The trials of buying a car! I had a price limit (obviously) that is quite low by most people’s standards – a measly €3000. However, I thought I was being bloody generous to some of the bangers advertised in the indispensable Buy & Sell (where else could you buy someone else’s black and white portable TV for €10 o.n.o.?!). How wrong was I, dear friends! Turns out most ‘decent’ cars were gone before I’d lifted the phone…so, when I saw a Fiat Punto (I know, I know!!) with 37k miles on it (and in showroom condition) advertised, I jumped at it’s €2600 price! When the man who answered the phone appeared to be about 17 billion years old, I rejoiced – I asked him was he the first owner, and he informed me that he wasn’t…that he had bought the car from ‘Brigid above there in Ballymun’. I smiled at his quaintness, and offered to come view the car on Saturday. My Garda friend came along for the ride, and we dropped into a Ford garage in Phibsboro to ask would they take a look at it if we brought it up. Great lads as they were, they agreed wholeheartedly!
We pulled into a pleasantly old estate on Botanic Road, and were greeted by the sight of Old-Man-River himself stumbling down the road on his age-worn legs…blatant opportunists that we were, we rubbed our hands in glee at the thoughts of this man driving down to the shops once a week in the car – barely using it, in fact! He showed us to the car-port and started the engine of the car – alarm bells rang in our not-exactly-mechanics-but-still-not-completely-stupid heads! It sounded as if it hadn’t been used in six months or more…so we asked him how often he drove it, and he informed us that he didn’t actually own the car – it belonged to his sister who had recently gone into a nursing home. We took the car off his hands for a wee test drive up to the garage, and on the way my Garda friend rang the registration number through to the station…we pulled into the garage, and the lads there almost laughed at the car. What we, inexperienced buffoons, had not noticed was the extremely dodgy spray job on the rear…before another word was spoken, Garda-friend’s phone rang and we were informed that the car had been rear-ended in 2001, and had also had all the windows smashed in with a sledgehammer (separate incidents? I don’t know!). Good enough, then! The mechanic-boys let us know of another garage down the road owned by an ex-Garda, where we might get a deal…so we returned to the oldest man in Ireland, and told him that we couldn’t buy the car as it wasn’t in great ‘nick’ at all. He then proceeded to LIE to us – he said he had had it serviced every three or four months. Damning him for his treachery, I spat on the ground in front of him and stormed out of there! (OK – only figuratively speaking! What I actually did was thank him for his time, and say goodbye in that nice ‘we-have-guests’ tone my Momma had always taught me!)….
Abba Moters, on North Circular, looked alright – in a dodgy-U-Turn kind of way – so we strolled confidently into it’s darkened interior! Suddenly, a shaft of light broke through the overcast day, and lit up an angel-car sandwiched between a big saloon-type car and another big saloon-type automobile……the car that would be mine – a beautiful ’97 Ford Fiesta!!!
Ok, so I’m exaggerating. It wasn’t the car of my dreams – the car of my dreams is an old-style, convertible VW Beetle, painted in all the colours of the rainbow. Failing that, I originally wanted a VW Golf.
But it was a car that I liked the look of, a car that I could drive and, most importantly, a car that I could afford! It had two years NCT on it, and was taxed until September of next year…plus a service and valet-ing was included in the price. We brought it down to the first garage, and the lovely mechanics test drove it with us, checked under the bonnet, looked at all the outside work and pronounced it ‘a little goer’. One phone call to the station later proved that it was clean as a whistle, and twice as shiny! Refusing any money from me (lovely chaps!), the mechanics waved us off in my little car, and wished me much good luck! We returned to the garage, and the man told us that it would cost me €3000…we half-heartedly tried to bargain, but he’d already knocked €250 from the price, and wasn’t inclined to go any further. I agreed, we shook hands in a professional manner, signed a receipt in an even MORE professional manner, and I managed to hold in my un-professional squeals of delight until I had exited the garage.
The deal is made, and I collect it Wednesday. Hallelujah, hallelujah – ladies and gentlemen, my first car!!!!
(**Suppressed squeal of delight and simultaneous hand-clapping**)