Selling a Family Friend

I watched him, obscured by window-ledge greenery, circling the old Mitsubishi Space wagon. Mobile in hand, his mouth-corner nipping a fag.

He’d brought a mechanic with him – introduced as ‘my nephew – he helps me a bit’. Nephew had opened a tool box and was crouching. He’d spotted the mild sump leak.

I gave them the keys and they fired her up.
I wanted a £1250 for a quick sale. Book price for mint condition was £2400. She wasn’t mint. But she wasn’t bad. 98000 miles; full service history; manufacturer-guaranteed repairs; clean body; one careful lady driver from new.
Fag-man pressed on the accelerator and the old faithful spat and puttered a bit – betraying that tiny cylinder misfire she’d developed at 2yrs. An imperfection that only made her more perfect to us.
She’s not been started for days now. That wee cough’s to be expected cos I’ve not had her out.
‘Nephew’ lifted the lid and began scribbling on his pad. Listing repairs that would need doing. Every syllable another hundred off the price.
He flicked his roll-up into touch and we were off. The sump needed replacing. That’d be £150 at least. Timing belt? Probably another £250. That cylinder misfire wasn’t clever. New cylinder head -even a scrappie one would cost. And he sucked whistling air sharp between nicotined teeth. Rolled his eyes. 
Not sure this is worth ma time. Another pause. Another teeth sucking. £450 Mrs. That’d be my best offer.

I laughed. 
Nae deal then. I need more than £450. And you know she’s worth a helluva lot more than £450. 

He rocked on old black trainers.
Ok Mrs. He glanced at nephew. £550. Final offer. You’ll not get better than that.

I looked at the old girl. The worn grey upholstery exhaling the smell of us. A thousand family trips. An interior grubby with dripped ice-cream; spilled pee-pots; soured milk and feet-scuffings. And I was overwhelmed by the desire to protect and keep her.
Sorry. I can’t afford to sell at anything less than £950.

That was a lie. The new car was bought. Would be delivered on Monday.
I’m sorry I’ve wasted your time.

My face was closed to him now. 
Would you take £750?

I shook my head. Hard-eyed.
A new silence fell. There was no fresh offer. Nephew closed up his toolbox. Uncle pressed Golden Virginia into fag papers and rolled as they walked to their old truck.
I turned to the door. Ana had been watching it all.
Do we really need to sell our car Mum?

I nodded. She patted my arm with her 7 yr old hand , comfortingly.
Don’t worry Mum. We’ll find a good family for her.

A week later, new car ensconced firmly in fickle hearts, I posted a reduced price for a quick sale. I flagged the need for a new oil sump. The harmless cylinder misfire. The timing belt change required in 20k miles.
She sold for £550.


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5 thoughts on “Selling a Family Friend

  1. oh no! Saying goodbye to a family car is terribly hard. I remember being devastated when Dad sold our old brown Holden when I was still at primary school. The seat belt in my spot was frayed because I liked to chew it, and the faux-leather back seat (which was burning hot in summer and freezing cold in winter) was sticky from thousands of sweaty little legs and spilt snacks, and the ash trays were chock-full of lolly wrappers and dead raisins. Part of the paintwork was all speckled where a certain small person (trying to help wash the car) had sprayed it with window cleaner. It was a despicable old beast, but it held so many memories.

  2. 'sprayed it with window cleaner'! Haha. Though I bet your Dad didn't laugh at the time 😀
    I like the sound of that old brown Holden. Sounds very like our old Mitsubishi Spacewagon… My kids were genuinely angry with me when I got rid of it (actually 3 years ago now). They really believed we should keep it – a family heirloom – so that they could 'inherit' it eventually…lol.
    As for me – I'll probably never drive another car like it. A people carrier with a sporty engine and the type of handling you'd associate with a small nippy saloon… But it was guzzling, giving us only 22-28 miles to the gallon…
    Its replacement gives us 60mpg – though it, too, has been traded in.
    The new, new car arrives on the 29th July – and boasts of a combined 72 mpg – despite being another (deeply un-aesthetic) medium sized people carrier…
    Neither have the heart nor memories associated with the old Spacewagon…x

  3. Enjoy the new wheels! I always drive my cars into the ground and treat them like giant handbags. Then there's car love that gets us through winter – please old crappy Merc don't break down in a mountain tunnel or slide off this peak! I have lived through so much in cars too – putting on snow chains in a tshirt, driving kids with broken arms over passes, getting stuck on the side of the autostrada, stuffing the back with skis and boots with Jimi Hendrix blaring.. I'm about to change vehicle too and it will hurt, but this baby gets so cold in winter I have to wake her up and go for a spin twice a night or she won't start in the morning. Can you imagine? Cat in her Pakistani 70s fur over not much going sliding down the mountain at 3am? Agonising! Xx

  4. Yip. It was a story told against myself…! I'm in Granada, Spain at the moment and it is truly utterly the most exciting city in Spain!! Mind you it's 42c and it's 22.36! Argh!

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