Why I Bought A 430,000-Mile Skoda Octavia For £500
I bought 'Miles', Car Throttle's YouTube-famous Octavia. Here's what we've been up to since
A 20-year-old Skoda Octavia with over 430,000 miles on the clock is perhaps not the first thing to spring to mind when you think about famous vehicles. But for me, and millions like me, ‘Miles’ is instantly recognisable. Thanks to his various exploits on Car Throttle’s YouTube channel, Miles is now a star in his own right and garners adoration wherever he goes.
Having followed the transformation of Miles it was an instantaneous reaction to slide into Alex Kersten’s DMs when he mentioned CT’s intention to sell the car during a podcast. Much to my surprise, a few hours later my phone pinged with a reply and the rest, as they say, is history. I’m not an overly superstitious person but a friend of mine always texts me at 11:11 each day as apparently, the numbers signify a positive sign from the heavens. And guess what time the message from Alex popped in? On the dot of 11:11.
A few days later we were heading down to London, riding shotgun thanks to a generous friend offering his chauffeuring services. We spotted Miles as soon as we turned onto the street, sat nonchalantly underneath the low hanging fronds of a huge tree. The feeling triggered in me was no different to that when you glimpse an idolized celebrity, so the thought that he was coming home with me nearly blew my mind.
Miles safely home, the question on everyone’s lips was “what now?” Was he to replace my daily driver or would he be given a comfortable retirement? The decision was made incredibly simple for me as Miles is just so competent at handling anything thrown at him, from a dash to Tesco to a 1000 mile plus road trip - he took it all in his stride. This is a car I’ll continue to use frequently. The engine itself, unbelievably still wearing the original turbo and exhaust, is strong and frugal beyond belief, the record standing at 84mpg. The refreshed suspension ensures a calm and collected ride, too.
I was so impressed I decided to set myself and Miles a challenge. The basic plan was to set off from my home in Yorkshire, travel to the northernmost point in Scotland via the west coast road and come back down the east coast road. I wanted to complete this solo drive of around 1200 miles in under 24 hours; just me, Miles, the road and enough caffeine to wake the dead. When I sleepily parked back up at home 22 hours later, it’s safe to say that Miles and I were well and truly bonded.
Of course, there are always items requiring attention on any car. Only one window was opening at this point, which results in a sauna-like humidity after 1100 miles. A replacement regulator was sourced from a scrapyard in Devon (cue another 700-mile drive), and hallelujah, we have fresh air. A full service, EGR valve deep clean, new rear brake drums and a deep detail later and Miles was presented with a fresh 12 months MOT, ready for more adventures.
However, Covid had other ideas and we hunkered down for another lockdown. Each day I’d pass Miles on our way out for the umpteenth walk of the day and long for a reason to get in and drive. Then one day while picking up a pizza from Domino’s, a member of staff suggested I do some driving for them. I jumped at the chance. The very next day I turned up for my first shift, donned the baseball cap, gave Miles an illuminated Dominos sign, and we were in business. Who could turn down the chance of not only being paid to drive the empty roads but also having access to all the free pizza? Not me.
The accomplished nature with which Miles dispatches long distances and the lockdown employment all add up to another 10,000 miles on the odometer, with many more trips in the planning stages. An end-to-end time trial between John o’Groats and Lands End will be happening soon and once international travel appears to be a safer prospect there a plans afoot for Miles to make a reappearance at the Nürburgring, mainly just for the sticker.
One thing that has been abundantly clear on every outing is the enormous outpouring of love directed towards this humble Skoda. It’s become an everyday occurrence to be stopped and asked for photos, and even the police are at it. In a world where cars costing more than my house barely attract a second look it is so heartening to be engaging with and exciting fellow car fans with something so unassuming. I’ve held the keys to all sorts of interesting motors but none have generated so many scintillating conversations as the High Mileage Hero. I don’t really feel as though Miles belongs to me, more that I’m just the lucky one who gets to drive him - he’s part of a much wider community.
Naturally, there are a few things on my to-do list as we come out of lockdown, with the open road looming. For one thing, I’m on the lookout for a set of wheels to clad in winter tyres (suggestions gratefully received). I’m also going to invest some time and money in Bilt Hamber corrosion protection for the nooks and crannies, and given the amount of time I spend in the cabin, quite possibly I may revamp the audio equipment. However, responding to the regularity of prompts on this subject I think one job must take priority. Two words: centre caps.
A phrase introduced to me by my dad perfectly encapsulates Miles: ‘Stakhonovite’. Dating back to the Soviet Union, it’s used to describe a worker who went above and beyond what was expected of them, outperforming their peers. Sounds like V456 HDW to me.