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16th January

Weather has been bad for the last few months now. For the last part of December we've had lots of snow and only now is it starting to dissappear. My new year's resolution is to do a lot more track days. I did manage to get out for a drive, when the sun did finally come out. 1ºC is not that much fun in a car with no windscreen or heater but I simply just had to get out in the car and drive it. There was still some ice on the road in my close. Very little grip from the tyres and it was very hard to get some heat into them too. The rear wheels would spin at the slightest provacation, as this video clip shows:

Looming on the horizon is the first MOT for my Fisher Fury R1Remote site. It's hard to believe that it's been on the road for nearly three years now. The emissions test is going to be the main challenge in passing the MOT test.

20th January

The rubbish weather has finally forced me to buy a spare set of alloys for my family/tow car and stick a set of winter tyres on it. A set of Goodyear Ultragrip 7+ tyres came in at £430 fitted (set of four) and the alloys were another £150 (second hand) on top of that. At least I can keep on moving when we have a bit of ice and snow now. Will leave them on the car, until the temperature reaches 8ºC. Has got me thinking about what the perfect family car is. More on that to follow.

21st January

So what makes a perfect family car? ...

Of course this is going to vary depending on your circumstances but, I'm assuming you have a separate 'fun' car (like a Lotus Elise) and don't need to compromise your family car by trying to make it sporty. It's also obviously going to depend on how many children you have to carry around and what age they are. Anyway, here's my thoughts based on having two children ...

  • First of all, because I don't make any pretence that my family car has to be fast, I'm pretty much agnostic to the diesel or petrol debate. I can see the sense of a diesel in terms of economy and torque but personally, I don't like them.
  • For me, a family car is not about going quickly, so a typical 1.8 litre, 150'ish bhp engine is more than adequate. More power generally means a car compromised in some way with expensive bodywork, tyres and higher insurance costs. I've done the 5-door Subaru Impreza thing and it didn't work very well. Fuel consumption was very poor and the boot too small. It was simply too quick for a family vehicle and too heavy for a proper sports car.
  • In terms of vehicle style, I'd go for an estate or large booted saloon every time. I don't want the compromised handling and additional weight that comes with an van, MPV, SUV, etc. An estate car provides useful extra space for those larger loads and on the rare occasion that I need more space, the roof bars on my family car enable me to quickly fit a roof-box. An OEM boot-liner has also saved me loads of hassle as it contains spills and dirt. It can simply be removed and pressure washed.
  • Four doors are a must, regardless of how old your children are. You need rear doors to fit a baby seat or to simply enable you children to get in and out easily.
  • Since this is a family car, I consider ABS an essential safety aid but, I'm not too bothered about dynamic stability control as this is not some that you should require or rely upon. I can honestly say I've never missed it.
  • For long journies across country, I consider cruise control essential.
  • Roof bars are something I consider very useful. Either for carrying bikes and canoes, or a roof box on the odd occasion that you can't fit all that camping gear, etc. in the boot.
  • On our family car, a towbar is required to take my sports car to track days.
  • As discussed above, winter tyres seem to make quite a lot of sense where I live and the additional cost of a second set of allow wheels is less than our insurance excess.

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