THE price of being sensible starts at £114 a month.
That’s roughly what you’ll pay at the moment for a lease deal on an entry-level Kia Picanto, for which you’ll get five doors, a delightfully revvy one-litre engine, a warranty that might as well outlast the universe and endless, unrelenting reliability. Or you could do what I do, and like old cars too much.
Occasionally this works a treat, because it means that for a fraction of the £10,195 a showroom fresh Picanto costs you can have a whole fleet of cars that are faster, roomier and far more likely to attract knowing nods at car shows. It also means that you’re doing your bit to preserve the nation’s heritage, and you’re saving the world’s resources by sparing a carmaker the bother of building a brand new one from scratch.
But it also means you’re worryingly likely to end up in the conumdrum I did the other day, when the 21-year-old Toyota Avensis that I’d taken to a car show ended up above a small, rainbow-coloured lake when it decided to dump virtually all of its 10w/40 through a hairline crack in a split pipe running to its oil cooler. One AA get-you-home repair later and it’s now facing a £400-plus bill to nurse it back to health – a bit depressing, when the car itself only cost a grand.
Normally I’d just leave it at that and resort to the Volkswagen Polo MkII that I’ve been running around in over the last few months. It’s even older, marking its 28th birthday this year, but with sweet handling, plenty of visibility and the ability to suckle 48 miles out of a gallon I’d happily recommend it as a commuting charity. Except that it’s off the road too, at another garage, because it’s awaiting a new fuel tank.
Not to worry. I can just drop the roof down on my Mazda MX-5, which is still one of the most entertaining and beautifully balanced cars you can pick up for under £1500 and – crucially – is most definitely not broken. It works a treat, but the problem with owning multiple cars is that invariable you have MoTs creeping up on you on multiple occasions throughout the year, and the Mazda’s is due next Wednesday. So it might be working now, but chances are it won’t be in a few days’ time.
All of which leaves the Reliant Scimitar, which is working just fine but normally struggles to top 25 to the gallon on account of its three-litre Ford V6 – so spot on for sunny drives in the countryside, but not exactly ideal for daily commuting. So, for someone who normally has four cars at this disposal, I’ve ended up doing the drive to work in a borrowed, J-registered Mitsubishi Galant.
Do I mind? Not even slightly, because I love all of these old cars far more than I ever could an entry-level Kia. It’s just not remotely sensible, that’s all.