I was interested in your article on two-car combinations. My wife and I each need a car for work, and are both enthusiastic drivers, but at least one car has to cope with daughters and family trips.
Our current solution is a Mark II Cortina-Lotus, purchased new in 1969, and a Lotus Elan Plus 2, 1968, purchased third hand last year. And within the limits of our budget, these make an ideal pair. The Cortina has all the space we need, has proved very reliable, (71,000 miles and still the original engine) yet is quite sporting in its behaviour. In fact if it weren’t beginning to show rust in so many places I would see no need to change it for several years.
But if the Cortina was bought boldly after a year’s experience with an early Mark I, (alloy panels and all that!), the Plus 2 was approached with considerable trepidation in view of the Lotus reputation for what the Americans might call “Spontaneous disassembly”. But so far the car has proved a pleasant surprise. Although I seem to have spent a fair while underneath it, nothing has gone wrong that could not be put down to normal wear in an ex city-owned vehicle.
During the 12,000 miles I have covered, bringing its total to 50,000, I have had the engine out to replace the starter ring, put new wheel bearings in the rear end, fitted new brake pads all round, replaced one doughnut, and otherwise done nothing but tinker. In the process I have discovered that although some of the components can only be installed by the traditional double-jointed beanpole with ten-inch fingers, the car is very straightforward to work on, and because of the quality of the design, in some ways most satisfying.
As for driving, well, the name on the badge makes sure of that! Even on this early model the performance may generously be described as ‘adequate’, and the steering and roadholding make the Cortina feel a barge. And what other car does so much at 32 miles to the gallon?
But oh those insurance companies! I would be interested to hear your and readers’ comments on insuring combinations of saloon and sports car. In spite of being an almost ideal insurance risk—teacher, middle-aged, country-dweller, no accidents or convictions, (and wife similar)—When I told my insurers I had bought a Lotus they went up the wall, and spoilt a beautiful (for them) 11-year friendship by asking over £200. Naturally I looked around, and found a more reasonable £56 policy. But what I want to know is this. What evidence have the insurance companies found that makes them think that although I can be trusted with a saloon, I become transformed into a raving lunatic on stepping into a sports-car?
Your article in the February issue on the Ideal Pair for the two-car family prompted this, I think my first letter to any publication, as not only do I think that I own a “matched pair” but I have also been indulging in some most pleasant day-dreaming. Mostly I enjoy Motorway motoring and think that our current active pair of a BMW 2002 TII and one of the last of the 1275 Cooper S’s go very well together as I find the BMW to be the more sophisticated version of the Cooper, a car in which one can have a lot of fun round the lanes, particularly with Koni’s added to the suspension.
If money were no object I think I would be unpatriotic and have the BMW 3.0 CSL combined with a Porsche 911 Carrera R.S. However, if forced to be patriotic I would be more than happy with a Jaguar XJ .12 plus any one of the open XK’s or their derivatives but preferably an XK SS.
R. J. Barnes.