Posted by: Peter | December 14, 2012

Flash cars ,Daft cars and smashed cars

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503I,ve had a bit of a hectic time on the car front.

I seem to have acquired and sold an eclectic collection in the last 12months.

Rover 75 saloon-very comfortable and classy for very little money.


Met its maker in thick snow,sliding off the road into a very large tree.

Mercedes c220-fantastic condition,fantastic price,almost impossible to drive in manual mode due to the wacky foot operated handbrake-had to go.


Kia Sportage 4×4-marvellous car but too thirsty in petrol form(see lead photo above)

VW Bora TDI-lived up to its name “boring Bora”-great quality build,incredible fuel economy



MGF-complete bag of S *ite-no wonder the uk car makers went bust


Had an XJ8 Jaguar for a while as a Sunday car, following a weekends hire from a friend-very nice.


The 2 best recent cars were Clios

One was a Williams 2.The other a V6

The williams is a 2 litre factory custom.Very subtle,very discreet.


Its dull blue livery with modest gold alloys make the car instantly forgettable.


press the loud pedal and the car turns into a thoroughbred rally car,very much like the Lancia Delta Integrale owned by a pal.Not 4×4 of course but handling,composure and engine torque very closely matched.The ride is fantastic-seamless acceleration,cornering power to match any hot hatch.It is easy and civilised,neither under or oversteering.4th and 5th speeds cope with all performance needs.The Williams Recaro seats should be fitted as standard to all cars-comfortable for 500 mile trips yet supporting the driver utterly.I even got to like the cheesy velour upholstery and the blue carpets/seatbelts etc.


A fantastic underrated hatchback that  will only increase in value I am sure.


The V6 Clio-what is there to add?

Jeremy Clarkson includes the beast in his alltime top 10 most desirable list-nuff said.


Take a small family hatchback,throw away the rear seats.Stick a 3 litre V6 Laguna engine in place of the seats(driving the rear wheels of course)Increase the cars width with plastic mouldings,lower the car to about an inch off the tarmac-INSTANT YOUNG MANS  DROOLER


Mine was robed in Mars Red-68 examples worldwide(1500 phase one V6s and 1300 phase two cars make the V6 rather exclusive-the majority either pale blue or silver)

Mine was numbered 135 of the first run.


Pro tek multi adjustable suspension,a stainless aftermarkeet pipe and a wonderful custom leather interior made the car a bit special.Here in France Renaultsport cars of all types are worshipped,the Alpines,the GT turbos,Gordinis.It was impossible to venture out without drawing a large crowd of admirers.(the V6 exhaust rumble helped)


What a beast.

The V6 is a one off.

As the yanks say”there is no substitute for cubes”-the V6 confirms it.

Carrying no weight at all,and 250bhp behind the drivers lughole,the car flies.

Using 4th/5th and 6th gears the car can accelerate alarmingly.With its very positive steering,light weight and rear wheel drive,it is very easy to get out of shape.

the V6 always feels skittish-the Williams always planted.


The V6 urges you to indulge in reckless antics but never invokes confidence(not in me anyway)I suspect that as soon as the pilot relaxes and gets overconfident the V6 will bite his bum.The number off accident damaged V6s bears witness to this.

I did the “Ramparts road rally” in September in the V6

It is a 100 mile ramble around the Charente  by 500 collector and competition cars.

sedate driving in procession soon gave way to “spirited” overtaking.

Crowds waved all along the way and through the villages-It felt like a mini Monte Carlo rally.At one point a crowd was gathered at a small crossroads cheering everyone on.They wanted as much noise and speed as possible from the rallyists.Eager to oblige I revved the beastie up and dumped the clutch at about 5000 revs.

A lot of noise but not that much performance

“should be going faster than this-surely?”

After 100 yards I let the revs drop

I shot forward like a bullet

For the first time ever,I had been wheelspinning the rear wheels with no traction until I let up!!!


Anyway on a more mundane notye-the cars are sold to pay for the new house and I an driving an S320 diesel Mercedes-a settee on wheels.

Ah well-next year?

Posted by: Peter | January 4, 2012

Add an endum

Remember Helen and Vaughan
who came trailriding with me this summer?

They loved it so much,here in the Limousin,that theyve bought a house in Cussac-5 minutes away from me!

They are both IT whizzos
and Vaughan has just got himself a good retainer
doing on line business for an American pal.
With Helen doing programming and planning a family
they should be OK.

