A FAMILY in Walters Ash who woke up to find a sinkhole had swallowed one of their cars, have been given a replacement for free.

19-year-old Zoe Smith discovered her car at the bottom of the 30ft hole earlier this month but has now been given a new car by automotive company, Auto Trader.

Miss Smith said: “It was really nice of them, they helped with everything, I am very grateful.”

Zoe Smith had her Volkswagen Lupo, which she named Bruce, for three years and even learnt to drive in it, but she has now replaced him with Lucy.

The new Volkswagen Lupo which she was given two days ago is a 1.4 litre engine, compared to the old car which had a 1.0 litre engine.

Miss Smith said: “It’s nice it is a little bit faster and I have had to be careful as I am scared of scratching it.”

She added: “It is a bit of an upgrade; this one even has electric windows.”

Despite the shocking end her last car met, Miss Smith is unfazed about parking her new vehicle in the same space as before.

She said: “We all thought about it and now it has all been filled back in, it will probably be the safest spot there, so I am going to park in exactly the same area, lighting can’t strike twice.”

The family could not believe the kindness of the car company when they heard that they were offering to buy them a car.

Miss Smith said: “They tried to get our contact details and we were informed by someone that they wanted to get hold of us to see if they could buy us a replacement car. We didn’t believe it.”

After looking for cars online, Miss Smith’s step-father, Phil Conran, narrowed the options to just two cars and Zoe then made her choice.

However, despite being impressed with her new model, which cost Auto Trader £2,200, Miss Smith said she will always remember her first car.

She said: “Bruce was my first car. I used to learn to drive in that car too. He will probably always be my favourite, I do miss him.”

Despite the sinkhole swallowing the car on February 2, Miss Smith was only without a car for a couple of days as local company Coles and Blackwell loaned her a courtesy car, but Miss Smith now has a permanent replacement, thanks to Auto Trader.

Editor in chief at Auto Trader, Jon Quirk, said: “Everyone loves their first car, so when we heard the terrible news of Zoe’s Lupo disappearing into the ground, we really wanted to purchase her a replacement.

“Now she can get back on the road, in her new Volkswagen Lupo and back to life as normal with her friends and family”.