Yoda in the Skoda

There was a Mondeo in Bellmullet. Test, no tax, “….she won’t need much….” after that it was all Ballina, Ballycastle and Castlebar. Passats, Hondas and heaps of Insignias. There was Insignias everywhere. All washed, looking good, but dead inside. “Engine light on, not sure, probably just a sensor…” which is Chinese for that oil seal yoke that blows the engine that everyone suddenly knows about and is dying to tell you only after you buy it. Been there, done that, burnt the fuckin t-shirt. One lad had a Skoda for sale but had no keys. The car was locked but you could look in the side window and if you liked what you saw you could tow it away. No tax, test, and no logbook “…hence the price…” 

On went the dream. A Kia in Limerick. A Tuscon in Crossmolina. Cars in the North at crazy cheap prices til you add the VRT and the wonderful Nox. An Avensis in Headford. A Focus in Roscommon.  Lads offering PCP. Sure PCP is easy. Almost certain to get it. Here’s one now, a nice 1 litre, affordable, reliable, guaranteed. Call today, drive away. Yours by lunch, no credit crunch. Take the wheel, enjoy the steal. Want to go far, then buy this car. Sure that’ll do, time to get out of the dregs, into the big leagues, shiny at the football pitch with the child, big shtuff. Here we went, just a case of picking it up. There was breeze, a bruised sky, and an uncertain salesman. Yeah, them deals were a while ago, where’d you read that?  

– Internet. 

-Oh right. See. Well. Let’s try.  

We tried. There was paperwork. Questions. More questions. Questions about questions. Bit like giving blood. Then there was forms. Beloved forms. Upload this, scan that, make sure it’s this date and from these places only. Now we’ll think about it. Hit submit and we’ll be back within 48 to 72 hours and we might need more. Depends on if you fucked it up. No car today, no steal of a deal or fancy wheels making lunch time reels around shiny new leather roundabouts of long term debt and wonderful guarantees of reliable travel. 

Back to Donedeal. Even the Skoda with no keys was gone by now.  

The phone rang, then. The dealer that bought the Peugeot. Christ, Jesus, why’s he ringing me? Didn’t I tell him it didn’t work? He was hardly wondering about the weedkiller in the engine? 

I answered with a tentative, hello? Like I wasn’t sure who it was. Casual, innocent, blameless in this whole mess.  

He didn’t buy it, asked: ‘Have you got a new car yet?  


‘Are you still lookin for somethin? I met your oul fella downtown. He said you were lookin…’ 

‘I….am. Well, just waiting on a PCP….’ 

‘I have a yoke here for ya.’ 

‘Oh yeah?’ 

‘Yeah, two months test, tax, and in good shape. I’ll call around and show to ya.’ 


‘Are you at the house?’ 


‘Sound….I’ll be outside in two minutes.’ 

And he was.  




Insignia still not scrapped.

Ah, sure lookit. These lads had it sorted. Big operators. Big into the car business. Known for doin yokes up. They wanted the remains of the Insignia. It was imperative they got it. Said they’d give €500. The loved Insignias. Had five or six of them in the forecourt out the back of their mother’s yard. They were from some town. Some village. Some rural stretch on the road. Spent most days turning screws with ratchet screwdrivers and talking about buying Insignias. Lately they found a beaut. A real winner. Class price. A Brexit bargain from beyond. There was a trip over, and a boat back, and a drive home to the rainy dealership somewhere between the wet fields. Ballyfin, Ballindine, Ballyhowya. Somewhere. It didn’t matter because they had somehow found their way to Athlone and seen my sick model in the grey mist gathering dust and praying for an owner. Praying it wouldn’t be turned into Greta bean cans somewhere. And now here were the Messiahs.

The mechanic rang, said: ‘Them lads were here, would you take €500?’

I would. Half it even, but I didn’t mention that.

‘Ok, I’ll tell them. They just bought another Insignia they want your one too.’

‘The engine is gone, do they know that?’

‘Doesn’t matter.’

‘Are ya sure about that? It usually makes a difference when trying to drive it. Just talking from experience.’

‘They don’t want the engine, just the body.’

‘Fair enough. They mightn’t get far though.’

”They have another Insignia at home. But she’s English.’

I didn’t understand, said: ‘I know what you mean.’

‘And they got her at a good price, but the import tax is colossal.’

‘The VRT?’

‘Yeah, nearly twice the price of the car.’


‘So what they’re goin to do is take the engine out of the English one, and put it in your one and then they have the English engine in an Irish registered car and don’t need to pay the tax.’

‘Sounds messy.’

‘I need the space in my yard either way so will I tell them to take it?’

‘Do. Do. Do.’

A week later, the car was still there. Looking like this:


They had trouble sourcing a truck to bring it home. There was a cousin with a girlfriend who had a brother and his father owned a truck but he wasn’t willing to give it. They’d be back in a few days with a plan. More time passed. The mechanic offered them a triangular yoke you could attach to the back of your car and tow it that way. There was excitement about this until it transpired they didn’t have a car with a hitch so that wouldn’t work.

Another week went by and no word. Eventually they said the logistics wouldn’t work out, and there was a lot of work to be done on my yoke, and they hadn’t accounted for that time I scraped it off the pillar downstairs and wrecked the back door. And something might go wrong with transferring the engines and then you just have two useless Insignias and no money left. So they abandoned the great plan, let the genius subside, and went back to screwing screws with ratchet screwdrivers, and waiting for the next great moment.


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