Ex Girlfriends and Old Cars

Whenever I’ve sold a car there is always a slight lingering pang of regret, usually financial, and a desire that the new owner should look after her.  I have a habit of referring to cars, in fact most mechanical objects, as female.  It is well known that sailors always referred to ships as ‘she’ and perhaps this habit has carried on to motor vehicles, like women they are beautiful and complicated.  There is this quote from many a US Naval wardroom:
“A ship is called a she because there is always a great deal of bustle around her; there is usually a gang of men about; she has a waist and stays; it takes a lot of paint to keep her good-looking; it is not the initial expense that breaks you, it is the upkeep; she can be all decked out; it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly; and without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable. She shows her topsides, hides her bottom and, when coming into port, always heads for the buoys.”

Now that comment may be a little chauvinistic but it may help to explain why we anthropomorphise vehicles and most complex mechanical gear with a female gender.  I’ve had far more cars than girlfriends, but each has left fond memories and their foibles that at the time were very annoying have faded in the recall.

  • The Sunbeam Lotus that was forever snapping clutch cables.
  • The Mini that wouldn’t start, rain or shine, without a squirt of WD40.
  • The Austin that consumed more oil than petrol.
  • The Clan Crusader that consumed more coolant than petrol.
  • The Lotus Elan Sprint that tore fingernails off when putting the roof down.
  • The Citroen Xantia with the iffy brakes and that made me car sick on long journeys.
  • The Smart (sic) car that had to be driven so hard to make any decent progress that it was really uneconomical.
  • The TVR 420SEAC that… too many problems to mention.

Generally when I change my car it is through a thief car dealer and they are particularly unemotional about them, so it was nice to receive an email from the purchaser of my MX5.  He had seen this site and remarked that I was not very complimentary about the Mazda but that he had bought it has a ‘high days & holidays’ car.  I replied that the car was in reality very good and was exactly as described in countless motor magazine reviews, I just didn’t like it.  I also remarked that should it ever be in this part of North Yorkshire again I would be happy to demonstrate in 6.3 V8 form why I sold her.

The list of cars that I regret selling will be listed here soon……

It’s quiz time

OK, quick question for you, what has a naturally aspirated eight cylinder 6.2 litre front engine in a V format with a power output of 451bhp, 443lb-ft torque and drives the rear wheels?

Oh, and it’s an estate (other configurations are available).

Yes, correct.  It’s a C63 Mercedes.  And it’s mine.

Mercedes C63 W204 frontage

70,000 miles, FMBSH and a prodigious thirst, it is possibly the fastest car I have ever owned.

I traded in the Mazda and to be honest I’m glad to see the back of it.  Don’t misunderstand, it was (is) a very capable car and was exactly as all the motoring magazines and pundits said.  It was very good to drive, well made, quite good value for money (except for trade-in!) but I found it very disappointing.  If one wanted to drive like a loon, as though one’s pants were on fire and get the back end out round corners all without breaking too many speed limits, it was great.  However if one had to be in Newcastle at 07:00 in the morning, wanted to listen to Radio 4, wanted somewhere to put one’s phone and keys and it was raining, it was a miserable and claustrophobic place to be.  Artics cut you up because they can’t see you, one felt vulnerable on motorways and the fuel gauge would drop from 25 miles remaining to less than 5 in around 3 miles.  Every time a corner was taken the keys would slide from the centre console and disappear under the seats.  3/4 vision was very poor with the roof up and the lack of any sort of storage space in the cabin was infuriating.

I hope the Merc and I get on, we are going to firm friends with the local Shell garage and spend much money with my local tyre man.  I can’t wait.Mercedes C63 badge