Sunday, 6 April 2014

Worst Car Stories

I was watching Jimmy Fallon the other night, (US talk/chat show host) and he had asked people to Tweet their worst car stories. Some of them were pretty funny but, in my opinion, not a patch on some of mine. I drove a succession of second hand cars between the ages of 21 and 26 (when I finally got a decent company car.) Let's just say those cars made for an interesting life.

The first time I ever drove long distance was from Newcastle to central London (I know, very brave) in my 21st birthday present - a 2nd hand Ford Escort. Smooth eh? I dropped a friend off at her university, and was to pick up my Bristol university flatmate about half a mile away in South East London. Unfortunately, the first friend omitted one set of lights and one right turn in her directions. Four hours later, via Finchley (north London for those who aren't familiar) I eventually made it to my flatmate's house in Brockley. (No cell phones in them days.) The clearest memory of the incident is having some difficulty seeing through the tears after about three hours.

Same car, different friend, out one night watching a college band in a pub. When we left, I reversed the car at an angle to get out of an extremely tight car park. Completely did not see the two-brick high perimeter "wall" of the car park and managed to get one back wheel over it. The wall was just the right height that I couldn't simply drive the car forward to freedom. After some minutes of head-scratching, burning tires and generally achieving very little, my friend had to go back into the pub, tell four complete strangers (big burly men) what had happened and persuade them to come out and lift the back of the car up. Which they did. Lovely chaps.

Then there was the Renault 5 whose driver side front window disappeared down between the door panels if I slammed the door too hard. I can't actually remember how I was able to wind (yes, wind) it back up but I must have, because it happened over and over again. Reenee (the car's name) did vindicate herself completely by accommodating about 8 students the day my friend broke his leg. Why we all thought we had to go to the hospital with him I don't know.

Or the time I set off to drive in terrible ice and snow and a friend of mine, being helpful, got the de-icer from the back of my car to spray on the front windscreen. Only went and sprayed some sort of oil, which we didn't realize until I turned the wipers on and smeared it all over the entire windscreen.

Or the Alpha Romeo AlfaSud, which was like s**t off a shovel when I pulled away from lights but alas, had a very hard time stopping due to extremely soft breaks. I eventually sold it to a friend who, for some reason, thought it would make it to the South of France and back. It didn't.

Then there was the time I was the designated driver of friends in Highgate one Saturday night. Needing petrol/gas, I pulled in to the nearest BP and one friend, (drunk, obviously in retrospect) offered to get out and fill up. Then on we went, until the car started getting slower and slower, eventually coming to a graceful stop somewhere in Highgate Village. Nothing to do but leave it and come back tomorrow morning. Which we did, called the AA (Triple A in the US) - to be told that my idiot friend had filled it with diesel. I think we drained the tank and flushed it down the drain in the street but I can't be positive because apparently that would have been highly inappropriate if not illegal.

And finally, the piece de resistance, the time I picked up my car in from its MOT (roadworthiness test in the UK). It was a sunny day and I wound (yes, still winding) the window down to get rid of the garage/shop smell. Driving along, a large truck/lorry approached me. Didn't really think anything of it, until I registered the awful smell of burning hair. Then bits of my hair started falling in front of my eyes. I screeched to a halt and started frantically bashing at my head. (No one around at this point, thank goodness.) A cigarette butt flew into the back seat, setting off visions of my car blowing up like something in a Bond film. The fag by that time was out, but my poor scalp had a small circular, bald burn mark right at the front where my part was. Yes folks, it could only happen to me - the driver had flicked his ciggie out the window at precisely the time I passed him, and it sailed straight through my window and into my hair. Good job I wasn't wearing hairspray is all I can say......

Anyone care to contribute a worst car story?


  1. My first car was an ancient Chevrolet of some sort and I had many misadventures in that thing. But the thing that stands out in my mind, is the time I had my (very) pregnant (with twins) friend in the car and we were going somewhere (who can remember after all these years) but we couldn't get the passenger door open to save our lives. And she was too big to crawl out the driver's side. Eventually, we gave up and drove to her parents house and her dad was finally able to free her.

    The cigarette to the scalp? That is one for the record books!

  2. Our first car in UK had no handbrake so we would park in gear and, if on a hill or steep road, just leave a brick (which we kept in the back) under the rear (or front wheels, depending on direction)as a safeguard. Only the driver side door worked so we both exited from that side and on match days other half squeezed into tight spots in back streets in town and exited via the windows when necessary. :D

  3. Bad car many to chose from that I think I'll pass and speculate, instead, on what will pass for a "bad car story" to the current generation: "I was on my way to the mall, which was nearly 20 miles away, when my SatNav went blank and the flat-screen monitor on the dashboard informed me that 2 of my 4 on-board cameras were faulty. Nightmare!"

    But I did once have a Chevy Nova where the windshield wipers didn't work so I tied a cord to them and looped it through the car so that, when it rained, I could yank the cord to make them go back and forth.

  4. The Renault mention reminds me of the time back in grad school when I was in a friend's car(an elderly Renault) in the rain and the windshield/screen started to fog up. As we pulled up to a red light, my friend turned over her shoulder and said to me (in the back seat) 'hand me the defroster, would you?' It took me a bit to figure out she was talking about an old tea towel lying on the floor in front of me.

  5. Wow, you've got some good stories there! Being broke most of my 20s I didn't have a car but borrowed my parents car for a while with no major mishaps (got stuck in a snowdrift once, but managed to shovel myself out), then was given an old banger by in-laws, which worked well enough until husband took it with him when we split. My most exciting stories have happened with my newest car, a brand new car in which firstly OH put the wrong fuel in (yep) but fortunately didn't drive it far enough to do any damage and then a brake sensor came loose and wrapped itself around the wheel and all kinds of lights and warning bells went off but as it was just a sensor there was no real worry. Course, I only knew there was nothing to worry about after sitting for 4 hours waiting for repair man.

  6. Your early car escapades made interesting reading and made me smile.

    I also had a driver flick a burning ember from his cigarette on my foot and it melted my tights and had me shouting obscenities that went completely unnoticed by the offending driver.

    I used to love those Renault 5 cars!

    I once drove a Lambretta motor scooter( while learning to drive it) straight into the wall of my dad's front garden and took his ornamental gate off its hinges. I just jumped astride the scooter while it went chugging on grinding into the wall! Was not the favourite teenager in the house at that time.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  7. Blimey - I can't beat any of your stories!! Lx

  8. AFter years of 'normal' cars I've suddenly discovered VW campervans. Adventures are now peppered with stays on the motorway hard shoulder, cooling down engines at service stations or scouring the local garages for various parts that may have fallen off en route. I'm sure in years to come my kids will be writing blog posts just like this one, hopefully just as nostalgically too!

  9. I remember hitch-hiking to Monaco. We got a ride with a teenage German couple. Nobody had any money and the car got perilously low on fuel. So they decided to switch off the engine and freewheel down the series of hair pin curves that occur regularly as you work your way down the mountain road to Monte Carlo (the same road that Grace Kelly skidded off and died). That was, urm, interesting.

  10. Those are impressive car stories. If I can top them, I'll be writing a post of my own.

  11. LOL'ing at all these hilarious car stories. At least I'm not the only one!


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