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Driving Advice

Thomas Mallett2012-11-23 16:04:50

Cars for young drivers: Old cars…

 
 
Slideshow
Opting for a classic car can mean a lot of driving fun and experience...

Today I picked up my old MGMGMGUnited Kingdom, 1924 > present37 models
162 photos
MidgetMidgetMG MidgetUnited Kingdom, 1961 > 19804 series
2 versions
13 photos
. It’s getting on a bit, having left the factory in 1966 but it still made for an interesting drive home, even if I wished it was sunny.

That drive and the process of insuring it from the night before gave me an idea. I remember discussing it when I was 17, although I was 18 when I eventually bought my car, but why not buy a classic car and run it as a young driver?

Certainly it is not for everybody and it would help if you had some good connections with a local garage but it can also be massively rewarding and teach a young driver an awful lot about driving.

I can’t claim that I ran my Midget as my only car and for the miles I was doing at the time I couldn’t really have managed with that on its own but I have had a huge amount of enjoyment out of it, and this has been made even better by some of the running costs…yes, you heard that right – running costs!

When I came to insure the Midget last night it cost only £88 for the whole year. Of course, that needs to be put into perspective a little bit doesn’t it? The insurance for my Clio 172Clio Renault Sport 2.0 16vRenault Clio Renault Spor...France, 2003 > present10 photos
(which really isn’t worth a lot) was nearly £500 a month ago and so that represents one hell of a saving.

Then it comes to servicing. Obviously any car is going to need a MOT, assuming most of us aren’t well off enough to buy a new car, so it’s going to have to go to the local garage at some point. However, due to the fact that these cars are significantly less complicated than modern vehicles you can do some of the general maintenance yourself, or at least without sending it to a main dealer.

This all centers around not doing a huge mileage as the older vehicles that I am talking about are clearly not going to be as economical as their modern counterparts and will therefore be a bit more expensive to run from that point of view.

So, what am I going to suggest?

The MGBMGBMG MGBUnited Kingdom, 1962 > 19803 series
8 versions
8 photos
is a good starting place. Slightly bigger, newer and faster than the Midget that sits in my garage the ‘B’ is perfectly able to be used as an ‘only’ car with the ability to cruise at closer to 70mph on one of our motorways than its older sibling.

The ‘B’ was build between 1962 and 1980 and the car used a 1798cc four cylinder engine through that time. With a 0-60mph time of 11 seconds the ‘B’ may not be fast by today’s standards but it was viewed as brisk in its day and handled with aplomb.

Anyone considering something like an MGB as their first car must be aware that it will be nothing like the Nissan MicraMicraNissan MicraJapan, 1982 > present5 series
105 versions
220 photos
or equivalent that they took their test in. It will feel heavy and cumbersome when maneuvered and require care and attention when parking or in poor conditions. However, it will provide significantly more pleasure than that Nissan Micra ever did – every journey becomes an event with plenty of thought going in to each trip. When was the easiest route ever the most fun? If that was the case we wouldn’t play sport, climb mountains or run marathons. The MGB won’t be for everybody, but if you like running marathons…

MGBMG MGB
1962
110 cu in
96 hp @ 5400 rpm
103 mph

vsMini Cooper
1961
78 cu in
61 hp @ 5550 rpm
92 mph
11.00s
Cooper

The second car I’d like to suggest is an older version of a car that has become a major success since BMWBMWBMWGermany, 1918 > present87 models
8726 photos
43 videos
took over the brand: MiniMiniMiniUnited Kingdom, 1959 > 20005 models
47 photos
.

This is one for anyone wanting a cool car that is also great fun to drive. The original car, launched in 1959, was lauded for its fantastic handling and its packaging which was backed up by success in track racing and rallying. It won in 1964, 1965, 1966 (despite being disqualified many still believe Timo Makinen was the moral victor) and 1967 in Monte Carlo against significantly more powerful machinery.

Sometimes we can laud a car for its handling but put that in the context with its age – the MGB would be a good example of this – the Mini on the other hand handles well come what may. Weighing less than 700kg and with small engines the Mini is also relatively economical and, just like the MGB it is easy to work on yourself.

There are advantages and disadvantages to taking this route. With the newer vehicles you are all but guaranteeing economy, reliability and safety and with both of these cars you are eschewing those qualities in the hope of having more fun, being more involved and learning an awful lot more about the mechanics of driving.

For any young driver with an interest in cars this is an opportunity to get involved in owners clubs and learn about maintenance. It should not be ignored but the parents may not always be so keen on the idea…just don’t crash them or you’ll learn an awful lot about crumple zones, or lack of them.

 

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