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The French Connection - Living with a 90s Twingo (#1)

I've loved France ever since my first holiday there as a young lad. It was 2004, and my parents opted to take my brother and I to the French region of Brittany for a two week camping holiday. Now, when I say camping, I don't mean the sit-up-and-beg type of camping that involves you being subjected to an uncomfortable world of brightly coloured nylon and polyester - rather the far more enjoyable type of camping favoured in France which actually involves a spacious static caravan, outdoor furniture, and luxuries such as a fridge, oven and shower.

During this holiday, I became obsessed with the laid back culture (yes, I was a lazy git at seven years old), the quality of food, the beautiful landscapes...and the Mk1 Renault Twingo.

As such, while it came as a massive surprise to some of my peers, me buying a Mk1 Twingo didn't really come as a massive surprise to me. Sure, I was surprised to actually find one for sale without a horrendously over-inflated price tag, but the fact I purchased it was almost a given. In my eyes, it wasn't £450 well spent - it was £450 inevitably spent.

I've mentioned in my previous posts just how much people love the little Twingo. The cute-yet-surprised expression, the eager nature of it's driving style, the, well, yellowness of it - there's a lot to love, albeit sometimes in an almost ironic way. But I genuinely love it - it's not a comical car to me, it's one I actually enjoy driving which is somewhat surprising given the current company it keeps within my vehicle ownership at the moment.

So my plan, therefore, is to document my ownership of this car over the next however long I keep this up for, to give an idea of what it's like living with 90s France underneath you.

Certainly, thus far, it's been an absolute hoot. Within a few weeks of buying the car, it had already made it to Broke Boys at the Farm, various car meets and of course Caffeine and Machine - somewhere that I really must get around to making a post about, to put into words just how much I appreciate that a location such as C&M exists.

It required brakes a few weeks ago - a quick inspection underneath the car after a few weeks of relatively consistent driving showed that the inside of the discs were pretty much untouched by the pads, but were also horribly lipped and therefore needed replacement. Now, in some cars, this is either costly, complicated or indeed both, the latter documented by the Evo which not only managed to stump up a £550 bill for basic discs and pads alone, but then went on to refuse them due to the callipers being the work of satan and everything being seized. In the Twingo though, it turned out to be a classic case of 'none of the above'. Front discs and pads were £28 for the lot from a reasonable quality supplier, and we found not one seized bolt or fixing - although the previous person to work on the car had managed to re-assemble the brakes in such a way that the inside pad was jammed on both sides, hence the questionable braking quality and corrosion on the inside of the discs. One brake overhaul and fluid change later, the car drives a lot better - braking on the lead up to a roundabout is no longer a fearful affair, which is rather pleasant.

Apart from that, it's been a very reliable and easy car to run - it manages close to 50mpg on a long trip, although short trips are a fair bit less economical due to my insistence on squeezing every last one of the remaining horsepower this car has out of the engine when accelerating out of junctions or onto motorways. I mean, it had 54hp when brand new - who knows how little it has now?

It'll be coming to the Cairngorns for a spot of wild camping with me in November, which shall be a real test of just how hardy this little French car of the masses is, although if I manage to squeeze some use of it into the next few weeks, you best believe you'll be getting another instalment into the series before that trip comes.

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