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Puntos de vista - a personal Spain blog

Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of 40 years and now resident of Ronda in Andalucía .

What my car says about me
Tuesday, March 19, 2024 @ 11:03 PM

Back in the day when Pablo de Ronda lived and worked in the UK, he had a car with a cherished number plate or personalised registration. He bought it for himself on reaching his half century. The number was M50 PJW.

At that time, he put it on his “male menopause” car, a Mazda RX-8 sports car with suicide doors and a Wankel rotary engine. He later transferred it to a boring but reliable Ford Focus.

But, what do the car, the plate, and other vehicles he has owned say about him?



I’d always considered people with a personalised car number plate to be posing “gits” with more money than sense, because a cherished number, as they are known in the trade, can be quite expensive. This industry is possibly the worst example of capitalism I’ve come across.

Yet, as I approached the age of 50, I had more money than sense and so I, too, became a posing “git”. I got me a nearly new Mazda RX-8, with hindsight the best car I have ever had. And found that the very apt M50 PJW was available for not too much money. M for Mazda, 50 for my age, and PJW my initials.

By the way, my wife at the time, Jeryl, had long had a personal plate, JMW 300, her initials and the hope that one day she might be able to aspire to a BMW 3-series. It was her 40th birthday present from me.


My car-owning history

I have owned a fair few cars in my life. Whether they all said something about me, I cannot objectively judge.

The first was a Morris Minor with a split windscreen. I shared it with my mum until I went away to university. Was I a mummy’s boy?

Car number two was a Hillman Imp, which I bought with the proceeds of my student job at Daimer-Benz AG in Stuttgart, Germany. That was a great little car which I ran happily for two years while still a student, until another mummy’s boy from Sheffield, where I was studying for a PGCE, drove into me and wrote “Zoe” off!

I had to wait a couple of years or so until I had earned enough money from my first job as a teacher to buy another Hillman Imp, followed soon after by a “flashy” Ford Cortina, a popular company car model in the 70s. That turned out to be a “clocked” car.

The dodgy car dealer I bought from, turned out to be a serial cheat, routinely lowering the mileage on all the cars he sold, until Weights and Measures caught up with him. As a result, I received a significant sum in compensation for the sudden loss in value of my Cortina.

Time moved on and I had a Vauxhall Victor, followed by a Vauxhall Viva saloon, the latter possibly the most boring car I have ever had.

Then, we went foreign for the first time, well only partly. We bought a Honda Accord, which was built in Swindon, under a collaboration agreement between the Japanese giant and British Leyland. That was a great car, a large saloon, which confirmed our status as nouveaux riches.

When I left the classroom after 15 years and became a schools adviser, I decided to buy a brand-new car for the first time. I ended up with our first completely foreign car, a Volkswagen Polo, the “car with the hole in the middle” (viz. Polo Mints advert of that time).

I soon became bored with that and bought a second-hand Toyoya Celica. Really flashy – it was red and went like the “clappers”. I really was getting “menopausal”! The car proudly displayed a sticker of the catalán flag, because, at the time, I had a strong connection to Barcelona and El Prat de Llobregat.

Next up was a fairly elderly Mazda RX-7 which I didn’t really fall in love with, so I upgraded to the nearly-new Mazda RX-8 described above.





Other cars

We’d long had two cars, for we were both working. I was commuting west to St Helens, then Bootle (both Merseyside), and Jeryl in the opposite direction to Salford (Gtr. Manchester), then to Huddersfield and finally to Bradford (both Yorkshire).

With a growing family we decided to get a people carrier, a 7-seater.  We were looking for a second-hand, or pre-owned car as the motor trade euphemistically called their used vehicles.

We tried out a Ford Galaxy, a Vauxhall Zafira and an out and out “foreigner”, a Renault Espace. The latter won hands-down: the Ford was too mundane, and the Zafira too small. Besides, the Espace was lilac in colour.

So, “The Lilac Bus”, named after a collection of eight inter-connected short stories by Irish writer Maeve Binchy (1984) and made into a TV film in 1990 by Irish Director Giles Foster, was ours.

“The Lilac Bus” confirmed my reputation as a bit of a “show-off”, but I didn’t care and nor did the grateful parents of our kids’ friends, as we ended up driving them everywhere, to drama club, dance classes, karate and swimming. And later when they started going clubbing to “Mr Smith’s”, the infamous Warrington nightclub of the 90s.

Following that, we went back to a VW, this time their Sharan model, their 7-seater. Not flashy at all, it was dark grey in colour. A great buy! Jeryl retained it for years after our divorce (see below).


Cars post-divorce and into retirement

Jeryl and I divorced in 2005 around the same time I was made redundant and took early retirement.

I moved to Bryn-a-Maen in North Wales to live with new “squeeze” Maude. I still had my Mazda RX-8, which I was still enjoying, until I realised it was impractical for the mountainous are where we lived.

It was time to return to boring automation, I got an ex-demonstrator Ford Focus, which was much more practical, and fitted my new cloth cap, pensioner image. This car too was dark grey.

After leaving Maude, I moved in with my mum in Thelwall (Warrington) for a good while until I bought a house in nearby Latchford as a “doer-upper”. It was a Victorian detached house down on its luck. I needed a van. I opted for another Vauxhall, this time a Vivaro.

I sold the Focus. After all, why does a solo bloke need two vehicles?

Around that time (September 2008) I met Rita, a German living in Montejaque, near Ronda (Málaga) where I owned an apartment.

We hit it off straightaway and after several visits to each other’s homelands and respective families I emigrated to live with her in Casa Rita.

We wed in 2010 and decided we needed to find another place to live, with easy access by car, lots of land and a pool, none of which Casa Rita offered.