The good news is that along with my Brother in law Paul Robson
(who is also now working in France)there will be plenty of riders available for Pauls new trail tour company,that he is hoping to set up here in the Limousin.

I will be guiding,no doubt.
My son and ex Greenmountain trail guide John,is planning to live here too when he finishes his Art school course
(all the family will be living here soon!!)

Watch the press for details.

Posted by: Peter | January 4, 2012

2012 already?

Biker bloggers everywhere.
I have been a bit quiet lately-apologies.

Finding myself financially challenged of late,I am spending my retirement WORKING.
Driving a lorry,furniture removals,starting a little junkshop,
flogging old bangers……Anything to make a crust.

My chances of being saved by inheriting the family wealth seems as remote as ever-Dad is 87 and fitter than I am!!

Flogging cars?

Well the price of cars in the UK is ridiculous,innit?

On the one hand you can spend £50k on a 4 wheel drive joke
The squashed housebrick-Range Rover Evoque

(makes the Fiat Multipla look almost slinky in comparison!

What about the Nissan Range?
The chunky,childs toy like “Qashai”-trips, off the tongue don,t it?

Apparantly its a “crossover”-what does that mean?
Half car,half scarab beetle?

Another Jap styling disaster/ripoff,Starting at 45,000€, we have the “not quite a Boxter(and will never have ANY of the second hand value of a Porsche)370Z

or you can buy its “not quite a 911 coupe sister-Nissan 370Z”
(I call it a sister because its hardly a “mans” car like the Porsche,is it?)

Despite the so called recession,the UK still continues its love affair with the expensive car.
“A man is only as good as the car he drives.”
Whilst people economise on food,foreign holidays,
even delaying that replacement German kitchen until next year….
New cars,the right car for ones social status,seem to be as important as ever-never mind the cost!

A friend who works “offshore” was telling me about a young colleague.
He collected his bonuses,his tax rebate for being outside the UK for 6 months and bought a secondhand BMW X5.
After 3 months he was due back offshore.
He returned to the garage that sold him the car and was offered £5000
to buy it back!
He sold it on bay for £8000!
£10,000 FOR 3 MONTHS MOTORING(plus the petrol etc)


£3000 PER MONTH,£1000 PER WEEK!


How about a company that bought the MD a BMW for £52000
and were given £14,000 in part ex 1 year later???

Its no wonder theres a recession!!

Me, on the other hand- I prefer to operate at the other end of the spectrum.

In the summer my wife was working in the UK doing a temporary contract.
She had to travel from Stoke on Trent to Saxmundham in Suffolk
£160 train fare each way!!!£320 to go to work


Rover 25,
2000 model-very smart-£400
Did the job,ran back to France with no problems.
On return,Sold it within an hour of advertising for £900

Last month I bought a Mercedes C180,1994 model

1 owner from new
63,000 miles
Bought and serviced at the same Mercedes garage since new
Absolutely as new,inside and out.
Drove like a new ,quality car.
35mpg knocking around
Original receipt in glove box for £23,300


not the cost of a set of tyres for the Range Rover E-puke

Sold that at a decent profit(“you can buy some groceries now dear”)

QUICK FACTOID-as the average UK cost of running a car is estimated to be £6000,you could run a Mercedes like mine,throw it away every 5 weeks and get another one(maybe a Beemer 7 series for a change)and still be no worse off than your neighbour with his Citroen C1

I am flying back to the UK to collect another Ebay bargain
A 2003 Rover 75,excellent condition with 80,000 miles on the clock;
A bit of luxury motoring

Buy a luxury car,abuse it,care not a jot about it,
run it for 12 months and then weigh it in for scrap-£200





ps I am still trying to be a degenerate rock star!
New French band “Velvet Strand”
Very,Very good musicians-a demo CD soon
Great Jazz/funk sound

Posted by: Peter | July 10, 2011

Trail tour 2011

I,ve just done a hard week trail riding!
Only the second time out this year,and I,m feeling the strain/pain.
(not really-I seem to be in pretty good shape despite my advancing years)

About 2 months ago I was approached by a couple-Vaughan and Helen
about doing a few days off roading whilst they were in France.
I have to say that they are a delightful couple,
I hope we meet up again.

They were taking 5 months off,between jobs,and doing a European recce in their campervan.
Starting in Spain they did the Picos,Galicia,southern France,canoeing in the Ardeche etc etc
Seems a hard life to me!

