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. Hi Fiona

    I’m crossing my fingers for you, hope Jalopy is ok. We have a Volvo too, a bit newer than Jalopy though, only 10, but one of the models before Ford started messing with them. Ours is a V40 estate 1.9 diesel – what model is Jalopy? We call ours The Lady, as she’s so large and calm and sedate, like one of those ladies you meet at village fetes, usually manning the cake stall.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Michelle

    That’s a very touching story. So pleased that the former owners approved of you.

    I spend more time with Jalopy than anyone else that I know so the relationship has deepened. But I do prefer Danny and my dogs!

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Thank you Belinda!

    Poor you Pamela – we’ve had nasty shocks with Jalopy in the past. A car is essential. I do hope that your car continues to serve you without glitches.

    Hello Wendy

    I do hope that your car makes it through the M.O.T.! After 16 years it’s a member of the family.

    Hello Michelle in NZ

    Thanks for dropping by. My brother lives in NZ – North island, Feilding. And has been happy in NZ for over 30 years.

    Hi Jackie

    Poor you. I know the problem well. Love the car but can’t afford to fix it. Hopefully all will be resolved very soon. Volvos are well worth investing in – they are strong cars unlike the modern cars.

    Hello Cara

    Thanks so much for the link. Didn’t know about the council facility. What a brilliant tip.

    However, this garage is special. He doesn’t need to advertise. All new customers are through word of mouth. I really appreciated the tip when I was given this a few months ago. All the local taxi drivers use him. And when I met him, I trusted him.

    I found money. A pound coin!

    Hello S.O.L.

    Thank you for your good vibes.

    Really looking forward to seeing what you do with your kitchen. Before and after photos please!

    Thanks Amanda

    Jalopy needs all the luck and good wishes that the universe can provide.

    Hello Linda

    I looked out of the window this afternoon and there was 5 seconds of panic before I remembered that she was in the garage! A car, especially in the country, is your stamp.

    Of course you feel bereft.

    Hello Kate (uk)

    I’m so impressed that you tackled this problem and won!!!

    True British grit.

    Hi Veronica

    What a boon to find someone who really appreciated Suzie. I love the sound of Hercules too! I don’t want an anonymous car. I just want Jalopy and when she goes to that great car park in the sky I will try to find another one.

    Thank you Sylvie. Big toots from Jalopy!

    Hello Jo

    Thank goodness for storing feed in the boot! Suddenly the need to store chicken layers pellets in Danny’s company car has resonance! The seals are good so it’s the perfect environment!

    Floods are scary and could wash you away. D says keep that ballast. Delighted that you are OK.

    Hello Casalba

    Even mustard coloured Renault 4’s are still quite cool in deepest Cambridgeshire!

    Thanks KarenO

    Hopefully we can report back tomorrow.

    Thank you Chick Pea

    Fingers crossed and toes too.

  4. michelle sheets

    Isn’t it funny how it can be quite a close contest to see what people can be more sentamental about, your animals or your car? A good one is truely a part of your family, just like your animals.
    My currant “baby” is a Subaru Outback, and I managed to come across the former owners in the parking lot at the hardware store (they identified the car by a sticker they left on it). The husband and wife informed me that my car’s name was “Misty” (its a light metalic green) and the wife used to lug her piano around in it, not to mention her dogs. As I lug my dogs around in Misty as well, not to mention all the nursery plants and 2×4’s, they entirely approved of me owning her, and the wife even shed a few tears when they walked away. I know I’ll cry if anything bad ever happens to her.
    Good luck Jalopy! You can do it!

  5. ChickPea

    Keep us posted ! More crossed fingers for Jalopy an’ her folks…………

  6. Hope all goes well for jalopy. Fingers crossed.

  7. I hope she makes it through too. She’s one of very few cars I can still identify on the road. (I’d be patient waiting for her to cross a major junction – just like those behind me were when I had a Renault 4.) I still miss her, depite her horrible mustard colour. Silly, isn’t it? We’ve got one of those anonymous silver/grey things now. Gets us from A to B, but don’t care for it one bit.

  8. Jo @ LittleFfarm Dairy

    Best of luck, Jalopy!

    Phew Fi, you’ve made me feel guilty…my poor Navara truck currently has around 400kgs of animal feed, in the rear compartment(not to mention the unmentionable detritus on the back & front seats…!). And ‘Muggins’ here, is just about to go out in the pouring rain & howling wind, to relieve my chum of his burden….only to be harangued by goats, horses, sheep, chickens, ducks etc etc in return.

    Still, fair enough; we almost came to an untimely end yesterday when we hit a massive & (obviously) unexpected flood…one moment, from disaster. Thankfully sturdy brakes – & ironically, that bootful of feed – averted our fate. At least, on this occasion….!

    Keep Fiona safe, dear Jalopy – like her, we’re relying on you.

  9. Good luck with the MOT. I keep my fingers crossed for you.

  10. Veronica

    Some cars do have that effect, don’t they? Modern cars are a bit boring and anonymous, but older ones develop character and charm. Our first car was an ancient Austin 1100 who was christened Hercules after he made it from Warwickshire to Orkney and back without a murmur!

    My favourite ever car was a cute little Suzuki Swift called (unimaginatively) Suzie; in the 8 years I had her she only let me down once (flat battery), and she still ran like a dream after 125,000 miles. I was sad to sell her when we moved to France, but I managed to find a buyer who’d had her identical car written off by a ram raider — she was *so* pleased to find a well-loved and cossetted replacement!

    Good luck Jalopy, I’m sure you’ll make it!

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