Thursday 9 October 2014

Teenage kicks

Look at that classic car. Italian Ferrari red. Italian lines. Electric windows and slatted rear window . 

My first car was a Lancia beta - this model - the '79. The 1600hp model.
They were not very expensive to buy. On account of they were rubbish.
Mine actually rusted away within 2 years.Totally rusted to nothing. Even the stainless steel rusted. Even the rubber tires rusted. It was all rust. Cheap Italian steel and terrible weatherproofing and too few coats of paint.

This example was how mine went. In those same areas. The entire windscreen and rear screen would fall in.

so .. why the nostalgia ? {Actually would be a good post on its own - my best and worst motors}

Coming back from the clients tonight I stopped into a fast food area. A Little Chef, KFc and Burger King place. They close at 10pm, which as I only arrived at 9.40pm was when I was leaving. And as it's a rural location the garage and shop was closing too.

As I'm eating my early starter and drinking my tea  I notice that the young people are washing/sweeping/cashing/ clearing up and that there are a number of older people, hanging around.
Not really doing anything. Passing the odd comment. Sitting at the tables but not buying anything. Just reading the papers and watching the telly. 

And then as I'm leaving I notice lots of headlights as cars arrive and I realise these people are the parents. They have come to pick up their sons and daughters. There are no buses. The locations are only vehicle accessible, not within walking distance of many places.

I doubt if more than 1 in 10 of the workers had a car of their own. The vast majority were collected by mums and dads. 
I thought back to when I was 19, and worked in a garage. I had a car of my own. That Lancia. That I paid for on my garage monkey's wages. And insured and fueled on the same low wages {before minimum wage so it wasn't a lot} . 

And so did all my friends. Everyone could drive and everyone had a car. A car that, in the main, they bought and paid and INSURED themselves. From their lousy jobs that they did while attending college and university. Or from their actual poorly paid first real jobs.

I just did a quick check for a 19 year old looking to insure a Fiat, in one of the safest postcodes in the nation, kept in a garage, 3 other vehicles in the household, used only for college.

 £3,507.73 If its got that black box mile limiter installed.
 £4,500 was a good  quote. With a £1,000 of excess.

This is insane. Insurance is 50% of an annual likely wage for a part time working student.
Back in the day, I think it was nearer 15%. Always pricey, but never prohibitively so.

in 1995 the no win, no fee .. was introduced allowing a claim to be brought with very little risk to the claimant. It was for specific cases only. But in 1998 it was extended to most of the civil court system.

Geoff Hoon said at the time "No-win no-fee conditional agreements will result in better access to justice. Access will be given to the many people who fall between those who are very rich or those who are so poor that they qualify for legal aid.
"In future, the question of whether one gets one's case to court will no longer depend on whether one can afford it, but on whether one's case is a strong one." 

And with that we abandoned the UK's old compensation payout system of " what is reasonable" and adopted the American system of 'what is available?' 

And so mums and dads of today are hanging around petrol stations and fast food outlets at night, collecting their offspring, who can't afford to drive.

Thanks Cherie Blair.
Thanks a lot.

PS - it was actually the rise in the value of payouts rather than the rise in the number of claims that led to the insurance rises. Particularly in the car insurance market where medical advances and safety features meant an accident was more likely to result in long term injury than death.
But its never wrong to blame Cherie Blair.


john miller said...

Wow. 1600hp?

Must have been a doozy at Santa Pod...

Anonymous said...

There's a whole industry behind the insurance claims business. You touch on the lawyers but here's another anecdote:

I used to live in London where one neighbour was always struggling to park his car. Reversing in, he scraped my car. It was only a scratch so I gave it a polish and it was ok.

A month later he did it again but it was a deep scratch and he managed to set off the alarm. I went outside and had words. He apologised and gave me his insurance details.

This set of a chain of events that involved my car being loaded onto a truck (it was only scratched!) and taken away to claims assessors who then kept it for two weeks while I had a "courtesy car".

