The Hillman Avenger Story

How do you define your first car?

The question can actually be read in many different ways.  Let me explain.

Take a look at the photograph below.  Here you will see a very young me sat in black and white next to my mother on our front door step.  In my hands you will see a small toy.  A fifties style car the make and model of which I cannot recall, nor determine from the picture.

Vince with Lilian on doorsetep
The earliest photograph of me holding a car so it must be mine

I don’t remember that car but by the look of my tight grip it looks very much like mine.  Is this my first car?

The first toy car that I definitely remember owning and which became my favourite one was a red Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Corgi toy.  So was this my first car?

But toy cars don’t count as a first car, do they?  One needs to be able to get in and drive.  Well, I could do that in the go-kart that my brother and I were given.  I may only have been around four or five years old but it was me doing the driving, providing all the self-propelled forward motion, steering and braking.  In doing so I learnt width judgement, the consequences of speed, under and over steer and when ignoring all the above what happens when the corner is tighter than the grip.  So surely my first car.

Then motorised transport came into my life.  You can read about the origins of this journey in my Bikes section because like many others in those days I started on two wheels.  On the road since my sixteenth birthday on a borrowed moped, then at seventeen my own trail bike, followed by a small road bike then mid sized tourer.  You will also have noted that I finished this section of my life with a crash, a girlfriend, thoughts of future passengers and a story involving a bicycle and a Hillman Avenger.  My first actual car.  Or was it?

It was certainly not the first I drove as I had been driving for about three years by then.  I started as soon as I was legally allowed at seventeen.

The first I got behind the wheel of was a Vauxhall Viva.  Not the latest, rebadged 2016 Chevrolet Spark, but the much earlier HC version that Vauxhall produced during the 1970s.  It was red and new and light to drive through its enormous steering wheel.  I had already garnered a good sense of road craft from my year on mopeds and a trip or three on my Yamaha Trail bike.  And crucially I couldn’t fall off it.  Driving a car should have been so easy.

The trouble was that it was owned by a gross, un-sympathetic, interfering Driving Instructor and I couldn’t afford many or even regular lessons.

I hated every moment of the driving not because of the car but because of the instructor.  He would arrive late, squish down in the passenger seat with his plump thighs overhanging both sides of the wide seat usually with his used handkerchief dripping out of his side pocket hanging over the handbrake.

He would then fuss and panic about someone driving his car and constantly grab at the steering wheel and gearstick then pump his feet up and down on his new toy, his dual pedal set up.

I already knew how to meander through traffic from my year and some of biking, I was aware of my surroundings, familiar with junctions and traffic signs.  I just needed some practice at the bits of a car that were different such as clutch changing using my foot and steering with a big circular wheel.  But I was not free to plot my own course without unnecessary intervention, or pull to a gentle stop without my passenger stabbing the brakes.

I was just seventeen and didn’t have the life experiences or confidence to change instructors or the funds to do back to back lessons and as a result every two months it felt like another brand new start.  Just let go of the controls you gross, pig-headed bastard.

Overall I had just six lessons, one every two months or so during the year before I was advised by Mr. Slob to take my driving test and inevitably failed it.  I can’t remember exactly why but do recall it was only a couple of minor issues.  The main thing I needed was regular, unhindered practice.

I was also under pressure from work.  My job required me to visit various construction sites around the local counties and my white collar image was being smeared by the arrival in motorbike clothing and helmet.  Plus I was unable to transport the required oddments and official documents that my role dictated.  The boss wanted me driving and I had colleagues’ cars awaiting my piloting.

I finally got my chance when my mother persuaded my dad that I could be added onto her car’s insurance.  With the assistance of my older brother in the passenger seat and a couple of L plates I could get all the practice I needed.

It was a first generation white Triumph Herald 1200 with bright red seats and I took it out as often as money, my brother and time allowed.  I even took my friends, Jeff and Spike, in the back a couple of times.  Although regretted it when they gesticulated at a passing police car which got me a lecture about how I, as the driver, should be in control of my unruly passengers.

But it did the job, I got the regular practice needed and re-hired the Viva to pass my car driving test.

Not that I swapped my exciting twin wheeled vehicles for a car immediately.  Why should I?  I already had 120mph travel potential and a 0-60mph time of around three and a half seconds.  Cars were dull, slow things that in my budget were rusty and unreliable with excessive insurance premiums.  And besides that I had started driving anyway.  Virtually every day.  In nearly new cars, fuelled by a large on-site petrol tank.

I worked in a small to mid sized building services company.  Our task was to design and build the intricate pipe work and associated plant that courses its way around commercial and industrial buildings and my role was to manage or assist in the supervision of these projects.  The company needed me to deliver tender offers, visit the sites for meetings and help with previously forgotten small deliveries.  And so leant me the company cars for this purpose.

I particularly took advantage of tearing around the place in John’s blue facelift model Vauxhall Chevette 1.3 L as he was generous enough to let me have the keys, thanks John.  Malcolm was less forthcoming with his near identical green model.  In fact I was more often offered the mid-size executive 1.6 Vauxhall Cavalier Mark 1 LS of Senior Engineer Jeffery.  And once had to deliver our MD Peter’s BMW 525 E12 post facelift model to Salisbury.  I saw 125mph on the speedo.  Err, it was just under the 130mph on the dial, officer.

However time was moving on, I had done all that I needed to at that moment on two wheels and as explained in my Honda CX500 article the market for potential new female friends would be increased exponentially by having my own four wheels so I advertised my bike for sale and included a thought that I would consider a swap for a car.

I had a reply.  Some chap had a car and wanted a bike.  We agreed that any difference in value would be included in cash and he duly arrived in his Hillman.  I can’t recall who got some dosh with their vehicle but he took away my shiny ‘as new apart from the frame reshaped’ bike and left me the keys to his slightly tatty Avenger.

Hillman Avenger front
My Hillman Avenger in all its glory when first purchased by me

I had received not only the keys but also the car.  A Hillman Avenger GLS with vinyl roof.  This pleased me immensely as for a start it exceeded the company cars I had use of in virtually every aspect.  It was a GLS model, not a mere L, or LS and as anyone around this time knew this was important.

It had four headlamps, velour seats, Rostyle wheels and it’s black vinyl roof.  Plus an enormous 1.6 engine as big as Jeff’s one.

It also had some extras not normally on these models.  A bit of surface rust and a distinct lean towards the front right hand side.  But let’s not forget, it was a GLS.

