The telephone rang and after just a few seconds of listening to the person on the other end, my heart sank.
It was my father – who is 76 but still hopelessly obsessed by cars – wanting to know what I thought about the idea of him buying a 14-year-old Porsche Boxster S.
How on earth are you supposed to react to a question like that on a miserable morning in January?
In response I first reminded him of his age, and then went into some minor detail about how much a 14-year-old Boxster might cost to fix when, not if, it goes wrong.
But by that time he was already well into his stride, telling me how much of a bargain this particular example appeared to be, and about why he had already made up his mind he was going to buy it.
So at that point I decided to listen – it’s his money that will disappear down the plughole when the bills begin rolling in, after all. And at that point things went from bad to worse.
"It belongs to a very nice sounding Chinese man who lives in Twickenham,” said my father. “And it’s only done 15,000 miles.”
“And how much does he want for his possibly clocked Boxster S?” I enquired.
“Eight grand,” he replied. “Although I’m hoping he’ll take seven and a half.”
Oh God, I thought, he really is going to buy it. And at that point what can you do? So I suggested he should go and actually drive the car before handing over any money in a frenzied outburst of car naïvety. Which he did the very next day, and came back even more enthused by what he’d discovered.
The car in question has been owned by the same person from new, it turns out, and he seemed to be as genuine as they get. He’d bought it in the summer of 2000 from Porsche AFN in Chiswick.
Not long after that he went to work in America for five years, though, during which time he got AFN to look after the car by running it up on a regular basis, by all accounts.
And when he came back to the UK he used it as a second car, as a toy, basically, and continued to get it serviced by AFN and had every single bill to prove it.
It also had a brand new electric hood, and had just had £1100 of work carried out on it to fix a small leak in one of its sills. And when my old man drove it home a few days later, having parted with £7700, I think he might, just for a few seconds, have been the happiest man on earth.
A couple of days later I went over and took a look at it, and I couldn’t quite believe my eyes – because there, sitting on my Mum and Dad’s drive, was what looked like a brand new Porsche Boxster S. It looked, indeed, as if it had just come off the production line.
So I drove it round the block for a bit and there wasn’t so much as a whiff of a squeak from anywhere. The dampers still felt nice and perky, the gearbox seemed faultless, as did the steering, the brakes, the throttle response, the exhaust note, the hood operation, the cabin, the two boots front and rear… you name it, the car seemed perfect.