By February 2011 we had our dream home, Villa Indiana in Fuente de la Higuera (Ronda). I filled the Vivaro with personal items and drove to Talheim (Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany) with Rita to collect some things of hers that were in storage there.

We survived a busted air filter and then headed for our new home in southern Spain with overnight stops in Limoges (France) and Alicante (Spain).


Cars in Spain

Settled in our new home in Spain, we had two vehicles, the Vauxhall Vivaro and Rita’s Peugeot 206 cabriolet. The Vivaro let me down again (gearbox).

To avoid having to get it re-registered onto Spanish plates, I parked it offroad for a while, until Rainer, a German friend, made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and he took it off to Germany, where he christened it “Der Engländer”. His “missus”, Iris, drove it happily for many years, although it has now gone to the “big graveyard in the sky”.

I bought the Seat Leon of the previous owners of our new home and ran it until 2020 when I bought a house to do up in Montejaque and needed a van again.

I bought a VW Transporter from a dodgy English neighbour (although I didn’t know that at the time) and sold the Leon.

Within a year, said dodgy neighbour, had incinerated the Transporter (allegedly) and wrote it off.

Carless, I bought a nearly new Peugeot 2008 from a dealer in Cádiz.

A year later Rita’s Peugeot 206 self-combusted (or was it arson again by Julian, the dodgy neighbour?)

We eventually found a replacement in Madrid, this time a Peugeot 207 cabriolet, in immaculate condition. We bought it unseen over the phone, then went on the train for a long weekend in the Spanish capital. Two nights there and another in Toledo on the way back made it a super way to buy a car!


8130 KVV

This photo of the rear of my Peugeot 2008 tells you a lot about my current life.



A1 is my company.

Included in it are A1 Inmobiliaria (Estate Agency) and A1 Translations.

A1 INMOBILIARIA - Real Estate - A1 INMOBILIARIA Real Estate (





Cornish flag

We spent a great week in Cornwall in February 2022 as guests of my brother Simon and his wife Marilyn, who own a "timeshare" there. We did some great things, eg St Michael's Mount, an open air sculpture park, Falmouth, Fish and Chips on a park bench.

In fact we ate great food the whole time, in restaurants, pubs, everywhere. Rita declared that it was the first time in England that she enjoyed all the food, even the Fish and Chips!







European Union flag

The worst “crime” committed by the UK government based on mis-information and lies perpetrated by the leave lobby leading to a narrow margin in favour of “Brexit”.

“The chickens are already coming home to roost”.






“I   Montejaque”

Arguably one of the prettiest of the pueblos blancos in Málaga province. It’s where Rita chose to live when she emigrated 18 years ago. It’s where I moved to when we met 16 years ago.

It’s also where I bought a house to renovate in 2020.

Rita still has Casa Rita and I still own Casa Real, although both are for sale.




CASA REAL, MONTEJAQUE - Large modernised traditional village house in beautiful pueblo blanco - 149.000€ - Help me, Ronda (

CASA RITA, MONTEJAQUE - An immaculate fully renovated 3-bed, 3-bath property - 200,000€. - Help me, Ronda (



Well, they must be OK, despite being French (joke, honest!). Rita has had two and I’ve had, and still have, one, my Peugeot 2008.

According to many local Spaniards, the best cars are German (Mercedes, Audi and Volkswagen); then come Peugeots, which are a bit cheaper.

Strangely, Seat and Skoda are not very highly regarded, despite being part of the Volkswagen group. I had a Seat Leon, when I first came to Spain to live, and it was excellent. And when we visit Germany, we have use of Rita’s daughter’s second car, a Skoda. It’s fine.



Save the Trees

This is a campaign in Benaoján (Málaga) to save hundreds of trees that the authorities wish to hack down to make way for a water purification plant. The point is, there are better sites for this necessary upgrade, which would entail less environmental damage.









“What my car says about me” was my title for this article. I think most of the cars I have owned did say something about me: eg, how I was feeling at the time; the state of my finances and what I could afford; what I was doing (eg renovating houses); and pre- and post-divorce during my male menopause phase.


© Pablo de Ronda



Paul Whitelock




Karl Smallman





8130 KVV, A1 Inmobiliaria, A1 Translations, Alicante, Audi, BMW 3-series, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Barcelona, Benaoján, Bootle, Bradford, Brexit, British Leyland, Bryn-a-Maen, cabriolet, Cádiz, capitalism, Casa Real, Casa Rita, cherished number, Daimer-Benz AG, “Der Engländer”, El Prat de Llobregat, European Union, Ford Cortina, Ford Focus, Ford Galaxy, France, Fuente de la Higuera, German, Giles Foster, Gtr. Manchester,, Hillman Imp, Honda Accord, Huddersfield, JMW 300, Jeryl, Lilac Bus, Limoges, M50 PJW, M50 PJW, Madrid, Maeve Binchy, Málaga, male menopause, Maude, Mazda RX-7, Mazda RX-8, Mercedes, Merseyside, Montejaque, Morris Minor, Mr Smith’s, North Wales, Pablo de Ronda, personalised car number plate, personalised registration, Peugeot, Peugeot 2008, Peugeot 206, Peugeot 207, pueblos blancos, Rita, Ronda, St Helens, Salford, Save the Trees, SEAT, SEAT Leon, Sheffield, Skoda, Spain, Stuttgart, suicide doors, Swindon, Talheim, Thelwall, Toledo, Toyoya Celica, Vauxhall Victor, Vauxhall Viva, Vauxhall Vivaro, Vauxhall Zafira, Villa Indiana, VW, VW Transporter, Volkswagen, Volkswagen Polo, Wankel rotary engine, Warrington, Weights and Measures, Yorkshire, Zoe


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