IT was love at first sight. The moment I saw the pink Cadillac convertible in a London field in the early nineties my heart rate soared, and all I wanted was to lovingly stroke every inch this 18-ft-long beauty and lick its whitewall tyres.
It beat even faster when the owner said it was up for grabs for just £2,000.
The field was used for a weekly car boot sale, and when I spotted the 1959 Series II Caddy I assumed the owner was there to sell some odds and ends. But no, all he wanted was to flog the car.
And, despite it being as extravagant as a conclave of cardinals, I wanted it. Badly! So badly that I cared not a jot that it would put a massive dent in the biker’s image I’d spent years cultivating.
A friend who was with me at the time insisted I was insane and raised an important point: where would I park this delectable automotive confection? My residential close had two rows of facing garages separated by a narrow lane, and it was doubtful whether any could accommodate vehicle this long.
‘Only one way to find out,’ I said. ‘Let’s ask the seller if he’ll drive the short distance to my house.’ He readily agreed, and to my absolute delight he allowed me to take the wheel, which was the roughly the size of a fairground carousel.
My excitement rapidly evaporated because was like driving a waterbed on wheels, so spongy was the suspension. Given that I’m prone to seasickness – even in a bath – I was green around the gills when we reached home. And it immediately became clear that Caddy could only get into my garage if it was sawed in half.
So I reluctantly gave up on the deal.
A week later, a fella I met in bar said he was in a financial pickle and asked whether I would be interested in buying his car – a Mini. Pumped for further information, he said it was a convertible. He then shuffled his feet, looked faintly embarrassed, and said ‘It’s bright pink.’
I agreed to give it the once-over. It looked like something the Cadillac had spat out. He wanted £500.00 for it, and I agreed – but only on one condition. I wanted it checked it out before I coughed up.
So off it went to a local repair centre, where it was prodded and poked for a few hours. A mechanic then approached me, making those annoying sucking sounds spanner monkeys do before imparting bad news.
‘It needs work,’ he said. ‘To what extent?’ He replied: ‘About 200 quid’s worth.’
In the end I got the Mini for £400, paid £250 to get it roadworthy, and drove it for about a year before the engine blew up. I sold it for scrap for £50.00, not realising that its highly-collectable registration plate was worth around £3,000!
And here’s the real kicker. Six months later I spotted the Mini, which had been given a fabulous makeover, being raced around London’s posh Sloane Square by a very affluent looking young woman. It had been resprayed a far richer pink. And I had the blues for month.