As I write this post the heavens are dumping another month’s worth of rainfall on my back garden and yet just a few short days ago we were enjoying a week of glorious sunshine and high temperatures.
It was at the tail end of this brief burst of summer weather that I spotted a local car dealership had undergone a major refresh in its stock list. It’s a small independent dealer that specialises in hot hatches and coupes, a regular treasure trove of tempting metal from a long list of familiar badges. There is no sense of badge loyalty and anything goes – Cooper, Cloverleaf, Renaultsport, GTI, ST, RS, VXR, M3, Type-R, Evo, WRX, 350Z.
Yet, when I drove by the other day the hatchbacks and coupes had been pushed to the back of the lot to make way for a collection of drop-tops. A brace of convertible Saab 9-3s and topless Audi A4s, a couple of Mazda MX5-s and a Lotus Elise lined up in pride of place by the roadside.
It was the Lotus that caught my eye. A metallic blue Series 2 111R that was just sat there, innocently glistening in the sunshine, and yet it was pulling me in with its siren’s call. I’ve often considered an Elise as a commuting tool to brighten up my journey to work and the sticker in the window suggested it could almost be justified to my dear wife.
I had to stop to get a closer look. The mileage was on the wrong side of high and the paintwork looked like it needed some work but other than that it looked OK. Very tempting, in fact, and I could already picture myself taking the long way to work, roof off, revelling in the Elise’s pin-sharp handling. I just had a nagging doubt that something wasn’t quite right.
Using the power of my smartphone (they are wonderful things) I had a quick look on AutoTrader using their Android app. My suspicions were borne out and this Elise was little more than an overpriced piece of opportunism designed to cash in on the brief burst of summer weather. There were a number of Elises of similar age and mileage for much less money and not too far away either. I walked away shaking my head and feeling a little bit foolish as I’d nearly fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book.
Admittedly I was a long way from signing on the dotted line for a shiny but overpriced Elise, but there is a morale to this story. Don’t dive in and make an impulse purchase if you’re out buying a car, but if you really can’t resist temptation and have a smartphone at your disposal – for goodness sake use it and make sure you don’t pay over the odds.
That event reminded me of the last time I seriously considered buying a convertible during my first ever trip to the National Kit Car Show at Stoneleigh Park. It was there that I saw a Chesil Speedster up close for the first time and as a long-time admirer of the Porsche 356 I was smitten. And that was despite the knowledge that the underpinnings of the Chesil are nothing more than a cleaned up Volkswagen Beetle chassis.
Bank balances were checked (doh!) and loans were investigated (tempting) and I even began to search for classic car insurance with Cherished Vehicle Insurance. In the end I had to admit that the required outlay was just too high for my humble income and my Speedster itch remained unscratched. Shame, because looking at second hand values I could have made a small fortune selling it in last week’s scorching weather.
Never mind, for now I’ll make do with a tin top and air-con.