June 16th, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new

I’m new to this motor writing game, but it’s in the blood. Cars are more to me than just lumps of metal, designed to lug you to and fro. They’ve got character, maybe even soul. So it’s with a sad heart that I bid a solemn farewell to my Ford Escort.

Described as ‘legendary’ by a certain PR gentleman, and known by many for its saggy exhaust, squeaky suspension and general rubbishness, my Escort was the brunt of many jokes. Despite all of that, it had a character of its own. It was resilient, hard working, and it cared about me and my passengers.

My first experience of it was a trip from the south coast to Yorkshire, via the west end of London. A baptism of fire, really, given the capital’s traffic, but despite a blowing centre pipe, we made it home. Over the next few weeks, odd camber meant my offside front tyre spat all of its tread into oblivion, and then come January my MOT bill came to just shy of £200. The aerial bent in the car wash, the rear view mirror fell off, and the hubcaps crumbled to shards. But it started first time, never skipped a beat, and never let go of the tarmac.

It’s been over some of the hardest mountain passes in the country. It’s taken me on holiday, it’s oversteered it’s way over sheet ice in the salt-less winter, and it’s drank far too much fuel. It’s never injured me, but it’s killed a hedgehog, three birds, and countless rabbits.

A catalogue of memories littered the footwells and glovebox as I cleaned it out yesterday. Fuel receipts, parking permits, empty bottles, wrappers, ice scrapers, and gloves for the winter. Old CDs, scratched to bits. An out of date tax disc. They all tell the story, whether a windows down blast to the beach, or a trip to pick up biscuits, every mile has mattered.

It’s safe to say that despite being an appalling, poorly built, slow, wallowing beast with a chassis apparently made from balsa wood, this car has been much more to me than a mode of transport; it’s become a friend. Which is why I’m so sad to see it go.

So this ‘obituary’ says more about a car than any road test can. It’s all well and good driving something for a week, and listing specs and prices, but what really matters is the long run. A car can be more than just a talking point, it can be a companion. It can be the birthplace of a million memories which will last long after the car itself has become nothing but rust.

Goodbye, Escort. I’ll miss you…

John Slavin