I owned a Toyota Celica coupe for 15 years during which time, it never caused a problem, but even though it passed the emissions test, unfair UK government charges on a GT – saw me finally decide to call it a day.

I contacted a salvage company which offered £70 to remove and crush it for scrap, but deciding on a last attempt at selling it, I placed an advert in a British Classic Car magazine. Then I went off to Marrakesh and forgot about it.

On my return to London, there was an anxious message on my answer phone. An Indian man was desperate to buy it to participate in a  Top Gear  “Pimp My Ride” motor challenge. The criteria was that the car shouldn’t cost more than £500 to buy and it had to have a valid MOT and tax disc.

That evening, he came around and bought it on sight. We performed a Hindu ceremony when I held a “sacred coconut” under a wheel and he drove over it, crushing it, to bring good luck.

With only 77,000 miles on the clock, apart from a trip to France, for many years the old Celica had only been driven to Sainsbury’sa  supermarket (¼ mile) for a weekly shop.

Now, to prove old cars still have life, it had to survive being driven from John O’Groats (in the north of Scotland) to Lands End (the most southern tip of England), a distance of 874 miles, with other old competitors, including a Porsche.

It was not a race, but an endurance test, and although my dear old car coughed and spluttered, it was declared the eventual winner, raising £8000 for charity in the process.

But this was not the end. So close to being crushed, it was auctioned for charity after the trip, and bought by a woman who declared she loved the model, and would restore it as a classic car.

It’s a nice story amid Toyota’s current woes. My desk overlooks the street where it used to be parked. At times I believe I can see it.

We placed a coconut under the front wheel


About Travels with My Hat

Australian photojournalist and author. Used London as a base for nearly forty years while freelancing in the Middle East, Arabian peninsular, Africa and South Asia. Have written and illustrated more than a dozen books and travel guides. Operates a well regarded religious images stock photo library: Live in Leura in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney.
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6 Responses to MY DEAR OLD CELICA

  1. AMA says:

    A delightful story — Hope some of the TOyota people see it — brighten their day.1

  2. Mimi Forsyth says:

    endearing! I had a beloved Mazda RX7 for 25 years before having to give it up ( to a collector, for parts). I still love that car. My new Hyundai is a great little workhorse, but I'll never fall in love with it. Cars are people too.

  3. C.O. says:

    Nice to hear this. I would have kept the Celica, but beaten by costs. I do not have any car now, say it`s my contribution to reducing GW, but in truth, I live only 15 minutes by tube from central London.

  4. Mimi Forsyth says:

    Not having a car, not having to park it,register it, feed it, repair it, is a liberation………

  5. Rosie says:

    I love this story – and I hadn't heard the coconut part!

  6. Jenny Woolf says:

    How nice. I get ridiculously sentimental about some things and nearly wept when I saw my old datsun taking its last journey. I am far from being a car lover but some cars do seem to have their own personalities. I won't be the least sorry to wave bye bye to our Ford Mondeo when the time comes to change it for a newer model!

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