As the dust settles on Alistair Darling’s scrappage scheme, some realities are beginning to emerge. Firstly, a recent survey by an online car guide suggests that the expected punter stampede hasn’t quite materialised.
More worryingly, some car makers are being, how can put I this, a little economical with the truth when it comes to the exact nature of their ‘scrappage’ offer.
In other words, if you are tempted, make sure you do your homework, do your sums properly, and go in all guns blazing.
But there’s something more sinister. Innocent cars are going to die unnecessarily.
A few weeks ago I found myself near Stansted Airport sitting behind a Mark III Ford Cortina L. It was an S-reg, which by my reckoning would have made it a ’78 model.
Hardly the last word in dynamic excellence when it was new, the Cortina was your middle-management staple, a sign that you were making your way up the corporate ladder of Sunshine Desserts or wherever you worked, but still had some way to go (with a Granada waiting at the other end, along with the keys to the executive wash-room).
People certainly aspired to drive a Cortina, just not necessarily the sort of people you’d want to be stuck in the pub with.
Yet I’m not kidding you when I say that this Cortina L was the best thing I saw on the road all day. Why? Because a car that was about as rare as a blade of grass 30 years ago has now morphed into something you simply never see.
While I sat there mesmerised by its boxy blue arse, I couldn’t remember the last time I spotted a Mark III Cortina.
They’ve nearly all gone, victims of decay, or more likely society’s gluttonous appetite for the latest thing.
It’s a trend that the scrappage initiative is only going to accelerate, only this time it won’t just be 31-year old Ford Cortinas that’ll be condemned prematurely to the dumper. It’ll be anything older than a decade, which is no age at all when you think about it.
So I want to start a Save Our Shitters campaign.
The bloke who fixes my computer turns up in his 1982 Escort Ghia, and apologises for cluttering up my driveway.
He doesn’t realise that I secretly really want his car, though I’d prefer an Orion (remember those?) I also quite fancy an Austin Maestro, as teeth-grindingly awful as it was, the Fiat Strada, the late-’70s Alfa Romeo Giulietta (the one with the big stacked up boot), the Mercedes 190, Renault Fuego and 14, an ’82 Audi 100, and a mid-’80s Ford Scorpio Ghia. I could go on…
Save our shitters! All suggestions gratefully received.