I seem to have quite a collection of obituaries on this here blog, and here’s another – only this time (thank goodness!) it’s not a living thing!
For the last 10 years, I have driven my faithful little pink Renault Twingo. This is a car that was never sold in the UK (until they developed the new model after 2007), so only my European readers will know what on earth I’m on about! Look, when it was new, back in 1995, this is what it looked like: Actually, that is already a pretty snazzy version! By the time mine got to 18 (and it seemed to run on air and water, so maybe it just wants a stronger drink!) it was more like this:
What you see over the rear wing is peeled paint and rust, and gradually, a lot more has started peeling away, and she’d got herself a few lumps and bumps, too. Still trusty and doing fine, my family were beginning to be embarrassed to be seen with me and as the car lives outside our house, I suppose it wasn’t the best visiting card!
I’d been without a car for a year prior to getting my little bonbon pink car and no longer needed the vast capacities of the people-mover I’d had before that. At this point, I needed some wheels, and fast. One look at the second-hand exchange website brought this one up at a very reasonable price, decent mileage for its age and wonder of wonders, in the next town over. Within 24 hours, I had my new car, thanks to the efficient Swiss traffic offices and insurances, and settled in happily, meeting any taunts about having a pink car with merry laughter… you know me, have lemons, make lemonade. There were soon bright pink cushions in the back and always, always a pink scented mini-flipflop hanging from my rear mirror
This little wonder is a Tardis, much bigger inside than out. Although some mean person ran into me in a carpark only two weeks after we were united, my clever mechanic found me a secondhand axle to replace the cracked one, and we never looked back. We have done 120’000 kilometres together, been to Brittany numerous times (1200 kilometres each way, always well under 12 hours driving time!), to Paris, to the Rhineland and to Saxony, over to Austria and down to Italy – and moved house twice.
The first time we moved house, we moved within the village and it simply wasn’t worth getting a removal company involved. We were moving from a huge house to a smaller house and getting rid of a lot of things. Carfuls went to the tip, to the electronic collection and to the brocante. Boxes and boxes of books were transported from the old house to the new in banana boxes (8 empty ones fit, 5 full ones…) as well as stacks of small furniture items and other bulky stuff. At the time, my husband drove a sporty car so the only way of moving everything else was by Twingo!
There were still four of us at home – my 6’4″ husband, my undainty 5’2″ self and two daughters, 12 and 8 and fast growing according to my husband’s genes… plus a large dog (Hamish, the Bernese mix) and from 2004, Alina the Cocker spaniel. One daughter played the Celtic harp and I had riding gear to ferry around. After moving house, there were the usual Ikea visits – seldom have I had to look for alternative ways of getting my purchases home, it always fit in the Twingo. Even the 2m long Benno CD shelves (as long as I didn’t have any passengers LOL!). Never once did the Twingo complain, grumble, shudder or lock her doors against the loads.
On one memorable occasion in Brittany, we had spent a rainy morning in our big new discovery, Decathlon. Used to pricey equipment for what are considered prestige sports in Switzerland (riding, sailing, golf…) and Swiss price tags on everything else, we had found sports heaven. We happily filled our baskets, bought a pop-up tent (all the rage that summer), rollerblades, neoprene surf suits, you name it, if it was a sport we’d ever done or were ever going to do, we got the gear… Then we loaded it in and around us, four good sized people and two dogs, and decided to go out for lunch.
We arrived at the picturesque port of Ploumanac’h, where there is a great crêperie that does some of the best moules in north Brittany and lo and behold, there was a parking space in front of the restaurant, just Twingo-sized (barely over 3m40, so hardly bigger than a Smart car), and we happily pulled into it. As we poured out of the car, one by one, the varied and international guests on the restaurant terrace couldn’t help but gape – some were stunned, others laughed, but all gave us admiring looks, 1200 kilometres from home with a good full load!!
The second time we moved, it was a proper removal with a big lorry etc. but the Twingo still played an important part – we knew what it could do! More trips to Ikea, first to furnish our new home and later to furnish my daughter’s new flat, more trips out and about in Switzerland… you know how I get around
Over the last couple of years, we’ve not been going so far afield, or I’ve been using the train more. The girls are almost all grown up, now, and don’t often need chauffeuring (although we did have a last “Pimp-my-Ride” up to St. Gallen to pick the youngest up from an Xzibit concert!!). As the rust got worse and more and more paint peeled off, repairs began to look a bit more expensive compared to the value of the vehicle, and we began to think about a replacement.
My husband desperately wanted to get me a cabriolet… lovely idea. But how practical is that, with a dog and the occasional luggage to transport? I can hardly manage the weekly supermarket shop without some loading space, never mind dog biscuits and Ikea trips! No matter what I looked at, no matter how pretty, snazzy, zippy or whizzy, I came back to wanting a Twingo. And not the fancy new model, either, but one of the trusty old ones like my little pink sweetie…
Our mechanic’s smile soon faded after our initial announcement of “we’ve come to order a new car” became “but it’s got to be a 2006 Twingo”! He gamely noted down my requirements, his expression getting glummer all the while. I thought I was pretty modest, really, all I wanted was no silver and some air-conditioning, please?!
The weeks passed.
Last week, a triumphant phone call. “I’ve found you a car,” he excitedly reported! All he would say was that fitted my list and had electric windows – ooh, I hadn’t expected that
So here she is, the new purple star of the family! Not only electric windows (and mirrors!), my friends, but power steering, air conditioning, central locking, 75 horsepower and even – gasp! – airbags!!! A designer model (Kenzo), those shiny purple looks are classic and tidy, just what we’re used to, and her interior, well… back to those lemons, eh?!! LOL But lookee, new cushions – doesn’t look so bad, eh?! And all ready for Brittany this summer! And Alina seems to approve… Our test drive (above) took us to the lake at Ermatingen, our first official drive took us back to the lake to pick my daughter up from work in Kreuzlingen, the third ride was for coffee here at the Feldbachand our fourth ride was to Romanshorn to go sailing this weekend… A watery trend?! Yesterday we stayed inland (took two youngsters to the cinema to see The Great Gatsby – full load, 4 adults!) and today is, fortunately, a day of rest….!