Character

Cars that have character are often that have faults and the ability to drive round these faults are sometimes what gives cars their character.

If we run through the vehicles I had, my Honda SS50 didn’t seem to have much character, but I can still remember how it felt, put put of the engine (and my mates speeding off into the distance).

My Fizzy wasn’t the best example and therefore it characteristically broke down a lot, but the maning ning ning still resonates with me now.
My Yamaha RD250, now that had a personality, it was a split personality, quite docile up 5,799 rpm, but once you entered ‘the zone’ all hell broke lose, if you could time it right it was great, but you had to remember that the power band finished almost as quickly as it started in 8000 rpm.

It can’t say my Vauxhall Viva HB had much character, I remember having to use 1st before trying reverse, otherwise just wouldn’t go in and I can’t forget the night the whole gear lever came out in my hand (Reverse was high and forward).
My MG1300 was quick and I recall the smooth but bouncy ride, great handling and the exhaust constantly breaking because the engine moved too much.

My Mk3 ‘Tina’ didn’t have much character, it had lived a full life though, with 95,000 on the clock (which was a lot in those days) and the wheelbase shorter on one side by 1/4 inch.

The playful character that the Ford had was switch on all the idiot lights on the Dashboard when I turned the lights on (I later found out it was an earth)

My first Datsun had bags of character, I can feel the smooth gearbox, (never bettered in my opinion) the lovely 1171cc engine that would even run when the head gasket allowed cylinder No 4 to fill with water overnight.. The slightly crap handling based on cart springs.

The 120Y continued to imbue character and was reliable over 35,000 miles, I mean nothing went wrong.

And then I tried another Ford, a Cortina 2.0 litre Ghia, Mk4 in Roman bronze.

It rode well, handled well, gearbox was good (but not a patch on the Datsuns) but what gave this car character was the nail of an engine. It was horrible and I never got it running as well as the little 1200 engines.

Then I got my first Z, an early ‘71, K registered model that was a really poor example of the breed.

But nonetheless I still, vividly remember driving along the A31, with its series of dual carriage ways and roundabouts, sailing into the roundabout, choosing 3rd gear and watching the bonnet rise as I accelerated hard toward the exit and on to the next one. The sound, the ride, the feel of the steering, everything contributed to give the Z character.

And now rather more recently I have had the opportunity to drive other Zs. Models that are better resolved than MBP, they have been honed and, quite frankly, they drive like a modern car.

Pete Forders white 240z, in particular drives without any quirks, there is no need to drive ‘around’ elements of the car.

It starts, drives, steers beautifully.

And it’s not until you drive something that is so well sorted that you realise, when you get back into you car, how many things you drive around, things that possibly give your car ‘character’.

Like when driving slowly dipping the clutch so the trailing throttle doesn’t cause the diff to ‘clunk’. Changing up at 4500 rpm because much higher and it starts to feel breathless as the pints start to float, not such issue with Petes as in has electronic ignition.

But the best one for is my right hand side window, when I wind in down I have to ensure I don’t wind it to below the door line, if I do then I need a small screwdriver to realign it again, then when I’m winding it up I have to gently nudge the window so that in goes into the gutter at the top of the frame.

But succeed in driving around these issues and learning how wind a window properly leaves one with a great sense of achieved.

After all, owning and running a classic car is a great sense of achievement.

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