I recently picked up our new (for us) car. Oh boy, has this been a long time coming. The car that served us until recently has done the job for over 10 years and has slowly but surely deteriorated. So that when, a couple of weeks ago I attempted to reverse out of my very narrow, under the house drive way and almost ripped the (accidentally) open rear door off it’s hinges. Ooops! This was the tipping point.
That just added to the rather long list of things that needed ‘doing’ on this car. I was not going to spend another cent on it. Rego was almost due. Time to act. I knew what I wanted and the field was pretty slim. I wanted a 7 seater that would fit in that narrow, under the house drive way/garage. Not too many options, but that did not worry me in the slightest. I’m not really what you would call a ‘car person’.
Cars. I start out determined to look after them, but that determination is slowly but surely replaced by the old familiarity. Yes, the one that breeds contempt. I have to say that having a car for 10+ years is a complete record for me. So I’m improving, but it did make me think back over the years and all the various cars I have had…and killed.
As a young whippersnapper of 18, my first vehicular purchase was a motorbike for 500 bucks. A Honda 250. That was fun! Luckily it didn’t kill me! Then I went and bought a 10 speed bike and rode it a LOT (more on that another day). I moved onto four wheels when at 21 I had returned from travelling through Europe on 20cents a day and decided to drive from Sydney to Perth on a whim. Possibly another dumb idea, I’ve had a few over the years. Looking back though, this was one of my best cars.
It was a Holden HR ’66 bought for a grand. The following week I headed off into the wild blue yonder with a mate to drive 4000 kilometres plus in round figures. The car didn’t skip a beat, but we did have to change a tyre out on the Nullabor Plain, which is literally the middle of nowhere. This is where the longest stretch of straight road in Australia lives. Sold this lovely car to some guy in Perth before I flew back to Sydney about 6 months later, so I didn’t really have the chance to kill this one. Lucky, cos it was a classic.
Next I bought a little Mazda 2 door coupe off some friends ($300?) and it went for a few years. It did a lot of hard work driving me and my friends around to various venues, dives and clubs all over Sydney. We survived but it didn’t. It had an old rotary dial gold phone (this was well before car phones) which didn’t work of course and a speaker built into the heel of an enormous platform heel from which you could listen to the AM radio. Style and class – that’s me!
A couple of years later when I was on tour in Melbourne, I bought a Peugeot 505 on a whim (shakes head in disbelief) from a very shady character. I was very pleased with myself for about 24 hours. Then it started blowing smoke…badly. I took it back to the guy and accused him of ripping me off. He threatened to go and get his gun if I called him a liar and a cheat. But he eventually came around and swapped it for a Fiat. Oh dear God! It should have been a Citroen as it was a complete lemon and cost me a lot of money. I gave it away, telling my friend who took it to NEVER bring it back.
My next choice (!) was the tiniest station wagon in the world. A Mazda that I bought off a guy who had named his little boy Elvis. That should have warned me, but no…I was oblivious and besides, I never had much money. Or lets just say I had more important things to spend it on. I cooked it’s tiny little engine lugging band gear around.
The next car, I got a bit of help from a friend who knew a bit about cars. I ended up with a 2 door Corolla hatchback, vintage 1980. It did pretty well ferrying me back and forth from my little country cottage in Bangalow (near Byron Bay) to the university in Lismore – a 30k one way trip through beautiful rolling green hills. I was studying music and I was always squeezing various other poor musicians and their instruments in. Got a double bass in there once. This car survived my 3 years at uni but was in pretty poor condition by the time I finished.
With some more guidance, I bought a car that I actually loved. A Peugeot 504 ’74. I was never into naming my cars, but this one was dubbed ‘Rose’s Blue Sports Car’ by a friends little boy. I think he may have loved this car almost as much as me. Beautiful to drive, solid on the road and built for comfort (a bit like me!). This lovely car hung in for quite a few years – moving with me to Melbourne, then to Darwin. But…I sold it when the band I was managing was about to start touring. (Warning, band managers should never buy vehicles for their bands to tour in…results in certain car death). My blue sports car went off to become a rally car…
Yes, I’m an idiot. I bought a Nissan Urvan which became the vehicle we drove on numerous tours with the Wild Water band (more about them one day…). We would squeeze six of us, all the band gear and luggage in and on top. It would take us three days of solid driving to reach our first show and by the time we’d made it back home, we would have clocked more than 10,000K (6,250 miles). That van worked hard for the money, believe me. I did sell it before it died. Its amazing what some people will pay actual money for.
I went carless for a few years. That helped.
I got back on the road when I bought a Honda Prelude. Bet you didn’t expect that! Neither did I. Got it in immaculate condition, sold it to a friend a bit worse for wear. Not entirely my fault – someone backed into my parked car. It took me about two years to get the money off them but now I know all about the petty claims court process.
Which brings me to my most recently deceased. A Ford Falcon Forte station wagon. I bought it thinking I wanted a completely bland, run of the mill vehicle – kind of like a hire car. It was the most expensive, youngest car I’d ever owned. It was solid, reliable and rarely had any problems, which is pretty good for 10 years under my loving care. But it worked hard. Many, many children and a lot of musicians transported to and from their places of work & education. By the end, the roof lining was sagging, the key transponder didn’t work, the engine needed some investment, it was heading towards 200,000k and as I mentioned, the body had suffered an injury. Thanks, it’s been swell, but hello new car!
It’s a Toyota Avensis 2009 – a 7 seater which means my boys have a bit more space and my big boy can be in a row by himself. Just that in itself is a massive relief. No more scratching and pinching the little guys in the car Mr L!
I promise to service you, clean you (inside & out) and ….oh….who am I kidding?