IT’S still going strong, still easing through the kilometres, still a trusty old workhorse. Sure, it’s a little frayed here and there.
It has scratches on its silver paintwork and the gear change can be a tad notchy for someone used to today’s smooth operators, but, hey, what do you expect?
This 2007 Skoda Octavia with its 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine has just clocked 941,000km. And after driving it for a few days, I’ve no hesitation in saying it is more than capable of barrelling its way to the million mark.
For a car of its age and mileage, it was in remarkable condition. Its now former owner, taxi driver Doire Wogan from Meath, minded it like a pet for every minute of his 10-year tenure at the wheel. The Octavia, in Ambition trim, was serviced and maintained to an extraordinary level.
Of course, bits and pieces wore (the elbow resting slot on top of the door upholstery reveals inner fabric) and tore, but it’s the same 110bhp 1.9-litre turbodiesel it started out with. I think it’s a car of which you could say, driven but not shaken.
I’ve previously sampled an Octavia that covered more than 800,000km, but this one will take some beating. Back in 2007, diesel prices averaged around €1.08c/litre. They peaked at €1.55 in 2012. They are currently heading back in that direction again.
So, for the fun of it, let’s average prices around €1.20. And let’s say the car used five litres every 100km – these were thrifty old VW engines, but I’m allowing for a good sprinkling of stopping and starting. That would mean the car has used around 47,500 litres of diesel. At an average of €1.20/litre, they cost €56,460. I was fascinated to see what it was like to drive. I love old cars like this. Reminds me of my youth. Fair dues to him, he had that engine in great nick. It never rasped nor whined – and I was doing a fair rate of knots.
The simplicity of it all, the pragmatism of the dash and interior (the steering wheel cover was a great touch) appealed to me big time. And what a boot. I loaded stuff into it for sport. It hummed along without a bit of bother. Doire told me: “I have great memories of it.
I bought that car brand new in 2007 and, bar the odd school run the wife might have done, I did all the mileage. “When we got the car in 2007, things were good. I had a (VW) Passat doing the taxi business for the five years prior to the Octavia.
“I tried out the Octavia. It was €11,000 cheaper than the Passat. I bought it in April 2007 and I drove it for 10 years.” By 2008, the recession had hit and Doire found himself putting in more and more hours to make ends meet – they have three children.
Hence the massive mileage. Thankfully, things are better now. He traded it in this time last year, after 10 years driving. Not a lot of mileage has been put up since. He replaced it with a 141-reg 1.6-litre diesel Octavia from Western Motors, Drogheda (he bought the old one from TMC in Navan).
His outstanding memory? “It never let me down. And during the recession we didn’t go on foreign holidays, so it was great to be able to bring the kids around the country instead.”
He also recalled “tough times driving around the streets of Dublin hoping to pick up a €5 or €10 fare”. I wonder will it ever make the million kilometre mark? If Doire still had it, he’d reach that in no time. It is unlikely to be caught by his latest one anyway. Asked if he’ll keep his current Octavia as long, he admitted: “Probably not.” What a legacy he leaves with the old one.