Sunday, March 30, 2008


So, with some assistance from my father, I went down to the garage on Monday to try and start the Lotus, to give it a spring airing. Would it start? Would it hell is like. It sat there like a belligerant teenager, daring me to relocate my tools from the garden shed to a council garage 2 miles away, knowing full well I wouldn't. It won.

And this is why the Lotus has to go. I'm not an unrealistic person, and the problem is simple: old sportscars break. Note I say sportscars, not any old classic cars. The Fiat, for example, is also 40 years old and it never breaks. Why? It's about as complex as a 2-year-old's jigsaw puzzle. There's practically nothing to go wrong! (Ignoring corrosion, of course.)

My Lotus, in fairness, is very reliable - for a Lotus. The previous owner described it as "the most reliable Plus 2 I ever had", but that doesn't make it reliable. It makes it as reliable as a 40-year-old Lotus can be. I knew this when I bought it and at the time I had the youth, enthusiasm and time to deal with it. Now I have a baby on the way (it is due on Wednesday!), a garage on the other side of town and nowhere to keep my tools. It just isn't working out.

When I've sold up I already know what I'll get. I'm going to buy an early MG-F. A very clean one, with leather seats and the turbo charger so I can really scare myself. Before you all scoff, these are great little cars. I already know this, because my mother runs the naturally aspirated 1800 version and I borrowed it to go to France in last summer. It's the cheapest genuine, mid-engined sportscar on the market, and it just works.

Sure, it is still a sportscar, therefore it will still cost me a fortune to service and things will still go wrong. But if I leave it in a garage on the other side of town, when I go to take it out it will start. If it doesn't, I'm safe in the knowledge there's nothing I can do about it anyway, as it's probably a sensor or a software glitch, so I'm not left with the guilty feeling I should be fixing it myself. It's perfect. Quick, fun, open-topped and reliable. A much better match for the 2008 version of me.

So is this the end for me and classic sportscars? Absolutely not! My next house will have a double garage. It is essential. I am as adament on this as my partner is about a family kitchen. (It may take us a while to find something we both like...) And when I have this house, I will once again being scouring the newspapers and websites for something for the weekend. Something old, that leaks oil, smells like a petrol station and refuses to start in winter. And I'll love it. But most importantly of all, I'll have the time and the space to work on it.

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