The Car that Haunted Itself

He sold his old one to a scrap dealer in part exchange for a replacement that was not yet available. His parting moments with his old one were as emotional as the closing scenes of Casablanca, and a week or so later he invited me round to see his new pride and joy. I saw it outside the house when I arrived there, a bottle green Morris Minor, identical to its predecessor in every visual respect.

‘You got another one,’ I said when he opened the front door to the house.

‘You know where you are with a Morris,’ he said. He spent ten minutes then slagging off my mother’s Vauxhall Viva as a gas-guzzling monstrosity before inviting me out for a spin. Somehow I wasn’t too surprised to find that I had to get in on the driver’s side because the door to the passenger area was stuck.

He started the car with a not quite the same but near as dammit juddering of the clutch. A few weeks later it rained and I got to see the windscreen wipers in action. This time they worked properly.

The registration plates had been changed of course, and my Grandfather assured me that this Morris had a few thousand miles less on the speedometer clock, though I had seen enough dodgy second-hand car dealers on The Sweeney to not suspect some illegal dealings here.

I wondered at his obsession with the same make and colour of car. Were all Morris owners equally eccentric in their obsessions, or was it just those with bottle-green models? Had he in fact been sold back his own old car? We never actually saw it go into a car crusher. I seriously wondered if the Morris was possessed, and sentient, like Herbie the Volkswagen in the Disney films.

In time the second Morris gave up the ghost too, no longer fooling an MOT inspector and yes, he bought a third one in the same bottle-green, though this seemed to have a perfectly good clutch and I could get in and out of the passenger door.

Perhaps that is why my grandfather seemed to lose interest in driving then – it was the same car stripped of character and charm. He did briefly dabble with a Ford Escort before giving in to buses and trains with a pensioner’s pass card.

Fortunately he never tired of telling his stories, right up to the throat cancer that finally silenced him in the mid 1980s, before I ever found out how his horse had once ended up on the upper passenger level of a double decker Manchester city centre tram car.

Born and bred in Manchester, Arthur Chappell is a performance poet, ex-cult member, English Civil War re-enactor and a model/photographer with Faint Fascinations.

Pages: 1 2



One Response to “The Car that Haunted Itself”

  1. September 02, 2010 at 9:37 am, Ian D. Smith said:

    Excellent story, Arthur. Many thanks.


Leave a Reply




Via email: