Take the top off and drive

4th February 2000 at 00:00
IF YOU don't like the ones about cars, skip the next 200 or 300 words. If you don't like reading about draft consultation on 5-14 environmental studies either, skip the whole lot.

The car stuff all started before Christmas. My Triumph Herald had been sitting unused, the victim of long winter evenings and a particularly hectic period in my life. I decided to replace it with something a bit more sporty at the time of year when sports car prices are depressed.

My Herald and I parted early in the new year. There was a sense of relief that someone had taken it after three previous plonkerish callers failed to turn up despite arranging by telephone to do so. But there was sadness as well. The 29-year-old befinned museum piece rarely failed to lift my spirits when I got behind the wheel, a fact that came back to me when I demonstrated it to potential buyers. But I had to move on.

What to? was the question. Ever heard of a Reliant Scimitar SS1? It's a (four-wheeled) plastic-

bodied, rather wedgy-looking

convertible. That's one possibility.

Another is a Clan Crusader, a fibreglass coupe with Hillman Imp (remember them?) mechanicals. Great performance from a tiny engine because the whole thing weighs about as much as Callista Flockhart's undewear, as a Top Gear presenter might say.

The problem is that Clans and Scimitar SS1s are pretty rare, as rare as an inspirational statement in a draft consultation document. They are out there somewhere. Using the Internet, I've found a Reliant in Renfrew and one

Crusader clone in Dunfermline.

Even more astonishing, I found the following in the draft of the new 5-14 environmental studies guidelines: "Science is a human endeavour that depends on creativity and imagination. It is important that learning activities promote curiosity and enjoyment, so that a lasting interest in science is supported and encouraged."

I like that, especially the acknowledgement that my subject requires creativity and imagination. At the risk of being thrown out of the lodge, let me admit that I'm a bit of a 5-14 fan. Like a modern car, it's maybe a bit overdone and over-complex in places, but like a modern car (and it hurts to say this) it's far better than what went before.

You can e-mail me (on gregor

@steele3.freeserve.co.uk) to argue about this, but I'd much rather you got in touch to tell me the whereabouts of a 1973 Clan with full MoT for around pound;1,500.

Gregor Steele will still love his Skoda Favorit even if he gets something sporty.

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