Mini’s, Maxi’s and MOT’s – Will I Ever Pass First Time?

Driving to work yesterday I heard about a What Car survey on the radio detailing the most reliable and unreliable makes of cars. I listened intently and was delighted not to fall into the top 3 most unreliable, maybe this year would be different after all. Because this was  a day I have come to dread every year, it’s not my annual smear test or dentists check up, but my MOT, and I was on my way to drop my car off at the local garage.

Since my first car at the age of 17 I have had a succession of beaten up and broken down old bangers. Sofor me the chances of passing my MOT are in line with the chances of me winning the Nobel Peace Prize or The X-Factor for that matter.

I can honestly say I have never heard the words “you passed first time,” in relation to motoring terms. Well unless you include my one and only breathalyzer test, it turns out it was just my natural dizziness and not alcohol which led to me being stopped for going round the same roundabout three times! It was only after 4 attempts and a near nervous breakdown on my driving instructors behalf that I passed my driving test, he retired shortly after.


My first car was a gorgeous midnight blue mini which was for sale for the princely sum of £400, my dad got it knocked down to £375 because there was no passenger side handle. This he assured me wasn’t an issue. What did turn out to be an issue was the faulty bonnet latch, flying down a narrow single lane track when the bonnet flies open obscuring your vision is a pretty hair raising moment, maybe Disney should consider it for their next big thrill ride?

Turns out the windscreen wipers weren’t too sturdy either as I discovered while driving back from Stirling one wet and wild night. The driver side wiper flew off never to be seen again. The remainder of the journey was spend with the window rolled down as I leant out and attempted to use my arm as a makeshift wiper. Still I survived if a little damply, unfortunately the mini did not. At it’s very first MOT it’s floor was declared to be holier than Mother Theresa and the cost to repair it more than the value of the car, so off it went to the great scrap heap in the sky.

There have been countless further examples and I won’t bore you with them all but here are just a few.

First was the Austen Maxi which at £75 was such a bargain it had the insurance lady in hysterics when I replied to her question regarding what the value of the car was. They didn’t have an option for below £100 so we had to settle for that. To be fair despite the bright orange upholstery and gunmetal gray exterior it was a good car, until I drove it into the back of a parked van, being insured for only £100 it was declared a write off.

Yes, I drove one of these

There was the Volvo 240 with the dodgy starter motor. Not at problem as long as I remembered to carry a hammer everywhere I went. Many a time I had stopped to get petrol and ended up having to lift the bonnet and give the starter a quick whack because ir had stuck again. Luckily this was before the days of stop and search or I may have had some awkward questions to answer about the offensive weapon stashed in my passenger footwell.

Then there was my all time favourite, my 16 year old bright red Micra. Now I don’t normally agree with naming inanimate objects but this car just called for it. The kids christened it Bessie Yoda (the second part being my son’s contribution) and she had a very special place in my heart.

Inherited from my great Aunt Jessie, little Bessie had sat untouched for many years in her garage. Cue much amusement and disbelief from the insurance agency again when I told them this vintage lady had only 16,000 miles on the clock, equating to just one thousand miles per year of her life.

If cars can have personalities then Bessie did, she came into my life at a time when I was once again an independent lady, albeit with 2 kids in tow. She had no power steering, a tape deck and certainly no mod cons like electric windows or central locking. She was good looking, fun and reliable though, just what every girl wants. It was heavy heart that I led her go two years ago to get a more modern and family appropriate Ford Focus, nice but no Bessie!

A Betsy look alike

The one thing all these car’s have had in common is their ability to fail their MOT’s miserably. Every year I wait, continuously glancing at my phone to see if the garage has called and every year I pray for the word’s “it’s passed,” but it is not to be. Bushes and axles,pads and discs, I have no idea what these things mean apart from a large dent in my wallet. So was this year any different?

Good news Mrs Simpson, it’s only failed on two things? could it be 2 lightbulbs? maybe even a couple of tyres that wouldn’t be too bad? No two suspension arms, again I don’t know what these are (though I do suspect my reluctance to slow down at speed bumps may bear some relation to their sorry state) but I do know they are not cheap. Oh well another year another fail.

Still at least I can console myself with the fact that I’ll probably never have one of the most unreliable cars, at least not according to What Car’s survey, after all I doubt I’ll be able to afford a Bentley or Porsche any time soon!

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