Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Just getting from A to B...

Tuesday afternoon 17th March 1987, I clearly remember walking into the living room having just been dropped off after my fourth driving test, threw my keys onto the table a told them I'd had enough and wasn't going to take any more lessons. Shortly followed by a big grin and the announcement that I'd finally passed.

Unlike a few of my friends, my job at the time didn't pay enough to dash out and buy a car - I was just grateful for any excuse to go out in the works Escort Van (with no clutch) or one of the directors' cars that I was petrified of damaging.

It was a couple of years later before the fun really started. I'll spare you the photos but I'm surprised when looking back that in the years since, I've only owned eight cars:

1. A bright yellow W plate (that's a plate ending in "W") Mini 1000. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling sentimental about a first car, but to this day, "Little Min" remains one of my favourites and the only one I ever named (albeit without much imagination).
2. A metallic blue A plate Ford Escort GL was the first car I dared to take any distance; firstly out to the Peak District and eventually as far as Cornwall (with some interesting electrical problems on the way home).
3. A dark blue E plate Rover something-or-other Vanden Plas which I only owned for around 24 hours and never got to take beyond a test drive when the garage suddenly decided that the car wasn't "fit for sale" at the agreed price and suggested they exchange it for something newer.
4. A dark red H plate Ford Orion - boring from the outset but the newest car I'd ever owned. Unfortunately that didn't prevent it from being riddled with faults and following an accident where someone drove into the boot I eventually traded it in saying I would never buy another Ford.
5. A metallic blue K plate VW Golf. Another great car which turned out to be another end of range. Funny that whenever I tried to trade in a car in it always seemed to be "the last year of that shape/spec. Now if you'd only got the later one..."
6. A dark red N plate Daewoo Nexia. An absolute bargain of a car which came with all the gadgets and trimmings that I'd previously only dreamt of. Unfortunately, they hadn't really established their market over here at the time and I eventually discovered it was cheaper to buy a new car than buy replacement parts for that one.
7. A metallic green V plate Ford Focus. Yes I know what I'd said after the Orion and I know what they say about green cars being unlucky but I'd been impressed with the ones I'd hired through work and wasn't over bothered by the colour. I really couldn't fault it so when I noticed the mileage was starting to creep up, it made sense to upgrade to:
8. A dark green 51 plate Ford Focus. If I remember correctly, the spec I gave the salesman was that I wanted exactly the same again but with about 30,000 less miles on the clock. Other than the colour, that's precisely what I got. In fact it's what I drive now.

Have you spotted the theme yet? Other than Little Min, they have all been boring, run of the mill cars; the latter two being excused perhaps for being quite economical and reliable which is important given the 70-odd miles I commute every day.

Saturday afternoon, I received a call out of the blue asking whether I'd be interested in trading my car in as they have a high demand for them right now and may be in a position to offer me a good deal. Hmm... sounds too good to be true.

So now I have a dilemma. Do I get a little 2 seater soft-top something-or-other and continue with the mid-life crisis pantomime? But that puts a stop to the trips out for my non-driving parents. Added to which, I've recently seen the boot space of the MG F and I think I'd find that a struggle. Do I try and recapture my youth by getting a new Mini? Perhaps even a convertible one? It's tempting I admit.

Cherrypie makes a compelling argument that I should get something completely irresponsible just to wind up my mates whose choice of vehicle is now restricted by "other obligations". Equally tempting I have to say.

But then the Focus does take a lot of beating and next year they're launching the coupe cabriolet version which does look rather nice. Admitted, it's bound to be priced well out of my league brand new, but by the time I'm ready to trade in my next one...

9 comments:

Pete Frenzy said...

A very tough decision. I am in the same boat (or car). I'm driving a very boring but reliable, safe and comfortable Toyota Camry and have been thinking about something for my mid-life crisis. The Mini would fit the bill but after sitting in it for a while my middle-age back said "no". So "back" to the Camry again...

How about keeping the Focus and buying a second "chick magnet" car???

Cherrypie said...

Or you could get a Megane Coupe. My mate has just bought one. Black, shiny with red leather interior. Goes like shit on a stick and is very sexy. Room in the back for your parents and plenty of boot space.

Z3s are a bit tosser-ish. Mazda's too girly. If money was no object, you could get a Nissan 350Z, which would be my choice.

Whatever you decide to do, you've got to get rid of the hairdresser's car. Focus' are far too common for a man of your obvious class. ( I'm creeping 'cos you hyper-linked me. thank you. mwah mwah xx)

delcatto said...

You could try a second hand Saab 9-3. Excellent cars but they are pricy for parts and servicing.
Otherwise a Honda Jazz...Plenty of room, pacy ( my nose is growing...) and feel like a pensioner as you drive one! Mind you, I am sad because I really like mine.

Seany said...

Thanks for the advice guys (& gal!)

I'd thought [very briefly] about running a 2nd car but I'm too mean to pay 2 lots of tax & insurance

Thanks for your kind words yet again Cherrypie - that Megane looks smart but one look inside my Focus and the sight of my cropped pate would dispel any doubts of "hairdresser" (although I do cut my own hair!)

The winner of today's round has to be the Saab 9-3 for no other reason than Jeremy Clarkson's review here...

Little Sis said...

Seany, you don't have to be responsible. Don't break the habit of a lifetime now. I was 7 months pregnant when we bought our MG ZS and although I could only just squeeze behind the wheel (actually, that hasn't improved) and that it possibly wasn't the most sensible choice for a family car, it makes a lovely noise when you put your foot down and attracts lots of admiring looks. Go on... go for the impractical. Mum & dad can walk.

Margot said...

Clearly you haven't seen size of the boot in the MX5 - and as long as it isn't red then no need to point to mid-life crisis.
And, Jeremy Clarkson doesn't disapprove of the mark 2. Sorted :)
This is my first visit to your blog - I'll be back!

Steph said...

Which car were you in when you bounced off the central reservation heading South? I'll always have a soft spot for that one...

Cherrypie said...

I think I might have jinxed myself when I suggested you should be irresponsible. My car died today. I had to rush out and buy another in twenty minutes at lunchtime. It's NOT a 350Z!!!!

Seany said...

Wow - I'm speechless, well, typeless. For those who don't know, "Little Sis" really is my little Sis who never reads my blog!! Hiya Sis - I've only been a passenger in that ZS but you're right, it does make a great noise

Welcome Margot! You're right, I hadn't considered the MX-5 and I wouldn't have expected to see a boot that big - another one to add to the list.

Hi Steph! That was the Escort (car no. 2). I'm highly impressed by your memory of my mis-fortunes, I think even my own family who nearly met an untimely demise have forgotten about that! As for "soft spot", I was probably sitting in it at the time...

Cherrypie, I'm sorry to hear about your car but incredibly impressed that you replaced it in 20 minutes - now there's some first rate impulse buying! The 350Z is indeed beautiful, but if it's any consolation, well out of my league