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benham

benham

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I'm Andy, I'm a 24 year old East Anglian guy. My dream is to be a writer, so I hope you like my reviews. I have a penchant for cars, especially "bangers" so generally this is what I review! Enjoy!

Reviews written

since 24/01/2004

15

Peugeot 306 2.0 HDi 19/10/2010

The First Kiss...... Redux

Peugeot 306 2.0 HDi **I write entertaining broad reviews, Google will advise you on boot capacity, turning circle and dimensions. This review is knowingly in the wrong section, as I reviewed the old model so can not write another review in the DTURBO section.** Lest we forget. The French have done some novel and original things in the automotive world, first production front wheel drive car, hyrdo-pneumatic suspension, first car with disc brakes, first car with swivelling headlamps. I’m not saying they’ve always been well executed, helpful, reliable or desirable, but let’s hand it to the French for a moment; they’ve come up with more automotive innovations than most. Sometime during 1993, I can imagine a design meeting in Paris, the new jewel in Peugeots crown is in the final stages of it’s premature labour (the 309 could never be classed as innovative), amongst cigarette smoke and glasses of vintage Bordeaux. **Suspend disbelief that this conversation took place in English...** “Gentlemen, that sums up the model line of the 306, oh the sporty models.....” “The XSi, offered with a staggeringly average 1.8 engine.” “Oui” “Oh, and a diesel variant,” “Ah, entry level?” “No, as the sports model....” I can imagine much guffawing, then a pause, a tug on a Gauloise, and knowing glances around the table. “Innovateur!!!” Unashamed, and brazenly Peugeot released a hot hatch in diesel form. Now there are those who will argue this wasn’t innovative, and the accolade goes to ...

Nissan Primera 1.6 20/03/2010

Nissan Primera, a locking and unlocking champion, and cage figher

Nissan Primera 1.6 I've always been a fan of Japanese engineering, having **just** been around to witness Micra's jumping into life when Fiesta's just grunted, rolled over and went back to sleep on a cold winters morning. I've always praised Japanese engineering from afar, without actually wanting to get overly involved with it. Kinda like "the girl" in the pub, you want to go and chat with her, but you can't help thinking that maybe your dreams will be shattered when you get her home. My brother bought, (well, had thrust upon him,) a Nissan Primera 1.6 16v (1997 vintage,) which I have now driven for some considerable miles. The first Japanese car to enter the Benham household, despite years of desperate cries on cold mornings, "I wish I'd have bought a bloody Honda." The car itself is a reasonable spec, (air con, remote locking, 'leccy front windows, sunroof) model with the rather sweet and willing 1600cc power unit. It's tidy, rust free, has now covered 118,000 miles around 10,000 of which in the ownership of this household. I won't bleat on too much about the dullness, ultimately if you buy a Japanese family car from the 1990's and except a timeless shape, and rubernecking from all that drive past you, then you are frankly delusional. Credit to Nissan however, what Nissan have done though, is create a car so terminally dull that it won't date ultimately. Nobody will be bothered about casting a wry eye on it, in 1997, 2007 or 2017 it'll never achieve more than a passing mention ...

Ford Mondeo 2.0i Hatchback 07/10/2009

I maybe have damaged this by likening it to Tony Blair.....

Ford Mondeo 2.0i Hatchback Tony Blair made a remark in 1996, allegedly he once watched a man polishing his shiny new Ford Mondeo, and saw him as a potential Tory voter. He was in his mid-thirties, had a middling income and owned his own house. He had a family saloon, a wife and two children. “Mondeo Man” was the moniker Tony Blair attached to this group of middle-Englanders, and these where the people who ultimately moved him to ‘Number 10’. I think this is backwards, the mk2 Ford Mondeo is a product of New Labour rather than ‘Mondeo Man’ a product of New Labour. I know, I know.... but run with me here. New labour looked good in 1997, it was new and shiny, it was fashionable, and lots of people voted for it. It was fundamentally flawed however, and rapidly became a byword for mediocrity, shattered illusions, the political equivalent of wallpaper; however it has remained bizarrely popular, and still many will stand to proclaim its many benefits, and maintain it is still all the things it was in 1997, even if it now looks a bit shabby. Do you see my train of thought now? I made a mistake with my choices in 1997, but did I make a mistake in 2009, I’ll tell you. Let me introduce the car I’m basing my reviews on. I own a 1999 Mondeo 2.0 Ghia-X, it has covered a staggering 156,000 miles with me at the wheel for around 14,000 of them. It cost a staggering £600 with a completely shagged out Escort thrown in as a part-ex. To look at, the Mondeo clearly comes from the same school of design as ...

