I’M IN THE SHED

FAINE DITCHES THE ALFA FOR AN OLD FLAME

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS - JON FAINE

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.

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