It seems only yesterday I bought Neddy, my lovely little Mini Sidewalk, unadulterated and raring to get into the Mini scene. I’ve since added my own refinements, like 5-spoke alloy wheels and a carbon-fibre dashboard and suchlike, but it’s remained essentially the same car. Cute, friendly, stubborn at times, but a great friend.
Odd, then, that I should be even considering letting that car go.
Unfortunately, that’s the way life is at the moment. Minis are great fun, and I can’t think of a car better suited to me, but in all honesty they’re not the most practical of vehicles. For just me, it’s fine, but my wife wants to learn to drive, we want to have kids, and there just isn’t enough room in a Mini for all that. I wouldn’t want Ellie learning to drive in a Mini, not because I’m afraid of her breaking anything, but more because I’m afraid of it breaking her – Minis don’t have crumple zones. The inevitable upshot of that looming eventuality is that Neddy will need to go.
So I’ve been looking into what other potential cars we could buy. We don’t want a small car, because that’s not really going to be a huge improvement over the Mini. We don’t need anything bigger than a small estate car because we just can’t justify it at the moment. There is certainly no need for a 4×4 or a people carrier, and as much fun as it would be to have a sports car we can’t afford it and we could probably get more shopping in the Mini. So, we’re looking at a medium-sized family saloon, nothing special, nothing expensive, just something cheap and cheerful to satisfy all our needs. Incidentally, this also means satisfying my undying need to have a little fun every now and then – not breaking the law, and not taking unnecessary risks all the time, I just enjoy having the option of throwing the car into a corner every now and then.
It would appear, then, that the ideal solution is a Ford Escort. They’re cheap to buy (I’ve found decent ones for sale for around £1000), cheap to maintain (every good mechanic knows how to fix a Ford Escort), reliable, spacious enough for a small family, cheap to insure, and relatively safe. Sure, it’s not the best car on the market, not by a long way, but for our needs it’s probably our best option. And I trust Ford with this sort of car – I had a Fiesta as my first car, and while it wasn’t anything special, it was a good little car.
What’s surprised me most, however, is the insurance. I’ve played around with a few insurance web sites and got a few quotes, and discovered to my relief that insuring Ellie to learn to drive isn’t going to be as expensive as we’d thought. Because I’ve been driving for a while and built up a good no-claims bonus that puts me in good stead, and apparently the fact that we’re married also gives us additional benefits – which is the first time I’ve come across an industry that actually likes the fact that we’re married.
So, given that I can almost definitely sell Neddy for a lot more than I bought him for, we’ll have more than enough left over to pay for a second-hand Escort, cover the insurance, and pay for Ellie to have driving lessons. That’s not bad going. It will be sad to say good bye to my beloved little car, but thankfully none of this is actually going to happen just yet – I’ll almost certainly have the Mini at least until the end of the show season!