Hiding in the toilet with a Ford Capri
Car correspondant in classic crapper conundrum
Without wishing to show off, one of the main attractions of my day job is that that my office happens to be equipped with its own private bathroom. The benefits of this are two-fold; firstly, it provides countless opportunities for me to say “without wishing to show off” before going on to talk at length about my executive bathroom. Secondly (and far more importantly) it gives me somewhere to hide from the seemingly endless procession of travelling sales representatives that call in to ‘touch base’ with me on an almost hourly basis.
For those of you not familiar with rep-speak, ‘touch base’ loosely translates into English as ‘turn up unannounced and uninvited, barge into your office when you’re very busy, drink all your tea and waste an hour of your time telling the same hilarious* dirty jokes they told you the week before’. Even though all the while you both know that you have no intention of buying whatever tyre machine/telephone system/advertising space upon which they based the loose pretext of flogging you.
If you are reading this and you’re new to the world of business, whatever that is, I’m afraid the rep visit is a horror that you are going to have to endure sooner or later. Don’t worry though, providing you steel yourself and manage to get through the first few excruciating encounters by smiling and laughing politely at the crap jokes without losing control and yelling “OH JUST PISS OFF ALAN!” You’ll eventually begin to pick up on how the old hands deal with this situation. You’ll begin to learn how to recognise the signs of an impending visit.
These days I can clock the sound of a 3 Series diesel clattering into the car park from a mile off. It’s at this point that you’ll see me sloping off to the management throne room with a rolled-up copy of the Daily Telegraph clutched firmly in hand.
You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this, I wanted to give you all some context as to why exactly I’ve spent so much of my career hiding in what is essentially a toilet. The problem is, that once you’ve finished the paper and made a total arse of the crossword, unless you want to count the puppies on the loo roll again there isn’t really much to keep you occupied during your self-imposed internment in the smallest room.
Fortunately for me, someone long before my time has obviously thought of this, and in anticipation of being trapped in there hiding from a rep, has gummed a poster from some long since defunct car magazine to the wall of the boss bog. It’s a great photo too. It features a race-prepped Reliant Scimitar (Princess Anne etc.) parked next to an even meaner looking three-litre Ford Capri. These are cool cars. The Capri especially is firmly entrenched in my all-time top ten, and telling people you have a Scimitar sounds almost as good as Interceptor.
As you’ll have gathered from the above, I’ve had plenty of time to carefully study this poster and like any self-respecting car nerd, it didn’t take me too long to decide that my life couldn’t possibly be complete until I had a Ford Capri of my own.
Once one of my courageous and selfless underlings had finally vanquished the ghastly spectre of repdom from the premises, I bravely emerged from the lavvy, and set about finding a nice example of what Ford’s ad-men once called ‘The car you always promised yourself’.
The first thing I learned online, was that old Capris are no longer seen as the old bangers they were when I was younger. Not that long ago it was possible to buy a decent one for less than a fortnight at Disneyland. Those days are gone I’m afraid. Batting for a nice Capri, and especially the range-topping three-litre I wanted, now starts at just slightly below what Sir Richard Branson would charge to launch you into space. The yearning was strong though, and after another good look at the dog-eared old poster, I gathered myself and started making some phone calls and arranging to view one of the cars I’d seen on the internet.
On the screen the car looked almost perfect. It was a 3000E from 1972 in a lovely shade of blue. And as luck would have it, was for sale just down the road from me. I shot down to the dealer as quickly as I could and as I pulled up outside I’d be lying if my heart didn’t beat just a little bit faster when I saw the car basking in the early summer sun. It was only upon closer inspection that I discovered the other thing it was basking in was a small pool of its own engine oil. I wasn’t worried. Years of working with classic cars has taught me that if an old motor isn’t leaking oil it simply means there’s no oil left in it.
I applied the same logic to the patches of rust that were starting to erupt on the front valance and the sills. The advert hadn’t mentioned these but it had contained the phrase “totally original”, and it certainly did appear to be original rust.
Unperturbed, I lowered myself into the vinyl driving seat, another “totally original” part of the car which a more pragmatic vendor might have described as “totally collapsed” and after the application of some jump leads I was on my way for a test drive in the three-litre Capri that I already knew would be coming home with me.
Except I wasn’t, and it wasn’t either. I’d love to tell you about the feel of the hirsute unassisted steering and the sonorous bark of that fabulous unstressed V6 engine. But I’m afraid that would be a lie because after less than a mile I was to be found hauling myself out of what used to be the drivers seat in order to investigate the clouds of steam pouring from under the bonnet.
Needless to say, that car didn’t find a buyer that day. Don’t get me wrong, the Ford Capri 3000E is still a thing of loveliness, and I don’t doubt that with some time and the judicious application of some spanners, that car will be fighting fit once more. But for me, it was just a timely reminder of why sometimes our ‘poster cars’ should stay just that.
Got to go now. A sales rep has just turned up.