Simon’s luck runs out…

SimonsVXT016_494930deb1396-lightbox“Oh good” they think, “copy”. It’s not as though they will be without anything to drive; it’s not as though they will have to pay out of their own pocket.

Not being a real motoring journalist, none of that applied when I heard a revs-related rattle from the back of NO3TZT, also known as Knobzit. I did consider buying a plate with my initials followed by VX but as that would have been S1R VX, and someone said it sounded like cervix, I would have been no better off than with Knobzit, only £500 lighter to the DVLA. And that money, like whatever was causing the rattle, would have had to come out of my, hard-earned, tax paid bank account.

I hate it when something bad happens and then people say “luckily”, if they were lucky it wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Luckily I heard the noise when I was very near the dealer. Luckier still the person I was driving to meet was a no-show so I could take it straight in to West End Vauxhall near Staples corner. My luck runneth over when Pauline on reception said she’d get someone out to have a listen.

Then my luck ran out.

“I wouldn’t drive that if I were you,” said the man whose name I can’t remember, “either the timing belt or the water pump”. Either failing would lead to serious engine failure; so I took my stuff out of the boot and phoned my wife. West End were wonderful, taking it in to be cared for with no booking.

It transpired that it was the water pump which had expired. A known weak spot on VXes, but my car was three years and one month old. The warranty had expired too. While the car was in bits the timing belt was replaced anyway – it needs to be done at 50,000 miles – and West End took on the really difficult task of getting Vauxhall to pay. They agreed to 70% of the parts cost leaving me £349 to pay. Not taking on any of the labour cost irked me, but if the truth be known, I was so impressed with West End turning the car around in three days – and £350 isn’t exactly a lot for major work from a main dealer – I wasn’t too miffed.

The next bill was more of an issue. Insurance. £1,000. Direct Line. I haggled and got no-where. I suspect they’ve been looking at vx220.org.uk too and seen the accident record. There do seem to be a lot of incidents with VXes, so I’d much rather be with a mainstream company. I guess I could save 5-10% but the hassle from a claim could have been a nightmare.

Fuel economy is up to 33mpg, which is really rather good given the warp speeds and nose-to-tail congestion which is the story of my daily 130 mile commute. Of course the weather has been fantastic. Roof off, iPod on, the journey is something I look forward to. I’ve had a couple of occasions where I’ve had to park up and put the roof on in a hurry when a shower started but the VX roof is much easier to put on than an Elise’s.

I’ve been away for a couple of weeks and really missed the car. Yes, even sitting in the pool bar at a posh Jamaican resort amidst a plantation of teriyaki yummy mummies my thoughts turned to the VX. Getting home and doing routine chores on a slow North circular road, I turned to my wife and said “isn’t this good”. And it is, the VX makes coming home and going to work great. I may treat it to a nose respray…

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Simon Rockman