On my way home today I was blessed with seeing one of the hottest new cars to launch in recent months; being a massive fan of all things SUV and of most German cars the new Porsche Macan was always going to be a potential favourite of mine, and after finally seeing one in the metal today I was all set to go into a ramble. However chances are I will be seeing lots of Macans on the streets of North London and Hertfordshire and the other piece of German machinery I saw shortly afterward is only going to become rarer in the coming years.
A well kept classic car is by no means a rarity in any part of the world, but classic cars tend to be defined as relatively low production models with some modicum of performance or at least exotic styling. Vehicles like the original Mustang, MG Roadster and Jaguar E-Type are all archetypal classic cars and as such they usually reside in temperature controlled garages or a least under a dirty tarpaulin in the front garden. Much more interesting to me are the everyday vehicles which have remained cherished for decades yet still live a relatively active lifestyle; in this throwaway culture most car owners feel they have to get a new car every 3 or so years (or at least a newer one) – and indeed with technology in the cabin and under the bonnets of cars advancing every year it means it doesn’t take long to fall behind.
Admittedly I know of some people who buy a new car every 10-12 years and spend the first half of that period cherishing every inch of paintwork, but then tend to run it into the ground somewhat as bills start to mount and parking dings start to appear. My Astra is a good example of that, as after 10 years in the family it has now even been banished from the driveway and has to park on the street (when there is a space at least!). But what about cars which are older than that? Cars made in the 1990’s have now officially entered ‘banger’ status and tend now to be missing hubcaps or body trim…or maybe they vanish into a squeaky cloud of blue smoke as they are driven crazily at speed by the lower echelons of society. However the car I saw today was even older than that, not unheard of of course, but the fact that it looked cosmetically factory fresh was something of a startling sight.
The car in question was a mid 1980’s Volkwagen Golf Mk II, driven by 60-something woman at a frustratingly low speed along a dual carriageway near where I live. Now out of all the mainstream models from this period I guess a pristine Golf is not going to be totally unheard of; I mean the VW has always had the reputation of being the classy hatchback for the discerning buyer so it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine this particular owner, inspired by the classic advert featuring Paula Hamilton, went out and bought herself a nice mid-spec Golf to take her to the supermarket and for the school run. These were the days before crossovers and premium superminis, so to the average buyer the Golf was a more solid and more practical Austin Metro.
Who knows why this particular lady chose to keep her car for the best part of 30 years…I mean if it had been a 16v GTI model then it would be totally understandable from the perspective of most car enthusiasts, but a run-of-the-mill version was always at most a well built if uninspired piece of German engineering. I could of course be wrong as to how long she had owned the car but one way or another this particular VW has survived virtually unscathed from a time when mobile phones had extendable aerials.
I could very easily have written this piece on another everyday classic car, a Mark I Vauxhall Astra from the early 80’s – I often see one parked near the local Co-Op or with tiny octogenarian man peering over the steering wheel. A brown Astra is probably amongst the least likely cars to have survived that amount of time but seeing as though I see it on a monthly basis it’s not so much a ‘random’ car sighting 🙂