PetrolBlog’s Dutch correspondent, Ton Dumans has been busy scouring the classifieds for a new motor. Naturally, it’s something we all spend far too much time doing, but occasionally just occasionally, it ends up in a purchase. Here’s Ton’s story.
As well as @MajorGav has been doing, I thought I could to do even better. Get through the entire year with no changes to the fleet. That was, until at the end of August when I was faced with an undesired situation. As a result of a (desired) change in jobs, I no longer found myself in the luxury of a one-year-old MINI outfitted to my (peculiar) taste, sitting in front of my house. The car was left behind, in pursuit of a more challenging job, nearer home.
Before handing over the keys of the MINI, I did something I never thought possible: I shelled out a relatively hefty amount of cash to buy something that has no engine. No petrol filler cap. No exhaust. Stumped? Yes, I bought a bicycle! With the new job being just 7 km away, instead of 62 km, this seemed like a good idea at the time. And to be honest, it still does. It could be the fastest way of getting to the other side of a large city, but it’s definitely the healthiest and cheapest.
But fear not, I haven’t gone completely mad. Please, don’t take away my petrolhead badge just yet. I managed to live with ‘just’ one car (the Porsche 968 safely stored so far away that I couldn’t really use it) from the 1st of September until, well…
As you may or may not remember, I wasn’t exactly sure what the MINI’s replacement would have to be. I thought long and hard about it, and in desperate times even consulted PetrolBlog. While all help was greatly appreciated, I was struggling to convince myself to make a sensible decision. After seriously considering a VW Lupo 1.2 TDI 3L, which due to odd tax laws in Holland could be driven almost for free, I am delighted and disappointed to announce…
I did not make a sensible purchase, which probably means I get to keep my petrolhead badge. I seriously considered a Citroën Xsara VTS in Hideous Yellow. Cheap to buy, relatively cheap to run and a mighty fine engine. Beauty is subjective, and not too dissimilar to books, or in fact women. I tried to convince myself that it’s all about the content, not the package. For once I seemed to actually believe that phrase, but was discouraged by an extremely uncooperative seller. Which was enough for me to abandon the plan altogether.
Fast forward a week or two, and I started to really miss having a car parked in the front of my house. Things needed to change, quickly, as spending 40-50 minutes one-way in public transport wasn’t going to turn into a hobby any time soon.
I would love to paraphrase in a romanticised way how I finally came up with buying this particular make and model of car, but truth speaking, I don’t really remember. A mate asked if I had used Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” feature coupled with the phrase “I want to buy a car”. I guess that sums it up rather well.
Enough with the introductory waffle, let’s get to the point already. As of last saturday, I can call myself the proud owner of a MG ZS 180. The car I bought is a 2002 saloon wearing a shiny Black Pearl paint job.
The car has about a hundred thousand miles on it, recently had all its timing belts replaced and seems to be in an overall good nick. Much to my liking, it’s almost entirely stock, save the aftermarket xenon headlamps and the Mk 2 wheels. Speaking of which, the wheels have been fitted by the previous owner about a year ago and are in absolute pristine condition. The fact those new wheels were covered in equally new Chinese no-name tyres did slightly worry me, and indeed proved to be a good bargaining point, but first impressions aren’t all that bad. I might keep them on the car for a while and see just how dangerous they are…
The interior is, besides very dated, in a pretty good condition too. Unfortunately there is a very tiny cigarette burn on the driver’s seat, but other than that the excellent torso-hugging half-black-cloth-half-red-leather seats are a real treat. A nice surprise in this price range, is the Alpine radio with integrated Parrot bluetooth car kit and USB things.
While on the subject of electrical wizardry and comfort, I was much delighted to find all of the following in fully working condition: front wipers, rear window defroster, electric mirrors, air conditioning, electric windows, no less than four airbags, (judging by the fact that the system check light does indicate they are working, I haven’t personally tested them yet). And last but not least, remote controlled central locking system with both remotes present. Unfortunately, the ZS didn’t leave the factory with an electric aerial, but if it did, I’m quite sure it would be working too! Good stuff.
One of the first things I tend to do whenever having a ‘new’ car, (and it really doesn’t matter much if I bought or borrowed it), is wash it, wax it, and drive it on the best road I know relatively near my house. The results of that process can be seen in the photos and video in this post.
While I’ve only had the car for a couple of days now, not all of which I’ve actually driven it, first impressions are really good. While the driving position isn’t ideal for taller people (6’4” in the case of yours truly), the compromise between handling and comfort is simply amazing. Obviously, this car hasn’t been developed on ‘The Ring’. Which actually is a good thing, as I’m sure James May would agree.
While making Top Gear references, here’s another one: a certain Tiff Needell concluded his review of the MG ZR, ZS and ZT – “ZR: small but disappointing. ZS: medium yet brilliant. And the ZT: large but a lot of fun.”. Well said, Tiff.
By buying a relatively rare car, compared to grains of salt, or Volkswagen Golfs, it’s a potential risk that I will treat this ‘mode of transport’ as a ‘hobby’ instead, resulting in me spending much more time and money on the car than I should. But at least I will know for sure that I’ll enjoy every mile behind the wheel. Try that with a VW Lupo 1.2 TDI 3L!
Now, let me end this post by apologising for the below-par photography. I haven’t had any time to do a proper photoshoot. Better pictures will follow on @tonsty’s Twitstagram.