Ford Escort 1.6 Hatchback 28/12/2008

So, I was eating chocolate......

Ford Escort 1.6 Hatchback There was once a film, that gave us the oft' quoted maxim that "life is like a box of chocolates," this could well be true although I've never managed to apply this abstract to anything remotely connected to life, but then again I have a pretty odd way of living anyway. Imagine now, that you are sitting infront of the television picking at a box of Quality Street. We've all been there, zoned out in front of some film, (normally Die Hard 1, on ITV when they've borrowed the video from BBC for a change,) you're appreciating how bad the "television edit" is, and winching at that part when McClain walks across the broken glass and ribbons his feet… You reach for the Quality Street not paying attention, you pick a sweet… Damn, its one of those bloody awful malt-toffee things, you try again engrossed at the man in a vest on the screen, again, you pick one of those damn things, again and again not concentrating and picking out the most vile "sweets" ever created. That's a bit like me with cars, I end up not concentrating and ending up with some of the most horrid cars, but like the coconut éclair, make the best of what you've got, you can always suck the chocolate off and deposit the rest in an ashtray. The Escort, is and always will be a synonym of mediocrity, as bland as they come, Jacobs Cream Crackers, Homepride Flour, Green King IPA, Ford Escort, you get the picture. Enough of the simile, lets get onto the nitty gritty business about telling you about the mk6 Ford ...

Ford Escort 1.6 Si 07/05/2008

Dagenham Dustbin, Hairdressing Wagon... I love it

Ford Escort 1.6 Si **THIS REVIEW REFERS TO THE 1.8 SI.** Many hundreds of years ago, a group of Anglo-Saxon settlers in the east of England became known as the 'East Seaxe." They marvelled at the beauty of the furtile land, enjoyed the clean flowing rivers, and generally thought they lived in a wonderful area. As time moved on, pretty market towns came to dominate Essex, Saffron Walden, Thaxted, Maldon in the north. In the south of the county, on the outer reaches of London a car company became synomums with the area. The term "Essex Girl," and "Dagenham Dustbin" where born. Now, I'm not here at all to try and add credit to the phrases "Dagenham-Dustbin," or to reinforce the stereotypical view of a girl called Tracey from Sa'ffff-End. But the car I'm talking about in this review does fit neatly with these stereotypical views. It's a mildly sporty Escort with bits stuck on it…….. And like finding Tracy wearing white plastic stiletto's, the icing on this cars cake is that it is a cabriolet. Meet Fiona, my "Dagenham Dustbin." The car is a 1995 (mk5) Escort Si Cabriolet. (130.) As with most Fords, the seemingly random series of letters and numbers that follow the model name hold deep meaning to every Jason and Tracy, and every fan of the blue oval. Okay, lets break this down. Firstly, its an Escort. That means it's a relatively bland small family car. Si adds a few luxuries, which I shall cover later. Cabriolet's fairly simple. 130 refers to the PS. (Read BHP they're basically ...

Vauxhall Cavalier Mk III 18/03/2008

1.7TD LS Cavalier

Vauxhall Cavalier Mk III The Vauxhall Cavalier has been a mainstay of the budget used market for a few years now, up until recently they where it was seen an nearly a social faux-pas to not have one for sale on your street corner. Admittedly most of the ones had dubious remarks such as, "Good workhorse," and "price reflects bodywork," written in permanent marker, taped with brown tape to a side window, above £250 ono. I'm sure some of them has more previous owners than miles, (especially after a crafty "mileage correction,") and the legitimacy of some of the MOTs sold with them could have been contested, but they sold, and they sold in their thousands, it started of as a middle managers motorway rocket, and ended up as cheap, cheap motoring for the masses. Around this time, in a brief flirtation with the motor-trade, a wise old MOT tester imparted me with the following knowledge, "My son, do not covert the Vauxhall Cavalier, for you shall find it full of rust, and shall have the grace and agility of the common slug, choose more sprightly Mondeo instead, for you have been enlightened." Well, he might not have said it quite like a Buddhist teacher, but he did have an O-level (CSE,) in Geography, which is more than I had. I duly forgot his advice, and left the motortrade a short time after. Fast-forward a few years, and I am now a student earning £400 a month on a nurses bursary, my trusty old friend "Bev," an old but faithful Peugeot 306 turbo-diesel had decided after 180k she didn't ...

