My First Car

 

JOHN CONNOLLY, Writer.

What was your first car? A Volkswagen Golf. I bought it because it was cheap.

Was it new or secondhand? Very secondhand - I think it was a 1979 car and I bought it in about 1994 or 1995.

Did you know how to drive at the time? I'd passed my test by the time I bought it . . . well, I'd passed my test on about the fourth go. It was all a big misunderstanding - three big misunderstandings, actually.

What did you know about cars when you bought it? About as much as I do now: if something goes wrong, you take it to the garage and a man fixes it.

What advice did you get when you were looking for a car? It was my friend's brother's old car, so the advice I got was "Buy my brother's car. It just needs an engine." It didn't have an engine at the time. I got one from a scrapyard.

What did you pay for it? £600 - and a couple of hundred more to get it fixed up.

What impact did running a car have on your pocket? I took out a bank loan and paid it off over about six months. The impact wasn't huge, to be honest.

Was it hard to get insurance? It wasn't easy, but eventually I found an insurer who was quite happy to screw me to the wall for being under 30.

How reliable was the car? Well, it didn't have a choke, which meant that it conked out if I stopped at traffic lights. Once I got a choke put in, it was actually very reliable indeed until water started to leak into it, fogging up the windows and making it smell a bit odd. Then the heating gave out, and a rather alarming mould grew on the dashboard and steering wheel. Oh, and there was an orange fungus on the inside of the doors. It was a little ecosystem by the end.

How did it change your life? I didn't have to ask to borrow it. That was about it. Mind you, I was very fond of it. I was kind of sorry to let it go.

The longest trip you ever took in it? I followed one of the presidential candidates around the west of Ireland for a day in the car, and drove down to Kerry a couple of times. I was never worried.

The best memory? I never had sex in it, if that's what you're asking. In fact, it was so damp you'd probably have caught a cold if you even took your coat off. I'm not sure that I had a memorable moment as such . . .

. . . and your worst memory? The rear window got broken one St Stephen's night when I was on my way to visit my then girlfriend. The evening went downhill from there.

How long did you keep it ? About three years. I decided to get rid of it when I found that my trousers got damp if I sat in it for more than 10 minutes.

Did you make anything on the sale? Actually, I gave it back to the brother of the guy who sold it to me to begin with. It's still running - a neighbour is driving it.