Car passing thoughts

Aug 5th, 2008 | By | Category: Ministry

“I knew that would be a refugee’s car”.

I stirred from a half slumber. “Sorry?”

“The car behind, I knew it would be a refugee’s car”.

I looked back through the rear window; the car behind was occupied by an African family. The comment was probably a fair one. Africans were rare until recent years. In fact, any nationality apart from Irish was rare until recent years.

I slumped back into the seat. “What do you mean, a refugee’s car?”

“It’s a double zero Almera. It’s the sort of car you can pick up cheap”.

“I drive a double zero Almera and it’s that shade of blue. Actually, apart from the number plate, my car is identical to that one”.

There was silence.

I pondered my car.

It was cheap.

I bought it for €6,000 cash (equivalent at the time to £4,000). It was six years old, but had only 21,000 miles on the clock. I like it. I don’t worry about it being stolen or scraped. It plays Lyric FM and Radio 4 and gets me around. It passed the NCT last month by a wide margin

There was a moment of curiosity. Did people wonder why I drove around in what would pass as ‘a refugee’s car’? Would I be asked to park it at the back if I belonged to a golf club?

The curiosity passed in a moment – the car would be passed off as just another Protestant eccentricity.

Why did I have a double zero Almera, though?

Then I remembered. I was going on holiday next week, and had been last month, and had been in January. There was a choice between buying a car and giving all your expenses to a garage, or not buying a car and keeping your expenses for doing things (after the Revenue Commissioners had skimmed off their share).

“Alpbach” I said.


“A double zero Almera pays for skiing in Alpbach”.

Not only does it pay for going to Alpbach, it also reduces carbon emissions. The carbon produced in producing a new car exceeds the carbon emissions of an old car on the road. I would remember that next time someone said about it being an old car – it could be presented as an ethical choice.

I’ll leave out the bit about Alpbach.

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  1. Haha . . excellent and eccentric protestant! Kind of fits the bill! So if your theory is correct, by driving a 14 year old Honda Accord, I should have cash in the bank to go skiing? Boy am I doing something wrong!

  2. It only works if your employer reckons you need to get a new car about every four years, pays you expenses accordingly, and you buy one that’s a quarter of the cost of the available church car loan.

    A lay woman at a meeting, whose father ministered in times when clergy were paid pathetic amounts, expressed surprise that clergy could go away in the winter. I pointed out that she had a Saab sitting outside!

  3. I would never have thought of that as a refugee’s car, just a reliable, if slightly dull, one. There are much cheaper cars around than that (including my own 01 renault laguna).

    Interestingly, my father is a C of I clergyman and drives an Almera!

  4. I find immigrants tend to drive white cars…

    1. because white cars are the norm in hot climes and
    2. because few Irish people want to buy white ‘cos of the wet roads.

    I like your car philosophy, Ian 😉

  5. Hi Andrew,

    My car was 20% below list price when I bought it – it was a private deal, so there was no warranty. It wasn’t particularly cheap, not compared to an 84 Fiesta, but would probably be at the economy end of the scale in these parts (Hi Maria!). Now, an 01 Laguna, my bank manager drove a Laguna until last year!


    Has white not gone out as a colour for new cars? It probably means the white cars on the road are fairly old.

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