Peugeot 106 1.1 19/07/2006

Fathers 'iddle 106.

Peugeot 106 1.1 When it was finally agreed in our house that our 140k Escort was getting a little dicey with every M.O.T that it passed, well scraped, it was weighed in, and replaced with a slightly more unlikely vehicle. The replacement vehicle was a small French vehicle, identified soley, in true Peugeot style, by three numbers, 1, 0, and 6. This little "go-kart," was to become my fathers main mode of transport, covering about 200 miles a week. My first encounter with this car was surprise, it looked small, sounded like an old PSA TU engine of decades ago now, but had just enough nuance of charm and character to make me actually jump out of its bigger, more powerful, cousin, my 306 and drive it. Dressed in a stylish metallic silver, and sporting its "Zest II" badges down the flank, the car does look small, albeit not miniscule as others make out. The body design is definitely "French," with the angular, yet subtle body lines, not quite as much flair as an "Italian Stallion", and not as "down to earth," as a Rover or a Volvo, but nicely poised in between. Its pretty, pretty however, I believe can also be used to describe, the Ford KA, Daewoo Matiz, and Hyundi Getz, good looking cars I can handle, "pretty," feels a little homoerotic to me, I told myself to be strong, and take it for a little spin. Connecting the key into the door lock, (something I've considered a little bit of a social faux-pas since the 306!) and turning it, and an odd thing happened, there was a positive ...

Peugeot 306 D Turbo 25/05/2006

The car that started the "diesel revolution?"

Peugeot 306 D Turbo I've had my 306 for a few thousand miles now, after a friend had one for some time, and I was quite impressed with the performance of this French "tractor." I took the plunge, and have bought a 1994 XRdt (with a whopping 162,000 miles), which was one of the higher spec models for its time, and still stands up fairly well against some brand new cars. Having previously owned a diesel Fiesta, and having enjoyed the fuel economy offered by the "black stuff," I was more than happy to buy another diesel, even though eighteen months ago, I vowed that I could never write a cheque out for an 'oil burner.' I collected the car, and on the first start up, I noticed something I had never paid attention to in my friends 306 D-Turbo, that is, even for a diesel, these things are noisy. They do have a distinct nuance of "tractor" about them when they are idling, even my ancient Endura DE block in my old Fiesta was comparatively quiet compared to this, and now, I have realized this is not peculiar to my car. The engine can create problems on quiet streets at 2 AM, due to the "diesel" noise this thing produces. However, not many people really care about how many decibels their engine produces at idle, but its something that is definitely notable on the XUD9 engine. The engine itself is of the same design as most 80's and 90's PSA diesel engines, which despite tipping the odd nod back to the early 80's, these engines are lively and hard working. At the time these cars where made, ...

Fiat Punto 1.2 8v 06/02/2006

Rivals Leave It Well Behind.

Fiat Punto 1.2 8v Before I start, I do not own this car, it belongs to my girlfriend, but I have driven it many times, and have known the car for about five years. She loves her little Punto dearly, its inoffensive styling, and great driving position suit her, being only five feet tall, (on a good day!) The Punto is one of few cars she can comfortably drive, as although it has quite a tall riding position, the seat can be adjusted every which way, and she can get a great commanding view of the road, and still reach the pedals with very little effort! To drive the Punto is quiet, but unrefined, when I opened the bonnet for the first time, I couldn't quite believe what I saw the 1.2 power house was, yes, a FIRE engine. I had a Panda with one of these archaic engines, it was outdated in 1984 when I had the Panda, I couldn't believe Fiat had just stuck an injection unit on it for the Punto. Yes they had, although, the Punto FIRE is not like the Panda fire (its 200cc's bigger for a start,) but despite being a small 8v engine, its quite fun to drive, no where near as sluggish as I thought, and a winner in town! Marvellous, I quite liked driving the Punto to begin with. That's dispelled that one, the engine does not drive like the old Panda crab 999cc version, with mechanical ignition. However, its handling is stodgy and no where near as fluid as its rivals, the Clio, Cora and the 306 would leave the poor thing for dust in the twisty back roads of East Anglia, and a later Fiesta would ...

