Tuesday 13th December 2011


PH BLOG: WHY VANS ROCK

Fleet shake-up means bidding farewell to a faithful if not especially PH long-termer


'My' VW Caddy long-termer doesn't even really belong on PH. But I couldn't say goodbye without giving it a bit of a send off. You see, the Caddy was carried over from my last job but the guys at VW kindly let me see out the remaining time on its long-term loan balance sheet while I sorted out more PH-worthy transport.

More on this shortly.

Bike and van colour co-ordinated ... yes, tragic!
Bike and van colour co-ordinated ... yes, tragic!
But it was only ever really an excuse. Because I really didn't want to send the Caddy home.

Getting all misty-eyed about a bright orange van with a beating heart of, er, a 102hp 1.6-litre diesel engine probably isn't the thing the editor of PistonHeads should really admit to. But bear with me.

There's always something rather fun about tooling about in a van and, employing a slightly perverse logic, one with minimal power. I took the Caddy on to explore life as a 'civilian' commercial vehicle user, my love of mountain biking meaning I always have use of a vehicle with decent luggage capacity. And, let's face it, if you're going to drive a van a VW van is a good place to start.

M25 commuting has gotten a bit hardcore
M25 commuting has gotten a bit hardcore
Orange paint matched that of my Orange mountain bike, both being ordered around the same time. Seven-speed DSG and digital radio were among the unexpected creature comforts though, to be honest, I missed the fact air-con wasn't standard. Basic spec on a van means basic. But by the time I'd done on the options this one had hit nearly £18K though.

Moving swiftly on... An unladen van is always a bit of a hoot to drive, even one with only 102hp. And the Caddy was just that, the DSG banging through manual shifts with near PDK crispness and - let me run with this - a bit of a touring car vibe what with the long shifter sprouting from the floor. I've actually driven VW's race Caddy in the past and, ahem, may have reckoned I was still in it on occasion in the orange mean machine, as my contact at VW referred to it.

Dan on a typical drive into PH towers
Dan on a typical drive into PH towers
It was even half decent on my new, somewhat longer commute. 6Music echoing around the interior, little diesel motor humming away I could easily score 50mpg on the mainly motorway run and in the 'who blinks first' lane changes you're always playing a winning hand being in a van, bright orange or not.

So farewell Caddy, it's been a right laugh. Your replacement will probably be quite a bit faster and prestigious. But there'll always be a place in my heart for a faithful little van!

 

 

Author: Dan Trent
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