They stayed for several weeks in the Creuse with old friends
and then moved down here with me.

Fairly new to trailriding,they have already done a 7 month
round Australia tour on XT600s-a babtism of fire!

They duly arrived last Sunday in their VW LT camper and swish
box trailer,containing a KTM 250 and a Sherco 390.

Monday was superhot-we stared early and finished at lunchtime.
The action was somewhat truncated as Vaughans thirsty KTM went onto reserve
early on-necessitating a 20km deviation for refueling.
Good fast progress-easy flowing trails.
Everywhere is incredibly dry and even the permanent bogholes have dried out.

Tuesday was a rest day and a chance for a swim in the lake
adjoining the campsite at ST Mathieu.

Wednesday was cooler-much more pleasant.
Good trails took us to the woods at Bussiere Galant.
This is a fabulous area-medium hard.
Lots of steep climbs and nadgery technical stuff.
My wife Ann met us with a sandwich and spare fuel
but half an hour after lunch ,Brother in law Paul Robson
punctured the rear tyre in my 250 GasGas that he had borrowed.
We continued, and he got a lift home in the van.

Rest day Thursday and Friday was “Vassiviere”
The lake at Vassiviere is a man made hydro electric source.
It is a super camping and watersport venue.
It is also famous as the home of the legendary “Gilles Lalay”
12 hour enduro-a super hard event.
The event was dropped after his death but the trails he used
are still there.
I have ridden here on 3 or 4 occasions.
I have not even begun to scrape the surface with regard
to riding all the trails.
The potential is immense.
The landscape all around is one of rolling,heavily wooded hills.
Every hill is steep.
Every trail is steep.
Those that arent steep are very rocky.
This is SERIOUS trailriding.
At 2500 feet above sea level,it is often icy!


it wasnt icy(or too hot)on this occasion.

Within 5 minutes of leaving the carpark we were making desparate
attempts to climb the first hill.

The track climbs steeply off the road,it is an alternative to the
almost vertical trial section stone filled gully to the side
which is a part of the enduro course.
We looked,pondered then decided “NO THANKS”

Did she save it?

This set the tone for the day.
Reckless attempts at giant climbs.
Vaughan and Helen were nothing if not enthusiastic!

Despite her diminutive size,and her improbably tall Sherco
Helen was game for any challenge.

Several offs and a soaking in a river crossing did nothing to
dampen( no pun intended)her spirit.

5 or 6 hours can be happily spent in 10 mile radius of the lake.
If you fancy a crack at it-give me a call.
You wont be disappointed.

We returned to the carpark by the lake and said our farewells.
An hour and a half trip back home for me
and an hours trip north for Vaughan and Helen
who were staying with their friends ,again,in the Creuse;
They were due to watch the start of the “Tour de France”
but fully intend to revisit Vassiviere,
presumably to have another crack at that “big hill”

Good luck to you both!

Posted by: Peter | June 2, 2011

Spot the differences

Study the 2 photos below.
Can you spot any differences?
Same man 40 years on……

peterbetabiker today

peterbetabiker 40 years ago!!

Posted by: Peter | December 5, 2010

Thank you-all 50,000 of you!

50,000 hits on my blog site!!!!!

About 60 views per day…………

Inspires me to keep writing(rambling?)

–News update–

Ive bought another Fiat Barchetta.

An early model but in very good nick.

Nice shade of metallic blue with a new navy mohair hood.

They really are a nice everyday car to run
Punto parts keep running costs down
good fuel economy and a secure ride makes them
a fun summer car

Having owned both models I think the Barchetta
beats the MX5 on all counts.
With stylish Italian design it must be a future classic?

George White Transport of Alfreton
picked up the car from Leicester
and delivered it to me here in France-£500 door to door
Not worth driving it back!
Ironically it would have been nearly impossible to have driven it back
Given the snowfall on both sides of the channel!

Remember my post on the Dodge Viper
that I drove back from the UK
for my French pal Philippe?

A little “worse for wear”,”tired and emotional”
he had let his pal drive the Viper home
3 am on a wet night………

He lost it,demolished a wall
and “marked” the Viper…….

6000 euros for a replacement bonnet(unpainted!)
3000 euros for a replacement alloy wheel

All this on the same day that he had been offered
a 2006 Corvette(worth 40000 euros in France)PLUS 10,000 euros
in exchange for the Viper!!!!!

Its all about timing,INNIT?????

