Bad Cars

A collection of complete lemons

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Hello, my name is Pauline Carol Ross and I'm a confirmed petrol head.

It all started when I was very young. At the age of three I used to throw a tantrum when my elder brother was allowed to play with his toy cars, whereas I was expected to play with a bunch of dolls which were of absolutely no interest to me whatsoever. Why did I behave this way? I suspect that watching car chases on the television, and feeling a sense of excitement, stimulated my childish brain. Either way, I grew up with a love of the internal combustion engine which has lasted me to this day.

It isn't easy being a female who wants to be a motor engineer! When I was at school the boys went off once a week to handicrafts, where they learned how to make things out of wood and metal. We girls got embroidery and cookery lessons instead. When I wanted to learn how to strip down my brother's two stroke motorbike engine and replace the piston rings, I was being shown how to knit a jumper instead.

The result? I did it anyway with the help of a book from the local library. It would've been nice to have had a youtube video to guide me through it but the Internet was in it's early days then!

Times have moved on. I now own a 5 Series BMW but whenever it goes in for a service (it never breaks down!) it's plugged into a computer which diagnoses everything from the oil pressure to the contents of the ashtray. My husband, who is otherwise a very capable and intelligent man, is usually baffled by the jargonese that the mechanics now speak; whereas once upon a time they would talk about spark plug gaps and torque wrenches, they now confuse him with software updates and programming tweaks! Lucky him for having a wife who is so up-to-date.

I think that the development of the car is one of the most exciting subjects that anyone can study. Only 50 years or so ago a driver would have to start a car engine with a hefty swing on a starting handle; if the timing wasn't just right a broken wrist was a distinct possibility. My father used to have to put several hot water bottles into his Ford Popular every morning during winter, to thaw out the ice on the inside of the windscreen. A rag soaked in vinegar was kept permanently on the dash, to wipe away the condensation that blocked his view every 15 minutes or so. If it rained he had to slow down because the windscreen wiper sometimes worked, sometimes didn't, but always smeared a film of oil over the windscreen anyway. Breakdowns were common, punctures were an accepted and regular evil.

Compare that to the situation today! My BMW has a service once a year, and that's it. The on-board computer tells me that everything is fine so I don't need to check the oil or tyre pressures, just drive the thing. Come to think of it it practically drives itself. In the future of course we are promised cars that will do just that, but do we want them? I can think of little that gives more pleasure than driving a comfortable and reliable car myself. I don't really want to relinquish control to a computer system.

I hope you enjoy browsing my website, creating it gave me a great deal of pleasure. If you want to contact me for a chat just

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