Driving the car felt good.  It’s soft, probably knackered, suspension wallowed it around to suit it’s big comfortable presence.  There was a dashboard full of dials and accomodation to easily fit five adults.  The multi headlamp set up lit up the darkest of night lanes and the powerful engine provided prompt passage to wherever you chose to travel.  Everything worked and I was a happy owner that summer.

I loved having the car and was the first of my gang to have one.  Yes, Spike had occasional use of a huge four wheel barge that had Vauxhall VX 4/90 written on the back.  It was an FD series and actually his Dad’s car.  All the others were still tootling around on just two wheels.  I became the go to guy for transporting numbers greater than two.

In fairness the others didn’t have cars because they were still at school, or sixth form college as they put it.  I was the only working one with a wage, although a fairly meagre one as I was doing an office based apprenticeship.  But at least I could run the thing.

Jeff, Vince, Theresa & Jackie
Jeff [the ‘student’, not the Senior Engineer version], Vince, Theresa and Jackie, pictured at another time completely.  The Pot Noodle is irrelevant to the story.  But in the interests of complete disclosure was a Chicken and Mushroom version

The most memorable of these journeys happened at the beginning of August that year.  My good mate Jeff had been dating Jackie for a few years by now and a suggestion was made that I could get together with Jackie’s friend Theresa.  A plan was hatched for us all to go to the British Biking Grand Prix together, ostensibly to help with the marshalling but mainly to snuggle up in handy pairs in a tiny overnight tent.

Jeff had just been signed up for his Polytechnic, err University, course and was already there sorting out his new accommodation so I was tasked with collecting the girls, passing by the big school to pick up Jeff and then for all four of us to travel towards Silverstone.

The problem was that it was fresher’s week so Jeff was therefore torn between his long planned trip to the races and getting in on the first social events with all his new poly buddies.  He felt he had no choice but to choose his new social contacts meaning I had to take a very tearful girlfriend and her sympathetic bestie onwards to the racing circuit where the only racing certainty was that the threesome in the tent would end up as a sad, sob fest.

Our weekend duties were also squarely curtailed.  Without Jeff we could hardly form a reliable marshalling team for a major Grands Prix event so we were asked to ‘assist around the pits area’.  A euphemism for don’t get in anyone’s way.  We didn’t have much to do and sat around watching things happen.  At one point I had popped to the loo and Barry Sheene was told off by the girls for ‘sitting in Vince’s seat’.  In the Yamaha pit area.

But I should be reporting on the car.  Well it was near perfect.  Plenty big enough for three adults and all the camping equipment that we could muster and very comfortable on the long trip.  The only issue being the windcreen wipers that decided to stop working just as the rain started to.  Oh, and the fact that Jackie threw open the passenger door too hard when the car was parked facing downhill resulting in a slightly bent front door where it met the hinge and a bit of a gap where it now couldn’t meet the back door.  A judicious slam and a bit of securing rope and it closed providing access wasn’t needed any more on that side of the car.

It wasn’t quite the end of the car.  That would happen later that year as autumn, winter and my circumstances started to take it’s toll.  The ownership coincided with a dramatic time of my life.  I decided I had made an error in joining a company in the construction industry.  I wasn’t planning to stay beyond my apprenticeship so immediately junked the job.  It was the week before news headlines reported the first time unemployment had reached the milestone of one million.  I was out of work, likely to be staying that way, poor and had only just left home to stay in a shared house with some of my old school buddies.

The car was parked, unused, at my parents house and when the tax ran out I popped it up on the front lawn.  Not as dramatic as it might seem at first because the lawn had become a regular spot for many of my brother’s many broken down vehicles.

However, my car wasn’t welcomed.  Possibly in fairness because I wasn’t living there any more.  I was asked to move it.

As usual it fired up first time but then immediatly became sick and started to wet itself all over the floor.  That day I learnt three important things.  Firstly why antifreeze is a critical component in a coolant system.  Secondly that you cannot trust a previous owner to know about the first thing.  And thirdly that if you are oblivious to points one and two the ordinarily very durable metal crankcase can be split in two.

I had no funds to repair the car and had to come up with a solution.  And it looked like I found one in my new friend Stuart.  He offered to take the car off my hands and give me a bicycle.  This pleased me because I had never had a bike, could actually afford to run one and there was more talk of a cash value to make up the difference.  And I desperately needed cash at that point in my life on the simple grounds that I had precisely none of it.

Sadly the deal didn’t go down too well.  Newly discovered ex-friend Stuart arranged to take the car promptly then procrastinated about the bike.  It appeared he didn’t have one to give me, or didn’t want to part with any he did have and spoke about building one for me.  I had previously envisaged a shiny brand new racing bike but was now looking down the barrel of a rusty frame fished from a canal, bent spokes and a soggy seat.  The bike, when it was finally delivered wasn’t that much better.  It was a recycled frame with a lovely hand crafted paint job with a unique paint run effect.  None of the components were of any quality or purchased recently from a store.  And when the cash differential was raised Stuart disappeared and so became someone I never saw again.  Shame really, he seemed like quite a nice guy.

So, in summary I had started with a fairly new motorcycle and ended up with a crappy bicycle.  But in between loads of fond memories of my first car.  Because that was what it was.

And that’s how it should be because, as anyone knows, the first car is the cheapest.  Queue the song Rod.

Author: Vince Poynter

The header photograph shows the author sat on the bonnet of his Hillman Avenger 1.6 GLS, taken by a family member in 1981
The first photograph shows the author aged around three to four sat with his mother, Lilian on their doorstep and must be dated around 1964/5.  The next image shows the front view of the Hillman Avenger, also from 1981.  The final photograph shows the author and his friends Jeff, Theresa and Jackie, also from 1981 but a bit later
This article first appeared on the vinceunlimited web site on 20 September 2019 and can be found at vinceunlimited.co.uk/cars.htm or if you are on a mobile device and want a more suitable reading experience on vinceunlimited.co.uk/carsm.htm

Honda CX500

My Maggot

The front three-quarter view of a S-registration red Honda CX500, parked in the sunshine by a Willow tree
The front end of my lovely big red Honda CX500. Purchased just for the bit above the headlamp

Those regular readers of my road tests will both by now know that I started with a small Yamaha trail bike before graduating to a rather uninspiring Honda CB200.

