Wednesday, 28 March 2012

I fancy a pretty little Italian

Like all young men I lusted for a sports car.  Something mid-engined and Italian.  In my early years working for firstly Austin-Rover (as it was then) I was restricted to a company made car...hence an MG Metro was the best I managed.  My next job was with Nissan when most people still called it Datsun and every week we'd receive threatening letters from war veterans.  The management were somewhat more relaxed, recognising as they did that Datsun's were not made for thrusting young executives.  So not too many eyebrows were raised when I turned up driving a Lancia Monte Carlo. Which looked something like this

It was beautiful, bright shiny red and for the cynics amongst you, not a hint of rust to be found.  I loved driving it, with the engine behind my head.  Like all Italian mid-engined sports cars it had its problems.  The best documented (apart from the rust issue) was the braking performance.  But that didn't stop me driving it like a sports car should be driven and as only a young man knows how to.  One night, I was driving down the country roads of Sussex, and I didn't steer the car round the corner as it should.  In fact the tail whipped out, and then back and then out again and we careered up the grassy bank which did a very good job of flipping the car over on its roof before we eventually landed in the hedge the right way up.  As we climbed out we saw that we had stopped literally half a dozen feet from the edge of a quarry.  Luck was on our side.

May be I should have learnt my lesson, but I didn't and when he insurance company wrote it off, I went and found another one.  This time in silver:

It wasn't quite so bright and shiny, and mechanically it had a habit of breaking down.  On reflection it was a bad habit really.  But I loved it, and I still think it's one of the most beautiful cars I've ever seen.  It took The Boy's mother to hospital on  the night she gave birth.  Ridiculous really, but I couldn't give it up.  I drove it for a few years more before I was presented with a company car.  At that point it became surplus to requirements and sensibly it would have been sold.  But I didn't.  It went into storage whilst I harboured dreams of getting it rebuilt and back to original condition.  Weeks rolled into months which rolled into years and I never quite managed to find the money to get it sorted.  But my enthusiasm never waned.  Ridiculous.

But then last week the garage rang to say that one of their other customers was looking for a project, and would I be interested in selling it.  Oddly this had quite an upsetting effect on me.  I can't think why really.  So now it is decision time.  Do I sell, or do I do what I've always threatened?  Spend what I suspect will be a small fortune to refurbish a car that will never be worth very much. Of course the decision is obvious, simple and easy.  But I haven't yet worked out what to do.  Men and cars.  Ridiculous.