Regular readers of the magazine may be [tl:gallery size=120×120]familiar with our Volvo 850 towcar, but if you haven’t been introduced, allow me to explain.
I wanted to get hold of a budget starter caravan. Really to show that caravanning need not be a very expensive business and I quickly found a tired, but serviceable Sprite Alpine that was just the job. Thing is, it’s hardly advertising the virtues of affordable touring to tow it with one of our other fleet cars. Choices range from the ‘budget’ Suzuki Vitara 1.9 SZ5 with a list price in excess of £20k, to the new Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi with the high output engine. That’s £27,000 right there. So I needed a budget towcar.
Nothing says budget towcar to me like an old Volvo. Reliable, many have towgear fitted already and they are in plentiful supply. Sure enough, after a week of looking, one turned up on the doorstep. Less than 10 miles from home. towbar, service history and it was an estate. £470 changed hands and I had a Volvo. I hooked up the Sprite on the first weekend and carted it off to Stowford Farm Meadows for the 2010 Practical Caravan Reader Rally. It did sterling service that weekend, but evidently, all was not well. The caravan lights were playing up, the braking was a little on the…marginal side and on checking the service history, she was nine years from her last cambelt change. With 179,000 on the clock, I didn’t want to take any chances so she was booked in for a service and MOT on my return. The resultant bill would tell us whether or not it was a cheap or an expensive £470 car…