The Suzuki Wagon R+ GL


Posted in Isle of Man TT Races

The Suzuki Wagon R+ GL - BLAH BLAH - by Simon Campbell

Sick of running around guests and my boys on the Island, we decided to buy a cheap car that could be insured for anyone. We accidentally bought a Suzuki Wagon R (+ GL to be exact).

<img src="{filedir_2}Suzuki_Wagon_R.jpg" alt="Suzuki Wagon R + GL" title="" width="570" height="380" />

One of the downsides of living on the Isle of Man is the horrendous cost of moving vehicles to and from the Island. For foot passengers, it's relatively inexpensive. Even flying is quite reasonable and a pleasurable experience.

The unfortunate result of this issue is that people arrive without a motor vehicle. Including of course our lads, who *need/must* to be driving around all the time. So, the decision was made to buy a cheap run-around, that could be insured for everyone and not cost an arm and leg.

My first port of call was Mike Holt, a friend who lives on the Island and just happens to owns Michael Car Centre in, funnily enough, Kirk Michael. He suggested I speak with Stephen O'Hara, the leader of the team at the garage.

A few hours later after I called with the specification, he presented us with two alternatives: A Fiat Punto or 'something more interesting'. Of course we wanted to investigate the 'more interesting alternative' and after a little pushing he revealed that the car in question was a 1999, 80,000 Suzuki Wagon R + GL. Stephen also said 'It's not to everyone's taste'. I asked:

'Is it reliable?' 'Yes, totally.'

'Is it safe?' 'Yes, it even has a tow-bar...'

I know quite a bit about cars but can't recall seeing one of these beasts so I did a trawl of the web and found a "road test.": I quote:

bq. Compared with the GL I drove, however, the standard version is about as alarming as an old sock. All the stylistic atrocities that were somehow missed out of the basic specification are available as bodywork options. You can pick as many or as few of these as your shamelessness will permit, but mine had the whole caboodle, including a front airdam, deep side skirts, a rear bumper extension, a chrome tailpipe and even - woe is me - a rooftop spoiler.

There is more...

bq. Not since I last drove a Ford Scorpio have I been so embarrassed about a car's looks. It took me more than a day to work up the nerve to drive the thing after it had been delivered. I just left it sitting outside and hoped it looked like it belonged to somebody else.

Errr, and even more...

bq. Still, one must suffer for one's art, so on day two I cut a pair of eyeholes in a paper bag, slipped it over my head and went out for an exploratory run. Whereupon something really dreadful happened - I realised that I actually liked the wretched object.

After reading this I thought of my boys, the epitome of cool, in a Suzuki 1999 Wagon R+ GL. Being a cruel and heartless father I called Stephen and said 'yes, we will take it.'

<img src="{filedir_2}Defender_vs_Wagon_R.jpg" alt="Landrover Defender and Suzuki Wagon R + GL" title="" width="210" height="88" />

Seeing it in real like is indeed an awesome experience and when we went to pick up the machine Joe, Angela and myself wanted to get behind the wheel.

The mighty Triton Oceanic Defender 110 XS was in the shadow of this peculiar vehicle especially as it drives OK, does 50 to the gallon and costs £200 to insure for all drivers!

h3. The TT

This week is "TT": on the Isle of Man. 'Mad Sunday' sees thousands of wannabee superstars, and general hairy assed bikers, flex their mighty, machine, muscle and negociate (mostly successfully) the 37.5 miles of 'normal' roads. They pile around the bumpy, torturous circuit at speeds of up to 180mph, the mountain section from Ramsey towards Douglas, being designated one way for the period of the racing.

Angela, Joe, "Jackie": (who was over for some "Triton": business/diving) and myself thought it would be fun to drive the full circuit in the Wagon R.

Joe was at the wheel, as our superlative vehicle progressed clockwise around the course. We were overtaken by bikers festooned with matching leathers and sponsor logos, eventually arriving at the start of the mountain section in Ramsey. We stopped at the lights surrounded by superbikes of all denominations; Honda to Kawasaki, Triumph to Ducati and of course team Suzuki...

We felt proud to be a part of team Suzuki, wanting to whip out and buy some leathers and join in with other members of our newly found affiliation.

Some spectators were marvelling at the mighty Wagon R, so much so, Joe started to rev the engine. The bikers, thinking it was one of there merry band, followed suit. Within seconds the roar of engines and smell of gasoline filled the air. The viewing group started to applaud. As the revving became more furious and reached a crescendo, the lights changed and the assembled throng roared forward, us achieving 60mph in around 25 seconds, screeching around the hairpins at a death defying 7mph (and I am not kidding here: the suspension is shit).

The mountain road was unbelievable. Bikes _just_ passed us at 150mph+.

Angela had a coat over her head hiding from the terror; Jackie was muttering romantically about buying a big bike (black), wearing leathers (black), pretending to be a bloke (not necessarily black) then dismounting at the front of a cool Italian Café, removing her helmet (black) to reveal her long hair (dark brown) to the shock and amazement of an adoring crowd. Joe was crouched over the wheel like Jenson Button, squeezing the last few horsepower from the overstretched engine. I of course was hatching a plan: 'What is the best way to tell Angela I am going to buy a bike?"

<img src="{filedir_2}Triumph_Bonneville_T100.jpg" alt="Triumph Bonneville T100" title="" width="210" height="143" />

We arrived home stiff (the Wagon R is not the most comfortable machine out there: remember its a GL not a GT) and dreaming of motorbikes...

I now have a selection of brochures on my desk. Is it going to be a Triumph Bonneville T100, Motor Guzzi V7 Classic or the Ducati G1000? Lets wait and see. I will have plenty of time to ride it as I will be divorced.


comments powered by Disqus