Thank heavens for sensible wives and girlfriends eh? If it wasn't for my own long suffering girlfriend, I may have bought a 2000 Ford Mondeo 2.0 Ghia X with a partial history - rare in itself at this end of the market - featuring leather, electric and heated seats, climate control and so on. Pretty much all that the Lexus has, just that bit more involving to drive. With an NCT until February 2013 and tax until the end of the month, plus four new tyres, it's incredible value at 500. This is a car that would have cost over 30k when new 12 years ago.
Anyway, having already burned some money on a Fiat, and having acquired another one it is time to get something sorted and stop buying cars. For a couple of weeks anyway. The new arrival, the Cinquecento in blue (have I lost you yet?), needs new exhaust hangers; the rubber bits (technical term) have perished making the exhaust bang around over rough roads. It also needs a new CV joint to stop it sounding like a tractor on acceleration. And two tyres that only two tyre manufactures appear to make due to them being a peculiar size and low profile (165/55 R13). This of course means they are not cheap either.
Meanwhile the silver Fiat Seicento (I've lost you now surely?) still needs a gearbox. In addition to having no third gear, it now makes crunching noises going into fourth. Despite now having over a year on its newly awarded NCT and a few months on the tax, it will cost more to locate a 'correct' gearbox and have it fitted, than it will to get the blue Fiat up to scratch. Or so I reckon. So do I fancy taking a risk and putting a 15-year old flimsy blue Italian car through an NCT in just a month's time? You bet I do.
Before you all sign a petition to have me committed for the good of the automotive world and mankind, I shall attempt to explain my madness. Yes the blue Fiat is older. No it doesn't even have power steering. Yes it has ridiculously expensive tyres. Yes the brake pedal does feel like stamping on a piece of wood without much decelerating happening, yes it is noisier than the silver Fiat.
But it has a rev counter, a temperature gauge (that sometimes works), erm, some nice sporty seats with much nicer trim. And it is fun - more so than the silver one with the broken gearbox. Factor in the fact that getting it through the NCT should cost less than a reconditioned gearbox, or another second hand one fitted, and you can see my reasoning. You can right? At least I think my girlfriend can when I explained it to her. I'm not sure. She's not speaking to me right now. Said something about Fiat and a headache...
So that has cleared that up then and I'm thinking of selling the silver Fiat now I have robbed it of two bulbs, a rear wiper, the flat blade wipers that I bought for it and a few other minor bits. These are now residing on a blue Fiat. Being a bit indecisive right now, I may yet hold onto the silver Fiat as it has a perfectly good 1.1-litre engine that happens to be the same as the one fitted to certain Cinquecento in blue.
I would add that if you're looking for a small and economical banger of your own there are plenty of less risky options. You could look at Toyota Starlets or a Yaris, Nissan Micras or Honda Civics, Opel Corsas, Volkswagen Polos, the venerable Ford Fiesta, or even perhaps a Renault Clio. Why didn't I plump for one of these myself? Well, for me, part of the bangernomics experience is having a variety of different cars and taking a risk now and again.
It's exciting and just one reason why I find the Lexus so dull. Yes it is super reliable, comfortable, refined and satisfying in some ways. But in others, it is just a little staid, dull and boring. Efficiently so, but still staid, dull and boring. In many ways that makes it a champion banger for some, but for me, I like excitement and a bit of risk. The little Fiats certainly provide that. That's enough from me for now. I have to put on this white coat and go to my special room for a lay down.