The choice of these bikes was helpfully determined by outside influences [Hi Dad] so my next upgrade had to be my own choice.  I decided on a Kawasaki 750cc 4-stroke bike.

However, the external influence raised its profile once more and I brought a 500cc Honda.  Something to do with him ‘only’ having a 360cc bike at the time and about to change it for a 650cc methinks.

Maybe that’s a bit unfair.  Although my shiny new second hand Honda CX500 wasn’t a Kawasaki nor 750cc it had many redeeming features.

Firstly it was as bulky as a 750cc.  This provided the stability and comfort that bigger bikes give.  Secondly, Honda’s were better built and more reliable than products from the Big Z.  And thirdly, well mainly really, it had a dashboard.  Yes, I agreed to the choice on the grounds that there were lights built in between the speedo and tachometer.  Sad really.

The other exciting addition to this on-bike dashboard was a temperature gauge because the bike had a water cooled engine and believe me in those days that was cutting edge.  Only the Suzuki GT750 ‘Kettle’ could boast this technology but that bike was styled in the dark and drank fuel like a whale filters plankton.

So I ended up with a red ‘S’ registration Maggot, for that is how I later understood that they were known.  The name wasn’t unjustified either as the bulky water encased engine resided under a substantial spreading fuel tank and enormous padded double seat.  Everything seemed styled for a much bigger bike and I suspected that Honda had plans for a 750cc version.  In fact, later incarnations took the size to 650cc and added turbos then a 750cc was made, so my suspicions were right.

The CX500 also took the mantle of tourer for those who didn’t want or couldn’t afford the magnificent 1000cc Gold Wing.  As it happened in silly laid back style it later became the Silver Wing.

My version was the bog standard CX500, a purring water cooled v-twin.  It was only a couple of years old and in fantastic condition.

It became a weekend plaything, tourer and then reliable commuter and fulfilled all roles well.  I reckon it is now still going, probably as a courier somewhere.

I first used the Maggot as a weekend plaything because I worked too close to my home to warrant using it much.  In the three mile journey I barely had time to close off the choke before arriving at my destination and actually spent more time warming the engine than riding to work.  So the Honda was used for getting to the disco at weekends [hey, it was the early eighties] and impressing the sixteen year old girls.  Nothing suspicious here, I was only a late teen myself.

The sheer bulk always made an impression and warranted due care when reversing off pavements.  Once, I went too slow and got to the point where foot doesn’t touch ground then side of bike does.

The rear three-quarter view of a S-registration red Honda CX500, showing the standard nature of the bike aside from a rear carrier and engine protection bars
The back end of my bright red Maggot, as purchased. Just look at that lush seat

I also increased my radius of exploration exponentially over the previous CB200 and the Cotswolds and Wales became my hunting ground.  Funnily enough I don’t recall ever going to the midlands or Norfolk – Can’t think why.

Inevitably I wanted to travel further and my mates and I discussed a round Britain tour using all the coastal routes.  This never came to pass but I still think it would be an adventure and will do the journey someday.

A few of us did settle on a tour into France, the evocative, exotic, topless French women of St. Tropez were the incentive so four of us planned to go.

As is usual in these cases circumstances changed and two of my friends, Jeff and John, taking advantage of their break from A-level schooling went ahead early and ended up settling on an island mid-way down the French west coast for the rest of the summer.  Spike and I had jobs, me full time and Spike as a paperboy or something, so we intended to follow on later.

The journey down through France was not as fun as it might be today.  We had never travelled abroad and the only preparations we made were painting our lights yellow and buying a map.  The map was poor and we got lost leaving Calais.

The French weather was burning hot and Spike, who had just purchased my father’s Honda CB360 yellow banana, was obsessed with his motor overheating so insisted on travelling around 40-50mph.  At these speeds the air cooling effect must have been abysmal on his engine as it was hardly effective on my CX500’s radiator.  However being the one with the temperature gauge made me the one worrying about it.  It set a poor tone for the holiday and resulted in a disagreement half-way down France.

In essence Spike wanted to join Jeff and John and start ‘pulling birds’ and I wanted to motor on down to St. Tropez where I argued the real action was.  Spike won out by refusing to leave the camp we had arrived at and my topless French women dream was destroyed.  We never even met up with the others and from what I heard later that decision could have saved Jeff and John’s friendship, but that’s another story.

The author on his red CX500 with Spike on his yellow CB360, flanked by some campsite friends
The mid-size bikes proved popular in France so Spike and I did make temporary friendships. And no, I do not know the contact details of the hunk on the right

Another memorable long journey made on the maggot was one into Wales.  I had a met a new girlfriend, Inger, who had never been on a motorbike before so we both looked forward to our trip.  She had no more idea than me that we were to undertake a 400-mile, six-hour ride and it showed how versatile the big Honda was.  In fact testament to the comfort of the seat that there was no complaint from either of us.

The amusing fact with Inger was that as she hadn’t ridden pillion before I asked that she leave the steering to me and remain upright at all times.  I meant perpendicular to the bike but she interpreted it as bolt upright.  Every time I leant into a bend she twisted her torso to remain upright.  I thought it hilarious, She was hardly big enough to destabilise the beast below so I let her carry on.  I didn’t tell her until we reached the Severn Bridge.  And for that Inger I apologise.

Mind you I cannot recall going out with her for long but that was more to do with the fact that I fell for her friend Fiona than because of my riding.

Excuse me for one moment while I recall Fiona … Thanks.

Fiona unfortunately didn’t have the inclination to get on my bike.  It wasn’t because she only had eyes for Suzuki’s or anything it was just that some people just don’t seem to get the biking thing, mainly because of the sort of event that next happened on my bike.  A car pulled out on me at a junction.

It was midday and I was taking a well earned lunch break.  Although I had crossed half of Southampton I only had a feint purpose in mind so was in no particular hurry.  The sun was out and the roads in those days still clear enough in places to enjoy a midday ride.

I was travelling towards Portswood doing no more than a few mph above the limit when I noticed a car waiting to pull out to my left.  I was on a main road so took little more care than at any of the other two-hundred or so filled junctions that I had passed that week.  The driver however didn’t want to follow the crowd, opted for not seeing me at all and pulled out across my path.  Naturally I braked.  Very hard.

The car in question was a Citroën Dyane, a sort of [hardly] upmarket 2CV.  The driver, fool enough to pull out in the path of a huge red bike, added to his stupidity by stopping once he saw me.  Little tip, why not consider keeping going next time?  If he had accelerated with all the pull his pathetic vehicle could manage I could have steered behind.  As it was he stopped slap bang in front of me across the whole road.  There were no steerable soft options and I braced myself for impact.

