It had been years since I had last visited Peterborough, the destination to collect my new acquisition – a Peugeot 107 semi-automatic. From photos on a salvage website, I was sure that it had been owned by a woman because of the flowery stickers spread over the rear doors and the ‘horse beware’ stickers on the back screen. A £26.50 one-way direct ticket was bought which was simple enough but then I had to find a way from Peterborough station to get close to the A1 – the Great North Road which was where the salvage yard was. A twenty minute walk from the station towards the aptly-named ‘Trainworld’ and a £10 purchase of a ticket to take me along a historic line along the Nene Valley would take me close but not to my destination; unusually amongst decaying steam trains, there perched on a section of concrete monorail was a hovertrain prototype, Research Test Vehicle 31 to be precise, built in England with research funded by the British government. Unfortunately, Michael Heseltine stopped the flow of money which prompted a form of retaliation as it then recorded a top speed of 107 mph. Thirty years later, the Shinkansen bullet train from Japan has replaced the hovertrain’s fans with magnetic propulsion to become a successful and viable mode of transport.
Having reached Wansford station close to the A1, all that I needed to do was to go the correct way along it and after speaking to a delivery driver, I thought I had it sorted until after twenty minutes of traversing alternating verges and barriers, truck stops with dozing European drivers did I begin to panic as there was no yard in view. After contacting headoffice, I started to become increasingly desperate as five o’clock approached so I made a decision to run the opposite way. Salty sweat stung my eyes and after an exhausting and arduous journey, I sighted a small yard with van livery confirming that it was the correct site – think of a compound word similar to ‘car’ and ‘pig’ then you would name the company. Imagine my anger though, when I saw the gates chained shut despite having confirmed with the yard’s office that I would be collecting the car. I spied the 107 in a corner and after displaying my frustration and desperation to the customer service woman, she reassured me that the yard manager was on his way having ” left early because he hadn’t been feeling well.”
After debating whether to doze in an adjacent field, the gaffer turned up and there seemed to be a thousand yard stare across the forecourt from him to me and vice versa. Curtailing my anger, I decided the best tact was to be civil as I didn’t want to culminate any other problems. His version of events was that his house had been trashed which was why he had to return home so someone had been telling porkies. Nevertheless, the 107 started first time after connecting the negative battery terminal and it seemed to drive well. That horsey theme continued inside with what looked like a field of hay and mud that had made its way within covering the carpet, brewing a miasma of mule. Luckily there were three bars worth of fuel which I added to with another thirty five pounds worth to brim the tank. Eventually arriving three hours later ‘oop north, only one bar had only been displaced and I discovered that the clever semi-automatic gearbox will change down if your pedal is to the metal to generate extra momentum. So, a good buy then? Well yes, but some people don’t realise that this car shares the same engine and gearbox as the Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1. With stickers patiently peeled off and a valet to rid aroma of horse, the 107 was sent to an auction house but didn’t reach its reserve of £1350 so I have had it to replace the driver’s side wing myself and am debating whether to re-MOT it for a better chance of sale. A 2006 Toyota Aygo three door automatic sold for £1470 so the 107 should go for £2000, all things being relative.
Words and photos are copyright of Sotiris Vassiliou