Thought Leadership

Buying a car

By Colin Walls

Although I know that it is a very un-manly thing to say – a bit like not being a sports fan – but I am not very interested in cars. I regard them as (expensive) tin boxes for going from A to B. Too many people (mainly, but not exclusively, men) are overly influenced by the image of cars. They judge people by their choice and drive like it is a competitive sport. This is all wrong on so many levels. I guess that I need to get back to my knitting …

Contrary to these comments, cars have been on my mind just lately …

One of my daughters just passed her driving test. I knew she could do it, but there is always an element of luck. So I am both proud and relieved. [My other daughter passed her test a while back and I was no less proud – I do not want anyone to think that I have a favorite.] So she now wants to get a car and I will doubtless be involved. This makes me cast my mind back to a previous car purchase.

When I was much younger, I had a couple of old cars. Then, for a few years, I did not have a car of my own at all [my late wife had one]. Then I changed jobs and had a company car for quite a while. This sounds very nice – someone else paying for a car and all its running costs. To a certain extent, it is very convenient, but, in the UK at least, this convenience comes at a price – employees are taxed very highly on company cars. 7 years ago, I figured out that I would be better off buying my own car and set about making that happen.

My lack of interest in cars meant that I knew very little about them. However, I did have an idea what I wanted [small outside with large capacity inside – we are a family of tall people with tons of stuff] and I had decided on a budget. So, I took a day off and went to visit every car dealership in the town where I lived. Some did not have a vehicle that met my needs. One could not match my budget. Another probably had a suitable car, but was just not interested in talking with me [I did not dress like I had money]. One dealer would never tell me the bottom line price of the car; he was keen to pitch a finance deal that I did not want or need. Just one dealer made the grade and I took that car for an extended test drive.

For some reason, I had a feeling that another dealer, in a nearby town might have what I needed. I do not know how I knew this, as I do not watch TV adverts [does anyone?] and never look at motoring magazines. Anyway, the car that they had was exactly what I was after and at the right price, so I bought it. 7 years on and no regrets. If I needed to replace it tomorrow [I plan to run it into the ground, but if something unexpected happened] I would simply buy another car the same. Boring, eh?

I have purchased a new car more recently. My wife and I were married a bit over 2 years ago and I got her a new car as a wedding gift. She had never had a brand new car or a fun one in her life and I thought that I would change that. I arranged for it to be delivered to the hotel where we were having a celebratory meal. After the food, it was time for the speeches and, as it was my wedding, I decided that there would be just one – mine. I thanked various people for their contribution to making the day possible. Libby was the last person whom I thanked and handed her the car keys. It was a nice moment.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at