“What on Earth possessed you to buy this?”
As the freezing cold rain dripped off my nose, I couldn’t think of a sensible response. Somewhere deep inside me, an indignant voice screamed out that a roadside rescue man should not be so insolent, but such was my misery that I couldn’t bring it to the fore.
I simply looked on as he struggled to inject life into my crestfallen steed. It was a Jaguar, a series III. Magnificent in every detail except the fact that it wouldn’t go. I considered his question. Why indeed had I spent a load of money, which I couldn’t afford, on such a fragile artefact?
When I first saw it, I fell in love. Those smooth lines, the opulence of the interior, the effortless performance of the 5 cylinder engine. It was a 6 cylinder engine when it left the factory, but one of my cylinders had given up the ghost. Whenever the damn thing was moving I had the biggest smile on my face ever. Whenever it stopped, I looked miserable.
I can’t help it. I am an absolute sucker for a classic car. If someone bottled the scent of an old car, they would make a fortune from people like me. That heady mix of stale sun-baked leather together with the aroma of walnut dashboard is how I imagine Heaven smells. When you add the sight of the industrial strength rocker switches and the Smiths industries instruments, I challenge any man to resist.
There are three types of people in the world. There are those who are blissfully ignorant of classic cars. They might make a passing comment such as “that looks nice” as a priceless example of automotive history rolls by. These people are fortunate. The idea of buying a piece of our motoring heritage would never occur to them. Blessed are they.
The second type knows their way around an engine. As they walk past, a sensitive nose might just detect the faintest aroma of engine oil. They know their big end from their crankshaft. They are perfectly suited to buying a classic car. If anything goes wrong, they are in with a fighting chance of remedying the situation without descending into ruination. Blessed are they too.
I belong to the third type: absolutely clueless idiots who fall in love with classic cars, but would struggle to know one end of a spanner from another. They are destined for a life of misery. They will spend their days desiring complex machinery that they have no hope of maintaining. They will buy something stupid and be stranded on the side of the road. They will be miserable.
But during those few moments that their trusty steed is firing on all cylinders on a sunny day, they will be the happiest people on Earth – and that is worth all the misery. I don’t currently own a classic car, but occasionally, before I board a flight, I buy a classic car magazine and allow myself to dream.
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