…well 958 actually.

Someone l follow on Twitter recently mentioned about looking at the car pictures in the Haynes manual and it got me thinking. A lot of my misspent youth was spent wasting hours and hours of it reading through the Haynes manual when l should have been studying or doing homework. You see, I started to buy Haynes early in life. I was about 13. My first was a for the 65-75 VW Beetle 1300 and 1500.

30 years later and I still have it.

Apart from Terry Davey’s art illustrations on the front, it was always the actual picture inside that l would while away the hours dreaming about. And my addiction for the Haynes didn’t just stop at a few. It didn’t even stop at the cars I owned. Remember I was 13 when I started to buy them. Correction, collect them. I had all sorts. My addiction was fed with a super injection of Haynes workshop manuals that my father’s friend was throwing out.  

So 30 years later and I hate to admit that I did cut some of them out of my collection but only due to space. Out of the 26 left, how many of the cars have I owned? 9 which now I look at it I don’t think was so bad. 

OK, it was bad, that’s a third and spread over 3 decades. But what about the ones with the pictures I lusted after. Well, I sat down, pondered, regaled in the joy as I thumbed through a few and put together my top 3.

3) The Citroën Visa 79-88 652cc – 1580cc

This is a bit of a cheat because at the time the family had a Visa. It would become my first car. That didn’t, however, stop me from lusting after the picture of the Visa GTi in the supplement section. 

It sat there on a wet floor in an industrial estate. It wasn’t even registered. There was no need for Haynes to cover the licence plate. This was fresh!

The crazy headiness of what a Visa with a 1600cc injection engine would feel like over my fathers 954cc 10E almost feels me to this day with an actual squeal and bust blood vessel. Forget all this though as the GTi had 4 headlights! 

Now in my day, a fast sporty car had extra lights. Those quad lights gave the humble French hatchback as an aggression that belied its humble beginnings. 

2) Fiat X1/9 74-89 1290cc – 1498cc


Top off, wind in the hair, mid-engined handling and pop-up headlights all contained in a little package that your hairdresser drove. Actually, ours drove a Golf convertible, same difference really just different car. 

I did manage to get to touch the inner working of an X1/9 at a young age of 15 when I used a friend’s for an art project. I have to admit it now that I was obsessed with the pop-up headlights. THEY POPPED UP! So I had pictures of it with lights up and lights down. I’d watch them with amazement.

The picture was of a ‘Series Speciale’ complete with ladder graphics but no alloy wheels that we got in the UK. This was also left-hand drive thought this didn’t worry me one jot.

The roof was off. The sun was streaming onto the fabrics and it looked the nuts. I would lay on my bed thinking about storming up the lanes near our home and taking sweeping corners that I was only then able to do so on my mountain bike. 

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I’ve owned this car and the reality is quite different. Mine tried to kill me on a corner once. 

1) Volkswagen Transporter 72-79 1700/1800/2000


This is a special one. Haynes did 2 for the Transporter and I picked this one by mistake. It had this funny engine that I had not seen on a VW. The pictures were a young boy’s wet dream of fantasy rolled into 2 pages. 

The cutaway illustration was a mass of details and based on the Microbus deluxe. That extra trim still makes me giddy though I have never been able to work out why there is a bumper bracket when there isn’t one?

Cut to the picture inside and it wasn’t the camper that I wanted but the 7 seat microbus with US side markers. I said to myself there and then that I would have a bus from the US.

Now what made this picture all the more dreamlike was the lady in saddles who sat by the open sliding door. The dogtooth tartan print of her slacks did it. I wanted those slacks.  

Many years one and I have been that sad to track down an original press picture of that, VW 2863-73 and the sales pamphlet that it came from that year. Sadly I haven’t been able to find the slacks but I did recently buy bedding from Dunelm that matched. And that’s good enough for me.

Ownership has been every bit as joyful as the picture even though mine is a camper model because I like to have somewhere to sleep. What it never told me was the abysmal 18 miles to the gallon you got. How did the hippies run these things?  

I’ve managed to own two of these dream cars of mine, all three if you include the Visa as a collective of the range. It has taken some time and the odd distraction along the way but don’t ever let your focus be blurred.

Dreams are achievable, just be realistic and don’t aim for the Lamborghini Countach. Haynes never did a manual for that one any.

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