Ford Fiesta 1.1 14/01/2006

The Best Out Of Every Fiesta, In My Own Opinion!

Ford Fiesta 1.1 Without a doubt, out of all my Fiesta's, the mk3 1.1 is my favourite, and I can hear people screaming WHY? I've owned two identical mk3 1.1 Popular Pluses, (only difference is one is about six weeks older than the other, and one has a more groovy number plate!) Now, lets not forget these are cars of the eighties, so don't expect too many toys, don't expect super refined 80+ BHP small capacity engines, don't expect sporty gearboxes, don't expect a car adorned with electric gadgetry. What you do get is cheap motoring, at its best, in comfort. You also get a manual choke and a four speed gearbox to boot. Turning the key, and after a few attempts, you'll be greeted with an horrific rattle as the 1118cc HCS engine wakes up and begins to shake and rattle away to itself. These are true "tappet monsters," and even after adjustment, (luckily, being OHV engines, there are no shims involved, and with miles I've found trial and error the best method of setting the valve clearances.) The HCS engine is older than time its self, its so simple a monkey could have designed it in about a quarter of an hour, but with simplicity, you get ease of maintenance, the ability to "tinker" and fun. Maintaining the HCS is about as simple as it gets, (except one slight niggle, the oil filter is in about the least accessible place in the engine.) Being chain driven means that there is no need to worry about changing the timing belts, the chain can be changed, (I've driven 130k HCS's on the ...

Ford Fiesta 1.8 D 13/01/2006

An Oldie, But A Goodie

Ford Fiesta 1.8 D Fiestas, and me, we're in a love, I can't get enough of them, and I've purchased a 97 1.8D to get me to college and back, (about a 60 mile round trip each day.) Now, I am a die hard petrol head, but the 50+MPG appealed, its a Fiesta, its Blue, I thought, I'll love it. Me and "Sooty" fell out pretty quickly, after jumping out a mk4 1.4 Zetec into a mk4 1.8 diesel, I promtply revved the nuts out of the engine and nearly blew it up on the way home. I thought, "I know these things are slow, but....." It struggled to get to sixty in two miles of clear, straight road, and the soot pouring out the back was causing people to flash their headlights at me. One new exhaust and EGR valve later, (EGR valves are common fault on these engines,) she ran a lot more smoothly, and when she's "warm and wound up," she's not to much of a slug, but far from quick, or even nippy. The engine is supposed to run out of steam at about 96MPH, I've never driven "Sooty" that fast, but I can't see any reason she wouldn't get there, if not a touch over it. Sooty, in here nine years have covered just under 160,000 miles, so she's a bit of a high miler, but these engines are based on some drawings possibly by Noah or Aristotle, their very simple and crude, but have practically 100% reliability, I've seen Fiesta vans that have spun the clock over three times, and are still rattling and banging away. The slightly odd thing about these engines is they have two timing belts, (one for the cam, and one ...

Orange 13/01/2006

The Futures Bright.......

Orange I've been on all of the UK's phone networks, (Including, 3, Easy Mobile and Fresh,) and in my opinion, Orange by far provide the best service. Lets not get to deluded here, Orange are not the cheapest, there calls are relatively expensive out of allowance, as are their texts, and there contract packages can be a bit miserly, but they do have one distinct advantage. Their customer service in my experience is by the best out of all the networks. For example, about six months ago the battery refused to charge on my six week old SPV C500, I phoned the support number, was shocked of the reply of "you will have your new handset by 10pm tonight sir." I was a bit taken aback, I do not insure my phone, nor am I a "privilege" scheme customer, duly they kept their promise and at 2145 that night, there was a tap at the door, and a lady gave me a new handset. People in my experience are a bit put off by Orange, their tariffs work out a lot cheaper on O2, and their range of handsets could not be descried as appealing, (Orange, interesting, have never shown a mobile phone in any of their advertizements!) but its the support and coverage that makes up for it. I remember being on Vodafone 18 months ago, and getting constantly frustrated with the famous "three pips" network busy sound. Heres to the future, its bright! ...

