Thursday, 14 November 2013

Not with a Bang but a Whimper

Mademoiselle (left) and Clara Bow (right).
As I write this, the minute hand on my watch is chugging gently through 15:35 pm when I should have been anxiously handing my 2CV in to the NCT testing station in Carrick on Shannon for its 4th run up the testing lane 'sausage machine', its carburettor serviced and pouring a perfect mixture of petrol and air onto the spark plugs, its exhaust emissions compliant and the tester man fanning himself on my signed and stamped police form allowing my car to carry the registration it carries.

A 2CV camp at Preston, near Canterbury in 2010
Instead I am sitting typing this. The car languishes in the garage in Balla D, the carburettor sent off to a specialist despite my request that the garage do nothing if they could not guarantee to get my car back to me for today and the 2 guys at the garage (Father and Son) who are the only ones who seem to know anything about "these old cars" are in America playing at Kart Racing, mechanicking for the Ireland team in some international Karting race meeting.

J-M (left) and Em-J in Mademoiselle
This point, 2 tests and 2 re-tests down, plus a goodly amount of money spent on fixes I had already set in my mind as the end of the road for my 2CV-ownership hobby. It's been a great ride and an enjoyable period, over ten years as 'officially mine' and three years before that when it was registered to Liz (long story involving £2 sterling and 5 David Austin roses!). We have some great fun with the car as well as some misadventures, been to 2CV club camps all over the place including Kelso Castle and we've taken her to France a couple of times too. As I said though, always a hobby vehicle rather than a day to day 'proper' car and funded as such. It was always a cheap sustainable hobby when I was in Kent because I could call on my ace fixer, 2CV Llew who, for a small fee could always get it through MOTs, gearbox changes, body-part swaps and so on.

Ireland though, is a different kettle of fish. Nobody owns 2CVs here so there are no Llews to call upon. My local garage have done very well but the NCT is a much stricter test than the MOT and all parts have to be sourced from the UK. So we brought the car over with us intending to keep it running as long as we realistically could but now its time is up. When the carb comes back from the specialist, the garage will refit it to the car and I will drive it back here, park it up and officially take it off the road on a SORN notice. I am sad but resigned. A bit relieved too, if I'm honest and pleased that the stress of all this battling with garages and anxiously taking it for NCTs is over. A weight lifted.

So, as of about now, when the test would have finished, I am the owner of an NCT failure 2CV which may soon be perfectly repaired and able to sweep through an NCT (No! Don't go there! That way madness lies!) and, as it happens, half a 1961, 425 cc, 6 volt electrics 2CV known as Mademoiselle d'Armentieres which lives in Kent, so I can't get at that one either. I am not sure what the future holds. The rules around cars being 'vintage' or old enough to be exempt from NCT have currently frozen on "cars registered on or before 1980" (they are not rolling annually). I can drive it within the 'farm', of course and could even teach the nieces to drive on it, or I could put it up on good old 'Donedeal' and try to sell it. We'll see. Currently I am contemplating cracking open the Prosecco I bought on a "Win or Lose, have a Booze" basis and getting used to being someone who used to have a 2CV. I apologise for borrowing TS Eliot's much over-used final line for my header - his was a serious poem about the post 2nd WW world, not some classic car owning hobby. Look on the bright side. I nearly went down Auden's "Stop all the clocks... prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone" road.

Rest in Peace, 'Clara' for the moment. You were an excellent and respected friend. I will miss being able to drive you about.


mazylou said...


Matt Care said...


Mr Silverwood said...

AAAHhhh, that's a little sad to hear, sorry only just catching up on these now.