With the sound of metal twisting and bending as the direct result of my stupidity and lack of driving talent still ringing in my ears, you’d have thought I might have given myself a breather before buying my next car. I did not. Instead, I extracted the contents of my Yorkshire Bank ‘teen’ account and went on the hunt for another car.
Sadly, I wasn’t allowed within 500 yards of the scrapyard that provided my now retired Dolomite, so I had to search elsewhere for my next set of wheels. As such, I turned to the outlet most synonymous with quality automobiles…
…the Loot. A paper filled with presumably stolen goods and desperate 45 year-old men seeking a lady with a GSOH. Yes, this would be the perfect pond from which I could fish for my next vehicular purchase.
I found it within minutes, a small section of text that set my heart aflutter. It was for ‘the car I’d always promised myself’ and I had to have it. A quick call later and I was on my way to view… on my BMX (I was fourteen, remember). The owner seemed somewhat baffled when I rocked up, but once I started throwing down some knowledgeable lingo (“I like the wheels, mate”) he knew I was a serious buyer. And when I crossed his hand with 40 of my crispest, cash-machine-fresh pounds, the deal was done.
This isn’t mine. This one is, however, a lot BETTER than mine.
I should have been put off by the lack of bumpers, headlights and solid metal, but I wasn’t. I was overjoyed with my car. I had a Capri with 1.6 litres of raw, misfiring power under its long bonnet. Even the owner’s closing statement of “the headlights were a bit knackered, but it’s okay, I glued tinfoil into them to make them reflective again” didn’t worry me. Though looking back, I just think it failed to register. I know, I’m an idiot.
All I had to do now was get it home. Which first meant telling my mother I’d bought another car. I didn’t really do these things as the result of family meetings, I just did them. I was an independent young boy. Though it usually resulted in parental rage, and this purchase was a prime example because as it turned out, my ‘amazing’ Capri would not be living at home. Bugger.
What mine looked like… in 1976.
With teenage naivety, I rang my Dad’s boss and asked if I could keep it in his yard. After all, going behind the back of my Mancunian father could only be a good move. Anyway, Dad’s boss gave me the all clear, all I had to do was get it there.
Deciding the Police would arrest of a fourteen year-old with a 100% fail rate when it comes to driving on sight, not to mention a car with its headlights located in the boot, I opted to recruit a ‘bigger boy’ to do the steering and braking while my mother would do the towing in her Nissan Sunny. A car I would later come to realise is significantly smaller than a Capri.
Mother wasn’t happy. The Sunny’s clutch even less so. I was overjoyed though, the car made it to its new home and I, again, had a car. Life was good. For a day or two.
Remember when I said I was a naive young man? Well, that would be my undoing, as what I’d failed to put together was the outcome in which my Dad (who has owned many a Capri) may be curious as to where the beige ‘beauty’ – now nestled in the same yard he parked his truck – had come from. My idiotic brain had also failed to register the task of learning the car’s owner was not the work of Inspector Morse. One VERY angry call from father later, and my plan had come undone.
The drive down to the yard was a silent one. I tried to justify my purchase but Dad was having none of it. The car had to go. I’d got my dad into trouble and for that, I felt terrible. He could see that, and despite being obviously pissed off, he offered a branch of hope. “If it’s got any life in it, we’ll take it to mine and have it as a project.” JOY OF JOYS! That would have been magical, a father/son project to rival all others. That would have made me talk of the playground come Monday morning.
When my Dad spent some time looking at it, only to burst into fits of laughter half way through, I suspected he had other ideas. “Christopher, it’s a shed. I’m glad you’ve got good taste in cars, but this one’s done, son.” tears welled up in my eyes. I was somewhat disappointed.
Not mine. Still better than mine though.
As I watched my Capri being unsympathetically hoisted onto the back of my Dad’s Ford Cargo 1717 truck, I pondered the implications of car ownership, thinking that maybe it wasn’t for me just yet. When Dad and I stood open-mouthed as we watched the car crease, buckle and damn near snap in half under its own weight, we… well, we both burst out in fits of laughter.
We dropped it off down the road at the same scrap yard in which my bent Dolomite was still lingering, contributing to the Pollitt car graveyard with another choice automobile in the process. The first two in what would become a 130-ish long list of automotive failures forced by my hand.
“Don’t buy any more cars, yeah?” said Dad on the drive home.
“No, ‘course not.” says I, knowing full and well that I was lying through my teeth. I’d have my next one within a week or two…