A tribute to God’s Own Car

My Vauxhall Astra is no more. It was taken away this afternoon by The Scrap Man to another place.

It is a little sad. A car is just a car, but God’s Own Car deserves tribute.

The Scrap Man is on his way

I bought it in 2003 for the princely sum of £570 (the vendor wanted £700). It was about ten years old, with 130,000 miles on the clock. It served me well. It gave me very few problems and I soon began to see it as a blessing, hence the moniker.

I averaged less than 5,000 miles a year; it’s easy to keep usage down in London. But every mile was a privilege until the arthritis took root last year. Last month multiple problems emerged with no obvious solution. It was finally time to let go.

Time to go…

Last Thursday I spent two hours, with the help of a friend (the beneficiary), siphoning off the petrol. Of half a tank, we eventually extracted five litres from the fuel line and a further five through a hole under the back seat. The battery went too.

Today I ripped out the stereo which had come to drain more energy than the alternator could generate.

The Scrap Man arrived bearing £90 in hard cash. A good deal more than I expected; indeed I feared having to pay him!

Goodbye!

So… I paid £570 in 2003. Subtract £90 equals £480. Divide that by eight equals £60 a year. That’s just over a pound a week. Cheap driving, and a real blessing.

I have been on many journey’s in God’s Own Car; in it I took Vanessa on one of our first dates. We’re both sad to see it go.

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God’s Own Car limps on!

Despite his age (16) and his body of work (161,951 statute miles), God’s Own Car is bearing up well.

God's Own Car

We took him on a roadtrip over Easter (that’s what cars do, isn’t it?) to see a friend in Derby, and then our nephew Dean (and his mum and dad) in Banbury. A little over 300 miles in two days. Ok, in the past, I have been known to cover that distance in about five hours so maybe it’s not that impressive.

But God’s Own Car is getting old (car years are like dog years), and with his modest 1.4l petrol engine, the number of miles he had travelled when I bought him for £570 in 2003 (about 130,000) was already impressive. So maybe I ought to be concerned for his welfare. Of course, in a general sense, I am. But I wasn’t worried that he would refuse to take us to Derby, Banbury and back. And he coped with that admirably.

Dean Waddell, David's nephew

Dean Waddell, David's nephew

No, the most nerve-wracking journey I ever undertake in God’s Own Car is the third of a mile trek to Bedevinos MoT testing centre. I always wonder, is this the end? Somehow it never is.

Yesterday morning, he failed. One of the lights was out of alignment. £10 put that right, so I now have a fresh new pass certificate. Whoopie!

But there are £160 of advisory notices including slight corrosion in two places, two slight issues with the front suspension and an oil leak. There is also an issue with the offside front headlamp which – apparently – is “not in good working order, but light output not severely reduced”. This particular advisory has featured on my MoT certificate for the past four years, but when I query how much this might cost to resolve my question is dismissed with an incomprehensible mutter. More hassle than it’s worth, I suspect.

£160 seems a reasonable investment for God’s Own Car. A new Astra would depreciate this much in a matter of weeks, even assuming it had already experienced the initial driven-out-of-the-showroom hit in value. But I wonder how much would be too much to spend on repairs for such an old car?

The insurance for the year ahead will be £322.50. I always aim to check I will actually require insurance before going ahead with the quotations. And then my existing insurer gets the honour of the first call. They quoted £337.50, but said they might be able to offer a better price depending on rival quotes. I retort that if there’s a better price on offer, let’s hear it. Let’s hear their ‘best price’, then there will be no need for me to trouble them later on! So they knocked £15 off. As it was, their nearest competitor was well over £400, so I am still with Elephant, who I recommend.

It is a pleasure to be the custodian for God’s Own Car. But I wonder for how much longer? And will I forever resist that latent urge for a motorcycle?