Posted by: Peter | November 24, 2010

60TH Birthday


(it doesnt feel any different…….but)

When I was 21 I had a day shopping
in the Kings Road and Kensington Market.

A pair of cowboy boots from “the Westerner”
A brown leather jacket from Kensington market

The “look” for 1971!

The next big one was 40

We had a weekend away on Skye.
Stayed in a lovely old hotel and climbed “the inaccessible Pinnacle”
on the Cuillin ridge.

May 12th and the weather was superb!

We could see the Outer Hebrides to the west,Torridon to the east


50 came around and my present to myself was RETIREMENT
I handed my notice in on my birthday and ceased
gainful employment forthwith.

What to do at 60?

I booked a caravan in Laruns -the French Pyrenees.
Roger Hammond ans I went for a few days trail riding.

We did a few nice trails around the Col d,Aubisque
(still closed off at the top snowbound)
We went up to the foot of the Pic du Midi d,ossau
The last mile throgh snow drifts.

A chilly lunch alfresco and then it bucketed down!

A nightmare journey back to the caravan in torrential,freezing rain.

A half hour shower,a few beers,a steak dinner
and that was it!

Continuous rain/snow/sleet for the next few days…..

Thats why the Pyrenees holiday season is about 8 weeks in the summer.

Still,what can I do for my 70th????

Posted by: Peter | November 9, 2010

Jaguar jinx

I bought a Jaguar XK8 coupe off Ebay recently.

I flew to Southampton,
was met at the airport by Martyn ,
the vendor in the Jag.

After a minor panic
as the funds hadnt been released by the bank
we concluded the sale
and I drove up to the Midlands
to stay with my Dad In Staffordshire.

Apart from some of the electrics not working
The car ran like a dream.
It was very very smooth and responsive
a very civilised and comfortable car.
(the reason for the electrical problems
appeared to be the result of disconnecting the battery
to recharge it,as it had flattened through non usage
-1000 miles in the previous 12 months.
I am advised that one NEVER disconnects the battery,
or if forced to change it
-complete the transfer within 2 minutes
or the computer loses its memory.
All the settings have to be reset by a Jaguar dealer
-the only one with the software,of course!)

Stayed with Dad,drove down to the Tunnel back to France
crossed mid afternoon and reached Honfleur in Normandy
where we stayed for the night.

Beautiful artists town with great restaurants and great atmosphere
To top it all the weather was perfect.

Next morning started with a light frost.

I put the car into reverse
and the “gearbox fault ” warning light appeared on the dash…..

I switched off,restarted the car and drove off.
No problems for the rest of the trip.
400 comfy miles doing 30plus mpg at a steady 80MPH.

Arrived home with no problems.

library picture-same model,colour etc

Next morning the car would only move off in 4th gear
-the computer had detected a gearbox fault and put the car in “limp home mode”

I arranged a visit to the local Jaguar dealer in Limoges,
being assured the car was safe to drive in 4th gear
(great at 80mph but disastrous at road junctions and traffic lights!)

After an hour or so,the service was done;
The central locking now worked,the electric seats etc.

The gearbox fault was down to a failure of the “hydraulic block”
The hydraulic/electrically operated valves
that open and close to allow the passage of oil
into the next chamber/gear ratio
were showing a fault on the computer.

There was no specific information as to which switch was causing the fault.
But it was “no problem-we can just change the block complete”
With a new sump gasket,filter and Oil
-just over 4000 euros plus labour!!!!


After several hours communication with the Jag specialists
all of whom tried to sell me a new or reconditioned gearbox,
I eventually happened on “Crucial Automatics” in Titchfield Hants.

Very helpful people who are autobox specialists.

“Yes, the hydraulic block can be repaired”
Probably a sticking valve,or a faulty switch
-send them the unit and they can repair it
for a couple of hundred quid
rather than the thousands quoted by others.

It seems that the industry assurance
that modern boxes are “sealed for life”
is a misnomer.

Everyone I spoke to said the gearbox oil
should be routinely changed at 50000 miles.
An expensive job,as it involves dropping the sump
relaceing filters ,gaskets etc
not to mention 6 litres of oil at £16 per litre!

With no dipstick etc
the job requires professional knowhow
as well as access to a hydraulic ramp.

It seems a common fault on some modern auto boxes.
I was told of a guy in the UK that buys up automatic Volvos
that shut down with”gearbox faults”
He buys them cheap,drills the “sealed” box,
fits a drain plug,
drains and replaces the oil-Hey presto
fully restored car!

