Earlier today, I stumbled across a photo of a Vauxhall Cavalier Convertible and my mind was cast back to the mid 90s and a blonde girl I used to know.
In truth, I only knew her first name (which I’ve subsequently forgotten), but for the purposes of this blog we’ll call her Mandy. Back then, we didn’t have mobile phones, but I had Mandy’s office telephone number. I wasn’t a regular caller, but I knew that, once I’d phoned her, she’d pop round to offer her services. And she’d be armed with a camera.
My memory is hazy, but I’m pretty sure Mandy was a blonde. Late 20s, maybe early 30s. Sunglasses. Hampshire accent. Drove a Vauxhall Cavalier Convertible. That was her standout feature. Few people drove a topless Cavalier, but for Mandy it was the company car of choice.
You see, Mandy was the local Auto Trader rep, tasked with taking photos for the weekly mag. It might seem alien to anyone under the age of 30, but in the days before digital cameras and the internet, Auto Trader would send somebody round to take a quick snap of your motor. And Mandy covered the East Dorset and West Hampshire patch.
She didn’t stay long. A quick point and click and she was gone. Driving away in a flurry of scuttle-shake and chassis flex. Not that Mandy cared, because she was living the dream. Being paid to drive around the New Forest and the south coast in an exotic drop-top, doing little more than taking photos of Capris, Metros, Escorts, Novas and Fiestas.
Thanks to Mandy’s photographic skills, I sold my Capri 1.6 Laser at the first time of asking, despite the lure of a cheaper Capri 2.0S in the same town. Back then, selling a car in (not on) Auto Trader required knowledge of a different language. That of classified car speak.
Fixed word counts led to the introduction of t&t (tax and tested), f/f/s/roof (factory-fitted sunroof), r/s/belts (rear seat belts), r/cass (radio cassette) and VGC (very good condition). For some reason, I thought ‘Capri club member’ was a good use of my valuable word count. Gotta be worth the extra £340 I was asking over matey boy’s 2.0S.
I often wonder what happened to Mandy.* Did the dawn of the digital age result in her moving to an office job, or did she spend the rest of her days touring the country in an ageing Cavalier Convertible, taking random photos of cars parked at the side of the road?
Mandy, if you’re out there, thanks for the memories.
*That’s not strictly true. I’d actually forgotten about Mandy until today. Sorry.