The big news on Monday may have passed some of you by – my Ford Galaxy reached 100 (thousand miles, that is, although some of it is so tatty now you would be forgiven for thinking it was born in 1916). There was no congratulatory telegram from the Queen. There was no thank you card from the manufacturer. In fact, all of its comrades on the road seemed blissfully unaware of this milestone in motoring history unfolding before them.
The big number appeared on the dashboard, appropriately, on a stretch of road that the big blue beast had travelled umpteen times before. It happened to be motorway, so I felt unable to celebrate the moment immediately by pulling over onto the hard shoulder and setting up my pre-planned party for fear of appearing on the next episode of Moronic Motorists Do The Craziest Things. I had to wait to find a suitable side street to mark the occasion, by which time the Galaxy had become 100,005 miles old and the idea seemed vaguely silly.
Never mind. I had prepared it all so it was going to damn well happen anyway! I had envisaged an impromptu rave that would make headlines on the local news, passers by stopping to join the throng as the big tunes cranked out on the Galaxy’s ageing stereo. Revellers would sample the sumptuous seats (yes, big enough for seven adults, you know!) and marvel at the screens in the back of the headrests that were designed in an era before youngsters had iPads permanently strapped to their faces.
So I set up the decorations and signs, arranged the chocolate cake and bubbly, and waited for about three minutes. Nobody came. A few cars drove past, but avoided eye contact like I was some sordid modern version of the child-catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Three minutes may not seem like a long time, but when you are standing next to a car dressed up like an ageing prostitute, it was long enough.
I needed to pick up my son, and I knew he would not appreciate his taxi arriving looking like some clown-mobile, so I removed the adornments and the party was over before it had really begun. As I started the engine I realised that my actions were ridiculous. I had wanted others to share the love, feel the warmth of this big blue protective blanket, when really it was an entirely personal infatuation and to others it would seem like, well, just a Galaxy.
It hasn’t always been plain sailing, mind you. In the early days it made its presence felt by self-harming. One month a clutch, the next a snapped handbrake cable, and then a faulty bonnet catch – all things insignificant enough to keep my faith with it, but persistent low-level attention seeking behaviour. It was almost as though the soft brute had developed an identity crisis – it knew it was too big to hang out with its lesser car cousins, but not big enough to play with the really big boys.
I nursed it through those early exchanges and it has repaid me with many years of loyal service. Yes, the air intake valve can stick shut and have to be coaxed into action by rocking the chassis back and forth, and the power steering will wail like a banshee when it’s on full lock, but I have come to see these as lovable quirks and characteristics. This is no Japanese robot – it is a real car with foibles and failings, and I love it unconditionally.
My Galaxy has driven my children to hospitals, sporting fixtures, and parties. It has eaten up the summer holiday miles to feel the soft sand of Cornwall under its tyres. It has shouldered the impulse Ebay purchases of drinks fridges without complaint, moved the stuff too precious to entrust to the removal men, and, most significantly, wrapped my family in its 5-star Euroncap security blanket for eight long years.
And of course last year it accompanied me on an absurd mid-life crisis that encompassed all the British racecourses in an extraordinary eighty days. I really needed it to not let me down during that period when I was both utterly frantic and incredibly fragile, and it didn’t.
It shall be retired with full honours, and I have half a mind to convert the garage into a showroom for this design classic (seven adult seats in less than 5m, I tell you!) in homage to the times we spent together.
(FOR SALE:- Ford Galaxy 2.0 TDCi (turbo probably available for at least a few more months) Ghia, ten years old, 100k. One careful owner, and then one not particularly careful owner. Immaculate inside and out if you forgive the scratches, tears and stains. Washed as recently as last year. Full service history if I hadn’t lost the booklet about six months ago. Two months MOT and about a quarter of a tank of fuel. Optional extras include rear parking sensors that operate even when not parking. Comes complete with jump starter and six CDs that the player now resolutely refuses to eject. Offers considered.)