Petrol in England currently costs £1.40p a litre.
Ten years ago, in the weeks leading up to my ESCAPE from that cold, eternally-wet, miserable, overpriced country, I was forced to sell my car. It was a Skoda.
Now before you start laughing, let me say this was NOT an Estelle – but a Felicia estate, the first car made by Czechoslovakia’s Skoda after The Wall had tumbled and Volkswagen had taken over their design department. It cost about two-thirds the price of a comparable West European model – and was as solid as a rock.
But despite VW designing Skoda a J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Survey-topping automobile which they were capable of building (not to mention supplying them with its electrics – Skoda Estelles had an unfortunate habit of catching FIRE) that NAME was still an anathema – resulting in a number of jokes.
My personal favourite was: what’s the difference between a sheep and a Skoda? You feel SLIGHTLY less embarrassed being seen getting out of the back of a Skoda. Ha ha.
But a more common joke was: how do you double the value of a Skoda? Fill the petrol tank. And it is THAT which I need you to remember…
You see, I had intended exporting my reliable chariot to my new home in the sun (Thailand) but some pencil-necked desk-jockey bureaucrat had recently put the kibosh on that notion – therefore, since I needed wheels right up to the time I arrived at Heathrow for the last time, I was required to obtain a street-legal CLONKER.
Thing was, I did NOT wish to have to sell my car at Heathrow – as the buyer would know he had me over a barrel. And so having a cheap, road-worthy replacement, I was able to take my time and get a more reasonable sum for my old ride, before my departure to sunnier climes.
The car I ended up with during those last hectic weeks was a Vauxhall Cavalier Mk III – altogether, not a bad car. In fact, the cost of bringing it up to scratch would only have been a few hundred pounds in England – and perhaps ONE hundred pounds in Thailand, where labour costs are considerably cheaper.
Which, since the car would have been worth a couple of GRAND sterling here, would have been economically viable. But back in Blighty – given the excesses of their MOT test and the cost of their labour – it was only worth what I paid for it…
Now I have ruminated on this disparity elsewhere in these columns, so I will cut straight to the reason I am revisiting the issue: today I heard the current price of petrol in England.
And I took the trouble to look up the fuel capacity of that Cavalier. It was 61 litres which, at £1.40 each, would mean that today it would cost EIGHTY-FIVE POUNDS to fill her up.
Which, assuming the price of their street-legal clonkers has only increased in line with inflation, means that today, in England – a full tank of petrol ACTUALLY CAN double the value of a car.
And that is RIDICULOUS.
[Footnote: in case you were wondering, I did NOT just abandon the Cavalier at Heathrow. A friend met me at the airport and I GAVE it to him.]