Now a fact known only to experienced bikers and the local Accident and Emergency departments is that many frontal motorcycle crashes result in damage to the bikers lower legs because when a bike hits a stationary object the rider slides forwards and imprints his knees into his own handlebars and stationary car.  Therefore in any bike accident, once it is inevitable, the golden rule is to get well clear of all metalwork.  In the case of T-boning a car that means heading straight on over the top.

I slowed as much as I could leaving an impressive black streak of rubber and picked my point of impact.  My heart wanted to hit the git square in his door but my head ruled that the bonnet would be a lower hurdle to cross.  The bike wedged itself behind the car’s front wheel, I raised my torso and took up flying.

I cannot recall the flight but do remember the landing.  Sliding down the road my episode with the Gilera moped came to mind but this time I reacted differently, I quickly stood up.  Unfortunately, I did this too soon and went flying once more.

It seemed my shoes were not designed for thirty mph and their destruction was testament to this.  Thankfully, other than the two vehicles and my crash helmet my shoes were the only casualty.

My helmet was a write off because they always are in these situations.  There seemed no damage to it other than a couple of round spots worn off the orange and green stripes at the forehead, but the car had a matching two-foot long parallel stripe on the bonnet.  This is proof that helmets save lives and why I didn’t need the ambulance that some witness called.

I went back to inspect the damage, such a long walk!

Despite the fact I had just invented unpowered flight I was in a better state than the driver, still sat quivering in his car.  An old man, I doubt that he drove again.  His car certainly didn’t, my CX500 was parked bolt upright three feet into it.

Annoyingly my motorcycle recovery specialist had just purchased a frame re-jigger and wanted to justify it’s purchase and bend the bike back into position.  It was just a few pounds short of write-off and I was too inexperienced to insist on it to the eager insurance company.  I didn’t even get compensation for my high speed shoes.  So, in effect the maggot wrote off a car and lived.

After the impact one of the replacement items was the forks, naturally.  Not that they needed a Citroën Dyane to make them flex, they were the weak point of the bike and were clearly not designed for the ‘two-ton’ weight.  Occasionally I would lean over the handlebars and look down the shaft of the forks whilst braking just to watch them bend back toward the radiator.

Other than that I couldn’t fault the Honda.  It chugged along effortlessly at any speed I chose to travel at and for any number of miles.  Reliability was excellent and fuel consumption acceptable for the size.  It was big and red and comfortable.  The v-twin throb was unusual, the modern era of popular twins hadn’t yet started and when I fitted an aftermarket stainless steel exhaust it sounded good.

It worked in rain and shine then more rain, mile after mile with little attention other than basic servicing and the shaft drive kept the back end from looking like a freshly hit oilfield.

All this reliability came in handy because for the final few months it became the archetypal commuter as it took me into the New Forest day after day in pursuit of my new girlfriend, Karen.

The author and his girlfriend Karen astride the Honda CX500
Things were getting dirtier as attention moved from wheels to girls. Meaning, of course, I didn’t give it such a thorough cleaning quite so often. The bike, I mean. The bike!

Those late night return trips along an empty motorway allowed me to test its standing start quarter mile abilities.  Can you imaging finding any time of day or night you could stop in the centre lane of a major motorway nowadays?  Mind you today’s 500cc bikes, although water-cooled, would now pull wheelies under such conditions. The CX kept its front wheel firmly rooted to the ground.

It was eventually sold when I realised the Fionas started outnumbering the Ingers so I had to get a car.  I did a poor deal that involved swapping it for a Hillman Avenger that eventually got swapped for a bicycle that got nicked.  It was a sad end to a good bike.

But the key question is would I have it back?  With that repaired frame?  No way.  Other than for sentimental reasons.  Parked up in a garage.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Bikes section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 2 Apr 2018 but first published in the website in Jul 2005
The first two images are of the author’s Honda CX200 as originally purchased in late 1980.  The engine protection bars and rear rack were non-standard fitments by the original owner [image first added in Version 3 of the website]
The third image shows the author sat astride his bike, along with Spike [wearing leathers] and his Honda CB360.  The girl next to the author is a german friend met at the campsite.  The other two guys were also at the site but the author didn’t seem quite so keen on these two for some reason.  The image was taken around Summer 1981
The fourth image, dated around late 1981 shows the author sat astride the bike with the new non-standard stainless steel exhaust.  The other non-standard feature is the author’s girlfriend of the time.  The image was taken outside her, decidely non-standard, family home
The final two images and all captions were added on 2 Apr 2018

Honda CB200

Not a dream machine.

A standard S registration red Honda CB200
My brand new, second-hand, nearly stock red Honda CB200

With age comes experience.

The trouble was that when I purchased my second motorcycle I had neither.

I had just turned eighteen and had already cut my teeth on motorbikes (along with other parts of my body as well) and was ready to move on.

The Yamaha trail bike I was selling just couldn’t handle the way my biking days were developing and I needed a new steed.

More of my friends had graduated from their mopeds and I didn’t want to be left behind with all the high-powered horses that were amassing around me.

I say, high powered, all were under 250cc as this was the usual starting point for teenagers in those days.  Something to do with the fact that 251cc was deemed too powerful by men in grey suits for new riders.

Plus the Yamaha trail bike just wasn’t designed for two and my loins were calling out for company.

The author sat on his Honda CB200 which is loaded with huge bags and two spare helmets
My loins were calling out for company.  However, taking two spare helmets but having no spare seating is the definition of optimism

I set about searching for my next bike and considered all the two-fifty options available.

It was 1979 and Honda had just launched the SuperDream in 250 and 400cc flavours.  The SuperDream, or CB250N if you prefer, was a fantastically new variant on the old and bulbous Dream 250.  The trouble was it was brand new and very expensive for a new kid on the block.

Yamaha had the RD250 but Yams were always too race orientated.

Suzuki tried the same game with their GT250 but didn’t even have Kenny Roberts on their side.

But the most desirable to me was the Kawasaki KH250 triple.  It oozed sex appeal with its multi-exhaust layout, screaming two-stroke noise and links to the fantastic K900.  The twenty miles to the gallon was pitiful and the reliability suspect but the triple hit all the right notes.

I wanted to go with my instinct.

