Let’s just get something straight from the off. I have been working in the motor trade for nearly twenty five years, man and boy. I have driven some of the most desirable cars around and I have driven some of the worst. I have lived and breathed the automotive industry for all those years but, you know what? I don’t like cars. You won’t find me settling down with my feet up watching Top Gear or surrounded by glossy car mags. For me cars are my livelihood and how I make my living and nothing much more. Just for the record I am currently driving a black Land Rover Discovery 3 2.7 TD V6 HSE Auto (or “disco” to its friends). I’m sure a lot of people would quite like a car like that and, I have to say, it’s not too bad at all but I’m a motor trader and, probably in two months time, I’ll be driving something else. Maybe it’ll be a 3 year old Vauxhall Vectra, who knows? The point is I don’t get attached to cars and as a result never get enthusiastic about them either. If I could choose a car for keeps it’d probably be something very boring. I’m a strictly “a to b” kinda guy.
So when the editor of MTI approached a few of the “insiders” saying he thought it might be interesting for us to write a short article about our favourite cars I was a bit stumped. I did, however, believe I could write about a “memorable” car so this is what I set about doing. Unfortunately, for me, it was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
The car in question was the first car I actually owned and as I couldn’t afford very much metal I ended up with a Fiat 126. Now I’m not the smallest bloke in the world and it certainly wasn’t love at first site but my finances where in the driving seat when it came to deciding which car I should buy, so I joined them behind the wheel of the Fiat.
It was a Fiat 126 BIS to be precise and it had 700 cc’s in the boot and “boasted” a bhp of, um, 26. It was pale blue and had nice check patterned cloth seats but, I have to admit, I was embarrassed driving it. But, to be fair, it was a car, sort of, and it got me to where I needed to be, albeit rather slowly.
I did get used to it after a while and began to feel quite bohemian behind the wheel, as if I was making some sort of statement, other than letting everyone know I was potless. That was until the incident that occurred just prior to me placing the “for sale” sign in the windscreen.
I was a young man, green as grass and the butt of many a car related joke at the dealers I worked for. In those days you used to have to sell a lot of cars before they’d give you one to drive and having just started in the trade I was stuck with the 126. I, along with most of the blokes I was working with, had been chasing the receptionist for a quite a while and I felt my choice of car was certainly not helping me to impress her. But one day the chance to turn things in my favour presented itself and I knew fate was in my hands. The receptionist had just taken a call from her flatmate telling her that she had locked herself out and could she come home urgently and let her in. She’d cleared it with the boss and now all she needed was a lift as she didn’t drive. As I was seated close to the conversation I stepped forward and seized my chance. I had to do the banking so I could drop her off on the way. To my absolute delight she didn’t hesitate and out we walked to the 126. She even described it as “cute” as we were getting in. This was going great.
As we set off our conversation turned from her dim witted flatmate to the latest hot bands and I was once again delighted to discover that we had some common interests. I distinctly remember the intoxicating scent of her perfume in the confined space of the 126. Another bonus was this lack of space meant she was a good deal closer to me than she might have been. Yes, there was a God and he was looking down upon us, me and the 126, and bathing us in the light of love. Unfortunately at the same time as God was doing this he was arranging for our path to intersect with, what I later discovered, where two, loud mouthed, burly Australians who were about to, quite forcefully, offer their opinion regarding my choice of vehicle. After all what the Lord giveth the Lord taketh away and this point was proved as I approached the red light a few streets from the lovely receptionists flat.
As I pulled up at the traffic lights I appeared in the periphery of one of the Australians. He cast me a glance and then nudged his mate. What happened next sealed the fate of the 126 any put paid to any hopes I had with the receptionist.
The two Australians left the pavement and began to circle the 126 as if giving it a close inspection. Sweat appeared on my brow as I concentrated hard on the red light willing it to change. Eventually, after what seemed like two years of a very uncomfortable feeling, one of the Australians, the larger one of the two (and they were both pretty big) leaned into my open driver side window, sniffed and pronounced, quite loudly;
“You look pretty stupid in your car mate”
All I could think of saying was a meek “thanks” with which he raised his hand, as if to say
“Really, honestly, it was nothing, just doing my duty.”
With that they wandered off and the lights, as if waiting for the Australians to finish their critique, changed to green.
The lovely receptionists softly asked me to pull over and let her out as she felt she needed some air and could walk the last half mile.
I, of course, obliged and the 126’s fate was sealed.