I’ve come to a bit of a shocking realisation. I’m utterly dreadful at saving cars.
The evidence speaks for itself. The vast majority of cars I’ve owned have been scrapped. Only a few by me – my first and second (half of which lived in in various other cars) but the point remains that when they’ve left my hands, they’ve generally been pretty close to death – or no more than a few years away. Sure, I still own my much-loved 2CV, but she’s rotten as a very rotten thing indeed and not able to come out to play anymore.
The problem here is that preservation is a costly business. Or, it generally means not clocking up thousands of miles a year in all weathers. That’s what I do. I use my cars. My enjoyment comes from driving them. Like anyone owning a modern car, I just want to get from A to B – it’s just that I choose to do it in cars that aren’t very new.
They generally are very cheap, which is usually with good reason. The cars I buy tend to be hovering somewhere in the chasm between huge depreciation and classic status. I call it Bangerdom. Very few cars escape Bangerdom. It’s where values are rock bottom, and the cost of one repair might be more than the vehicle is worth. The XM is a case in point. I paid £375 for it, then spent over £400 getting it welded up. Now, that may look like preservation, and it is to a point. The problem is, that one bit of welding (well, two actually) is not enough to keep rot at bay. I’ve extended the life of the vehicle, but I doubt very much that my XM will be a survivor. Rot will creep into hidden crevices and seams, despite my efforts to spray anti-corrosion wax about the place.
Eventually, that rot will be discovered and that’ll probably be the end of the road. Or perhaps there will be some exceedingly costly mechanical repair needed. There comes a point where restoration/daily running just becomes prohibitively expensive. Especially for someone living a frugal lifestyle. I’ve been asking myself recently whether I can live with that. I think I can. The XM is already well catered for by preservationists. They aren’t going to all die out. I doubt mine will ever have a following anyway. It’s a cheapo, bottom of the range model – and a diesel manual at that. V6 Autos and top range toy-laden versions are where the interest lies.
So, I’ll certainly keep the XM going as long as I can, but I won’t hate myself if it one day reaches the end of the road. Cars are made to be used, and the vast majority of cars will not make their 30th birthday. When you think about it, mine is already doing well to have passed it’s 20th.
I’ll certainly have many happy memories of the time I ran one of those lovely old hydropneumatic Citroens as my daily driver. I look forward to that, when I’m whizzing around the UK in my ‘bangerdom’ electric car.