The problem with instinct is that old chestnut – practicality.

I wasn’t affluent enough to make passionate decisions and had to rely on my family to help finance the deal.  This help came with the inevitable ‘advice’ and that came in the form of ‘strong suggestions’ that I ought to buy a Honda and it shouldn’t be as powerful as 250cc.

I didn’t want a smaller engine than my 175cc Yamaha so there was only one choice.

Honda’s Dream machines had a sibling, the CB200.

It was an ugly mutt of a bike designed primarily for commuting and generally unloved, even by its owners.

It had good reliability from its basic, tried and tested, twin 200cc power plant but that’s like saying Nora Batty is good at washing up.  So what?

And its power was poor.

The only plus sides were it had a four-stroke engine and was red.  Despite my earlier love of the Kawasaki triple I have to admit that four-stroke power is much better unless your only desire is top speed or acceleration.  And Kwacker green is putrid.

The Cee-Bee’s most admirable quality was its comfort, particularly in comparison with the unforgiving seat of my previous trail bike.

In fact, I now wonder whether the ease of riding distances coupled to the (let’s be generous) gentle power helped form my love of touring mindlessly around.

Mind you at 18 to 19 a man has to look cool and the nondescript Honda did nothing for that.

It needed improvement and I started exploring the black art of customisation.

Not in the sense of chromed engine bolts, lowered track or power enhancements. Just a replacement exhaust and new headlamp.

A red Honda CB200 with Cibie Hedlamp and replacement exhaust
A Cibie headlamp, an upswept exhaust, no crash bars.  Much cooler.  Still not cool

The original exhausts were low uninspiring pipes running at low level parallel to the ground with unsightly oversize mufflers.  My replacement exhaust was a potent two-into-one upswept stainless steel pipe terminating in a stubby megaphone – loud and stylish.  Not many CB200s had them so it made it distinctly different.

The headlamp conversion was a Cibie unit, from the famous French manufacturer who were making a name for themselves producing large concave, efficient, bright headlamps.  Again this added to the style.  And let me see in the dark.

But despite these lavish and expensive enhancements the Honda was still as ugly as a Yak.  Only the Yak now had bigger horns.

The bike did fulfill some requirements though.

It’s rear seat was shared a few times and I put a few miles on the clock but I struggle to recall those miles with any detail.

I cannot even recall crashing the thing.  The only ‘off’ that I remembered is when I tried to charge down one of my ‘friends’ who had been terrorising my sister’s boyfriend’s party.

My colleague Chris had been idly throwing a knife into the kitchen wall due to a lack of ability to entertain himself properly at a party and I chivalrously intervened.

The result was that after a few more beers and being ejected Chris turned his attention to me.

I suppose trying to run down a threatening, drunken yob stood just outside the gateway, with a Bowie Knife recently in his possession, is a silly move but, despite warnings, he refused to move out of the way.

I gave it full throttle and dumped the clutch at which point he twisted deftly to one side and kicked out at the Honda.

His foot caught the rear of the front wheel and sent me and bike in different directions.  He then proceeded to kick a man when he was down – How cheap.

I would love to tell you that I leapt to my feet and battered the drunkard black and blue but anyone who knows me would write in and get this website closed down due to fraud.

Instead I writhed around wondering why it didn’t hurt.

Now, I know it was down to his soft trainers reigning hail on my thick jacket and helmet.

If I had kicked back he would have suffered worse – I had steel toecap motocross boots.

However, frustration took its course and Chris changed tack and decided to lay into the Honda instead.  It suffered worse.

Two weeks later, and after the intervention of parents, Chris had been forced to pay for the damage repairs and we were all mates again.  Kids eh?

So a few months later the Honda was sold to a new keen owner, ‘provided I removed that awful loud exhaust and huge headlamp’.

Thankfully this pre-dated eBay by several years so I still had the original parts.

It seemed the buyer wanted an original Yak.

So, as a conclusion – I should have brought the Kwacker.

I wouldn’t have needed to change a thing and would now probably be telling you a story about how I was innocently playing with my own knife when some do-gooder squealed to the host and got me kicked out of a party.  Then tried to run me down.

So in retribution I bravely kicked the living daylights out of him.

And then did the same to his naff Honda.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Bikes section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 28 Feb 2018 but first published in the website in Mar 2005.  All photos added in 2018
The first image is the author’s stock Honda CB200 as originally purchased at the end of 1979.  The crash bars and rear rack were non-standard fitments by the original owner
The second image shows the author sat astride his fully loaded Honda CB200 and was taken around Summer 1980
The third image, dated around late 1980 shows the author’s modified Honda CB200, showcasing the Cibie headlight unit and featuring the two-into-one upswept exhaust

Bentley Arnage

The Best Car In The World?

Although not an owner of one of these magnificent beasts I am fortunate enough to have driven one, in comparison with its bigger and older brother the Continental Series, no less.

A row of four Bentley Arnages in various colours
Pick a car.  Any car

I had always been a fan of the Continental; its raw powerful looks and sheer road presence always allured me.

I was always so impressed by the way that whenever you see one on the road, it seems to be going past at great speed yet appearing totally unruffled, a task mimicked well by the ‘smaller’ Arnage.

So, when a Cardiff dealer offered me the chance to take part in a test drive day in the grounds of a luxurious hotel, lining up the whole Bentley and Rolls Royce range next to a chartered helicopter and sumptuous servings of quality food, I couldn’t resist.

It would be ungentlemanly to refuse, wouldn’t it?

The author stood in the open doorway of a dark blue Bentley Continental
Driving a quarter million pound car.  The author with a Bentley Continental

So I got my chance in a Continental.

The keys, a full tank and a stunning twenty-mile route to savour.  And I did.

The car was very special, as you might expect for a quarter of a million pounds.

Forget the opulent interior – it was the engine that impressed.

Bentley (and Rolls-Royce) didn’t formerly tell anyone about the engine size, merely pointing out that it was ‘adequate’.  They should have added ‘for towing a 5 bedroom house.’

The torque was storming.

Try to imagine someone pushing the back of your chair right now.  Into the next room.  Through the wall.  Then into the next room, without hesitation, even quicker.  All more speedily than you could read this.

Yes, forget horsepower.  From now on, I buy my cars based on torque, whatever a Newton Metre might be.

The author's wife stood ready to get in a dark mauve Bentley Arnage
My wife, Lynda, tries out the Arnage

There was one caveat to the Continental though – the Arnage.

