A new addition to the PetrolBlog Fleet?

Part one

  • Time: 16:03
  • Date: Tuesday 25th September
  • Location: Somewhere just west of Reading

On the face of it, I’ve done pretty well this year. I’ve managed to get to September 25th without adding (or indeed subtracting) from the PetrolBlog Fleet.

The Citroën AX GT cuts a rather forlorn figure in the garage, still lacking an MOT, tax or insurance. The Saab 9000 is now 11 months into its six months stay at PetrolBlog HQ and the Audi A6 still hangs on. For now.

But followers on twitter will know that I’ve made no secret of my desire to add a new car to the collection. Numerous cars have been debated and discussed, ranging from the Citroën C6 (still not quite under the £5k mark), Renault Avantime (still plucking up courage) and the Passat W8 (still haven’t bought shares in an oil company).

However, I have been able to narrow the search down to two potential cars. Both French, both made by Citroën and both about as fashionable as an ironed-in crease on a pair of Wranglers. One is the Citroën Xsara VTS and the other a Citroën ZX Volcane or 16v.

As is common when you set your hearts on something, despite active searches and Sherlock-like detective work, I have yet to find anything suitable. My strict criteria of a maximum of two owners, original condition, good history and a private owner have been my own worst enemy.

But as I type this blog, I’m sat on a train from Devon heading to Paddington to view what could be the next addition to the PetrolBlog Fleet. It’s a two-owner Citroën ZX 16v in my favoured red paintwork, with what appears to be a high level of provenance. It’s been on the market for a number of weeks, with an originally optimistic price tag of £1,650 since dropping to £1,350. It’s still a high price to pay for a 17-year old Citroën ZX, but if the condition is as described and the sub 40k mileage can be verified, it may be worth the additional premium. There are, after all, only 18 16v ZXs left on the road, so the chances of finding a good one are growing slimmer every year.

Within an hour I shall be viewing the ZX, so the blog will be updated later with news on the new arrival. Or otherwise, should things go wrong.

Part two

  • Time: 23:14
  • Date: 25th September 2012
  • Location: Harpenden, Hertfordshire

I’m now the proud owner of a very red Citroën ZX 16v, although at one point this evening, I wasn’t sure I was going to be.

The streets of Fulham and Chelsea aren’t really the best of locations when it comes to testing a new car. It was fascinating to see the back of Kylie Minoque’s house and the renovations taking place at Frank Lampard’s gaff, but I’d travelled to London for one purpose – to have a look at one of the 18 16v ZXs left on the road.

If I’m honest, the condition of the car isn’t quite as good as I had hoped. I knew the front and rear bumpers needed work, but there are a number of other minor problems across the car. Nothing major, but cosmetic issues which will need to be seen to.

On the plus side, the interior is immaculate, with the leather seats in almost perfect condition. Without even looking at the service history, it was pretty obvious that the mileage is genuine. Fortunately, it comes with every MOT from new and a stack of old bills and receipts. With the original number plates, window etchings and a delightfully caring owner, I eventually succumbed and agreed a deal at £1,000. It was less than the owner wanted to accept and to be fair, it was a couple of hundred quid more than I wanted to pay. But weighing up the cost of the train fare home and the fact that I could miss out on one of the lowest mileage and most genuine 16v ZXs in the country, I shook the reluctant owner’s hand.

Fortunately I was able to set up the insurance before leaving home, where a quick trawl of the ‘net resulted in a fully comprehensive quote of £215 from the RAC. As a bonus I also discovered something called ethical car insurance. I stuck with the RAC though, as although it wasn’t quite the cheapest quote, it represented the best value.

The ZX needs a little cosmetic work, but I’d rather it was left to me to do that than for it to fall into the wrong hands and find itself at the mercy of the ‘tastefully modified’ crew.

Unfortunately, a frustratingly slow crawl out of London and an equally horrid drive around the M25 and M1 means that I haven’t had a chance to properly gel with the new Citroën yet. But everything works and it drives very well indeed. It still feels tight, which is probably down to the fact that it’s only done a few hundred miles per year for the past decade. I think I’ll be breaking it in gently.

The late hour means that aside from this grainy photo taken at the BP garage, I have no pictures of note. But I will say it has the most delightfully French horn, ever!

