I’VE been doing a lot of miles lately – mostly on my own – and as much as I love those service station super-heated, tongue dissolving lattes and Marks and Spencer sandwiches (oh, the triple pack of joy), I find my real problem is the boredom.
It always surprises me just how quickly the grey fuzz of nothingness descends over my brain.
This boredom can take a matter of minutes to set in, and when it does I’ll do absolutely anything to stop my brain going into a coma. It usually begins with a little motorway Olympics. First up is the oft tried, but never mastered Attempting To Change Lanes Without Hitting A Cat’s Eye. A lot harder than it seems.
Then there’s the Rep Tandem Sprint, where I tag on to the back of a hateful Vauxhall Insignia, piloted by a shiny suited shower curtain ring rep, and attempt to keep our space equidistant and pace on parity as we flow from lane to lane at 85mph.
The winner is the one who holds their nerve when they spot a battenburg-backed car: Is it Plod? Is it Motorway Maintenance? There’s only one way to find out…
Anyway, this week I’d failed miserably at CLWHACE and had been scared off by an obviously late and unbelievably fearless salesman in an Audi A5 in my second game of RTS. Feeling beaten, my mind wandered off and focused instead on the barnacles and tattoos that so many motorists feel the need to adorn their humble cars with.
You know the sort of thing I mean, the stickers, flags, and badges that tell you more about the owner than you really want to know. I know a sodding dog is for life and not just for Christmas… and who gives out dogs as Christmas presents anyway?
I digress… Well, this got me thinking (which does happen from time to time), that you guys in the trade probably use these moron markers as a rather handy part exchange valuations tool.
The trade guides are all well and good, but they don’t account for these telltale signs of ownership history as well, do they?
Exhibit A, your honour – and the one that should scare you the most – is the ubiquitous ‘Powered by Fairy Dust’ tattoo. Translation? Car driven by ditzy blonde, who’s got make up on the seats that even Helga the Hooverer won’t be able to get out, it’s been reverse parked into seven lampposts, and it’s got no oil in it because aforementioned driver did not realise engines had moving parts.
Baby on Board sticker? Translation – prep costs will need to account for four hours Wotsit DNA removal from the crevices in the back seats, there’s chocolate button smudges on most surfaces which look like a prisoner of war’s dirty protest and it needs a new stereo as the current one has 35 Really Annoying But Incredibly Catchy Kids Songs CD stuck in it.
‘Or there’s the mentalist who’s covered their dashboard in cuddly toys…’
Then there’s the BMW 318d with M badges stuck in the wrong places. Translation: Driver is a complete and utter gentleman’s sausage and doesn’t have the credit or deposit for the Audi S5 he’s asked to test drive. Sell him a used A4 diesel and an S badge instead…
Or there’s the mentalist who’s covered their parcel shelf and dashboard in cuddly toys like some moving padded room. Batty driver will ask you how many cats she can transport in the Fiat Doblo while you wonder how to get the smell of wee out of the seats of her part exchange.
Other barnacles to watch out for include: Countless surfing stickers in a rear window that can only be removed by replacing the glass; those religious fishes (badge of the self-righteous); any aftermarket rear spoiler and/or sewer pipe-sized exhaust; spinners of any description; absolutely anything pink and automotive related; anything with stripes that weren’t factory fitted; Bentley badges on anything made by an American; Nurburgring stickers on people carriers or Smarts; My Other Car is… stickers (badge of the bipolar). The list goes on.
In fact, if you’ve got any I’ve forgotten, tweet me… spotting some new ones might brighten up one of my now rather regular motorway journeys.