Not a lot of people understand why I love dreadful cars that cost peanuts to buy. My buying tendencies leave people confused, wondering if there’s genuinely something wrong with me.
Certainly, it’s true that my financial state leaves me little option but to explore the cheaper end of the motoring scale, but that really isn’t the sole reason. Not by a long chalk. There are times when I’ve almost been wealthy and there has always been some random heap on the fleet.
Reason one is that I can’t stomach finance. That means that even when there’s plenty of money around, I’m still not going to commit to a car that costs thousands and requires financial assistance to enable me to pick up the keys. I’m never going to save up thousands of pounds, so I just exclude pretty much anything less than ten years old from my list of options.
But the main reason is that I just love the cars I buy! It’s staggering what you can get for very little money, but there’s one big word of warning. If you care about what other people might think about you, then old snotters are not for you. The thing is, if you can get behind that ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ mind-set, you’ll discover you can save a huge amount of money!
Even if you want a proper, sporty little number, you can pick up a Toyota MR2 for less than £800 – though you’ll need your wits about you to find one that isn’t rotten. They do exist though. I don’t like sports cars though. I like comfort too much and hate sitting with my backside close to the ground.
Nostalgia certainly plays a large part in my purchasing decisions. It’s why most of the stuff I own belongs to the 1980s and 1990s. It’s just very fortunate for me that these cars are utterly worthless at the moment. I was always fascinated by 2CVs and Dyanes as a child, which is why I’ve owned several. It’s getting to be a problem for me now though that you can’t buy one for a few hundred quid anymore. I owned many (about 12 over the years) while they were peanuts to buy. How I’d love another Dyane. Or an older classic. I can’t bring myself to spend thousands on a car though. This is very difficult.
I’ve had lots of BXs as well. That was driven by frustration that we never got to have one in the family when I was growing up. We got Montegos instead. It just so happens that I like a lot of things about the BX, though they’re not perfect. I remember this everytime I buy one. Maybe a petrol auto would be closer to perfection…
The BX is a classic case of proving what fashion does to values. It’s a car with fabulous hydropneumatic suspension – rather better in my opinion than that fitted to the iconic DS. Here’s a family saloon with full self-levelling suspension, wonderful comfort yet superb handling. Yet diesels can crack 50mpg without a struggle, and the fearsome 160bhp 16v can see off most hot-hatch rivals. Even the 1.4-litre petrol offers a surprisingly entertaining package.
That’s the thing. Folk may laugh at my purchases (this often happens) but all I see is that I’ve bought something that’ll cruise at motorway speeds all day without problem, can cart me and my kit wherever it is I want to go and yet it’s cost less to buy than one tyre on some modern cars. If something goes spectacularly wrong with the thing, I’ve only lost a few hundred pounds.
Not that I pretend to be an expert. Some people make money at this game, but I get too emotionally attached to the cars. I’ll spend a few hundred more pounds on my few hundred pound car because I refuse to run a car as cheaply as possible just because it is cheap!
The main thing is though, there’s really no depreciation at this end of the market if you buy something halfway decent and look after it. I watch other people lose thousands of pounds with each car purchase. Yet this huge loss seems to be invisible. It isn’t to me. I can buy something that’ll transport me AND interest me for a few hundred pounds. Glory days.