Monday, June 22, 2009

Struck down

Do you remember swine flu? Last month it was destined to kill the entire population of Britain within the week. We were told the streets would be thick with the stench of rotting corpses once the plague pits had filled up and the quick lime had run out. So where is it? Well... No idea, but I think I might have found another ailment previously unknown to science.

I’m sat here sweating profusely; muscles tensed and brow furrowed. Upon examination I would be found tearing my hair out in perpetual anguish and ranting feverishly (arguably not for the first time) with same questions re-occurring: Rover or Vauxhall power? Superlight or Roadsport? Do I really need a limited slip diff?

The cause of these symptoms is, it appears, not strictly physical, but rather a psychological condition soon to be known as manic car buying disorder. You may laugh, but it’s all proving to be a rather stressful experience. There are so many options to consider and every one of them seems to be worth paying a little extra for until you eventually end up having to place all non-essential organs up for sale to fund the purchase.

Specifically speaking, I’ve decided to concentrate on Caterhams. Ideally I’d like to get an early noughties Superlight, with parts like a limited slip differential, close ratio gearbox and bigger brakes already fitted. The problem is that sort of spec falls right at the top end of my budget, and at £15,000 for a ten year old car that’s starting to become quite serious money for a junior hack.

The other option is to find a standard Roadsport model that’s been modified. This is proving surprisingly difficult to do, with the only real candidates being ex-race cars. One in particular has caught my eye, but that’s in Scotland – about as far away from my London home as it’s physcially possible to get in the UK. The car appears to be excellent value for money, being virtually Superlight spec mechanically, but for 50% less. The downside, however, is that it sports what could politely be described as the lived in look, following four seasons of hard racing.

The other side of the dilemma is an apparently excellent factory Superlight for sale in Essex. It doesn’t require any tidying, unlike the Scottish car, and the spec is higher still, but it’s three times the price of any car I’ve ever bought. I’ve got the money – just – but should a wheel fall off on the way home I’d be walking the rest of the way as I have literally no more cash. Each car is worth the money in its own way, but it’s a question of balancing the time, effort and risk inherent to each. Hmm.

So, until that point, the sweat continues to seep down my increasingly wrinkled forehead. Which should I go for? I honestly don’t know.

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