I’M beginning to think that my lengthy spell of Compulsive Heap Purchasing Disorder (CHPD) is incurable. I’m not too unhappy about it for 95 per cent of the time – it’s an ailment, which one comes to terms with. Most of the time, you spend your life justifying your latest hopeless, groaning, smoking purchase to your family and friends, and smile inwardly at their lack of taste and discerning if they don’t quite understand why a seventeen year old family barge with fist-sized rot holes in is actually a very good thing.
Ever since the DVLA was mad enough to award me a driving licence back in 1987, I’ve been buying cars that in reality only their mothers could ever possibly love.
I started with an Allegro with three gears instead of five, and an obsession with trying to turn left, no matter what I did with the wheel and pedals. You’d think I’d have learned – gone and done what all my mates did and save up for a nearly new Metro, Fiesta or Micra. But oh no – not me – I had to go and buy an Audi 100 5E with a wonky rear axle, A Mini 1000 with a rolled up copy of The Sun acting as bracing for the dissolved sill, or a Cavalier Mk1 with a cloth stuck in the carb to stop it stalling at idle.
Each time, I’d think I’d had enough of some hopeless heap which really would have been completed with a ‘Police Aware’ sticker on it, I’d take a breath, sell the thing, and go and buy another.
All through my life, my choice in cars has been governed by this compulsion of take on a hopeless cause and make something good out of it (I mean why buy an ’82 Skoda Estelle and age ten years in the three winter months I owned it?) But in the end, there are no winners, and only one serious loser – my wallet. I guess that’s the bottom line – I love lost causes and trying to turn them round…
I had to go and buy an Audi 100 5E with a
wonky rear axle, A Mini 1000 with a
rolled up copy of The Sun acting as
bracing for the dissolved sill, or a
Cavalier Mk1 with a cloth stuck in the
carb to stop it stalling at idle…
So, why this ramble? Well, I’m wondering whether any doctors out there could give me a hint on potential cures. Nearly 20 years of motoring pleasure on, I’ve still not been able to ween myself off the drug of knackered has-been-mobiles and into something a little more financially astute. CHPD has me by the throat, and I seem to be suffering now, as much as I ever did.
A few times, I tried to get out of the addiction by purchasing nearly-new cars, but after a year or so, boredom sets in and I start trying to justify going back to my old ways by saying things like, ‘wouldn’t it be good to have a car that doesn’t depreciate?’, or, ‘isn’t this new Rover/Audi/Citroen lacking in personality?’ Followed by a swift sale, and a move back to square one.
One way of justifying CHPD is to try and turn it into a money-making bonanza. I buy a car, and sell it on for a few quid profit… except that in putting it right, I’ve spent all the future profit, and a little bit more. I once made £700 on a Peugeot 405Mi16, and felt good about it, until I realised that I needed to spend all that on a Citroen BX 16 Valve to make good, and then I ended up selling it for a loss.
So, do I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat wondering what the hell I’m doing with all these cars – thinking about what I could have been driving with the money I’d wasted along the way? You think I would be – and yet, I’m not…
I remain happy and contented – and although my Rover SD1 remains rusty and immobile, and my Lancia Thema isn’t that far behind, I know in my own mind that I’d be bored to tears with anything newer and more competent. I like to think of driving as a great adventuire – and where’s the fun in owning something you can depend on?
Oh hang on – isn’t this where we started?
Nurse, pass the drugs!
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.