The last rites.

Wish you were here... xxx

British Racing Green is an evocative colour for an MG convertible. Add black leather to the mix and it’s a smart little fun roadster. The MGF in question had both, and although getting on a bit (it was a T plate so 1999) the mileage was low and condition more than fair. It was the owners pride and joy, she loved that car but needed something more practical and the deal was too good to refuse so it went in p/x against a brand new Fiesta.

I watched the new owners pick the little MG up, lowering the hood before gleefully roaring off up the road to the crisp blare of the mid mounted 1.8 litre engine. I hope they enjoyed that cars run to it’s new home, it’d be its last. They were scrap dealers, the car yet another victim of Gordon Browns innovative scrappage scheme. A “book” p/x price of about £900 for the MG made it a no brainer.

Now don’t get me wrong, we’ve seen some terrible old clunkers go through the system, their appointment at the jaws of the crusher long overdue. But there’s some awful waste going on around it, that MGF just one example of a perfectly good perfectly serviceable motor car being killed in the name of being “green” in the non British Racing sense.

Trouble is, no one’s yet managed to convince me quite how crushing perfectly good cars and replacing them with brand new ones that might use a bit less fuel, but come with all the inherent ecological cost involved with building and delivering a car (remember many of these come by ship from far flung corners of the globe) might be an ecologically good thing. Let’s be honest, it isn’t is it? The green thing to do would be to keep old cars on the road as long as practically possible, not throw them away after ten years and build new ones in their place.

The only real beneficiaries of the scheme are the motor traders, who get a sales boost by being able (with Government “help”) to sell cars to certain people for £2,000 less, and those customers able to benefit. So why not extend the scheme to anyone? Simply offer £2,000 off to anyone who wants to buy a new car. Because if you did that you wouldn’t be creating the forced demand that killing thousands of perfectly serviceable cars creates. Forget the green credentials of this scheme then, it’s a pure money making scheme for the dealers and for the Government.

Money making for the Government? Aren’t they the ones funding the scheme? Well yes. And yet, no. Scrap your perfectly serviceable MGF for the most basic Ford Fiesta for example, and you’ll get a £2,000 scrappage allowance off the circa £11K price tag making it £9K on the road. Now the manufacturer has to fund half of that discount, the government the other half, so Gordon’s only in for a £1,000. And immediately the car is sold they instantly recoup over £1,000 in VAT! Make it a £22K Mondeo and the government is still in for a grand, but with well over two coming straight back! Not daft are they?

So is it a good scheme? By and large yes it is. It doesn’t really cost the government (hence us) anything. The dealers are down a grand on each sale but happy with the increased business. And plenty of happy buyers are sporting about in brand new motors with far more discount than they’d ever have achieved normally.

But as I watched that poor old MG disappear on it’s final journey, paintwork glistening, roof down and exhaust growling, off to join the ranks of perfectly decent cars being destroyed for no real benefit to anyone, I couldn’t help thinking that something somewhere just wasn’t quite right…

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One Response to “The last rites.”

  1. donglemouse Says:

    agree with all you say, in a similar vein i have just scrapped a 1987 Toytoa MR2

    financially a no brainer as it’s private sale value was probably max £500, but the car was still working fine – now it will be crushed

    as you say what’s environmentally friendly about destroying a working car

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