The whole thing involved lots of people, money and time when it was just a scratch to polish out or replace a plastic bumper. It must have costs thousands. No wonder insurance is expensive.

dearieme said...

A car at 19? Decadent swine! I had a motor bike. Oh days of joy.

P.S. It guarantees that the lassie will hug you.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention "crash for cash" scams which have spread from the Bradfords and Lutons of this fair isle.

Timbo614 said...

What I remember, or rather don't remember, is that the insurance for the kid's cars was actually any more a of a problem than finding a decent cheap car.

My own first "car" was a bubble car that cost £40.00 ( my Dad lent me the money to buy it) it basically was classed as a three wheeled motorcycle. Insurance & Tax must have been so cheap that I don't remember how much they were, it was 1969 and I was aged 16! God knows what insuring a 16 year old in it would cost now ( I even passed my test in it). I was earning £6:0s:5d a week and I ran & maintained it (myself of course, with a bit of help) quite happily. Petrol was 4/11d a gallon and it did 70-80 MPG (you could only get 1.5 gallons in the tank).
How that relates to today's post I'm not sure but it is surely partly that everything we do is now "monetised" to extract the maximum for corporations and the state.

Budgie said...

They were all rust buckets back then. But you are right about the insurance - the first year was courtesy of my parents, but subsequently I could afford the insurance on about £11-0-0 a week. Mind you Geoff Hoon is a hoon, and clearly Cherie is a hoon too.

But don't get started on Allegros - I had the estate - it was reliable, cheap to run, easy to service, spacious and nice to drive. And the following Montego which was a good car except for its less than wonderful, magic collapsing, Volkswagen gearbox.

Bill Quango MP said...

1600cc - of course- well spotted.
I think was about 110hp. Bit of a lump, as it was a heavy build. But as fast as the MGBs and Golf 1.6s that I used to race.

I did have a proper 'sports car' later on with the rover 3.6 V8.
it was so fast acceleration that there was no need to wait at a junction. Could outrun anything 0-60mph that was coming along.

Anon: Yes. This madness continues right through the industry. One of our vans backed into my Audi - No major damage, bit of a crumpled wing. But Audi replaced all three front sections, the mirrors and a door.

andrew said...

Insurance for a young person is problematic.
One answer is to get a 'classic' ie an old mini - insurance for an 18yo is about £500 according to a colleague.

THinking of the 80s.
The other thing you forget is there used to be a good subsidised bus service - and there were no out of town malls as such.

Most of the jobs were in the local high street - or walking distance where 2 miles was not a long walk.

Yes, in some ways life was better for the youth in the 80s

Taff said...

I'll confirm Lancia's (Fulvia) predilection for rust. Air conditioning was holes in the floorpan.

However it wasn't just Lancia. BMC were just as bad with a soft top Triumph Herald (£12.50). With both doors open, there was a noticeable sag where the strength of the rusty chassis was sorely challenged.

Good for a couple of sheep in the back though.

Good ol' days..

James Higham said...

I don't know cars well and was always pretty reckless as a young driver but had no problem with insurance at a rate, like you, Bill, which I paid myself.

The costs mentioned above are horrendous.

Bill Quango MP said...

Dearieme- I'd forgotten that. Anyone who didn't have a car had a motorcycle. But most of those leathermen and women also had a car.

Timbo - you summer of lover, you.
6s + 4d ?? Thruppenybit for an egg roll and chips.

Insurance used to be affordable.
Business insurance jumped almost 100% in the last 5 years.
Its a scam.

Anon: Cash for crash - Ma Quango has had that twice. And once abroad that she went to court over and she lost. Against a serial claimer.
It was a rigged court in a tin pot Caribbean country. God knows why she even tried to defend it.

Budgie - I had an Austin metro - Good runner for the time. But was as basic as a student's bedsit. The gear knob was an 'optional extra'.

first car i owned that i actually liked and was like a modern car was a Toyota Corolla. Light years ahead of my previous Rover.

