Is Quentin Willson a godfather of PetrolBlog?

“Only fools dismiss cars because they are not cool Britannia” – was this the line that inspired PetrolBlog to spending a lifetime loving the old, the mundane and the oft-forgotten?

The year was 1998 and – during an episode of Top Gear which is remembered fondly – the throwaway line was uttered by none other than Quentin ‘two Ls’ Willson. An unlikely godfather of PetrolBlog perhaps, especially given his role in that new classic car show thing, but back in the day, Quentin wasn’t afraid to slum it with the rest of us.

Even today, the feature in which Quentin Willson scours the small ads for some cheap runabouts has the ability to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It has it all – a greasy spoon cafe, a copy of the Auto Trader opened on the Bargain Buys section, plus a selection of cars to make you go weak at the knees. Prepare for some nostalgia.

Take the Talbot Sunbeam – a 1.3-litre vision of loveliness with a mere 19,000 miles on the clock. At the time, this “tight as a trampoline” Sunbeam was 17-years-old and the £595 price tag seems perfectly justified. Quite what happened next is anyone’s guess, because according to the DVLA, it was only in use for a further six years. Sadly, it would appear this little Talbot has disappeared off into the sky to be…ahem, one of god’s Sunbeams.

Next up, a delightful ‘varicose veins blue’ Volvo 340 with just one-owner from new and a full Volvo dealer service history. Note the reference to the dealer number plates and dealer sticker. Could this have been the moment the penny dropped for PetrolBlog? Not for PB, the lure of fast cars and expensive toys. A dealer sticker on the rear window is all that’s required.

John S Leek – the name of the Volvo dealer referenced on the sticker – is no longer in business. But it looks like Mr Leek himself is a director of a dealership in Birmingham.

The Morris “dash my buttons” Oxford is a little old to be of real interest to PetrolBlog, but that doesn’t stop us getting all excited about the moment the gates are thrown open. And good news – it would appear the Morris Oxford is still around. It’s listed as SORN, with the last MOT in 2012. Wonder if the current owner knows it appeared on Top Gear?

There’s further good news for the “hearing aid beige” Triumph Acclaim, which is also listed as SORN. Crucially, it was still on the road in 2014, so there’s hope that this particular Acclaim looks as good today as it did in 1998.

Volkswagen Polo Breadvan

And finally, the newest car in the feature – a 1990 1.3-litre Volkswagen Polo. Ironically, given the fact that Quentin said “it’s a Volkswagen, so it will live forever”, the Polo died at the turn of the Millennium. You see, Quentin, you should have bought that Volvo.

But Quentin, it’s a big thank you from PetrolBlog for running this feature. You may have gone all upmarket with your supermodel co-presenter and expensive shoes, but we can forgive all that. For the Horizon, 340 and Acclaim – we salute you. Heck, it may even be possible to overlook your shameful slating of the Citroën Xsara VTS

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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.


  1. May 7, 2015

    Mr. Willson can either adopt me or enter into a consensual adult relationship with me… he’s my kinda automotive guy.

  2. October 30, 2015

    The blue talbot sunbeam is still surviving today, I purchased it many years ago with 29000 miles on it and it has been stored in a dry lockup since, in the Republic of Ireland. .

    • November 4, 2015
      Gavin Big-Surname

      Blimey, that’s brilliant!

      What are your plans for the car?

  3. November 6, 2015

    No plans as yet, other than cherishing it’s somewhat “stardom ” past, sitting along side a 1981 1 owner 13000 mile 998cc that I purchased shortly afterwards


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