ONE man’s dream is another man’s nightmare – which explains why I am aghast to see the joy etched on the faces of Ian and Jayne Stringer.
They have bought back the red Vauxhall Chevette that they sold 25 years ago, splashed out £3,000 to get it roadworthy again, and now use it again for ‘special occasions’.
Whereas I, had I succeeded in ridding myself of a knackered old Vauxhall Chevette in 1986, would be appalled and not a little embarrassed if it ever turned up again.
Anyway, here’s the story: Ian, then aged 22, bought the Chevette back in 1981, used it on dates with Jayne, used it when they got married a year later, used it to take Jayne to hospital when she was expecting their son, and sold it in 1986 to get something bigger. Clearly a man of singular taste, he went for an Austin Montego.
Years later Ian was surprised and delighted when the Chevette’s new owner made contact after tracking him down from the details in the log book. And in 2005 the new owner died and his daughter offered Ian the car for £200.
Instead of running off screaming as most people would have done, Ian, from Boston, Lincs, was overcome with nostalgia and gratefully accepted. He has now had the hatchback restored to near-original condition and says: “It was like a time warp back to the 1980s.”
First time round Ian bought the car in Grimsby for £2,500. Hard though it now is to believe it, the Chevette in those days was Britain’s best-selling hatchback.
“It was a great car and it was a real shame when I had to sell it,” he says. “I thought I’d never see it again. It was absolutely amazing to get it back – it was like a member of the family. My writing was still in the car’s service book and the straps for my son Richard’s baby seat were still in the car. He is now 26.”
Explaining the little car’s big role on his wedding day, Ian says: “Jayne and I went in a Rolls-Royce and my dad drove the Chevette with the two bridesmaids inside. It was decorated with ribbons and after the reception it ferried us to the train station for our honeymoon and someone wrote ‘just married’ on the back.”
He adds: “When I had the chance to buy it back I was shocked but very excited. The car was in a very dilapidated state and clearly hadn’t been driven for a long time. There was corrosion on the panel work. No-one else would have wanted it but for me there was sentiment attached.”
The car had to be completely stripped down to its shell. “’Finding replacement parts was really hard. I drove all over the country collecting parts and some of the smaller items had to be shipped from abroad. It took a lot of time and effort but it was definitely worth it. I have rebuilt it back to factory specifications.
“It is very surreal driving it again after all those years. It has no power steering, but it feels like I was driving it only yesterday. We now use it for special trips out and it does about 1,000 miles a year.”