Cars and Me

I seem to have a penchant for owning crappy cars. Or at least ones that require rather more care than they give great service...

My first car was a 1978 Mini. About the same blue as the one in the picture, it came with a vinyl sunroof (which collected water in the winter rain, then streamed it down your neck when you turned left, and caused mushrooms to grow under the seats). It came with regularly-disintegrating bush on the gears (leaving the lever in your hand and the car stuck in 4th), with a single strut left unrusted in the boot on which the spare balanced, and with a mostly-not-working fuel guage. To test the fuel level, we employed a short length of hosepipe - stick it in the tank, swing it around - if it goes "splash" there's fuel, if it goes "clonk", fill it up! We had many adventures in that car - once fitting 8 people and their surf/body-boards in for a trip to the nearby beach! Riding extremely low...

My next car was a 1988 Honda Ballade - same shape as this, but black. Bought from a dealer, who cheated us by replacing the tyres with worn ones before we drove off, it also had its fair share of problems. I became very good friends with my mechanic during the years I owned it.. :) The final straw though was when an axle snapped. It was towed to the mechanic, who then phoned me up to say he was selling it and getting me something else. He was literally fed up with having to fix it, parts being both hard to come by and expensive.

Arrive the Ford. A 1987 2 litre Ford Sierra to be precise (same colour as the pic!). The Friggin'Ford which has featured prominently in various posts on this blog. It's also had its fair share of problems - from brakes, to a bonnet that didn't want to open, to locks that wouldn't work, and leaks that let in the rain. The Ford is my current car, and will probably be for a while.

But now I'm aiming for a 1976 Series III Land Rover! Yet another car that will need love, attention, and a sense of humour to deal with whatever issues it throws my way.

One thing can be said for crappy cars though. (Well, a couple of things... and most of them not repeatable) I've learnt a lot about how they work - more than I would have had they run along smoothly with absolutely no problems. I've been able to get my hands dirty and figure out their innards, make a plan for things that break (like having to replace a battery in the mall parking lot, on my own, this past Friday - not a single offer of help from anyone who walked past!), and find out just how far I can drive with whatever issue is currently at the fore.

It's also given me a confidence to go further, learn more, and try things I never have. In fact, later today I'll be delving into the engine of the Ford to find a funny noise (although the mechanic sees it tomorrow for a service - probably a good thing, he can sort out whatever I may break), diving under the chassis to see what is making a noise against the wheels, and looking for the issue with the diff that seems to be leaking. I've started to like getting my hands greasy, and particularly enjoy knowing that I can (almost) fix anything! I've even gained enough confidence to give servicing my own car (next time) a try.

You see, I tend to think like this: if someone else can do it, there's a good chance I can too. Though it may take me a bit longer, and be a rather steep learning curve, I'll get it eventually.

So here's to crappy cars and the adventure, knowledge and fun they bring! :)