Well, for those who know me personally, you may know that a special little lady in my life made a return this week. Her name is Debbie, and she’s a 1990 Mk2 Golf turbo diesel. I owned her about two or three years ago, and sadly had to sell her due to unfortunate circumstances. I was promised by the new owner that if she ever went anywhere I’d get first offer – and being the gentleman he is, he was true to his word.
So, with a crazy turn of events when she got home and contrary to what I thought was going to happen, she’s now insured and on the road. I didn’t think that she would be seeing the road for quite some time, so this was quite a nice surprise. What better way to welcome her back than a nice spin? The weather was looking good, the music was pumping and the company was perfect – let’s hit the road.
So, a bit more about Debbie. Debbie is a very interesting character, and is a very good example of what we here at 427 Motorsports are about – a car with a story to tell.
So what is she? Well, she’s a 1990 Volkswagen Golf CL. A 1.6 litre turbo-diesel engine, with around 65 horsepower from new. That’s just the information about what she is though, it’s what she’s experienced that makes her the trooper she is.
Originally, Debbie belonged to a police officer here in Northern Ireland. Now, any car that belonged to police officer in Northern Ireland in the 1990s is going to have some stories to share regardless, for reasons you can look into yourself. This meant that she acquired some cool gadgets, in the form of bomb detectors under the carpets. These are out of commission, but a very cool thing to showcase the car’s history.
At some stage during this first ownership, she was sadly the victim of projectiles being thrown at her, and the results of this were dents all along her side, and her roof – so much so on her roof that the actual roof supports themselves were completely crumpled and in disrepair – something that had to be welded up and fixed.
The good news? At some point an owner got these dents fixed. The bad news? Not very well. The dents are gone, yes, but the paint they used to repaint the panels afterwards was the wrong colour. A completely different shade of blue. To be honest though, it’s actually really well painted – so I’ll likely leave this as is, and let on it’s intentional. It’s part of her story, and deserves to be shared.
So, after a trip to our good friend ‘Oul VW Parts’ (who can be found on Facebook here, and is currently doing a big project for me which will be unveiled very soon.) in a place called Burnfoot in county Donegal, we decided to head further up the road through a place called Buncrana. Well, after a stop to a shop that sold out of date ice cream and had the worst toilets we’ve seen in a long time. We promise Buncrana is a nice place, honestly.
After seeing some mountains in the distance and pondering if we could make it up them, we set off. No maps, no sat navs or GPS systems, not even a compass – just good old fashioned sense of direction, which contrary to popular belief, I actually have.
There’s a lot to be said for spur of the moment trips like this, with no planning, no set location, just “hey that thing looks cool let’s drive towards it”. There seems to be a lot of this missing these days, with everyone wanting that security blanket of just setting a sat nav and following it blindly. You’d be amazed at how much you miss, missing the views you see on the way because you’re distracted by the end goal. If you keep focusing on where you want to be, you’ll wind up losing out on where you are.
And where we were was breathtaking.
The place that we had stumbled upon was called the “Gap of Mamore”, and is the endgame of a religious pilgrimage to a water well at the top of a huge mountain. The drive is not for the faint of heart, with steep inclines (not a struggle for Debbie though… Veronica, maybe.) and tight hairpins like something from a tarmac rally stage. 250m above sea level, it’s quite a trek for any classic car. People used to walk this in their bare feet whilst saying the rosary as part of a ritual – I think I’ll stick to my Mk2 though. Elaine couldn’t even manage to keep her balance with shoes on…
The views were simply stunning. As somebody who has put an insane amount of miles on his personal odometer, I’ve seen a lot of pretty amazing sites through multiple windscreens and this was certainly right up there. You’ll get views of the Atlantic Ocean, and a lot of the coast – and as you venture near the bottom of the mountain you can reach a little car park for your car to have a little rest. There’s also one of those magnetic hill type things, where you can park on a slope and let your car out of gear and, well, I’ll let you find out for yourself.
After a bit more exploring, we decided to head back to base. This meant going back through Buncrana, where we decided to venture towards the sea for some last photos. Some cool “street art” gave a nice backdrop for some photos of Debbie.
With the sun setting, we decided to head back home. This would have been a great trip in any car – but doing it in Debbie just made it extra special. All of this was without a single hitch – the temperature gauge didn’t so much as rise the whole time, which to me is unheard of. Mind you, I tend to have shit luck with cars in general. Until now…
Now, this may just sound plain obvious to most people, but nonetheless I’ll mention it. For two weeks I had my Impreza back on the road, and it was so much fun. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was possibly the best experience I’ve ever had in a car – snow and a Subaru? Best fun you can possibly have. But God was she thirsty. I don’t even want to think about how much fuel I put into that thing in those two weeks. If you want even more of a reason to sway towards a classic car, get yourself an old diesel. 55-60 miles per gallon effortlessly. I forgot just how efficient these old Mk2 Golfs are – why are we still only just reaching these numbers today, 30-odd years later?
I’d have thought that with the advances in technology and all the desperation to make cars more efficient, anything would be able to beat 55/60mpg all day long but it’s not the case. Of course some cars can and do, but it’s not as commonplace as I’d have expected if VW were able to do it so long ago. And, y’know, before the whole lying about mpg thing came along, so it’s actually true…
So, that’s Debbie’s first adventure wrapped up. It’s been so good having her back – you’re going nowhere this time.