Ted Connolly

Ted buys a new fam­ily car.

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents -

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.

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