2000 Volkswagen Passat Estate S 1.9 TDI PD 115
Rallycross reporter Hal Ridge leads a busy working life that takes him from his Shropshire home, on the Welsh borders, to all over Britain and often to France, Belgium and Holland. Where he goes, his trusty 14-year-old Volkswagen Passat Estate goes too, so it is hardly surprising that the car racks up the miles. It is already on the brink of 347,000 miles, each of them amassed by just two owners – Hal and the car’s first owner, his partner Esme’s father Tim.
The Passat started life as Tim’s company car. When it had clocked 160,000 miles after just two years, he bought it off the firm and drove it another 76,000 miles. During that time it needed a new clutch and shock absorbers, but not much else. Four years ago, he gave the car to Hal, who has since added another 111,000 miles to the tally. It is still going strong, but it very nearly came a cropper in last year’s floods. “I did my best to kill it by driving into a flood,” says Hal. “I realised my mistake, quickly turned the engine off and got it towed out. It wouldn’t start afterwards and I feared the worst. But after two days, I took the intercooler pipe off, emptied the water out of it, changed the engine oil, fired it up, and it was fine.”
Hal knows a reasonable amount about car mechanics, and does all the work on the Passat himself. He says he drives it hard without much mechanical sympathy, but services it regularly and always changes the oil when the dashboard warning light tells him to. The car recently needed a new alternator, and the back screen wiper has packed up and is awaiting repair. But most of the jobs have been fairly routine, with no big failures.
“It doesn’t have an easy life,” Hal says. “Where we live, a bottle of milk is a 20-mile round trip, and I use the car to carry all sorts of things, from house move boxes to race car engines. I get around 50mpg on a regular basis, although I drive it on all kinds of roads, including a local Forestry Commission gravel track. I have considered fitting a towbar, but that might be just a bit too much for it.”