Never buy a car from the Isle of Wight. This was the advice I was given when growing up. The reason, I guess, is that the Isle of Wight is an island. The clue’s in the name.
It’s about 23 miles long from east to west, so you’re never too far from the coast. The rhomboid (great word) is surrounded by seawater, which is great for sailors and fish, but not ideal for cars with a tendency to rust. Sea salt: fine for coating chips, but keep it away from the underside of your car.
Now much older, but only a little wiser, I reckon the advice was mostly bunkum. You’re just as likely to find salt corrosion on a car in any coastal town or city in the UK. It doesn’t help that our roads are coated in the stuff whenever the temperature drops towards freezing.
That said, my father bought a yellow Saab 96 from the Isle of Wight. It looked great on the outside, but closer inspection revealed that the floor was 50 per cent newspaper. Maybe the fact that the car was advertised with a free surfboard should have set alarm bells ringing.
Away from the Isle of Wight, I remember going to look at a relatively new Land Rover Defender in Cornwall. Suspicions were raised when the car wasn’t on view when we arrived at the pre-arranged time. About 20 minutes later, the Defender emerged from the garage, fresh underseal literally dripping from beneath the car.
There was rust in all the usual places, along with some areas that aren’t mentioned in the buying guides. One look at the V5C revealed all: the previous owner lived in St Ives. Beach Road, to be precise.
Maybe there’s some truth in the Isle of Wight advice. That said, I was also told that a clear view of the Isle of Wight from the Hampshire coast meant that bad weather was on the way. Who needs shepherds and their red sky warnings?
This 1982 Renault Fuego GTS is from the Isle of Wight. You can tell by the ‘DL’ number plate and the fact that the Car & Classic advert tells you so.
It was actually registered in Belgium, before arriving on the island in 1984. Check out the original UK number plates with raised letters. That’s if you can divert your attention away from the yellow fog lights. Note the red body stripe – somebody had some fun with the Renault Boutique catalogue. They even fitted a towbar.
The Fuego was, at the time, the most aerodynamic Renault you could buy. Its drag coefficient of 0.347 was also better than its chief rivals, namely the Ford Capri, Opel Manta and VW Scirocco. Renault was at pains to point out that the Fuego was a stylish four-seater, rather than a 2+2 coupé.
This particular example comes with a great backstory involving a sea pilot in Alaska. His time spent away from the Isle of Wight is the reason why the Fuego has covered just 30,000 miles in nearly four decades. The auction description states that the car has been kept in a warm garage, living under a cover.
It might be the most appealing car available on the Car & Classic website. The colour, the provenance, the originality, the optional extras, the yellow fogs – it’s perfect.
Just be sure to check the underside for evidence of the Isle of Wight County Press. Oh, and if you’ve got a crystal clear view of the island on your journey across the Solent, be sure to take an umbrella.
Click here to place a bid on the Renault Fuego GTS. You know you want to.
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