At the end of April, the tax on my beloved Beetle ran out and I reluctantly took it off the road. The engine was knackered and it was only doing 150 miles to a tank of petrol. I no longer had an income, so it was sensible to cut costs and I would no longer need to drive 10 miles each way to work three days a week. Running any second car seemed like an extravagance, let alone one that drank petrol in the way mine did.
But I always believed I would get my car running again. I thought it was worth £1,000 and a reconditioned engine would be about £1,500. Yes, a lot to spend on a car that wasn’t even worth that, but worth it if it kept my car running for another five or 10 years? And I held onto that hope all through the summer and into the autumn.
Life with only one car wasn’t easy. My husband said it would be fine – I could just have the car to run the kids around and he would cycle to work. But it doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes he needed to drive long distances for work, leaving me without the car. Sometimes it was raining and he just didn’t want to cycle. Sometimes he would take the train early in the morning and leave the car for me to cycle or run to pick up, then he would need to get a taxi. Sometimes we had to cycle or walk to dance lessons. Only last week we had to walk to dance in the dark and rain because, even though the car was at home, my husband had managed to take both car keys to work with him. Sometimes my husband had to come home from work early just to give me a lift somewhere. Sometimes I had to ask my mum for lifts.
I couldn’t always watch my son play football because there was no way of getting there. Sunday mornings were a struggle with the boys playing rugby in different places. Cycling to pick up the car isn’t a good use of time during the working day.
In short, having only one car was becoming a hassle.
But the hassle was only for me and the kids. My husband didn’t see the hassle I was going through. I could tell him about it, but he wasn’t the one constantly having to work out how to manage. I needed my car back.
And I really believed that one day, I would get my car back.
But then my husband showed me the truth. My car, even with a working engine, is only worth £450. To get the reconditioned engine would cost £3,000. And my car would still only be worth £450 and might go wrong again in a year or two. Finally, I realised the truth. My car was never going to work again.
But my husband had also realised the truth. We actually can’t manage with only one car. There’s too many of us and we’re just too busy all the time. So he showed me some Fiat 500s online. They were very nice. They are my second favourite car. I would only contemplate yellow, though.
Couldn’t I just get a newer Beetle? No, I couldn’t. They’re expensive to run, even when working, and expensive to tax. Apparently the engines on them aren’t great.
We often talk about things we might do and never actually do – like going on holiday different places. I didn’t believe I would get a new car in the foreseeable future.
And then fate intervened. The mechanic who looks after our cars texted my husband to tell him he was MOTing his old car. It’s quite an unusual one and he recognised it straight away. So my husband asked him what he thought about Fiat 500s as he was thinking of getting one. He ran through all the potential problems with them… Then he told him about a yellow Mini he’d bought for his girlfriend, with a full service history and a lot of new parts. His girlfriend doesn’t like yellow. Which is funny, because I ONLY like yellow.
I hadn’t wanted a Mini. I would say they’re my third favourite car (I only like cars with character), but my third favourite car is better than no car. And it’s YELLOW for goodness sake! We had a quick drive in the Mini and, within hours of first hearing about it and only the day after contemplating getting a new car, my husband had agreed to buy the Mini!
And, just two days after discussing it, and only three days after first talking about getting any new car at all, I became the proud owner of a yellow Mini.
We’re a two car family again!