Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Car values

Tredegarville School Juniors were doing their Nativity play in St Germans first thing this morning. I had to walk there, as Clare needed to car for shopping and other activities. Twenty minutes into the enchanting presentation, I had a text message from Clare to say someone had crashed into the car on the way back from the supermarket, so I had to return home as swiftly as I'd left it, to give her some comfort and assess the situation.

Another motorist had driven out of a side street and hit the front wing and wheel. Clare had driven home in a state of shock with a wobbly wheel. I guess that's the front suspension gone. Lots of phone calls followed, and as it wasn't her fault, by six were were in possession of a replacement hire car. Our own was certainly not safe to be taken anywhere except on the back of a tow truck. Will our beloved 19 year old WV Golf ever work again? We both wondered.

Both of us felt in awe of this new modern Vauxhall Meriva with 3,500 miles on the clock as opposed to our 199,900 mile Golf, worth a tenth of the new car we'd just been loaned. So light and airy, slick and efficient with its digital displays, electric locks and windows. Just a standard modern car, easy to drive, comfortable-ish, safe and easy to handle, apart from brakes which seem too powerful and aggressive after seemingly laid back but always accurate efficiency of our ancient German masterpiece. Yes, we're both nervous of making a mistake with such a new car, So expensive, compared to what we're used to.

We drive the Golf without being nervous of it. It's sturdy and safe. Because it's un-glamorous and old, it doesn't attract attention from thieves or jealous souls. We don't have to worry about the odd bump or scratch because it's so well constructed that it hasn't and won't readily rust into holes. Bumpers may dent but won't shatter expensively on impact. We don't have to worry about depreciation rates of one or two thousand pounds a year. It has a catalytic exhaust and is quite economical for car of its age. Having this as our only car means we're both attached to it. And, it's identical to the model we drove untroubled in Switzerland for eight years. That's why I bought it on sight, paying slightly over the odds for my enthusiasm, when we first arrived back in Cardiff.

From our viewpoint, having limited resources, the total cost of ownership of the Golf over its life span in our ownership is pretty frugal. Why even think about changing it? But, what if, what if it's a write-off? One big dent in the wing, and collapsed front suspension. How much to repair? More than the car's market value? But it's worth a fortune to me. It works the way I want a car to work in my world of frugal economics. We've a few days of uncertainty ahead of us, until we know the verdict on the Golf.

This afternoon, the Tuesday group gathered, there were nine of us altogether, for an Advent devotional service, based on the special seasonal liturgical texts, giving me an opportunity to reflect with them on the business of preparing for Christmas in practical terms, exploring the link between memories we have and food we eat, remembering people, and remembering God, present in our lives as much as we are prepared to awaken to His presence with us. For me it was some fresh thinking arising from the stimulus provided by last week's radio Four Food Programme. I was pleased to have something new to say for a change. I hope they were pleased to have something new to think about also.

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