This is the story of Jim’s search for his dream car – the ultra-rare MK1 Astra GTE – and then storing it safely while working abroad.

So, let me rewind a bit to late 2017 and the first time I spoke with Jim over the phone, quite a unique experience as I recall…

Firstly, aside from the fact that he told me he’d just bought his dream car without even seeing it, secondly he said that he would like it delivered direct to our facility and thirdly he repeated everything he’d just said word for word and hung up!

Very odd.

When he called back (and this happened a couple of times) and he was able to explain, everything made sense. Jim lives and works in Saudi Arabia and the telecoms can be, well, let’s just say they can be tricky!

I was in Saudi Arabia. I needed someone to help me receive the car, generally look it over as I would myself and help make her road ready in my absence…quite a time consuming requirement…and all as part of the service of storage! I liked the look of Auto Classica, but not having met Nick, or even having visited the facility, I took a bit of a gamble.

Jim, like many of us, grew up with a dream ‘Poster’ car. In Jim’s case it was an ultra rare MK1 Astra GTE, an enviable modern classicThese awesome hot hatches were only built for around 18 months between 1983 – 1984 before being replaced by the (less rare) Mk2.

After an extensive search, he’d found one in almost exactly the same spec as his own from back in the day. A 1983, Silver Mk1 Astra GTE – and could I store it for him whilst he was in the employ of King Salman.

Jim, like a number of our premium long term car storage clients, when he returns home from a long stint working away, wants to be able to jump in his pride and joy and just drive. He doesn’t want to pfaff around, he just wants to get out and drive.

Of course, it would be my absolute pleasure.

Jim and I are from the same era. Me more an XR2 and 205 GTi boy-racer and Jim clearly a more sophisticated gentleman racer. The connection was there. We spoke on the phone on numerous occassions to ensure the safe arrival of the car and thereafter hatching a plan to ultimately get this 30+ year old iconic car safe and into a lovely usable condition.

The Astra arrived one afternoon having travelled down from Scotland from where it had been, laid up, for the past few decades. The dealer and I spoke on the phone and made sure the transporters schedule worked.

MK1 Astra GTE Vauxhall

Jim’s car comes home after a long trip

The car was much as described on the dealers website, bearing only the scars of a long journey on the back of an open transporter.

And so, after a thorough wash and a polish she was looking good for Jim to finally meet up with his dream car again several weeks later on one of his trips back to the UK.

And what a car!

It was never Jim’s intention to buy a concours show pony, but what he had bought was a staggeringly good, well looked after (albeit having been laid up for around 20 years – the last MOT being in the 90’s), 80’s icon.

Jim has been back to the UK a number of times since the car first came to us. And each time he gets a taxi from the airport straight to us and drives off in this stunning GTE with a big smile on his face.

…once I had spoken with him on the phone, my “gut feeling” was that he knew exactly where I was coming from, understood my concerns and could help me and the GTE. I’ve now had two successful trips with the car, racking up 1200 miles, which is always immaculately presented when I collect it, and can honestly say I wouldn’t want the car stored anywhere else when I’m not around. Thank you Nick!

Each time he comes back there is a small list of things to investigate and we work through the list with our Aftercare Service whilst he’s back in Saudi. We are both aligned to the fact that a car shouldn’t lose it’s character and so the things we concentrate on are usually around making the car mechanically sound.

The work to date has included;

  • Full Service and Engine Overhaul
  • 4 New Tyres (Replacing the old rubber made a huge difference)
  • Alloy Wheel Refurbishment
  • Drivers Seat Bolster Replacement
  • Rear Seat Belts
  • Waxoyl Treatment

On Jim’s last trip, he and his better half Monika took the car back to it’s spiritual home. What I love about Jim is the fact that he’s not scared to test the 30 year old mechanics of his GTE to the limit with nothing but blind petrol-headed faith and a mobile phone for support.

The Welsh valleys was to be a superb test for the GTE, even the original cassette player got a proper work-out. And after a week long trip and five hour journey home, Jim & Monika returned to us with a broad smile (Jim’s a touch broader than Monika’s), a touch of relief (Monika’s a touch more relieved than Jim’s), and another set great memories made with this superb MK1 Astra GTE.

It’s a real pleasure to look after Jim’s super-rare MK1 Astra GTE and I’m always keen to receive the next set of instructions to help bring this superb car back to its former glory.

Jim stores his MK1 Astra GTE with us on a premium long term car storage basis. The car has a good ‘Supertex’ indoor car cover from Hamiltons Car Covers and a CTEK battery conditioner both of which we helped Jim acquire and are applied once the car is washed inside and out after every trip.