Last week my Lotus Elite failed its MoT. Again.
Now, I am the first to admit that i have not been what you would call a good owner of this car, but in my defence, its purchase proved a classic too far.
The addition of the Elite to the Elliott fleet, through little or no fault of its own, simply meant that I had more classics than I could afford to keep on top of (financially or time-wise).
And the one that suffered most because of that was the Elite itself.
Yet somehow I could never bring myself to let it go.
Perhaps this was recognition of the fact that the Lotus was actually not the one with the biggest issues, but just that like a newborn it never seemed to be quite satisfied so the less needy children with bigger but less frequent problems took priority.
Perhaps it was some other factors such as how much I adore the idea (if not the reality) of that particular car, how much I love Elites when they are on song, how beholden I feel to the people who found it for me given the circumstances, or how conscious I am of the fact that the unfailingly supportive club and specialists (and all the Lotus Elite/Eclat/Excels out there) deserve a far better representative in the media than I had proven to be.
Someone to champion their cause – because they are brilliant driver's cars – rather then tarnish their reputation through his botched ownership.
So, after its first MoT failure the wedge was pushed out of sight and neglected.
And there, uniquely for one of my cars, it languished for a year. Disgraceful I know, but I suspect that I am far from the only enthusiast to indulge in this sort of unacceptable behaviour prompted by all sorts of financial, time-related and even some psychological reasons.
Alarmingly, when I finally decided to attack it (the temporary freeing up of the workshop being a huge factor in this), with the invaluable help of James Page and Al Clements, it took us less than a week of lunch-hours to get it in a state that I thought it was worth at least putting it through another MoT.
OK, so it appears to have failed miserably, but the truth is that if I wasn't currently so despondent about the car, it would probably be only the same amount of work again before I could be confident of it passing.
The only decent-sized job is a rear wheel bearing, after all, the same one Port and I fixed after the last failure.
But there is more to it than that.
You see, even that brief journey to and from the MoT station reminded me of two things: why I so desperately want to have an Elite, but why the one I have is not that Elite.
It's no secret that when I bought my example, I was doing it on a budget. So little of a budget that a friend of a friend finally agreed to sell it for far less than both he and I knew it to be worth solely so I could be an owner. I was that desperate to have one and they were that sympathetic to my bleating.
The fact that – even though it isn't really the case – I appear to have been spurning this car ever since, therefore, just reeks of ingratitude to both the seller and the ever-helpful 'broker' of the deal.
Sometimes, however, you have to face reality and the fact is that though I am still desperate to have an Elite, this one isn't the one. The major stumbling block is that it's an auto. In my elation at finding one for my budget I thought I would be able to overcome that, but it turns out I can't.
I have no one to blame for that but myself. I consciously made the compromise because I couldn't afford what I really wanted, but I should have waited and saved up (as if that was ever going to happen!) rather than striking while the iron was hot.
Sorry gents – you know who you are – please don't think this is any way criticism of you: I knew exactly what I was taking on and precisely what your efforts and generosity were on my behalf. The car was, if anything, better than I had any right expect for that money.
Sorry, too, to Mike Taylor at Lotusbits and the ever-sympathetic Angus at lotusexcel.net, both friendly and enthusiastic supporters who I genuinely feel I will be letting down.
So, for all the reasons above, I think the only solution is a clean break and my Elite has to go, because I realise that whatever I do to it, however much time and money I spend on it, it won't ever quite be the car that I need.
What I would really like is for someone better than me, with more time than me, to take it on and give it the life that it deserves. So make me an offer.
Or, preferably, you are someone who already owns a manual car that you have made tediously reliable, so tediously reliable that you would relish the opportunity to swap it for the (slight) 'challenge' of my car with the huge bonus of its unstressed (thanks to the auto) late 2.2-litre engine and general good condition, but just in need of a little time and TLC.
Then, with the Elite that I always promised myself, I could finally and publicly set the record straight and erase this recent, unhappy little history.