Ford Fiesta 1.4i 16v 12/01/2006

Surpising Little Fiesta!

Ford Fiesta 1.4i 16v If you ask anyone anything about me, the first word that will probably come to their mind it "Fiesta's." I can't get enough of Ford's mid-size small car, from the earliest mk1 900cc Popular all the way through to the new 2006 ST. The mk4 is perhaps not on the Fiesta's that will be regarded as a classic, its design is very much from Fords' curves and bumps, thinking of the mid-90s before the dynamic squarer shapes of the noughties. However the mk4 does have its appeal, with its "love it/hate it" depressed fish, front, I like it, but I can see why people reject it. To drive, its dream the handling is tight, and it can be thrown into corners any-which-way and holds firm, the power steering is famed on these models for offering adequate assistance without being sloppy for over enthusiastic. There is little body roll, and the slightly bigger 14" wheels offer a greater feeling of safety and add to the more "solid" feel of the car, this is where is leaves behind the tired old handling system of the mk3 and makes the Fiesta at last feel like a serious car. The 1.4 zetec engine is smooth and powerful, its quite good fun to open it up occasionally and it really can surprise passengers when you point out its only a 1.4 under the bonnet. Anybody who treats this like a performance model or supercar will be disappointed, however it'll sprint to 60 in about 11 seconds according to Fords figures, although I'm sure if you rev the engine and delay the gear changes its possible to do ...

Compaq Armada 100S 08/03/2005

When it says "Designed for Win 98" It means it!

Compaq Armada 100S The Compaq Armada 100s was the first laptop that I ever purchased, I bought mine second hand, (from a company dealing in refurbished laptops,) last year, as something to use for basic wordprocessing at school. I parted with a months pay and the machine was delivered. Out of the price I could spend on a laptop, I was amazed I could get a Compaq system with a 550mhz processor, whilst the other laptops in this range where lucky to break past the 233mhz barrier, feeling like I'd got a very good deal, I opened the box and booted up. The machine, seemed to "fit like a glove," out of all the laptop keyboard that I have used, none of them have ever come close to the one on my Armada, as a touch typist, who takes dictations via. a keyboard, I find it is vital to have a good, responsive keyboard, over a year of me bashing away at 40wpm on it, not once did a key wear, let alone break. After a month of running the machine more than happily on Windows 98, as a nerd, I thought I'd upgrade to Windows 2000, despite the minimum specs being well below the RAM cabability of the machine, but thinking "It's alright, I just need to use Word," I duly, despite all warnings had the first attempt at installing Windows 2000. 78% of the way though the install, I was greeted with a computer that randomly seemed to turn itself off, ten minutes later, I was on the phone to a computer supplier ordering a new hard-drive for my laptop........ I can not blame Compaq for this failure, laptop hard drives ...

IBM ThinkPad 600E 2645 08/03/2005

The king of bargain laptops!

IBM ThinkPad 600E 2645 As I write a review about a laptop that is six years old, it makes me wonder why I am doing this. Like any self respecting nerd I should be telling the world that it is a useless pile of junk, however there is something endering about my old ThinkPad that makes me use it on a daily basis, and pass over newer machines to use it. People may scoff when I produce the large black, rubberized rectangle from a Compaq case, but when I turn it on people begin to understand why I use such an "obsolete" machine. On paper the 600E is undoubtedly "retro," using nothing more than a Pentium II 400mhz processor, 128megs of RAM, and not a CD-RW or DVD-RW in sight. The machine has the origional "Designed for Windows 98" labels on the keyboard, but I chose to run XP or Windows 2000 (I'm a very fickle man,) on the machine. Before I continue my review, I am a student, and the ThinkPad never gets more strenious use than word-processing and web surfing, but at the student end of things, what more could I want a laptop for. The stability of running XP on a geriactric ThinkPad is incredible, never once has the machine had a full hardware crash, and with a boot up time of no more than 100 seconds, its the best £150 I've ever spent. IBM as ever have put reliability top of the list, and the rubberized casing, and whats this..? a trackball, yes the ThinkPad was one of the last brands of laptops to use the now completlely defunct trackball, over the obligitory touch pad. This can be a bit of a ...
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