The Seven gets a long rest.

I was getting fed up of the inconvenience of driving the Seven, so I bought a windscreen and a Jill Judd half-hood. But I never got the chance to fit them. Then the Seven was off the road for a week (an engine mount sheared, which canted the engine, which caused the water rail to bang against the chassis, which caused the rail's bolts to work loose, which caused a water leak, which caused the head gasket to fail). It was the last straw. I was fed up with relying on the Seven, and having to drive it every day. After some research I scratched a longstanding itch and bought a Brompton folding bicycle. I worked out that, given the costs of running the Seven, if I could use the Brompton and trains for about half of my trips to and from work then it would break even, financially, in the first year.

That was good for about three months. It made me much fitter - after cycling for about 40 minutes a day, I'd increased my average speed by about 50%, and I was no longer close to collapsing by the time I got to the office. Having time to read on the train was great. But trains sometimes leave late, or get cancelled. And the last train home from work leaves just after 9pm, and I missed that once (after I got, and fixed, a puncture on the Brompton). But most of all, it was just too similar to driving the Seven. I still had to dress up for wet weather, although cold wasn't a problem; the physical exertion kept me toasty warm.

I'd already done the hard part - I'd given up driving the Seven every day. From that, it was a small step to go the rest of the way. Towards the end of April (when the Seven failed its MOT) I bought a Nissan Micra. A diesel Nissan Micra... That's now my every-day car. And you know what? It's great. The torque curve is more of a plateau. It's got enough poke that it's fun. It handles well enough to be entertaining, and it's only got 175-section tyres so I can get it sliding about whenever I want. Road tax costs £50, insurance was £150 for me and Susie, it only needs to be serviced every 18,000 miles, and even with my driving it's returning 52 mpg. It's got keyless ignition, for goodness' sake!

Since I bought the Micra, the Seven hasn't been out of the garage. OK, so that's largely because most of the MOT faults didn't get fixed until Phil came round. But I can't honestly say that I'm missing it much. It's nice to be able to sit in the warm and dry, and listen to music, or to the boffins talking on Radio 4.

I'm going to wait a while before I decide what to do next. If I don't drive the Seven then I should sell it. I don't really want to sell it -- what if this indifference is just a passing phase? Apart from the corroding ali panels (and the A-frame), the Seven is pretty well sorted now, and it's worth quite a lot to me that I don't have to even pretend to pass an emissions test. But even a 93,000-mile, 10-year old Seven is worth a few grand, and I can't afford to just have that rusting in the garage. And that corroding ali is going to mean at least a re-panel, and possibly a re-chassis before long.

This page is It was first published on Monday 10 July, 2006 and last updated on Monday 10 July, 2006.