14 Feb 2014

Valentines On Wheels

Sharon Endacotte has a great idea for car-enthusiast singletons - Valentines on Wheels

Valentine’s Day, and all the nonsense that comes with it, is looming on the horizon. As usual, I will spend the day at work, before going for a romantic dinner of reheated leftovers and a glass of sparkling Coke with myself in my delightfully compact and bijou home. Because Valentine’s Day is utter bollocks when you’re single, and these days it seems that it’s increasingly difficult for people to meet that special someone.

It must be. This is why there are so many websites dedicated to exactly that quest – many of which are quite expensive to join, and none of which can offer any guarantee of success. You can spend hours creating a profile, choose the most flattering photos from a selection of about six on your entire hard drive that actually meet the website’s ridiculously strict criteria and be as broad minded as possible about your potential mates, but the chances are you’ll either get no responses at all, find that your perfect match lives in the Outer Hebrides when you live on the Isle of Wight, or you’ll attract a plethora of slack-jawed, toothless mass murderers and dogging enthusiasts.

Not that I’m talking from experience, you understand.

But today I realised that there is a better way, and it would take all the power away from those dreadful computer dating websites whilst ensuring you meet someone from the area where you actually live. And best of all, it makes it possible to form an impression of a potential mate without having to wade through endless pages of drivelly profiles.

It’s so beautifully simple I don’t understand why nobody’s ever done it.

If you’re single and looking for a date, put a sign on the side of your car. It doesn’t need to say much, just the basic details of the person you would like to meet and a phone number or email address to get in touch. Potential partners can see you through the window, and they can get a pretty good idea what you’re about too. Because your car probably says more about you – as long as it is your car – than any online dating profile ever could.

If, for example, you see a sign on a brand new Rosso Corsa Ferrari, the driver probably has too much money but no imagination (a new Ferrari that isn’t Rosso Corsa, or a Ferrari that’s a few years old are both much better bets). Someone with a Nissan Micra can be safely ignored, because they won’t be a car person (and if it’s a Micra C+C, run, as fast as you can, and never look back). Anyone driving anything with a silver or gold wrap can also be ignored because they only want people to look at them, so they aren’t going to be much good at looking at you. A people carrier implies there are people to carry – so you’d better like other people’s children if you’re going to take a chance on that one. And someone driving a Range Rover Sport is probably a footballer, so unless you are orange, and want to design your own ‘fashion’ range, you can wave that one on too.

Anyone driving a twenty year old hot hatch that’s gone cold is probably worth avoiding. A twenty year old hot hatch that’s been kept at least lukewarm is a much better bet.

Older cars in general are a minefield. If it’s old but immaculate, and it sounds wonderful, and it doesn’t leave a trail of oil or have a catastrophic bottom end failure when it pulls up at the traffic lights, there’s a very real risk that the owner won’t have time for anything except looking after the car. This is acceptable if it’s a marque of car you like and they’re prepared to share the maintenance, because you could have many romantic hours bonding over spanners and track rod ends, but a lot of people who take this level of interest in their car don’t trust anyone else to go near it. You will become a classic car widow/er before you’ve even got started.

On the other hand, if it’s a classic that is completely knackered, blowing black smoke, squealing, dropping bits of bodywork down the high street and conking out on the shortest of journeys even when it isn’t raining or going uphill, it might just be that they’ve had the car forever and they can’t afford to replace it. Beware. They’re probably just very poor.

I’ve given this a lot of thought, and my conclusion is that the ideal person to look out for is probably driving a classic Mini, or maybe an elderly Landy, as long as they don’t use it for dragging bodies into the woods at weekends*. It doesn’t have any comedy stickers and there aren’t any bits actually dropping off, and overall it’s a bit shabby – but under the bonnet, everything’s where it should be, and it’s kept in good running order by the owner, who doesn’t care too much how the car looks, but doesn’t want to drive a soulless modern snotbox.

Because the person behind the wheel will be smiling. And there are worse places to start.

*weekdays negotiable.