Last weekend, we bought three goats. Three male goats to be precise, destined for a one-way ticket to the market. The good news is: after living the good life in Dorset, all three goats are now enjoying a new life in a different part of the country.
The even better news: we now own a Renault Megane Cabriolet 1.6 16v Sport. Allow me to explain.
You know how it is: you’re stood listening to the conversation between the farmer and your wife when, out of the corner of your eye, you spot something French over on the other side of the farm. Something yellow and French. Something… wait, what – it’s for sale..?
At that point, the goat chat became little more than white noise as my thoughts turned to a summer with a Megane Cabriolet. The conversation continued without my input – all I heard was “goats blah, blah, blah, escape artists, blah, blah, blah, eat anything, blah, blah, blah, will escape, blah, blah, blah, next door’s roses, blah, blah, blah”.
Could I justify another French car on the fleet? Is buying a 16-year-old Megane with an electric folding roof really such a good idea? Should I simply walk away and get back to matters of a lonely goatherd, lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo? These are all rhetorical questions, because, having left my wife to deal with matters of the goat variety, there’s now a very yellow Megane Cabriolet parked outside.
In truth, it belongs to Mrs Big-Surname: a summer runabout to act as a tender for the big blue battleship, otherwise known as the Isuzu D-Max. In an act of unusually good timing, the purchase has coincided with a rather unseasonal (for Britain) heatwave, meaning the top has been down more often than it has been up. How very un-British. We seem to love our droptops, but curiously far too many people are reluctant to lower the roof.
Ownership of a Renault Megane Cabriolet presents a number of firsts. Strangely, it’s the first Renault I, or rather we, have owned, and it’s also the first four-seat convertible to join the fleet. First yellow car: tick. First car bought without any history: tick. First car with an electric folding roof: tick. First £500 mistake: time will tell…
I’d like to say that £500 is a bargain price, but it’s actually the going rate for a Mk1 Renault Megane Cabriolet. Anyone unfortunate enough to follow me on Twitter will know that I’ve often held this car aloft as a prime example of cheap droptop fun: ranking it alongside the Peugeot 306 Cabriolet and Fiat Punto Cabriolet as the most PetrolBloggy ragtops of the era.
Seriously, any thoughts of rational decision making and common sense go out of the window when you press the Transformers button and set the roof mechanism to work. As the Megane does its best impression of Optimus Prime, you sit in wonder that such a feat of engineering can be acquired for just 500 notes. The Megane Cabriolet’s chief party trick is also its major selling point.
Of course, the mere fact that the roof still works is a bonus, as a roof stuck in the closed position simply turns the Megane into a slightly less pretty version of the Renault Megane Coupe. With a leaky roof and a damp interior.
It’s a classic PetrolBlog purchase. One minute we were saying there’s no need to add to the fleet, the next minute we’re heading back down the A35; D-Max and three goats following close behind. An impulse buy with only the DVLA’s excellent MOT history checker and a brief drive around the farm to act as homework and due diligence.
The first signs are good: no unwelcome noises, smells or smoke. It looks like it has lived on a farm for a number of months, but that’s because it has. The roof is covered in a thin layer of bacteria that could form the basis of a scientific experiment into earth’s earliest lifeforms, while the interior needs a good session with a vacuum cleaner.
But my hunch – and I hope I’m right – is that there’s a good and genuine car beneath the mud and grime. There are a few battle scars, including a dent that looks suspiciously like a cow has reversed into the Megane, but after 80,000 miles and five previous owners you can’t expect perfection. Certainly not when you’re buying a 16-year-old Megane.
Besides, there’s nothing quite like getting to know a new car and scraping away to reveal what lies beneath the grime. It’s probably how Tony Robinson felt when he presented Time Team, although I’ve yet to see the episode in which the man in the incredibly loud jumper chips away at an unfashionable French car from the turn of the millennium.
So there we have it: just as Germany was playing catchup with France, the French side of the PetrolBlog fleet gains a new member. More updates, including driving impressions and the results of the deep clean, will follow shortly. In the meantime, you can blame PetrolBlog if the fine weather comes to a grinding halt. Buying a convertible is like cleaning the car or putting the washing on the line: rain is sure to follow.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Henry, Hoover and Dyson – that’s the goats – are settling in well and have not, as yet, managed to escape. Much to the delight of the everybody else in the village – your rose bushes can sleep easy tonight.