An Ode To “Leo” The Clio
This evening as I pulled into the gym car park, I spotted a silver Aston Martin with a private number plate and went out of my way to avoid parking in the bay next to it. Throughout my session, I looked around the gym and wondered who had the keys. It got me thinking about what my car says about me.
I wouldn’t say I’m a massive car person but most people will at least recognise certain stereotypes about drivers, from BMW and Audis in the outside lane to fluffy dice laden Fiat 500s.
About 15 months ago, I was privileged to inherit a red Renault Clio, 2003 plate, with just 18,000 miles on the clock. It was my first car.
The insurance alone cost me three times its actual value.
The vehicle had belonged to one previous owner: my grandmother. She had driven it for 13 years, only ever taking it as far as the shop and to her hairdressers. It was in immaculate condition. Her Catholic pendant still sits in one of the side compartments.
I was extremely proud when ownership was transferred to me. I’ve been as careful as a first-time driver can be in terms of avoiding damage. Apart from replaced hubcaps (collateral damage from parallel parking) and the odd scratch, it’s as good as new.
The question of replacing the old car has come up a few times recently. My girlfriend’s dad has half-seriously suggested buying one of his colleague’s flash AMG, A-Class Mercedes. My boss has hinted about upgrading with my bonus so I’d have something more impressive to turn up to meetings with. But I’m more than happy with my Clio and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
The only thing that made me reconsider was when my brother recently passed his test and needed a car ASAP for job-hunting. I felt like I should pass down the family ride. I would have been more than happy to do so but logistics made it easier for him to find something else, while he was living at home.
I was quietly relieved.
While we are all tempted by new possessions and gadgets (to throw my hands up, I’m eyeing up a new phone), it’s important to feel grateful for what we do have.
What My Car Says About Me
That car means so much more to me than the £500 I’d struggle to claim as a trade-in. It’s a physical connection to my late Nan. As my first car, it’s a symbol of newfound freedom.
When I wonder what my car says about me, I suspect other drivers see a boy racer (partly due to my eBay special plastic hubcaps with peeling Renault badge stickers). The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
A Symbol of the Past and Future
Driving around in a hand-me-down car is something I take great pride in. When others my age are emptying £1,000s of their savings for flash wheels, I’m saving very deliberately for a housing deposit. I’ll drive a “nice car” at some point, but for now, it’s a practical tool that’s getting me from A to B. That and so much more.
In a funny way, my old Clio is a symbol of wealth – to come. It encapsulates both the fortunate position I find myself in with inheritance and my attitude towards future-planning, saving as much as I can every month.