Ted buys a new family car.
petrol were costing us at least £300 a month, which was madness. I tried to sell them, without success (despite dropping the prices to ridiculously low levels), and so they were chopped in against the ADAM. The dealer gave us a decent trade-in and off we went with a car that was two years old and had 14,000 miles on the clock.
Well, the ADAM was great in just about every respect, except that it only had two doors. They were big, heavy and awkward to use in confined spaces. Also, a two-door car is dashed inconvenient when you want to take out a third person (actually, the truth of the matter is that when there were more than two of us, I always got chucked in the back, which is not good for a bloke of my girth, flaccidity and age). On top of that, the ADAM was approaching its first MOT and, when those three years are up, cars start to take a bit hit value-wise.
So, it was time to pick something new. The trouble-and-strife has long since fancied a Mini (sorry, MINI – got to get it correct, even though I hate our lovely language being corrupted) Countryman and we checked out the stock at a main dealer near us. The one we were after got sold before we arrived (disappointing, but that’s business) and 40 minutes on the forecourt saw just about every rule go out of the window. We had a fixed budget and I did not want a diesel – I simply prefer the petrol experience – yet we seriously considered a Cooper D, which was not only an oil-burner, but also about £8000 more than we could afford. Nevertheless, we went for a test-drive and everything that would impress the average geezer put me off: keyless ignition, electronic handbrake (I hate those, because of the unnecessary complexity), incredibly sophisticated infotainment system and all of the other palaver that puts up the price. Quite apart from that, I was totally amazed at how big these cars are. Because they are called MINI, you expect them to be, well, mini. But they aren’t. Get up close and see what I mean.
It was a near thing, but we saw sense and left. By pure chance, we dropped into a Vauxhall main dealer even closer to us and, within a couple of minutes, sorted out a test-drive in a Vauxhall Corsa SRI Vx-line. Nothing flash, but good enough with a 1.4 motor, ample (for me) bells and whistles, and the all-important four (five if you count the hatch) doors. It felt good and, here’s the bit, it had just five miles on the clock. It was a demonstrator, but had hardly turned a wheel and was just six weeks old. Because it was technically secondhand, the price was a couple of grand lower than when new and it came with full manufacturer’s warranty and, of course, freedom from MOT testing for three years. Oh yes, the salesperson offered us a most generous chop-in price on the ADAM.
It’s a middle-of-the-range model and you could see where money had been saved. For example, the four doors close beautifully – with the sort of clunk you’d expect from a luxury limo a few years back – and the general build quality is noticeably high, but the windows in the back are hand-operated (mercy me, how do people survive with such crudity?) and the tailgate sounds tinny when closed. But it’s as good as new, a lot cheaper than new and, heck, it’s kind of nice to own.
A sensible and, it must be admitted, pleasurable purchase. Proof that you don’t need to be a fool to part with money. Although the motorcycle I bought through ebay a week earlier will, possibly, prove me wrong. Who needs a noisy, smelly, oily old British bike? Me.