Friday, 18 July 2014

The Life On Cars Mini resurfaces - here's why I didn't buy it

SUPPOSE you’re invited out for a drink with an ex you haven’t seen in years. You’re curious – perhaps even slightly sentimental – but you know it ended for a reason. What do you do?

That’s the way I felt the other day when the first car I ever owned turned up, completely unexpectedly, in an online auction. Naturally, it piqued my curiosity, and I’ve almost certainly spent far longer than anyone really ought to keeping track of all the bids a rather ropey, 30-year-old Mini.

It proved, given I’m exactly the sort of car lover who develops an attachment to what everyone considers to be automotive tat, to be a weirdly bittersweet experience. Even though there was no shortage of people egging me on, I couldn’t bring myself to do the motoring equivalent of getting back with your first girlfriend. I resisted the temptation to stick in a bid on the 1984 Mini Mayfair which for several years accompanied the logo of this very blog.

Not that I didn’t look back longingly, of course. If you really, truly love cars then your first outings in your own car are something you’ll reminisce about as fondly as your first kiss or your first pint, and for me those tentative initial trips in that Mini will be forever stacked away as wonderful memories. Being behind the wheel of A860 JKC meant the first time I ever took my own set of wheels to a car show, my inaugural motoring holiday and finally being free of bus stops. It was so much more than just a car.

That’s why seeing it up for sale in almost exactly the same state in which I sold it left me feeling sad. Contrary to previous belief, any plans to restore it to its former glory seemed to have fallen by the wayside – in fact, the 2009 Woodvale Rally plaque I’d fitted was still cable-tied to its chrome grille. The only difference was that four years ago my old Mayfair got driven away; it got sold online as a non-runner.

In the end I resisted the temptation, largely because despite the supersized helping of nostalgia my abiding memory is of it being a car which you could rely on to let you down. I watched as it went under the virtual hammer for £120 more than I sold it for; I can only hope it went to someone who’ll love it as much as I did, and can rescue it using the funds I didn’t have back in 2010.

Despite the bittersweet ending, I realised I’d learned two things from watching my first car being snapped up. For one thing, old Minis really have shot up in price over the last few years – that’s why even ones which really weren’t very good, like mine, get snapped up.

But perhaps more importantly, I remembered it’s better to have loved and lost an old car than never to have loved it at all.

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