few days road tax. Furthermore, the car should be unappealing, with little or no hope of me growing emotionally attached to it. What could be easier?
My first port of call was twitter friend James Litton (aka @theinternetcarlot). James runs the Internet Car Lot and as such often has a selection of decent looking motors about his person. Figuring that he might just have a couple of part exchange sheds lying around, I dropped him a line. As luck would have it, he had a 2000 Rover 25. With a 1.6 litre engine, war damaged rear wings, masking tape on the sunroof and an interior in serious need of a bath, this was prime Bangernomics territory. I was tempted in the same way that you’re tempted to go to the dentist. Bangernomics is driven by necessity and practicality so desire goes out of the window. James offered a brilliant price and even to collect me from a station some 30 miles away from his base in Axminster. In fact, he strikes me as the perfect guy to buy a car from. Thank you James for the opportunity, but on this occasion it wasn’t to be.
Instead, I find myself with a 1997 Honda Accord 2.2i VTEC.
Bought locally for ‘just’ £500, the Accord has an MOT until the end of October and tax until the end of April. Service history is the non-existent side of sketchy and parts of the bodywork indicate that it has been driven by a one armed blindfolded monkey. I’m pretty sure the boot has been used to transport at least two dead people and the interior smells a little dodgy. But the seller seemed genuine enough and a solo test drive revealed nothing out of the ordinary. Well, nothing you wouldn’t expect from a £500 motor car, meaning the electric windows are slightly temperamental, the cruise control doesn’t cruise and the air con doesn’t do much in the way of conditioning. But on the plus side, the retro electric aerial still works beautifully!
As the flagship of the Accord range, this car listed at £22k back in 1997 and the first owner had the foresight to add the optional 16″ alloys, lowered suspension and all important Pirate Black pearlescent paintwork. Not that I knew it had pearlescent paintwork when I picked it up…
At this point I feel I should a make a confession. A confession that will probably see me being blackballed from the Bangernomics convention. I’m afraid I treated this Banger to a complete polish and wax. Not once, but twice. I know, I know, this defeats the object of a Banger, but there are two reasons for my madness. Firstly, if you’ll remember the Top Gear episode where they tested the interior of the BMWs for signs of bacteria? Well I took one baby wipe to the steering wheel of the PetrolBlog Shed and within seconds it had turned black. Oh dear. An hour later and the interior had been treated to a deep clean that would do Kim and Aggie proud.
Then there’s the bodywork. I simply tested some carnauba wax on the rear wing and the results were so good, I just couldn’t help but carry on and do the whole car. As a result, the Accord has gone from a rather tatty mid-nineties saloon car to a slightly less tatty mid-nineties saloon car.
But to my eyes at least, it looks respectable. Heck, if you squint slightly, put a bag over your head and then wait until nightfall, you could almost mistake it for an Accord Super Touring car.
So what’s it like so far? Well, some 250 miles into ownership and the first thing that strikes me is just how lovely the 2.2i VTEC unit it. Smooth right through the rev range with a rather lovely accompanying soundtrack. Handling is better than you’d think, probably helped by the suspension and the nearly new set of Falken tyres. The brakes are excellent, but there’s some light steering wobble under hard use that will need further investigating. Hopefully a wheel alignment issue, but it could be suspension or brakes related. The leather seats are comfortable enough and have swallowed the years and mileage with ease.
Of course, time will tell if the Bangernomics experiment has been a success. If it gets me through to the MOT without any major problems, then I’ll put it down as a minor victory. By then it should have done a further 6,000 miles. What happens then is to be decided. Possibly another year of Bangernomics or maybe chance my luck on eBay. There’s even a slim chance that it could become the first PetrolBlog track weapon.
But what I will say here and now is that I’m just a tiny little bit in love with the car already. I know this goes against the Bangernomics principle, but when you’re a petrolhead you just can’t help it. Emotional attachments are inevitable. Besides, there’s something very liberating about buying a car on a tight budget. Depreciation isn’t an issue and taking a Scrappage survivor back from the brink presents a good feel good factor.
Further updates on the PetrolBlog Shed to come. In the meantime, I shall be mostly driving on a wing and a prayer. And a budget.
For more information on Bangernomics, visit www.bangernomics.com.