Apart from staring at your forehead lines deep enough to run trams along, nothing exposes aging like buying a car. Walking into a Used Car showroom, you can see the salesmen assessing how serious you are (generally not very), and which car you might be interested in. As you’re guided past the hot-hatchbacks it’s best to blame it on the children who’ve mistaken the polished floors and smell of new upholstery as an ice rink and excuse to bust out superhero moves.
Yes, it’s time for a car that can fit a family in. I’ll miss having them all on my lap when braking in the Mini Clubman, but it’s time to grow up. Never a pleasant sentence to write, along with ‘VW Passat estate’, which is the sort of car an Ad agency chief buys to demonstrate how much he dislikes buying cars as a status symbol, while still insisting on it being a VW. It’s that or an antique dealers car. It’s ideal for transporting wardrobes, while simultaneously looking like one. What the salesmen fail to tell you is that having mates calling up for transporting bulky items is included in the price of any estate car.
I’m introduced to Brian, who agrees to take me out in the Passat. Taking it for a test drive confirms that, well, that it’s a car. All it really succeeds in doing is expose a rare demonstration in how to stall a car on a roundabout, and how fast the Mini Clubman is once I get back in it.
It is ridiculous how people make assumptions about you based on what car you drive. When I say people, I mean me. It’s hard not to think that anyone driving an Audi Q7 isn’t a spoilt tosser with spatial awareness issues. They’re a few inches away from needing an HGV licence. Meanwhile, Porsche Cayenne drivers have personality deficits that no amount of piss-poor styling and an identity crisis within a range is going to solve. And anyone driving a BMW X5 or X6 would have an LED display of their salary on the roof if they could. Some people even start looking like their cars. One chap in Rotherhithe was a spit of his Renault Espace.
“What d’you think?” asks Brian, on our return to the showroom. I must have looked confused. “About the car?” he prompts. “I quite like it.” I say, not exactly the ringing endorsement needed to start hard bargaining. “You can go camping now…” he says. “Don’t make it any worse.”I smile.
Anyway, I put an offer in, despite the car making me feel so old that it should come with free botox. Mind you, when Ryan took my DOB, he said that he’d thought I was his age (34). If he’d mentioned this earlier he would have had a deal sooner.
To be continued…