I’M IN THE SHED
FAINE DITCHES THE ALFA FOR AN OLD FLAME
I KNOW THREE couples who have been married, then divorced and then married each ot her again.
Only one of those couples went on to re-divorce.
It has a lways astonished me that this has happened at a ll, let a lone t hree t imes just wit hin our friendship circle. I make no remarks at a ll about t he institution of marriage, no comment about other people’s relationships and certainly nothing about divorce. Thankfully I have not experienced it, but from close obser vation a lmost no one emerges intact.
But I had reason to ruminate about this phenomenon when I turned my phone on last month and had a message from Greg.
I sold my Jag uar to Greg about t wo and a half years ago. It was a traumatic decision. Our eldest was hav ing t heir f irst child – our f irst grandchild – and we wanted to help them buy a house. The easiest way to raise some capita l was to f log a car or t hree. So I did. Greg bought the E-t y pe, and the minute he drove it away was the exact moment in histor y when t he prices of E-t y pes started t heir steady climb to stratospheric heights.
I soon rea lised t hat I would never be able to buy another of t hese iconic cars, and t hat f ifteen years of memories was a ll I had lef t. But t here had to be other ways of gett ing a similar t hril l without spending so much.
I searched for and eventua lly found an af fordable Alfa Spider, r ust and a ll. Two years of steady work – mostly by sk illed professiona ls, not me – f inally got it to t he point of a f ully sorted and re-built original rhd convertible t hat went like t he proverbia l and was a bucket of f un. And red. Ver y red.
“FIRST QUESTION – HOW MANY TREES HAD HE COLLIDED WITH WHILST OWNING THE CAR?”
Turns out it was too red. Over summer, registered and all, I drove the Alfa to the beach, to the shops, to visit friends – ever y where. My beloved came for one drive, only. She declared thereafter that it made me look like “one of those sad mid-life crisis jerks” who goes and gets a red sports car and a mistress – in that order – and she did not want to encourage me along that path.
So I harumph-ed a bit, tried to reason with her, explained that I had granted her the right of veto before I had even bought the car and other wasted mutterings. Deaf ears.
And then just as I was facing up to the full tragedy of selling one of the most fun cars ever made, Greg sent me a message. He had decided to sell “my” E-t y pe and before advertising it was wondering if I was interested in getting it back? In a nanosecond I ca lled him back. First question – how many trees had he collided with whilst owning the car and what condition was it now in? Turns out other than feeding it a fresh drink of oil and t he odd f ilter, nothing much needed doing. He had enjoyed owning it a while – but t he novelt y of folding himself in half each time he had to get in or out was wearing off. And he had his eyes on a newer toy.
Then came the awkward question of money. Neither of us could pretend to be unaware of the soaring prices t hese cars have been fetching, but ever gracious and a true gentleman Greg ca lmly said, “You gave me a good deal so I can now return the favour….” and offered to sell me “my” car back for only a small premium. Deal done. I was remarr y ing the car I had ditched.
Which then left me with the awkward equation of hav ing more cars than garage. Something has to make way, and there is a lso the not unimportant factor t hat t he Jag uar has to be paid for.
Which brings us back to t he Alfa. It has to go. We do not have favourite children, nor ought we be sentimenta l wit h cars. But being rut hless and unsentimental in f logging the Alfa means
I have to pretend I am not being sentimenta l in re-connecting to t he Jag !
Having spent the last t wo years getting t he Alfa sorted, attending to its ever y quirk and need, indulging and cursing it in equal measure, I will smile k nowing I am making someone else ver y happy. It is a ripper of a car, well deser v ing its legendar y reputation. Roof down, t hrott le blipping, music blasting, t y res gripping, open road beckoning – what’s not to like? Knowing a ll t he new panels t hat have gone into it, t he reco carbies, t he bra ke renewal, t he head gasket, t he electrica l gremlins banished through sheer doggedness
– it is a ll fett led now and t rouble f ree.
But what better reason could I have for selling a car I have come to love?
I am def y ing histor y and reuniting wit h an old f la me.
LEFT Delivery day and everyone is happy. Even the tow truck driver.
ABOVE The 70s Alfa came with its own tin-worm colony. RIGHT And then everything old was made new again.