At nearly half the price the Arnage wipes the floor with the Continental.

When I tested it, it came in two flavours.  I’m talking engines again, by the way.

The traditional V8 lump and the newer BMW-sourced straight 8.

Bentley helpfully made it easier by labelling them Red and Green, quite literally.

Go for the Red one.  I’m a new fan of all things BMW but this car needs the V8.  I just wish it wasn’t named after the cheapest tea in Tesco.

The Arnage shares all the grunt of the bigger car and sets it all to a modern theme.

From the outside, the car does resemble a weather-worn brick but inside, you realise this can compete with the best-finished modern cars.

Some comment that it can’t match a Mercedes-Benz’s build quality and to an extent, they would be right.

When the floor carpet is pulled back around the accelerator, you do not expect to see the trimming work of a six year old.  But when the carpet is reinstalled the thick pile helps to remind you that you are in a special place.

The drive is modern, easy and relaxing, even when applying that torque.

The interior ambience is impressive although the modern devices we all need in cars today are not as well accommodated as they might be.

Designed before the satellite navigation era, you will have to suffer the indignation of a pop-up screen spoiling the sweep of the dash, but I suspect you will be more likely looking at the array of dials and switches, many designed and styled to feel good, solid and traditional.

The only gripe is that because customers can select from a huge range of colours and trims (The ‘brochure’ was a hand-finished solid wood briefcase), getting a used one to suit you perfectly may be a problem.  Burgundy leather seats trimmed with cream piping and mixed with a black dash don’t quite do it for me.

A dark blue Bentley Arnage
My new favourite car.  A dark blue Bentley Arnage

The drive is solid and reassuring and belies the car’s two ton size.

Forget you are in a limousine and treat it the way Bentley intended.  It is a sports model after all.  If you want to float everywhere, get one with a small silver statue at the front.

The Arnage will flick through corners and holds the road like the tarmac’s melted.  You don’t even get to hear the rubber ripping.  Very strange.  Very addictive.

But the best bit is sitting deep in those accommodating hide armchairs and looking down at people next to you, even those in four by fours.

In both ways!

Gripes?  Well there are always some.

On the pre-2005 model I drove, I don’t think the headlamps suit the nose, the fuel consumption is for those who never care about it, and it costs £150k.

At least it’s better than that Continental I always wanted.  Thanks Bentley, you have saved me £100k.  Now save me another £30k by making the new baby Bentley even better.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Cars section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 23 Feb 2018 but first published in the website in Feb 2005.  All photos added in 2018
Also published by Channel 4 Car Road Tests around 2005 (but now no longer available)
The first image shows part of the Bentley line up presented by a generous Cardiff Bentley Dealership in the grounds of Miskin Manor in 2000
The second image shows the author parked up during a road test of the fabulously expensive Bentley Continental in 2000
The third image shows the Author’s wife, Lynda, with the Bentley Arnage in 2000
The fourth and final image shows a Bentley Arnage, parked in a service station car park, photographed in Jan 2012

Gilera 50 Moped

Freedom at forty-five

My double denim clad brother Mark sat astride his red Gilera 50 moped wearing a white open faced helmet and with a white sports bag over his shoulder
Mark on his shiny new Gilera 50 moped

The transformation of becoming a teenager is very traumatic.  Your mental state changes as dramatically as your physical appearance.  And your needs change too.

Transport suddenly becomes essential as the world doesn’t just revolve around the bit of grass, bushes and a muddy stream just outside the front door.  It is then that the explorer within starts to make a few tentative steps into the unknown.

I realise that in most cases this is only as far as the next group of shops but nevertheless the urge to get out of sight of the parents becomes paramount.

This is why, as a teenager I was gutted to not have a bike.  I lived far enough from my school to miss out on activities that involved pointlessly hanging around on bicycles and although I was pretty fit (like all kids were in the seventies) I couldn’t keep up on foot when they all peddled off to the next crucial hanging about point.

The fact that I was not allowed a bicycle as a child, due to some old nonsense about not keeping up with traffic, meant that when I was sixteen and legally allowed to ride a powered vehicle I was transformed.

The day I first rode a moped was as important to me as the time when a caterpillar first emerges as a butterfly.  Although anyone witnessing those first tentative miles would probably liken it to an hour old fawn riding a wasp.

I was given a choice.

My elder brother of two years (hello Mark) was provided with a gleaming moped on his sixteenth birthday.  He chose a Gilera 50.  A sturdy moped based on an accommodating 125cc motorcycle frame.

When I reached the magic age myself I was also offered a new ‘ped or I could opt for a ‘second-hand’ motorcycle at seventeen.  As I was generously allowed to use Mark’s Gilera I decided to defer the gift for a year and use the Gilera, as and when I could.  Mark rarely saw it again.

The sturdy design meant that it was a comfortable bike, which was just as well as I spent many a full day buzzing along for hours on end.  The near 80 to the gallon meant that my wages could easily keep the tank full and my new found wanderlust was well accommodated.  There was barely a road on the south coast that I hadn’t been down.  Some started to show signs of wear from overuse!

Being Italian it was red and handled well.  In those days only Italian metal could properly get round a bend.

The proper motorcycle design ensured that the only restriction was the stupidly positioned pedals.  These were a moped requirement and although they both locked in a parallel forward position (not all did) they grounded far too easily.

Tyre technology was dire compared to today’s wide sticky compounds but this little solid bike could be predictably pushed to the limits of ground clearance and frequently was.

The Gilera 50 moped parked on a hill view next to a yellow Yamaha FS1E with it's owner Jeff
They can do 95mph. Added together

The downside was the top speed.

At forty-five miles per hour most sixteen year olds today would be over the moon.  But this was 1975 and Yamaha had just released the FS1E, its new 50cc sports moped.  And my mate Jeff had one.

The Fizzy was a strange slight thing, much like Jeff, but it had an enviable top end nearing fifty.  It was probably only 48 but the 65 that showed on the Speedo meant that all spotty teens wanted one.  And when they got it its little heart was pushed to the limit whenever ridden.

And then there was the Honda.  Not the ubiquitous Cub step-through but their CB50 version of a mini-racer.  This would speed at a shown 48, nearly as quick as the Yam, and my friend Dave had had one of these.

My Gilera, or should I say Mark’s Gilera, was beaten hands down.  And as teenager’s brains do not allow them to temper the throttle all our ride outs together usually meant me following in a slipstream of blue haze and Castrol GTX.

