A new addition to the PetrolBlog Fleet?

Major Waffle
There's a new addition to the PetrolBlog Fleet. Here's a sneak preview of the new arrival.

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.