Even starting my Beetle was a dispiriting experience. After a downpour I'd find that the front footwells were full of water and I'd have to bail it out before I could drive anywhere. It was only when I got tired of this after a year that my brother pointed out that leaves were blocking some drain holes. After hoovering out the leaves I never got damp feet again.
When it moved, the Beetle was a great car. I suppose I chose it because it was low to the ground, it made a great noise and its chunky looks were a lot more hip than some anonymous hatchback.
But there were major drawbacks, like the fact that I had to park it on a hill to have a chance of restarting it. That caused friction with my then girlfriend, who became my wife. We'd go clubbing in Chelsea, not an area renowned for its mountain ranges. So at 3 o'clock in the morning we ended up either walking a mile to the nearest parking incline, or furiously push-starting the thing.
Being red, it seemed to get a lot of unwelcome attention from traffic wardens and tow trucks. Once, I was so angry after collecting the car from the pound and paying another hefty fine that I took out my aggression on the stiff gear lever. I wrecked the gearbox and had to struggle home with just reverse and fourth gears.
Another time it refused to start, which was no surprise, but it took half an hour for me to realise that someone had actually stolen the battery. I bought a replacement and with the help of a supposedly mechanical friend still managed to connect up the wrong terminals, which caused a small fire and much amusement to passers-by.
Eventually I'd had enough and phoned a small ad in the local paper, the type where they buy anything on four wheels for cash. They offered pounds 100 and I jumped at it. As the car was towed away I realised I'd left a pair of golfing shoes worth about pounds 75 in the back. That was the last I saw of the Beetle, or the shoes.
Chris Lang is appearing in `A Dance to the Music of Time' on Channel 4, and is the writer and producer of `First Impression', 6.30pm, Thursday, Radio 4. He was speaking to James Ruppert.Reuse content