Regular readers will know that I recently invested a fairly small sum of money in a new (old) classic runabout, because I had become so bored with commuting in a modern. And it's a revelation (except perhaps for the dog).
Several people have since asked me how I managed to come by a bona fide classic with a year's MoT for less than a grand and, while there was – and always is – an element of luck, it was pretty simple. All it took was a saved search on eBay for 'Classic Cars/less than £1000/within 100 miles' and an awful lot of patience. Oh and, as it turned out, a couple of glasses of wine to loosen my inhibitions and stick a £950 bid on a ’79 MG BGT that had stalled at £705.
Somehow, though, now that I have the thing and it has been (sort of) accepted by my wife as part of the driveway furniture, the knowledge that it cost so little makes it more fun. It also has a happy knack of helping me to ignore – or at least not be so bothered about – any niggles that might have stressed me out in a car on which I'd forked out my kids' trust funds.
Yes, I'm aware that the suspension is, erm, how shall I put it, a bit tired, but I wobble and bounce my way into work oblivious to the clunks, squeaks and creaks. I don't even mind the fact that on occasion it just stops for no apparent reason – particularly because it always restarts after a count to five and carries on as if nothing had happened.
That's not to say, I must stress, that I don't care about it. I will admit that, at first, I was rather blasé and a bit over-critical, but I'm starting to fall in love with this tatty bit of faded Abingdon glory. If I can help it, I don't want this to be a disposable classic, either – it's a car I want to keep, hopefully improve a bit, and continue to enjoy using for as long as funds (or my wife) will allow. That said, the realist in me knows that it'll never be a minter, and that makes me much less fussy, which for a daily hack is a very good thing.
It means that I don't look out at a rainy sky, mutter darkly and then take the Ford Focus – the GT's surprisingly reasonable heater blower and wipers, plus its enjoyably limited grip, makes it just as much fun in the wet as it is in the dry...
...Well, almost. Because for me the greatest joy of this car is its Webasto-style roof - so much so that my workmates (well, Page) have started to rib me almost daily for my borderline obsession for a roll-back piece of vinyl. For fellow Webasto obsessives, by the way, it's neither a genuine Webasto nor a Britax, but a 'Weathershield trademark' – which I presume was an aftermarket fitment, but one that was rather better executed than the Britax in a colleague's matching ’79 GT.
I have a feeling that I wouldn't have been so seduced had I been expected to pay more than the insurance premium for my wife's modern on this car, but I didn't, and that has helped me to accentuate the positives. It's a brilliant reminder that, in these straitened times – and when it seems that most of the classics I lust after are moving increasingly out of my reach – you don't need to spend a lot of money to have an awful lot of classic fun.