Letters Issue 2

Dear SM,I’ve always been heavily interested in vehicles of all sorts. Leaving school, I went straight to college to study motor vehicle repair for two years, achieving my level 1 and 2, then went and studied vehicle bodywork for a year at a different college, then went back to the first college to do two years of a level 3 motorsport course. Since leaving college I’ve got myself my first proper job working at Halfords fitting bulbs and such.

For myself my first car I got myself a 1982 MkI Ford Fiesta. As you can see it has and still is having work done to it. It has the smallest engine they offered for it, 957cc. The only mods done to it beside the Escort bumpers on the front is lowering, plus it has non-stock wheels which are actually from a MkIII Fiesta and, lastly, as you could probably already guess, I’ve done the exhaust.

I’ve now been on the road a couple of months with my car, I am currently 21 and am 22 in July, and I’m paying just shy of £260 a month for insurance after £400 deposit. Luckily I am able to afford the insurance – just – but from what I’ve seen people posting in some groups on Facebook, other 21 year olds with 1.6 Fiesta S and the likes claim they’re paying about £700 a year with points on their license.

My car is not quick at all; very far from it, it’s only just capable of getting past a bus that pulls out of a bus stop with no indication as you’re beside it. I can live with that because I’m not racing the car, I’m working on restoring it and doing little cosmetic changes here and there. I still can’t figure out how over £2700 for the year is reasonable insurance prices, but it was cheap compared to the others (exceeding £3k) and it’s that or I’m not driving my car.
Jonas Scoones, via email

Right, rant alert. Here we have a young guy who is into the scene, has picked a car that is old enough to be interesting and young enough to be a practical daily, which has been mildly and sensibly modified by the owner who is qualified to do so… essentially he’s played the game, done everything right, and is now being punished for it.

I don’t know if things have changed recently, but I did a couple of months as a Halfords bulb-and-wiper monkey some years ago, and the wages are nothing to write home about. You couldn’t afford a stamp. So Jonas is forking over a good wad of his monthly wage to insure a one-litre Fiesta, the value of which (with the best will in the world, Jonas) falls some way short of the cost of the premium.

And then we hear all over the news about the scourge of uninsured drivers, reckless young hooligans etc etc! These are just guys who have figured out that the cost of the fine (if they get caught) is usually a lot less than the cost of the insurance. So is the answer to this scourge to lower insurance premiums? No, it’s to raise the fines! It makes my piss boil, it really does.
I’d love to hear from any younger driver who has his/her own Street Machine covered by an understanding insurer – please, send us your recommends. And insurance companies – do you offer proper cover at reasonable rates for younger Street Machiners?
Get in touch; we’ll let everyone know. And Jonas, best of luck with your Fiesta, and I hope that your birthday present this year is a 66% loyalty discount from your insurer, or at least some braces so they can’t have your trousers down quite as easily… Rant over. DS, SM

Dear SM,

What an absolute pleasure it was to hold an old friend in my hand again (and to be able to use that phrase without the usual “I’m afraid we will have to ask you to leave the ladies lingerie department now, sir.”). At the age of 15, I spent much of the school holidays riding shotgun in my brother’s haulage truck, packing my trusty 110 camera in case we saw any nice motors. On one such day, we were parked up having a butty, when there it was in the national newspaper, an ad for a new magazine.

I bought issue #1 and was blown away, buying and keeping every copy since, right up until the name disappeared in those hazy American Car World days. From the off, the magazine was totally in tune with the golden age of the scene, my favourite Street Fighter Camaro was but 10 minutes cycle ride from my house and all was right with the world.
And then it was gone forever, or so we thought. I did open the new mag with some trepidation, fearing it might be like one of those Seventies band comebacks, where everything looks sort of similar, but just feels really awkward and, well, crap. But no, it’s a familiar face with a quality makeover.

Great variety in the true SM tradition and despite being an avowed muscle car fan, it was the feature on the Volvo wagon that piqued my interest and made it feel like the Street Machine of yore. More of the same please, especially the modded Sixties and Seventies Japanese and British stuff (which is competing with muscle cars in the price stakes right now).
The retro and grassroots features, injection of humour (carburetted humour died out in the early Eighties) and a smattering of historical flashbacks are just right. Ol’ Henry may have weathered better than I have over the years, but I’m not dead yet and I’m sure there are plenty of my generation and new readers alike who welcome the return.
Not that it ever really went away. It was just the magazine equivalent of one of those forgotten show cars still languishing in garages all over the country. Parked up, gathering dust, waiting for the right person to bring it back to its former glory.
And you did… Roll on issue #2 and many more to follow.
Nige Swift, Wakefield

Thanks, Nigel, I’m blown away by the response to the relaunch – it seems the timing was just right! Here’s to many more years of holding your old friend in your hand, and hopefully it’ll always bring you the same pleasure it brought when you were a teenager… DS, SM