Until I got to a bend, as the Jap bikes couldn’t handle anything other than a straight.  Or when we had to ride up a hill as the screaming Japanese machines were so power stressed that they had no torque.  Plus, when we started using the mopeds for their true use, picking up girls, the Gilera still went 45 with a passenger while the others wheezed along at 40.  Ha!

So other than top speed and limited cornering angles there was nothing to beat the Gilera.

I acknowledge that the electrics, as a six-volt system, were inadequate, barely powering the headlight which used to beam only as bright as it was revved but they were all like that in those days.

However the fit and finish was good, reliability was excellent, it was as strong as an ox and the accommodation and comfort were first class.

So would I choose it if I had my time again?  Definitely no.  Haven’t you been listening?   It only did 45 and that was all that mattered.

But in hindsight my memories are not of the seats, the colour, the handling or even the speed.

I was sixteen, confident, daring.  Couple that with inexperience and the net result, as many found out, was falling off.

The halcyon days of the moped were marred by crashes.  Copious amounts of them.  And when you live through them they make great pub stories.

The first was typical.

After visiting my friend across town I decided on a detour on the return trip.  On unfamiliar roads I would now be wary.  At sixteen I was just plain carefree.

It wasn’t high speed, or even the appearance of a roundabout beyond the blind bend that caught me out.  It was the panic braking that caused the spill.

Even today the road is so quiet I could have sailed straight on, but at the time, not knowing the terrain I grabbed loads of brake and locked the wheels.  The inevitable occurred and I was sent sprawling on the tarmac watching the Gilera spin away onto the roundabout in a shower of sparks.

This itself, whilst dramatic, hardly warrants pub-story status.  What added to this was a bus load of pensioners parked on the far side of the roundabout.  Every one of these grey-coated souls turned to look at the fool lying in the road with his sideways bike still purring away.

No-one came to the rescue, presumably assuming I was OK or dead, with neither option needing their involvement.  I just lay there.  I wasn’t hurt.  A bit shocked perhaps but mainly because this was my first off and I hadn’t yet worked out what to do.

Later experience of these things taught me that you are allowed to get up if you want to but I didn’t know that.  In fact later on getting up too early was the problem but you’ll have to read about that in my CX500 page.

On this day I lay there wondering whether an ambulance should come, or a policeman or my mother.

I must have been there for some time before I realised my mistake and rose, dusted myself off, picked up the bike and rode away.

I remember waving to the crowd on the bus, trying to promote an image that it was all planned and I’d be back around again for a repeat performance should they cheer loud enough.  One or two waved back but I wasn’t about to do it all again.  I rode off in to the distance, a bit more carefully from then on.

Vince on his knees fixing a removed exhaust pipe from the Gilera moped
Now, where did this bit fall off from?

It was the first of too many spills which punctuated my early riding days.

I recall another moment in those early days during a ride out to Bournemouth with Dave.  It was a fine summers day and we fancied an ice-cream and a gawp at some girls in bikinis so we set out on the forty mile journey, an epic at moped speeds.

I hadn’t had the bike long, it must have just had the new handlebars fitted after the bus-stop episode, as the bike still wore its L-plates.  Unusually, and the only one amongst my friends, I later took the test to be able to ride L-plate free.  This got me stopped by men in white cars with orange stripes quite a lot (you do remember the days when plod drove marked cars don’t you?) but it did allow me to take all my girlfriends on the back (not all at once though).

The L-plate was significant.  In fact crucial to the event.  The rear one was mounted attached to the Gilera’s number-plate by a Meccano strip and during that tortuous journey had loosed itself and started rattling.  Most would have ignored it, hoping that it would detach but the rattling irritated me.

At this point I should have pulled over and attended it in safety at the side of the road, but as we were riding solo I was struggling to keep up with the Honda ahead.  Stopping was out of the question.  So I inspected the problem on the move.

Imaging the scenario, a real don’t try this at home moment.  I’m doing forty-five, yes that speed again, leaning back to fiddle with an L-plate that is mounted low and behind the rear wheel.  If Gerry Cottle had seen me I would have been signed up there and then.

But I didn’t fall off.  Not whilst checking the plate.  The trouble started when I settled back to look forward.  I was still doing forty-five but now there was a pavement directly ahead.  Not that the road had changed, just my course.

I did what anyone would do at that time, I hit it fair and square!  The front went airborne and came down on its side, with me half underneath.  Luckily the tree-lined avenue was more gap than tree so I came to a slow but mercifully recoverable stop.

I was a bit sore and felt stupid but got back up to ride again.  After all, Dave hadn’t noticed and was ploughing on regardless.  I had to make up time.

I lifted the bike back onto the road, re-selected neutral and re-started the stalled engine.  It started, as usual, first time so I pulled in the clutch to select first gear – and the cable broke.

The impact onto the softened tarmac pavement was taken by the clutch lever which had filled with a tarmac blob that severed the cable when operated.  I had no clutch.

No problem, clutches are for pussies anyway.  I snicked it into gear and shot off after Dave.

Dave was devastated.  He had missed the spectacle and more importantly our chances of pulling were blown.  I wanted to go straight home to miss the weekend crowds but Dave wanted his ice-cream.  So we went to the beach side and had ice-cream, his topped with crushed nuts, mine with strawberry sauce and gravel rash.

This was eventually followed by a mad dash back home along a crowded bank holiday route with no clutch.  I figured that all I had to do was keep going, so that’s what I did.  I never dropped below thirty, timed all the traffic lights perfectly, went straight through the roundabouts whether the nearby cars were stopped or not and got all the way to a set of lights in Southampton before a stop caused me to stall.  Some forty miles later.  It is amazing what feats are achievable in the face of adversity.

I suppose, in hindsight, I’m rather fond of the Gilera.  It took me on adventures I had never had before and accompanied me through a harrowing time of growing up.  I learnt to ride solo, corner, take passengers and crash.  It was an important time and the moped played its part without complaint.

I handed it back to Mark when I got my Yamaha trial bike at seventeen and started all the adventures again but it was the Gilera that kicked it all off.  And in quite a dramatic manner.