What about new Mercedes that have
NO oil filler holes,not even a dipstick…..
Youve got it….
Main dealer facilities only have the technology?????
“Oil change and filter-that,ll be 600 quid please”
Do we really need all this sophisticated technology?

A mechanic friend told me that Some Peugeot brake pads
are now equipped with sensors which
allow only Peugeot main dealers to “wind in” the caliper pistons
The computer stops mechanical intervention.
(presumably by non peugeot staff!)


I think that part of my cars problem is lack of usage.
The car has done 83000 miles in 13 years
only 10000 miles in the last 5 years.
Last year,just 1000 miles

Probably rarely getting up to temperature
the oil must surely degrade and sludge up ?

I took the car to my local garage
who dropped the gearbox oil and removed the block
(the old oil was in fact, very dirty)
I parcelled it up and sent it to “Crucial”
and am now awaiting its return.

I will let you know if the repair was successful or not.

Posted by: Peter | September 5, 2010

500 Ferraris against cancer

Strange title!!!!

Let me explain…….

Each year in June
a huge contingent of exotic cars
descends on the Val de Vienne
race circuit near Poitiers.

The bulk of the cars are Ferraris
with the rest being an assortment
of classic cars,race cars,other
makes of exotica.
(There was even a Pagani
and a new Bugatti
-not a common sight eh?)
By contrast,a New Roller
that looked like an
American Mack truck
with a Rover 75 backend!!!
Possibly even uglier
than a Fiat Multipla….

All the cars get to do some tracktime.
Punters can pay 25 euros to be wizzed around
the track in a Ferrari….
All the proceeds,
including admission fees,
go to Cancer research.

“”Now what about the cars ?”
you are asking……

I am not a Ferrari fan….
They are all red and very expensive.

I like the older ones-the dino for example.

The 60,s cars are fabulous.

The ENZO-well!!!

I was staggered when I got home and looked them up-OVER A MILLION QUID EACH!!!!!!

All of us Brits who live in France
seem to think that everyone is a poor Joskins….

There are some seriously wealthy people living in the Republique Francaise……

Posted by: Peter | July 13, 2010

scorpa scorcheo


Its been blooming hot down here.

Early June was awful,more like Autumn.

Then about 3 weeks ago the sun came out and its been
scorcheo ever since.

Last week was fraught!

Back to Blighty to collect 4 race bikes
and drop one off.

On the way back we had a tyre explode
on the trailer we were towing.
(At 80mph there is no warning!)

Spare trailer tyre-yes
Spanner to undo trailer wheel nuts

2 hours stood by the side of the autoroute
in full sun at 40 degrees
is not to be recommended!

A weekend to recover
and then a couple of days
trailriding with a customer.

Lionel and Grace were heading
for a trailriding holiday
in the Spanish Pyrenees.
Grace managed to badly dislocate a finger
whilst competing in a trial in the UK
the week before.

Concerned that Lionel would be forced to ride alone
she contacted me
to arrange a couple of days out
en route to wartching the French round
of the World trials championship
being held in the Alps.

We had a great ride out,
as usual meeting nobody else
on the trail.

No mishaps,
apart from me stalling and failing to restart,
in the middle of a river of course!!
(turned out to be a loose battery connection)

Lionel managed to bury his bike in a huge bog!
(3 inches to the left was solid,of course)

I got chased by 2 big pigs whilst passing through a farm
(makes a change from large dogs)

Roger(who rode with us on Monday)
managed to run out of fuel on his Cagiva twin shock
so we towed him 10 miles to a gas station.
They still had a “melanger”
A special hand cranked pump that delivered
premixed fuel!!!

Lionel and Grace ride Scorpa Longride bikes.

Very well made with some lovely details.
(the radiator is contained within the front downtubes
to prevent damage in a fall.The exhaust is under the seat ,ditto the fuel tank)

The motor is a Yamaha WRF250 enduro unit
with restricted inlet and heavier flywheel.

Lionel changes sprockets and competes in trials on it.

It seems the only real criticism is the bikes waterproofing.
It quite easily takes in water and needs resealing often.

For many years I rode a “homemade” longride.
A TY 250 Yamaha with road gearing
and a modified motocross seat for comfort.

Perhaps Scorpa(and Beta with my Alp)
have been reading my blog!!

Perhaps I should consult a patents specialist???

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