I went shopping for an Audi Avant estate. My old Volvo V40 estate is creaking a bit and needs changing and I was fed up pushing the Smart Car in the snow; it's only light, but heavy enough to cause a heart attack. So, a 4WD was the thing. I tried a Mitsubishi Outlander, but it was as ugly as sin, and a big bastard, and silver, like most cars. I don't mind living in the future but I draw the line at having a mobile phone or any of that stuff and I couldn't possibly have a big silver jelly mould of a car. It was OK, the Mitsubishi, had one of those tectronic, is it, automatic gearboxes and fair roared along. But all my life, whenever I have heard the word Mitsubishi it has been followed, in my head, by the word Zero. I wasn't even born in the Jap war, but I have met people who had a frightful time as POWs and I just didn't fancy having anything called a Mitsubishi hanging around the place.
I once had an old Audi 80 sports, bought for a song, and I loved it, so I was well disposed towards a newer Audi but there weren't any to be had. I had Googled them and found they enjoyed what they call in CarWorld strong residuals, they held their price. Too fucking right they do, ten year old models with a hundred thousand on the clock fetching eight grand, more; I could have bought a stonking big BMW for that.
I needed a new car for an upcoming shopping trip to England and although the SmartCar would have done the journey in speed and comfort, I couldn't have got the shopping in it.
My plumber, David, has been promising to sell me his old Land Rover as soon as he can get round to sorting it out and so I thought, winter is some way off, I can press him to sort it out over the summer and in the meantime buy a non-4WD; I'll just keep the Landy parked up when I get it and use it if I need to, I don't even need to tax or insure it as the snowy problem areas are all on my own land, I'll just tow another car up the lane and Bob's your uncle.
And so I decided on a used Ford Focus. Haven't had a Ford for thirty years, but they couldn't still be a pile of shit, starter motors poised to jam, Bendix gear chattering on a frosty morning, McPherson struts aching to pop through the rusty wing, clutches failing as regular as clockwork, bulbs popping, radiators freezing, hoses blowing, alternators burning-out, Jesus, I hated those fucking things. Seemed alright, though, this one, low miles, full service history, aircon, boring as Hell but never mind, OK, Mike, I'll have that one, it'll do. Er, d'ya wannae just tak a wee look at this other one, it's a C-max Focus, and a hell of a car, ye can lift oot all the seats, d'ye ken. Aye, Mike, but it's fucking silver..... But they're nearly all silver, the noo......Meantime, Mrs Ishmael had spotted a strange looking yellow car, down the line. What's this, Mike? Well........ and so he told me.
This is a Citroen C4 VTS, 2 litre, 16 valve, 180 bhp, 145 mph, three-door coupe, it does nought to sixty in eight seconds. It has traction control, variable power steering, automatic braking assistance, ventilated discs, twin, separate aircon for driver and passenger; it has directional headlights which follow the steering, the wipers come on automatically when it rains, the lights come on automatically when it gets dark, the JBL hi-fi has nine speakers and the volume increases automatically with the speed of the car, there are nine airbags, the speedo is digital and mounted on top of the dash in the centre, visible even in the brightest sunlight, the rev counter is digital, too and mounted on the steering wheel boss, it turns red as you approach maximum revs, all the controls are mounted in a central boss which remains fixed as the steering wheel turns around it, there is a speed limiter and cruise control; the side mirrors retract themselves when you lock the car, popping out as you re-open it, you can also retract them with a button from inside the car; there is a Europe-wide Satnav system, the internal mirror dims itself if dazzled from behind, the hazard lights come on if you brake hard, switching off as you re-accelerate, there is an onboard computer calculating trip distance and mpg, there are front and back parking sensors with a visual display on the screen and a tyre pressure indicator for each wheel and there is a microphone by the mirror for something called a Bluetooth. And that's just the half of it.
The car has done 43,000 miles, had one owner and has a full main dealer service history.
After I bought it, I Googled some reviews, they were all good, even the oaf, Clarkson, having burbled along, in his Times column, about some actress, Kirstin Somebody, listed all the features and said You'd think I was talking about a hundred-grand S Class Mercedes. But You'd Be Wrong. It's a French hot hatch and it is simply tres magnifique.
This'll be the sixth or seventh car I've bought from Mike and they've all been ok. None of them, though, have had this battery of electronics. We'll see what happens.
This is absolutely the highest spec in the range and cost a private buyer nearly nineteen thousand pounds five years and forty three thousand miles ago. Clarkson and everybody else said that the depreciation on it was frightening. I bought it for three and a half grand. How can that be, what demented actuary works these things out, that an expensively maintained vehicle can shed three quarters of its worth in less than half of its life? Surely, this, too, cannot be Labour's fault.