former Shed of the Week Puma and latest addition to the PH Fleet.
But it's not the sleek silver coupe's fault, oh no - I blame the gentle disintegration of the head gasket on and subsequent scrapping of my previous runaround, an E36 BMW 328i Touring, for my trust issues. Despite (touch wood) an entirely reliable performance from the Puma, I still find myself breathing a tiny sigh of relief when it starts up, or when I complete a journey, while even the tiniest unusual noise from suspension, drivetrain or engine has had my heart thumping.
Mind you, the Puma hasn't been entirely blameless. A few weeks into my time with the car, after a particularly spirited (and thoroughly brilliant) drive down the Meon Valley (A32, Hampshire - highly recommended), the water temperature gauge began to throw a miniature wobbly. For a chap now hyper-sensitive to symptoms of head-gasket death this was particularly worrying.
I duly dropped it off with the affable chaps at S&J Motors just down the road from PH's Teddington HQ. Having spent the morning with the car they called me and, to my great relief, declared that it was definitely not the head gasket - nor even a dicky thermostat - but nothing more than some bubbles in the cooling system.
Better still, the wallet damage for half an hour or so of labour and a few hundred millilitres of coolant was less than £30. Yes, a competent chap could probably have done that himself, but I wouldn't even count myself as half-competent mechanically, so I was pretty chuffed with the result.
But despite the clonks and whines I'm beginning to learn to trust AX51 GGA a little more - the only thing now is to prevent the onset of rotting rear arches, the first trace of which is beginning to rear its rusty head...