Citroën ZX 16v - part of the PetrolBlog Fleet

To make matters worse, my new toy now needs to sit idle for the rest of the week as I’m disappearing off to the Paris Motor Show. But you can expect more on the ZX very soon, including a write-up of my drive back to the Devon at the weekend.

In the meantime, it’s been a long day and I need to be up at silly o’clock in the morning to head to Paris. So I’m off to bed.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

19 comments

  1. September 25, 2012
    Ton D. (@Tonsty)

    I nearly bought a Hideous Yellow Xsara VTS last week. It wasn’t meant to be, but I was ready to drop some cash (as always, more here than it would command over there) on it. Does that make me a fool?

    Nice car, Gav!

    Reply
    • September 25, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      No! I could have so easily ended up with a Hideous Yellow Xsara VTS too. I couldn’t decide between that or a ZX, so it came down to what came up first.

      Hence the arrival of the very unfashionable ZX! 😉

      Reply
  2. September 26, 2012
    spownall

    Very nice! I think the looks have improved over time. Wasn’t one of my favourites when new but now I’d be happy with one of those in the barn 🙂 Good luck with the renovation

    Reply
  3. September 26, 2012
    #Project924

    A great report! And a great car by the looks of it – am a big fan of the ZX… I do prefer them to the Xsara, so a good choice there. Always nice to bag a car in good nick when the numbers are so low. Personally, an I suspect @FailCar would agree, it’s nice to have some fettling work with a “new” car.

    Enjoy, sir!

    Reply
    • October 1, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Thanks, Matt. Full report coming soon.

      Reply
  4. September 26, 2012
    willp1987

    Congratulations Gav, I know I have admitted to not being the biggest ZX fan but I have to say red really suits it and I rather like the wheels on that one! Have a good time in Paris and will look forward to hearing more about this!

    Reply
    • October 1, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Cheers Will. Loving it so far. It’s very PetrolBlog! 😉

      Reply
  5. September 26, 2012
    Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

    Very much approve. Must feel good to now own not one, but two fairly rare Citroëns! Doing your bit for keeping them alive, which everyone can appreciate.

    Reply
    • October 1, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Working on the third one now! 😉

      Reply
  6. September 26, 2012
    Simon Manley (@SimonManley)

    Well done on saving one of the greats, I’ve a tear in my eye, a proud moment for any Petrolblog-er.

    Reply
    • October 1, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Ha! Glad to be of service!

      Reply
  7. September 26, 2012
    Simon Hingston

    Looks lovely Gav. Go on what are the cosmetics?

    Reply
    • September 26, 2012
      Dave Bicker

      I freely admit to detesting the ZX, until being obliged to buy one in a hurry. A joyous motor, as smooth as an otter in a cravat, even more so in the red.
      **drools**

      Reply
      • October 1, 2012
        Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

        Ha! I admit that the ZX wasn’t something I lusted over when new. My tastes are clearly changing! 😉

        Reply
    • October 1, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Fingers crossed it’s just the paintwork. Going to inspect it properly this week

      Reply
  8. September 26, 2012
    aldoliddell

    Looks like a good buy. I know it comes down to what people are willing to pay, but a grand for a model that has become so rare so quick, in such good condition has got to be well bought?

    Reply
    • October 1, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      I hope so. Cars like this need to be preserved before its too late!

      Reply
  9. October 29, 2012
    Ian

    Was just trawling through The google listings ref: ‘Citroen zx 16v’ as I’m a big fan I have had two volcane’s in my time loved them both I came across this blog with your story and relised this is the same zx I had test driven previous to you great car but with my test drive being limited to busy London back roads at rush hour and the reluctance to let me take her on an open road me too noticing that she lacked a bit of spirit in a straight line decided to have a second think about buying her knowing full well the pressure from a man in devon who was also interested, I know now as yourself well done on the purchase £1000 is a bargain in my opinion bit gutted I missed out now but like you am looking at adding a slightly different car to my collection and the C6 is just one of them I do agree they need to drop below 5K first though and be black with cream leather, will you be up updating your progress on the ZX 16v on here as you slowly bring her back to her former glory

    Cheers Ian

    Reply
    • October 29, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Ha! The roads of Fulham weren’t the best location for a test drive, that’s for sure. Like yourself, I very nearly didn’t buy her. But the chances of finding a largely original, low mileage ZX 16v again are slim, so I took the plunge.

      Haven’t had much chance to drive her since bringing her back, but all that should change this week…

      Reply

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