Something has happened that never happens. I’ve amassed about £20,000 — which probably means £25,000 after a few what-the-hell raids on the mortgage money — to buy a special car, something to love and cherish and feel special in.
In this job, you contemplate such purchases all the time — theoretically. But when you’re ready to lay down actual cash, two unfortunate things happen. First, you realise £25k isn’t much: any thought that this sum makes you special dies during your first scan of the classifieds.
Second, you become stupidly sensible, as it were. Instead of searching for a unique machine of flawed brilliance, something imaginative and brave that no-one else has thought of, you head for the obvious: one of the fairly tired Porsche 911s or half-decent Porsche Boxsters that currently flood the market.
Don’t get me wrong, a Porsche is a terrific choice. I’ve been there. We had a family 911 Carrera years ago: dead reliable, fun to own and not so bad to service and insure. The Steering Committee liked driving it, enjoyed the kudos of the office car park, found the front boot okay for supermarket bags, and until they grew too large we’d whip our kids into the two folding rear seats for outings.
Now, such needs aren’t important. No kids to worry about and we have other cars for the supermarket. Now, wants replace the needs: I want the badge on my new car’s nose to be special. I want to do the odd track day, so the car must be respectably quick, nimble, stable and reliable. I want it to be not too hard on brakes and tyres.
And I want to be able to tour. The plan is to keep the car in Gloucestershire but to attend the odd Brooklands, Prescott or Goodwood breakfast club (and be thought worthy of my attendance) without labouring for hours at 55mph. Sometimes I’ll want to take Herself to France in reasonable comfort. As is well known, your passenger’s head and/or backache on a long journey in a funny car is even worse than your own.
So what to buy? People keep saying “get a Porsche”, and are probably right. But they’re such default choices that I resist them. At supercar gatherings, you see arrivals divided into Porsches and Others. This time, I’d like my new car to be an Other.
So I’m stuck. And it hardly helped yesterday when a rather disdainful trade-literate friend (I use the term loosely) offered his solution. “Keep saving, mate,” he said.