Wednesday 11 July 2012

A sad, sad day

A victory for sensible, a triumph for rational, but nonetheless a sad, sad day. The good ship ECO 1 has departed for shores unknown (well, Surrey actually). Back in about 2006 I convinced myself I wanted a Landrover. Needed a Landrover. Not just any Landrover, it had to be a Defender, and it had to be a long wheelbase. I spent a fair old while looking for the perfect car, and finally took the plunge. Broadly speaking, it then sat outside my house for about six years. It became a local landmark, taxis and delivery men would know where to stop, tradesmen where to knock. In a street with its fair share of parking problems, it was an immovable object, a guardian of my bit of road.

In the six years that I had it, I did just over 16,000 miles. A few Scottish trips, a few times to Norfolk and Kent, over to France once, but mostly just pootling around London. The cost per mile was probably just under a pound all told. Not very good. This year the battery gave out in about March, and I'd not driven it since. With the MOT and tax coming up, I decided to bite the bullet and sell up. I'm very sad, but at twenty years old and approximately fifty percent rust, the time had come. The depreciation was very large indeed, eye-watering in fact, but faced with the choice of more servicing bills, more tax, more insurance and fuel economy that would make a Saturn rocket look efficient, I decided to take the hit. A truck came today at around lunchtime, winched it up, and that was that.

Here's the Landy in happier times, on Mull, with Mrs L cooking a nice healthy breakfast in the back.

There are happy memories of course. I slept overnight in it many a time whilst birding. At a Black Grouse lek in the Highlands, for a Thrush Nightingale in Suffolk. I stood on the roof of it in order to scope a Purple Heron at Crossness until security turned up. My favourite times were of it as a family car, the five of us squeezed into its narrow seats, bikes on the top, a ton of crap in the back, and some decent countryside ahead. It was never really a London car, even though that's where it spent most time, but it was still a lot of fun. Arm out the window, diesel roaring, other drivers deciding that yes, they would give way just this once. Aircon, you're kidding right? Anyhow, an interesting if wasteful period of my life has ended, and whilst not a broken man, I am hurting. I briefly thought about getting another one, a newer one, a few months ago, but saw sense and realised that, mostly, the same shortcomings of my 1992 model were present even in current cars. I've never been much of a car person, never had fast car urges, a desire to go and plonk down silly money for something really flash. My Landy was a proper vehicle, one that showed I didn't care about that kind of thing, that I didn't bow to peer pressure. And that I wasn't going to race you off the lights, and not just because I couldn't.

So what to get next? Something that is actually capable of moving for starters, novel though that sensation would be. I'm thinking small, and I'm thinking highly economical. Dull, basically. Boring. All it needs is a boot just large enough for a tripod, scope and camera, and that'll do me I reckon. Oh, and it has to be a Ford.....


  1. Of course it had aircon. That's what the those flaps beneath the windscreen were for. The faster you went (relative term), the cooler it got. As in "Honestly, officer, I have to drive this fast, it's a hot day."

    So, a TALL Ford? You'll miss peering imperiously over hedges. You know you will.

  2. Or go to the dark side and get a Toyota Prius !!!

  3. I've got a 20 year old 110 Defender and I still think its the best car I've ever owned! Gets abused driving through salt water & sand to Hilbre every week but starts however cold it is and the air con is great - 4 windows, sun roof and 2 flaps in the front. Totally zonal and directional. Alos runs off vegetable oil and a mixture of unleaded and old engine oil if needed.

  4. Surely you don't need a new car now you are running everywhere...