Astra battles West Cork foliage. Foliage wins.
As I get older, I find that many things I still view as contemporary are in reality, decades old. Music, fashion, events – cars even. The subject of this photo is a case in point. Old enough to be dismissed as a banger, yet to my mind at least, still sufficiently contemporary for this scenario to be unusual.
Yet the Opel Astra G was launched as long ago as 1998, marking a shift in style from the more curvaceous F model which preceded it. In retrospect it appeared to be an attempt by Russelsheim to move the Astra Golf-wards in appearance, adopting a more pronounced C pillar and abrupt tail styling and while there was little wrong with it visually or otherwise, it lacked the clean lines of the earlier car, the solidity and design quality of a contemporary Mark IV Golf, or indeed the novelty and visual dynamism of a Ford Focus. UK website ‘Honestjohn‘ described the G’s styling as ‘nondescript’ and ‘hamster-like’. I don’t see the hamster reference myself, but perhaps someone can enlighten me. Like most Astra’s however, the G sold strongly here in Ireland, offering buyers a cheaper Golf alternative or an antidote to the polarising appearance of the Focus. Nevertheless, it was utterly eclipsed by both.
This example grabbed my attention largely because the section of the car still discernible beneath the encroaching foliage appears in such excellent condition. Cars of this vintage were at the sweet spot when it came to corrosion protection, so note the apparent absence of rust. The degree to which the shrubbery has taken over points to the car having remained immobile for several years, (at least three as far as I can tell) which suggests some catastrophic failure or front end damage, but like the Titanic, all evidence is now buried beyond reach.
At this time of year, the onward passage of time falls into sharper relief. It’s certainly run out for this car. One of these days, someone will lose patience and it will be loaded onto a flatbed and compressed into a squashed cube. Meanwhile however, it forms a free and faintly surreal suburban art installation. One which amuses me as I walk to the supermarket. I shall miss it once it’s gone.