Yoda in the Skoda

There was a Mondeo in Bellmullet. Test, no tax, “….she won’t need much….” after that it was all Ballina, Ballycastle and Castlebar. Passats, Hondas and heaps of Insignias. There was Insignias everywhere. All washed, looking good, but dead inside. “Engine light on, not sure, probably just a sensor…” which is Chinese for that oil seal yoke that blows the engine that everyone suddenly knows about and is dying to tell you only after you buy it. Been there, done that, burnt the fuckin t-shirt. One lad had a Skoda for sale but had no keys. The car was locked but you could look in the side window and if you liked what you saw you could tow it away. No tax, test, and no logbook “…hence the price…” 

On went the dream. A Kia in Limerick. A Tuscon in Crossmolina. Cars in the North at crazy cheap prices til you add the VRT and the wonderful Nox. An Avensis in Headford. A Focus in Roscommon.  Lads offering PCP. Sure PCP is easy. Almost certain to get it. Here’s one now, a nice 1 litre, affordable, reliable, guaranteed. Call today, drive away. Yours by lunch, no credit crunch. Take the wheel, enjoy the steal. Want to go far, then buy this car. Sure that’ll do, time to get out of the dregs, into the big leagues, shiny at the football pitch with the child, big shtuff. Here we went, just a case of picking it up. There was breeze, a bruised sky, and an uncertain salesman. Yeah, them deals were a while ago, where’d you read that?  

– Internet. 

-Oh right. See. Well. Let’s try.  

We tried. There was paperwork. Questions. More questions. Questions about questions. Bit like giving blood. Then there was forms. Beloved forms. Upload this, scan that, make sure it’s this date and from these places only. Now we’ll think about it. Hit submit and we’ll be back within 48 to 72 hours and we might need more. Depends on if you fucked it up. No car today, no steal of a deal or fancy wheels making lunch time reels around shiny new leather roundabouts of long term debt and wonderful guarantees of reliable travel. 

Back to Donedeal. Even the Skoda with no keys was gone by now.  

The phone rang, then. The dealer that bought the Peugeot. Christ, Jesus, why’s he ringing me? Didn’t I tell him it didn’t work? He was hardly wondering about the weedkiller in the engine? 

I answered with a tentative, hello? Like I wasn’t sure who it was. Casual, innocent, blameless in this whole mess.  

He didn’t buy it, asked: ‘Have you got a new car yet?  


‘Are you still lookin for somethin? I met your oul fella downtown. He said you were lookin…’ 

‘I….am. Well, just waiting on a PCP….’ 

‘I have a yoke here for ya.’ 

‘Oh yeah?’ 

‘Yeah, two months test, tax, and in good shape. I’ll call around and show to ya.’ 


‘Are you at the house?’ 


‘Sound….I’ll be outside in two minutes.’ 

And he was.  



Scrapping the Insignia, buying the Vectra.

The initial diagnosis was: ‘You might be lucky.’

It was enough to hang on to, maybe not buy a new car, maybe they’d take out the extra oil and sure it’d all be sound.

Days passed, no word.

Had a great time getting buses around Athlone. Standing at the bus stop and people on the street shouting like: ‘How’d you fuck up the car this time, Micky?’

‘Too much oil.’

‘Is it true that can happen?’

‘Hopefully not.’

Wednesday came, arrived like a dead weight. Still no word. Went up to get some stuff out of the boot. Few extras hanging around the yard. Romanians, Hungarians, lads with moustaches and mechanical theories and they knowing nothing.

The Insignia was on the lift. Unlifted. The mechanic sat in, said: ‘Let’s see.’

He turned the ignition. No luck. Just a splutter and a cough and a myriad of lights and diagnostic pain on the dashboard. There was a lad at the door working hard on a Marlboro and studying the rain. When he heard the noise he was straight over. ‘Car is gone. Finished! No good.’

‘Who asked ya?’

‘I tell you. It’s over for this.’

Turned out he was right.

There was talk of crankshafts and pistons. And pressure. And oil. Oil. Oil. Oil. Don’t talk to me about oil. Do you know anyone that might buy it for scrap?



‘I’ll let you know.’

Later on Donedeal. There was a Citroen for sale in Roscommon. Looked good. No test, no tax. I rang it anyway. Your man said: ‘It’s still available, yeah. Can I ring you back in a second?’


And he never rang back. Then there was a BMW somewhere in Athlone. Five series. Got the jitters and rang it. How much I asked him.

Five and a half grand, he said.

Sound, says I. Keep it.

Eventually discovered the Vectra. A beaut. Taxed and a test. Good to go. Rang it. Your man was pure sound, gave me a figure I could handle, and with a bit of scrap money from the other yoke I might come away ok.

Got there. Rural. Lots of dogs and grass and drizzle and stone walls. Fella says he doesn’t use the car much, except to bring herself to Bingo. Although he had it in Dublin once or twice and she was sound, not a bother on her.

Take her for a spin, he says.

I did. Missing headlamp. Yellow engine light. Bag of plums thrown in the back. Otherwise, 100%. Fuck it, I’ll take it.

Handed over the cash, did the count, filled out the logbook and sat in. 6 speed. 1.9 Diesel.

Let her warm up before you start her, he said. And never mind that oul yellow light on the dash. Ways does be these days, half the country does have them lights on, you just need to plug in the yoke and press the button and make it go away. That’s what they did the last time anyway.

Sound, I says, thanks. G’luck.

Job done.