The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Jalopy’s annual service and M.O.T.*

Photo: Jalopy

Photo: Jalopy

Jalopy is now sixteen years old. She still goes like a bomb and is my oldest friend. Unlike a human, she hasn’t exhibited the usual teenage moodiness. Rather, as the years progressed, she has become slightly more sedate. The wheel spin starts are just a distant memory.

Now we progress at a steady rate. I’m careful to save her brakes so I coast to a stop. She is not quite as fast from the starting stalls these days so I wait for a clear road at major junctions. This can cause extreme agitation from the slick roadsters waiting behind.

Tomorrow Jalopy will be driven to a new garage for repairs, a service and an M.O.T. Finally we have given up the annual service at the Volvo garage. She has started to rust and there’s the rub. Will she survive for another year or fail her M.O.T. and be towed away to the knackers yard?

The guy at the garage assured me that he could get J through the MOT. He pointed to a bit that had fallen off Jalopy.
“You are in with a chance if you still have that part.”
“Yes, I’m sure that it’s around somewhere. It fell off in the driveway.”
“I’ll need her in for two days.”
“That’s fine. I can walk to work.”

I rang Danny immediately.
“Good news. If we can find the bit that fell off last summer we have some hope. Have you seen it?”
“What does it look like?”
“Black. Plastic. Flattish. Squarish.”
“No I can’t remember anything like that.”

So I drove home to scout around for the part. Zilch.
Ours is not an elegant driveway. It’s a large space with a lot of ‘just in case’ stuff, stored under tarpaulins. Three days later I finally delved into a heavily populated area and discovered the part. Happiness.

This morning I cleared out Jalopy. Discovered a lot of useful tools that have been lost for months along with the usual dried banana skins, colour charts and sun hats. The problem is that I tend to finish a job and have no time to clear out the debris before I’m heading out for the next job. Also no job is straightforward. It’s never just ‘Please paint this room’. There are always repairs. So I tend to carry a skeleton DIY box to cover every opportunity. By the end of the year the box has expanded and the equipment has engulfed the entire car.

Yet when I slip behind the wheel, even if it’s just to sip a cup of tea, she provides an oasis of calm. I have read many books and devoured thousands of packed lunches nestled in her front seat. In the past we toured England and many times I have gripped her steering wheel hard when times are tough. A wheel that is smooth and glossy with sixteen years of hands on contact. With just a few painty fingerprints.

When I drove into Newmarket this afternoon I realised that she still had good suspension and the exhaust didn’t scrape the pavement for the first time in months. I had removed a 25 kilo bag of mortar from the boot. No wonder she was guzzling petrol.

Almost lighter than air, Jalopy is snoozing on our drive tonight. In a couple of days time we will know her fate. I’m hoping that she will be my companion for yet another year. Comfortable and reassuring she has been the perfect chariot. She has never let me down.

* M.O.T. stands for the UK Ministry of Transport and universally refers to the annual check that all vehicles must undergo once they are three years or older.

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  1. kate (uk)

    This time last year it looked like I might have to part with my 10 year old Ka as foot problems meant I couldn’t use the clutch pedal…I tried many small automatic cars and they were all vile, I was, to my surprise, distraught. But worked hard at physio, wore my insoles religiously and taught myself to use a different bit of my foot for the pedal…absurd to grow fond of a car…but fond I am.

  2. When anything is wrong with my car, even a brief parting for an MOT, I feel STRESSED. This is not due to possible cost (although that can be a worry), nor inconvenience (I often do not use it for days on end), more a feeling of pain, because I, too, have a personal relationship with my little car (small Fiat called Rover, because I would dearly love a Land Rover – one of those old green short ones). I am self-aware enough to know that this is completely irrational (as is calling a car Rover!) but it has happened every time, and I have owned cars for over 30 years.
    I know exactly how you feel.
    Good Luck!

  3. Good luck Jalopy! Fingers crossed for you Fiona.

  4. Ah Fiona, Jalopy will be fine I can feel it in my bones. Plus, isnt Volvo, Swedish for indestructible, reliable, tank? ( am joking obviously before some one corrects me).

    ((((((Beaming))))))) Pass the MOT vibes.

    Oh and tomorrow, I am going to get that mirror and some pictures. all I need now is divine intervention, where I see a picture and it is ‘the one’. Else I will end up dong something twee, like having shells in the bathroom or something.

    Man is coming tonight, to price up for the floor and kitchen to be made over. Ohhhh, I feel all Carole Smillie! (cant spell that)

    Have a great day everyone!

  5. DH’s ancient Volvo is also due her MOT, but Betsy is sadly out of action at the moment, after she popped something in her radiator in the coldest frost (causing dh to have to wait two hours for the breakdown truck, at ten at night, in a lay-by at minus eight …) we hope it’s nothing too serious, but can’t afford to get her fixed just yet.
    She is sending chilly positive Volvo-vibes for Jalopy.

  6. Cara @ Turvys

    Jalopy should be driving a lot better now! Wishing you and she all the best for the forthcoming MOT. I know just how stressful they can be. On a money saving tip, it might be useful to check out your nearest council as all councils offer MOT’s to the public (they just don’t advertise it). They seem to charge the maximum permissible for an MOT (£48) last time I had one, but as they are not a garage they have no ‘interest’ in your vehicle should it fail (ie not an unscrupulous garage failing a vehicle to get additional work). I’m not saying you’ll have any problems but for me, my car never passed first time and since I’ve been using my local council it always has and it’s 12 years old.

    It’s worth checking out this link: to see what they check for when doing an MOT – hubby goes through this list just for a quick check before sending ours in. You will probably need any rust/corrosion sorted though for it to pass.

    Good luck – and sorry for the ramble!!

    Hope you found some money in amongst it all too – I love that part of ‘mucking’ my car out!

  7. Michelle in NZ

    25 kilos – no wonder she’s driving better. If only it was so easy to remove 25 kilos off me!

    Hope Jalopy makes it through okay, she’s a loyal friend.

  8. Our car is the same age as Jalopy. It’s MOT is due at the beginning of March so there will be frantic checks going on during February! Do wish you good luck over the next couple of days. Your car seems to mean as much to you as ours does to us and is an old trusty friend. x

  9. Oh I hope it doesn’t turn out to be as expensive as my car’s recent MOT and service. Turns out my rear brakes were in a bad way. Fortunately my lovely mum decided to give me an early birthday present and paid a large portion of the bill for me.

  10. …Wishing Jalopy all the best for the annual inspection.. Goodluck Jalopy!

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