The Long Goodbye

It was time to say goodbye. I’d finally decided to scrap my old Audi A6. It was a hard decision to make – it’s served me so well. I do a lot of driving and it worked both as a mobile office (you wouldn’t believe how much storage space it had), but was also a genuine pleasure to drive. I’m not a real petrol-head, but I do love driving, and though I’ve tried out a lot of cars over the years, I’ve only ever owned three. I tend to hang on to something when I like it.

The A6 was a perfect mix of practical and a smooth, powerful ride. Unfortunately, with a 2.5 litre turbodiesel engine, it was also thirsty, and expensive to maintain. And it had some odd quirks of engineering, despite the famed German quality.

The electrical system was unique. After one bad night of torrential rain, the windows started opening spontaneously and the doors would unlock while it was standing parked. I discovered this was because the computer that controlled the complicated electrical system was in the floor of the passenger seat.

A section of the engine compartment got blocked up with leaves and the rainwater flowed into the passenger cabin, shorting out the (very expensive) computer and turning my car into Stephen King’s ‘Christine’.

On the other hand, there was the time I put petrol in instead of diesel – my wife and I were swapping cars a lot at the time, and hers was petrol. The car started up and got me nearly forty miles back home before it quit.

The car got me to book events all over Ireland, through two long family driving holidays abroad, took the big freeze over 2010 and 2011 in its stride, driving through snow, ice and floods, it’s taken me up steep, narrow mountain roads and made endless motorways enjoyable.

It picked up my two newborn children from the hospital.

It was a surly old beast at times, but it never let me down and I loved driving it. In the end though, it was starting to rack up the maintenance bills. It had been sitting idle in the driveway for nearly two months and with Maedhbh unable to drive for the next few months because of the chemo, we just couldn’t justify spending a packet to fix up a car that was so expensive to run, when we were really only using one car anyway.

On Tuesday, I called the auto recyclers and they sent over a truck to pick it up. I’m generally not very sentimental about things, but this was like handing over an elderly horse to a butcher. I’ll pick up another car in a while, maybe one that’s more sensible and economical . . . we’ll see.

For now, here’s a salute to my old Audi. So long, and thanks for all the miles.