28th October 2020
I love cars. I know, I know, it’s such a cliché but I do. I always have and I suspect I always will.
Like most people, I’ve owned cars which I’ve treasured, some which I’ve tolerated and of course a couple of wrong ’uns along the way. But my enthusiasm has never dampened – not even when most of the engine in my white Mini Metro GTA literally fell out while driving through Bristol in the 1990s. (Loved that car. White, sunroof, fat tyres, four forward gears and a 1275cc engine that went like the clappers…or at least that’s how it felt.) I was a bit of a big boy for such a small car but hey, I had hair and it had a spoiler so who cares.
Anyway, this summer I’ve been forced to think a bit harder about the choices I might make in the future when it comes to cars. Historically I’ve done a lot of miles. I like going out to see my clients wherever they may be, but like so many of us I’ve travelled far less in the last six months. My mileage levels in the past have meant I’ve always wanted a car which is comfortable, has a bit of grunt and offers plenty of room. I’m not sure what my working patterns will look like when we find that magic antidote but I suspect my mileage won’t be as high as it used to be. Grunt, space and creature comforts may therefore need to take a back seat to reliability, trustworthiness and environmental impact.
These thoughts are worrying on many levels. Cars to me are works of art. They carry emotion, passion, a sense of fun and personality. But I’m trying to be sensible.
And why not? When I was growing up my family had all sorts of cars. Dad drove a mini and oh-so-exotic (to me at least) Opel Manta with rear lights like those on a Ferrari. Another of my all-time favourites was the absolutely bonkers wedge of cheese that was British Leyland’s Princess. The Princess was the result of what happens when car designers spend too long in the pub at lunchtime. Ours had the added brilliance of a black vinyl roof (why?!) and plastic seats which were supposed to resemble leather but essentially got so hot in the sunshine that they caused third-degree burns on my little be-shorted legs. And what on earth made them call it Princess? Bonkers, as I say, but I loved it. What’s more my friend Ryan’s dad had a Ford Cortina and Darren’s dad had a VW Beetle. Classics both. I did not love Mr Morgan’s Morris Marina, however. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere (sorry if you’re reading this, Mr Morgan).
Looking back, none of these cars had the ‘funnies’ – the sophisticated interiors and standout specifications - that we’re all used to now. They came with wind down windows, a radio if you were lucky, four gears, no air con……the list goes on. But I loved them nonetheless.
So I’m now left wondering what my next choice might look like. Rather than what do I really want, I should be asking myself what do I really need?
I’m curious: are any of you folks out there having similar thoughts? What were you and your parents driving back in the day? And was I really the only one who ended up with burned legs?