Then I had Ford Focus company car. Mostly because the service garage was at the end of my road, so I could take it in once a quarter and then go home.

Anonymous said...

In the 80s at 17 I had a ford escort and with a bit of fatherly advice and weekly car maintenance magazine, there wasn't much I couldn't sort out myself. Now I need the RAC to figure out how to open the bonnet, and a NASA technician to change a bulb.

Bill Quango MP said...

Anon - In a company Honda i had, I couldn't figure out how to replace a headlight bulb. Took it in and they said i needed to leave it for 8 hours as the engine had to come out to get to the bulb.

Timbo614 said...

@BQ: 6s + 4d ?? Not quite that little! in today's notation: £6.02
[Old fart mode]
I do remember that double egg on toast in a cafe was 11d: 4d + 4d + 3d for coffee (2d for tea)

Thing is that just after in 1970 I had a van from the company and access to a petrol account at a garage :) BUT if I had 10 shillings (50p) I could:
Drive to where ever we were working in London. Park on a meter (which you just went back to and topped up all the time with sixpences), eat in Greasy spoons for breakfast and lunch and buy cigarettes (10 from memory - we all bought 10s then) and have money left over.
Something like 1s(5p) breakfast 1/6d(7.5p) for lunch 2s(10p) for fags and 3-4 shillings (15-20p) on meters!
/old fart mode

Sebastian Weetabix said...

Lancias (especially the Flaminia, lovely looking motor) were classic examples of planned obsolescence. The 'rust' was due to galvanic corrosion. Even if you kept it inside and it never saw a raindrop it would rot away to nothing. Happy days!

Electro-Kevin said...

I really feel for youngsters. I thought we had it tough in 1980s Britain but we were truly blessed by comparison.

There must surely be an increase in uninsured young drivers too because of this.

The circa £3000 pa has to be paid every year !

(My insurance £135 this year)

Ryan said...

I got a 40% intro discount on my 1st insurance because the man from the Pru was banking on my loyalty back in the 80s. No loyalty now, so no intro discounts for new motorists.

Thing is that unlike Americans we are paying for accidents twice. They don't have free healthcare or free welfare and support for disabled people. So for them insurance has to cover these costs. We are paying for this cover through taxation, but then allowing huge claims on insurance.

Another screw up by LibLabCon, giving away money nobody has just to seem nice.

Timbo614 said...

@E-K: I don't feel sorry for them. You can start a business today for almost nothing. Get an online store, source stock world wide, receive payments etc. Easy peasy compared to "yesteryear". And you can do all this from the comfort of your bedroom until you need space for stock etc. If it's software you don't even need any physical storage or fulfillmemt set-up. And, And they don't seem to realise what an opportunity the internet and related technology has presented to them! Back in the 80s this was simply impossible. Just starting from the very beginning, basic or elementary computers which cost a £1000 connected to err... nothing, a printer if you were lucky and it didn't do full colour graphics for certain and it costs maybe £500 of 1980's money! So you had headed paper designed and printed. You needed to know someone in China, Malaysia, Europe or the USA etc to trade with, this only came with contacts and it took a while to build those contacts. OR (as I did) you thought up your product and got made at the local tin bashers hired a circuit board designer test and test and tested again because committing to even an initial 500/1000 units.. if faulty... Well, round you go a again, weeks of waiting or you had to modify each one in production!

Don't give me they are hard done by, some of them just seem to lack the imagination, or maybe desire to better themselves. I know it's easy to say. But they already spend hours and hours on their "devices" why don't they put that time to some practical use instead of publishing selfies and pictures of cats...

hmm I seem to have ranted!

Anonymous said...

@Bill Q

"Ma Quango has had that twice"

Apparently (seriously) the recommended M.O. is wait until the car behind you is a middle aged or elderly lady - least likely to make a fuss. Then you slam on the brakes, she hits you and all five of you get out, holding your necks.

When driving in certain areas, if the car in front has more than one person in, leave a big gap, even if it means missing traffic lights.

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