I suppose it was a bit like a teenager itself in a way.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the bikes section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 6 Feb 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005, with photos added in 2018
The first image shows my double denim clad brother Mark sat astride his new Gilera moped in 1977
The second image show the moped under my posession in 1978 during a trip with my friend Jeff on his yellow Yamaha FS1E.  Italian style meets Japanese power.
The third image shows me fiddling with the exhaust pipe of the Gilera, obviously demonstrating admirably that I am a fully qualified trained mechanic, able at least to hold a motorcycle part with just one hand.

Yamaha DT175

Road Test Note: It is my intention to break the mould of classic bike road test reports.  Instead of copying other testers and attempting to fit all the technical specifications and performance figures into a readable report I plan to tell stories about my rides describing how I interacted with them, what they meant to me, how I survived the crashes and how they made me feel at the time

Yamaha DT175

An Initial Trial

We all remember our first.

Our first girlfriend, first kiss, first single and first time stealing from the dairy.  Or was that just me?

Anyway, our vehicles are no exception and my little Yamaha DT175 trail bike was the first vehicle that I owned.

Mind you at the time it didn’t seem so little and in many ways it wasn’t the first.  But much like girlfriends you can’t include a quick shuftie with your neighbour as a prima facie conquest.  So the Yam formally remains my first.

My parents had purchased a new Gilera moped for my older brother when he turned sixteen.  They gave me the option of a new ‘ped at the same age or a second-hand motorbike at seventeen.

As I was able to use my brother’s wheels I chose the motorbike option and given the stringent restrictions on size (“not a 250 son, too big”) and considering cost, I chose the Yamaha.

The year was around 1978 and the bike had a P registration plate, it was only a few years old.  That’s a P at the end by the way.

Trail bikes back then were much different from today.  The styling still had suggestions of a fifties mount with it’s front mudguard set close to the wheel, although trail bikes were soon shipped with higher mudguards shortly afterwards.

The tyres were ‘knobblies’ so gave me a chance to use it on and off the blacktop.

Top speed was a quite miserable 65mph or so.  This meant that it never kept up with my mate Jeff’s Honda CB125.  Then again, nothing else could either.

The best bit of my new toy was the colour.

Although the bike was in sound mechanical condition with no damage to the bodywork, the bike had been repainted.  I can’t recall the probably implausible excuse the seller gave for the re-spray but I didn’t care.  It was a cream colour with brown stripes.

For some peculiar reason known only to myself, as a teenager my favourite colour was brown, plus at the time Kenny Roberts was putting Yamaha on the racing map and the distinctive blocky stripes were aped on my fuel tank.

Black and white photograph of a leather clad female motorcyclist stood behind her Yamaha DT175 motorcycle which is laden with touring accessories
Not mine. The bike, the photo nor the girl. In the absence of photo evidence of my own DT175 I found and used for years this scan of a similar model from an old Bike magazine featuring despatch rider Sue Fiddian. By old Bike, I mean the magazine not the girl. Sorry Sue. Credit: Bike Magazine

It was a unique bike at the time so if you recognise this pattern and now know the bike get in touch.  I would love to see it again.  Mind you it would be well past its sell by date by now and I guess pretty ropey.  So I’ll only give you a few quid for it, all right.

Another useful feature was the off-roading abilities.

Not so much the serious mudplugging but the ability to climb easily up the pavement kerb at the local disco.

Of the few times I ventured off the tarmac my inexperience kept me from performing fantastic tricks and my leg length prevented me from stopping.  In fact, I can’t recall ever pulling a proper, wheel in the air for more than a half-second type, wheelie.  And I call myself a biker!

Plus, in those days, stoppies were only carried out by riders with no control and grabby brakes.  The drums on the Yamaha certainly never grabbed anything to my knowledge.

However, I did find the thing ace at driving round town with its light weight and responsive two-stroke motor.

The wide bars, although sometimes a pain through dense traffic, enabled surefooted slow riding skills and great manoeuvrability.  This was coupled to a high vantage point from that seat that didn’t suit my legs, although it was comfy enough for one bum.

Add a second bum, whose owner had to make do with swing-arm mounted rear footpegs, and it didn’t do so well.  But for one up hooligan riding round town it was perfect.

I even considered fitting road tyres rather than the standard fitment off-road rubber.  I recall that despite my efforts I couldn’t match a front and rear so didn’t proceed with this mod.  If I had I would have beaten the modern super-motards to the idea by several years.  Despite not heralding this modern change I travelled many a happy mile.

Nevertheless, it was the unhappy mile that it will be best remembered for.

I recall a frustrating crawl up the outside lane of a dual carriageway, at it’s 65mph maximum.  Jeff, on his CeeBee had passed the car and decided on a different route into the New Forest.  He swung into a left-hand turn and disappeared.

I was still in hot [read: warm] pursuit and trying to pass the car.

Why people insist on travelling at one mile an hour less than my top speed, I’ll never know.

Anyway, I just made it and shot round the bend.  It was set at a right angle and Kenny himself would have been pleased with taking it at this speed.  On his race bike.

Mind you I did have one race bike advantage.  The footpegs on a trail bike are small and high set so don’t dig in when cornering.  A common problem on seventies machinery.  Provided the tyres held out the thing could corner like a demon.  And the road that day was perfectly dry and smooth.

I leaned over, to the point my boots were scraping the deck, but it wasn’t enough.  The corner was too sharp.  So I leaned a bit more and something eventually grounded out.  My handlebar ends!

I slid across the road.

Thankfully, it being the seventies meant that no traffic was on the other side.  Unfortunately, being summer and a carefree teenager meant that I wasn’t dressed properly.  The lightweight jacket I had on rode up my torso, followed by my tee shirt, then in turn, each layer of my skin.  Gravel rash par excellence.

Despite this mishap I enjoyed my time with the Yamaha.

Even now I wish it was sat in my garage so that I could play on it.  The engine may have been noisy and underpowered but the styling was just right.  The high exhaust and low front mudguard may date the thing to a certain period but that’s when I was learning the meaning of freedom and this bike helped me achieve that.  I’ll always remember it fondly.

Like all my other firsts, I guess.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the bikes section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 9 Jan 18 but first published on the website in Mar 2004
The header image shows the front page of the official UK Yamaha DT175 sales brochure and was added in  Jan 2018.  Credit: Yamaha
The included image shows a photograph scanned from an old ‘Bike’ magazine and was used to illustrate a story about a female despatch rider called Sue Fiddian.  It was first added to my website in Version 3 in Mar 2010.  I liked this as it best represented the ‘look’ of my DT175.  Used and generally remembered in black and white.  Credit: Bike Magazine