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For sale: one 68-year-old banger

‘I’ve come about the advert on eBay,’ I say.

‘Oh yes! Silly, me! Do come through. My name is Jeremy,’ says the slimy man, ‘bring your shoes and come through to the garage.’ He briskly turns and heads off into the house. I catch up with him at the internal garage door.

He swings it open with a flourish.

‘And here she is! A 1948 Rover NHS P3 special edition, dark blue…’

‘Anything more you can tell me about it?’ I ask, taking in the scratches and damage to the bodywork.

Jeremy pauses, then switches into politician mode: ‘Two careful owners, well technically three I suppose, been passed backwards and forwards between us for the last 60-odd years, most recently it was part of a car-share. Still just about runs.’

‘Is it petrol or diesel?’ I ask.

‘Well, we have simply been pouring cash into it for years, though others would say it has been running on fumes. Here. Let me show you the engine.’

He tries to reach for a catch under the front of the bonnet, but after fiddling for a few seconds he pulls his hand out, swears quietly and grabs a hammer.

‘Bloody thing! Never does what you want it to.’ He laughs, and takes a swing at the bonnet with the heavy tool.

Several sharp blows later the bonnet springs up. We both peer into the dark recess.

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“So how exactly does it work?” I ask.

He cocks his head to the side.

‘Does it work? Really? Well, if it does work I haven’t got a clue how.’

He slams the bonnet down with a loud crash. I wince.

‘There, er, seems to be quite a lot of damage to it,’ I comment.

‘It’s 68 years old! What do you expect? It’s not as if we’ve tried to service it numerous times. It’s been overhauled, taken apart and put back together on multiple occasions, used and abused by just about everyone I would say,’ he replies.

‘And why exactly are you selling it?’ I ask.

He sits back on the bonnet, avoiding the sharp edges of the fresh dent and looks at me.

‘Look, this thing costs too much to run. What people expect from a car, these days is way above what was envisaged in 1948. This was great for its time, but now it’s a millstone around my neck and I can’t wait to get rid of it.’

‘I presume you have all the papers?’ I can see that in his mind he is rubbing his hands with glee. ‘I mean, it is yours to sell, isn’t it?’

Dr Samir Dawlatly is a former secretary of the RCGP’s adolescent health group and a GP in Birmingham.