Opinion: I'm not tight but it grinds my gears to scrap a family car for the price of a £100 clutch
Iain Pope is sure there is life yet in his old Dad Car as he bids farewell to his trusty stead and looks forward to a greener existence.
So that is that then, my old friend, the time has come. Cold, heartless arithmetic has finally decreed that you are, quite literally, worthless.
After 174,567 miles together, we are done.
I remember the first time I clapped eyes on you, all lovely and black and shiny on a windswept Arnold Clark forecourt at Seafield, back when Covid was somewhere you might rent a Friday night flick.
Of course, even secondhand, you were far too expensive, but with your spacious boot, thrifty diesel economy, sensibly flexible interior giving the choice of going up to seven seats, (in the restrospectively unlikely event I wanted three more children) you were quite the thing back then.
All of that coupled with the allure of an all-round vista sunroof, PLUS leather steering wheel, you were the living emodiment of The Dad Car. My first Dad Car.
I remember too the salesman as we went for a spin out on to the A1 nodding my attention down to the gearstick, looking at me with pride, and winking “six gears….SIX.” That was it, from that point forward It was a done deal.
And now, well now you are getting winched on to the back of a low loader due to go to a knacker’s yard in Fife, and I can’t look.
I can’t look because I feel like I am sending ‘Ol Hoss’ to the glue factory simply because he has a limp.
The clutch kit it would take to fix you is about £100 online – that bald tyre you need, maybe £50...plus the service and MOT another £150, brakes another £200. A proper clean and valet (and God knows you need it) – around £30.
But the cold, hard truth is, as hard as this may sound, you’re not actually WORTH any of that cash, it would be throwing good after bad.
I can’t fit a clutch, I can barely change a tyre.
The man who *can* fit the clutch tells me it is going to be the thick end of £700 for the work – £100 for the part I suppose and £600 for his labour.
I could get angry but it is the market, I don’t *think* the man in the garage is fleecing me, he has always been a decent guy, even when clearly confronted by a clueless clown.
The fact is, it is simply not worth his time and effort to do it for a car of your age.
It’s not just the fact that you’re not worth the price of the clutch, (although that alone is probably enough to seal your fate), what about the depreciation, the insurance, the cost of actually having the chance of parking you near the house, the diesel?...it all adds up to a death sentence for you.
It’s not that I didn’t weigh it all up, I did ask myself if it was morally right to ditch a car that cost me thousands upon thousands for the sake of a few hundred quid. What about the good times? What about us?
Then I pressed maybe 10 buttons on my phone, maybe 15, and there it was – your value in black and white – £125.
A few more buttons and a time was arranged too when they would come and collect you, no hassle, no problems.
Not that I am going to be too maudlin. You were a car and only a car. In the years I commuted like a zombie to Glasgow day after day after day you were trustworthy, never sensational.
Yes, I felt safe enough to load my family into you on long journeys, and yes over the years, a good portion of those 174,567 miles were happy, sing-a-long miles to Dad Tunes in some of the more beautiful parts of Scotland and Ireland.
I could spend the money to get you up to scratch, but I don’t need to.
Those kids who yesterday were in booster seats are now not far off driving lessons themselves, I live in the middle of the capital city with a mainline train station a few yards away one way, with a world class bus service and tram outside my door, and a bike stop a few yards away the other. I have no excuse.
On top of that there is a car club round the corner where, If I really feel I need that Dad rush of hands on steering wheel, I can pay a few quid to rent one for as long as I want without the hassle of worrying about ANY of the rest of it, and it will still be cheaper than you ever were.
So that is it, I am on the road to life without the combustion engine. And doubtless after the momentary pain of separation lifts, I will use all of these freedoms.
I doubt I will be alone in taking this journey. As strange as it seems there have been some unexpected positives from a year with Covid.
It turns out I can work from home without the world caving in, and no food delivery isn’t just for agrophobics Millennials, and perhaps most importantly, clean air in the middle of town is actually….quite agreeable.
I doubt I will see you again, but in the event some mechanic looks at you as you swing towards the crusher and shouts ‘Stop!! I will save this car!!’ there is nothing I would like more than to see you pass me as I sit in the bus or tram or wobble on my bike. Good luck.
And that £125 I got for you, like so many pieces of silver? Well that is going straight into the holiday fund so we can jet off somewhere warm when The Man allows.
I might not be fully green yet, but there is no point in being blue about it, I’m on the road.