When I first entered the world of driving, in 1981, it seemed that an essential component of the week was a Saturday morning visit to the motor factor.
Often open until only lunchtime, perhaps in an effort to get us lazy louts out of bed and into some sort of productive occupation, it could sometimes mean a bit of a wait for service amidst the throng of hands-on type, mostly blokes.
Never mind, time could be passed surveying the myriad little cardboard boxes with their promise of restored automotive functionality, or by sparking up yet another cigarette and flicking the ash into the overflowing tin receptacle on the counter.
Times change and no longer are we allowed, or even want to charge the atmosphere with an exhaust of tobacco smoke. Indeed it is rare to be able to walk into to a motor factor’s and walk out with anything more than a bulb, belt or battery, but the past still lives on in some quiet corners of these lands.
The fact is that only Saturday last, I was able to saunter up to a customer counter and purchase some parts for an MGB’s choke linkage, as well as a new temperature gauge. The chaps on the counter were engaged not only in sales, but some stock assessment and a spot of mail-order packing too.
Perforated metal shelving had been banished to the stockroom and now the essentials of classic car perambulation were displayed in glass cabinets, giving them the air of toys in a toyshop to the eyes of a nine year old. Err…. make that a forty-nine year old.
I wasn’t the only customer in there either, but it made me think that perhaps we should support the weekend efforts of our parts suppliers and make pilgrimage to the myriad Aladdin’s caves dotted about the country.
It may seem something of an effort, but there could be reward in that knowledgeable person on the counter being able to up-sell to you every item that you’re likely to need to complete the job and not just the single item anticipated, thus preventing a frustrating weekend.
Who knows, you might just spot an attractive present ideal for the one you love. The one with four wheels, that is.