Monday, 8 February 2016

Farewell Clara Bow

Clara Bow cleaned up for inspection by potential buyers
Readers of my previous post will recall that I alluded to a "hard decision and a life-changing move" described in this one. If you've been anywhere near my Facebook or Twitter feeds you will know by now that this referred to a decision to sell, at last, the 2CV, my precious, loved and cherished friend of 13 years. It was quite a wrench; not quite losing an arm, but up there somewhere in 'momentous'. She has been a big part of my life, a major hobby, maybe a part of my identity; certainly more than "just a car".

Back in the UK, 13 years ago when we first bought the car, she had the UK registration of C 692 BOW and was quickly named "Clara Bow" after the 20's Hollywood silent-film starlet and party animal. If you can recall any of those flickery black and white films of damsels being tied down to railway lines by the villain and rescued in the nick of time, then that damsel was quite often Clara Bow. Her story since then has featured many times on this blog, adventures to far away (or not so far) 2CV Club camping events and 'rallies' but for the last 2 years she has languished in our car port on a SORN (Statutory off road notice) ticket.

I had struggled to get her through the emissions part of the Irish 'NCT' (MOT) test and got fed up with spending the €55 NCT fees (and €28 re-tests) so that by the time I sent the carb off for a complete re-con (€240) I had already decided that I would SORN her to save the tax (€199) and insurance (€400+). We were sure to find something else to spend the cash on, like fencing, livestock feed and similar. She had become an expensive hobby too far. I nursed a vague plan that if the law in Ireland ever changed (ha!) to make this 29 year old bus a "vintage" or "classic" it might be exempt from emissions tests and tax.

Off she goes with someone other than me at the wheel
Black mark for the insurance boys here, by the way. Readers may know different but we could find no insurer willing to cover a car older than 15 years at more than Third Party. We use FBD for the house and for the Fiat and they are problem free and excellent BUT would not play ball on the 2CV. Not even 'Fire and Theft' and certainly no fully comp. Even the 3rd Party premium was €400+. There was no sign of the cosy discounts I had used in the UK (Thank you "Footman James"!) for agreed car value and for limited mileage all agreed through the car club.

Disappearing down the lane and out of my life. 
Ah well, to cut a long story short, selling used cars here is commonly via the huge, on-line classified ads website DoneDeal.IE. You assemble a wee collection of photos of the car including detail shots of not-rusty foot wells, 'new' carburettor, clean tidy engine bay, sound chassis etc and upload them with an honest description of the car and the asking price. My ad quickly accumulated 400+ views and more than a dozen 'saves' and the same evening 3 buyers who wanted to come look. These included a couple of lads from west Cork, a 4 hour drive away!

The car actually sold to a man from Moate, down near Athlone (1.5 hours) who came up to look, decided it was good enough to be drive-able (I was cautioning use of a trailer/transporter or at least an 'A' frame or tow rope in case) and then came back yesterday with a garage-man chum who had green trade plates and could drive it legally (apparently!) even though it was untaxed, un-tested, uninsured (by me) and SORN'd. He checked it over, dribbled a bit more oil in, emptied a gallon of fuel into her from a handy Jerry-can, tested the lights and happily hopped in, keen to get going with my buyer in convoy in a very nice, new, big Citroen saloon (new DS?). My bloke handed over the cash (and, of course I gave him his "luck money" in return by local tradition) and we signed the paperwork and off they went. It was lovely to hear that unmistakable engine note 'fart' off down the lane and I was very envious that it was the garage guy about to enjoy the hour and a half drive back down to Moate, not me. Ah well.

A final view as Clara disappears over the brow.
So now I am one of those people who "used to own a 2CV" and when I look out of the kitchen window, there is no longer that blue, familiar 'nose' pointing back at me from the car port. I must comfort myself knowing that at least now I can replace the 'big' camera and buy some archery gear without it costing anything (ish). Also I have solved that niggling guilt thing that a 2CV should be out on the road giving that superb driving pleasure to someone. It should not be a museum piece gathering dust in someone's barn. Well, now mine, I hope, will. Enjoy her, man from Moate. He was good enough to text me later that day to say that they had got the car safely and seamlessly home and it was now resting in his garage. A garage? Luxury. Clara will not know herself!

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