Friday – Fisherman’s Friend

cropped-img_1743.jpgGreg French’s 1991 Holden is a terrible car. He’d be the first to admit that the rust and pale bluehatchback has seen better times. In fact, when he turned up to collect me at Launceston Airport – that’s Launceston Tasmania, not Cornwall – I thought he must have been collecting somebody else.

Nope, my fishing guide for two days was there to collect me and the horrible Holden was going to transport me across the island to a remote location on the even more remote central plateau. After 38 hours of flying without sleep, I can’t say I was that impressed.

Soon the tarmac road ran out, then the gravel track, until finally we were crashing along over a rocky lane through the woods, miles from anywhere.

The Holden has covered 250,000 miles and cost around £1400. Greg expects to get 400,000 miles out of it but that doesn’t stop him bundling along at 45mph over a road that would frighten a Range Rover owner.

Greg believes in using his cars to the full, regardless of the consequences. So while everybody else drives a rufty tufty 4×4, we bottomed out on boulders and roots with alarming regularity.

After 40 miles of rough stuff, I had relaxed my grip on the melted dashboard and realised the Holden was tougher than it looked. Greg told me he prefers to spend his money on travelling rather than cars. I expect he will still be driving the same car when I return in a few years time…

Sunday – Bulldog Looks

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If ever there was a British Bulldog of car design this is it. The Trax may be short on stature – 4.25 metres of it – but the front end looks like a mutt straining at the leash.

While the rest of the car is sculpted-out conventional SUV, that Chevrolet front end is what really bites you on the bottom. In fact, if you added a set of wider wheels and painted it black, the Trax would be a bruiser of a 4×4 to look at.

The only problem with having such a large front end is that wind noise can be quite intrusive at high speed – not helped by the elephant-sized door mirrors which are simply enormous!

However, the built quality is pretty rugged and robust. The doors shut with a reassuring thud and  the interior is practical, with 1370 litres of space if you fold the rear seats flat (356 litres with the back seats in place).

Right now I’m thoroughly enjoying the 128bhp diesel engine. You have to work it hard, which might be tiresome in the long run but it’s simply great fun to drive.