Like many people, my cars have reflected my financial circumstances, which have been up and down in recent years. In 2003, I moved to Virginia, which was an adventure, but not in a positive financial kind of way. I now work in London (in fact, I divide my time between Virginia and London) and with all my worldly possessions in Virginia; I had to settle here all over again. With no money available for a car, some very good friends of me were kind enough to offer me their car.
So, I went to Whitstable, and with no money changing hands, was soon the owner of a four door 1995 Peugeot 306 XT complete with a couple of dents and sun-kissed paintwork. After a slight hiccough which necessitated a new battery, the car started and ran perfectly…and has done ever since.
Actually, there’s surprising little wrong with it. The sunroof has been deactivated as it leaks in heavy rain-which I think is actually coming around the top of the windscreen, but hey-and the handle for the hatchback is missing, so you have to lift it up by grabbing the rear wiper. The windscreen washers are a little keen and work best over 70 mph, and the internal temperature gauge adds a nominal 58 degrees to the tru reading, but that really is the extent of its defects.
In fact, the 306 is a bit of gem. My friends bought it from friends of theirs who bought it new and so it’s got a full history, both in stamps and anecdotes. It’s got the handbook and service books and even the code for the radio. On top of which, it only had 62,000 miles on it when I got it.
I’ve put another 15,000 miles on it in the year and half I’ve had it and, apart from fuel, my total expenditure has been around £300 in that time. Each MOT (there have been two) have required a tyre and a headlight bulb. Oh, and a service, which I treat it to once a year, whether it needs it or not.
It could go on for a while yet; it’s not very fast so I drive it very gently.
Here’s the curious thing though…
When the car turned up, my finances were in a parlous state and it was all I could do to tax and insure it. I’m very fortunate that things have improved since then and I can afford quite a decent car now-certainly if I financed it. But I’m wary about borrowing money to buy a car in this decidedly uncertain economic climate.
Since I’ve decided to keep the Pug in any event, and it’s returning the favour by stopping me jumping at something inappropriate and allowing me to wait until something really grabs me.
I feel oddly attached to it. In fact, I like driving a car that’s in tune with the times. There’s dignity in saving money nowadays.
There’s a lot to be said for ‘bangernomics’