It's been a busy week for cars. I had three on the go: one at the garage, one on loan and one to buy.
I found an Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon (review from The Times in English) on Ebay located at Marseille, so on Sunday, my TWDB and I took to his cabriolet and went off on a jaunt to see it.
On the way, he told me that what I really needed was a new or fairly new small car. However, there is often a gaping chasm between what one needs and what one yearns for, is there not?
Sensible people for example, buy an almost new car from Avis or one of the other rental companies and sell it a year later for the price they bought it and buy another one. That way they always have a newish car and never have to pay for repairs or maintenance. However, they also don't have an emotional attachment to their car.
I'm not like that. I don't like to buy a 'utility' vehicle, drive it coldly for 12 months and then pass it on. I like my cars, get used to them, enjoy them (mostly) and rely on them to perk me up in the morning. This is why I 'need' a design I feel strongly about. Of course, it's a sentiment you have to pay for, but it's only money and the pleasure of driving a lovely car outweighs (mostly) the cost of keeping it.
Seeing the Alfa, I thought it looked terrific. I tried it, my TWDB tried it, in diesel-driving mode and found it a bit under-powered. It isn't in fact, as it has a zappy 120hp which you can hear purring away in the distinctive Alfa 1.6 engine.
I came away unsure. After being told it was not what I needed, I had that depressing impression that if I bought it, it would be the romantic but wrong option, and I may regret it. Maybe I should scout around Montpellier for a boring but right ideal small car for the single mum with two boys and bikes.
Finally, I asked my TWDB what he would do if he were me, and he said the joyous words "If I were you, I'd buy the Alfa". Suddenly the romantic, relatively impractical option became the right one and I didn't give a stuff for the sensible small car. I bid on Monday, was the only one, and got it for the asking price.
We went to get it on Wednesday evening and it's been a joy to drive ever since. I love the look of it, it feels lovely and chunky, and the engine is fantastic. It may not be the 'right' choice, but it's certainly the best choice for me.
The 406 was sold to the garage for peanuts, and the 205 is going back to its owner on Sunday.