Consolation prizes come in all shapes and sizes, but when my parents divorced at the turn of the century, my mum rather went to town. She bought herself a Volkswagen Beetle â€“ the car that we have lovingly come to know as â€œa Golf in a skirtâ€.
Our first Beetle, in the year 2001, was silver, and her name was Billie. Beetle owners were unsurprisingly thin on the ground in rural Lincolnshire, and, like bus drivers on the same route, the convention was to wave at one another. It was a club, of sorts. Some years later, Billie was upgraded, and we got Bertie, a midnight blue soft-top. She had a good innings, before running into some trouble on an icy lane in Wiltshire, when she was mashed by a reckless Range Rover driver.
That the Beetle is off to the great production factory in the sky fazes me not, for Iâ€™ve still got mine
And then came Victoria, the third Beetle. Like her predecessors, she carries a flower in a vase on the dashboard. Steel grey, and with nerves of steel herself, she did my mum well for about 70,000 miles. Two years ago, mum fancied a non-Beetle upgrade, and so it was that Victoria became my car, my trusty little super star.
This week it has emerged that Volkswagen is stopping production of these lovely cars, which is a shame. You see, the Beetle is nothing but dependable. Sheâ€™s a good woman in a storm â€“ literally: weâ€™ve been stuck on the M4 in the most horrendous weather together more than once. She seats four, and is as safe as houses: peculiarly wide and tall inside, and long at the front, one feels as if one is actually driving a Land Rover.
Keeping up with the competition
And boy, is she speedy. We do a lot of motorway driving together, and I only wish she had a sixth gear. People donâ€™t expect someone driving a Beetle to speed along, but we do, because she can. Thereâ€™s no steering wheel wobble, just the quiet confidence of a little car that could.
Sheâ€™s my tack room, coat cupboard, stationery shop, and convenient method of transport, all rolled into one. We went for our annual wash the other week, and she positively beamed at me in thanks. They do that, Beetles â€“ itâ€™s the shape of the bonnet.
People donâ€™t expect someone driving a Beetle to do 80mph, but we do, because she can
It has been suggested that I should get a serious car. A friend with a penchant for classic cars was terribly disappointed to find that Victoriaâ€™s engine is in the front, not the back. When Iâ€™m off to the country, the text always arrives, â€œare you sure you donâ€™t need picking up from the main road?â€. It has also been pointed out that the Beetle â€“ which was originally commissioned by Adolf Hitler as a â€œPeopleâ€™s Carâ€ to seat two adults and two children â€“ is, to quote a colleague, for â€œhippies or Nazisâ€. Iâ€™ll leave you to make your ownÂ judgements.
That the Beetle is off to the great production factory in the sky fazes me not, for Iâ€™ve still got mine. After 83,000 miles and a couple of dinks where Iâ€™ve bashed her on dry-stone walls, sheâ€™s looking pretty fine, too. Now, she is a collectorsâ€™ item. Catch one while you can, youâ€™ll not meet a car like it again.