‘I thought you said you wanted a leaf green Porsche?’ said my brother Tim. ‘I thought you wanted a Porsche’ emailed my friend Paul when I told him. Yup—in a sense. But what I really really wanted was a Morris 1000.
Years ago, when I worked in Norfolk for my then boss and now great friend Charles, he and his wife Rachel bought a little blue Morris Minor which became, sort of by default, my company car. A little eccentric to be sure, but on visits from the Norfolk coast to north-west Essex, ‘Deb’, as she was known, took me on my charmed and happy way. Ever since then I’ve looked back fondly to my Morris Minor years.
A few weeks ago, my friend Chris spotted a tiny photograph of a smoke grey Morris Minor coming up in the local auction. He emailed me the advertisement. ‘Didn’t you say your garage would never be complete without a Moggy?’, he said. Well… he was right. And I have to admit, I couldn’t forget that ad. Every few days, I would find myself clicking on it, just for a quick look. This is the moment to share with the world the wonderful world of Jeffs Auctions, and their splendid website. Finally, I called Mr Jeffs of Dorchester to enquire about the car. “I’m so sorry – it’s been withdrawn from the sale”, he said “but I will certainly pass your details onto the owner”.
True to his word, a few days later I got a call from a gentle man in Maiden Newton, a few miles up the road. Incredibly sadly, he was losing his sight from diabetes, had had to give up driving, and it was time for him to pass his cars on to new homes. It is at times like this that one appreciates the existence of the local bus service – neither he nor his wife can now drive.
As it happened, it turns out I was the first to have called—so he said that he wanted me to be the first to come and have a look. Now I know that there will be some of you who think this is a bit too much of a good way to sell a car with the sympathy vote. Dear reader, one can instantly judge the reality or not of these situations and I’m afraid I wouldn’t have written that little story if it wasn’t true.
I brought my friend David from the village, who knows as much about cars as I do about early 18th century houses—that is to say, a fair amount. I don’t think he knows very much about 18th century houses, and I don’t know much about cars. Except that I can appreciate a Morris Minor in smoke grey with a fine polish and red leather seats.
The car had the all clear; ‘a very honest little car’ was the verdict. Not perfect—but then, perfection is an attribute that you do not seek in a Morris Minor that you want to run about the Dorset lanes in.
A little while later, the deal was done and we shook hands. It took a few days to arrange insurance, and get the tax disc, and collect the car, which I did on Friday morning. In the meantime there had been the small question of making the garage at the Old Parsonage a little bit longer – it turned out to be an inch or two too short for the car. But it all fits now. Last time I drove a Morris Minor, I was fifteen years younger. I’m not sure I’ve been so happy in a while.