Many years ago when discussing car expenses my accountant said, ‘There are two schools of thought on economical car ownership – one is to replace your car every two years, the other – if you don’t mind an older car – is to drive it into the ground.’
My approach has always been the latter, simply because I have no interest in cars, and am only concerned with getting from A to B, in a design I find acceptable. I had my previous car for almost 16 years and only changed it last year when the electrics went a bit dodgy. I felt quite a pang when I left it at the garage and drove away in a new-to-me model. It was like leaving behind an old friend.
A has also had his latest car for a long time, more than 12 years. He’s determined to keep it as long as economically possible, and hopes to reach 200,000 miles on the clock. Lately he celebrates each 1000 miles as it clocks up, the mileometer currently showing almost 178,000.
While the engine runs as well as ever, the bodywork is showing its age, and rust is creeping along the driver’s door. Bright, shiny, expensive cars have always carried so much status. Particularly in the business world where they have been seen as a sign of success, and dished out to top employees as a reward.
Conventionally it would be that we’re not doing too well. That maybe we’re desperate for the work and will accept rock-bottom rates. Is it better to hide an older car by parking around the corner and turning up on foot, or take pride in our increasingly battered wheels?
We need stickers saying not ‘My other car is a Porsche’ (remember those?) but ‘My car is a friend I’ll keep till the end.’
In the sometimes harsh world of business, will an older car ever be a positive signal? Even have an element of prestige now we need to think far more about sustainability? I’d like to think so, and in these times of rapid change it will be interesting to find out. What do you think?