Cars. Some people have a fascination with them and are able to identify the make, model and year of production simply from the sound of the engine or by looking at the hood ornament. Others see them as useful (or useless, depending on the vehicle) devices for transporting themselves and others from where they are to somewhere else.
Choice of automobile can be dictated by many factors or by nothing more than need for something faster than a bicycle. While there are many similarities between cars of all shapes and sizes, many of them develop a personality during their lifetime.
During my formative years, my family owned a number of different cars at different times. Some, I’m sure, were bought for a specific reason. Others though, were less functionally and more financially or taste-oriented purchases. Like most people, I recall some interesting things about the various vehicles which have transported me to so many different places throughout my life. The ones I can remember our family owning were:
The Land Rover – This guy wasn’t one of those posh sports model Discoveries or Freelanders that populate the streets these days. He was a rough-as-guts unit that got the job done. No comfortable back seats to speak of, this behemoth had no time for delicacy when it was thrashing through the bush or blazing trails through uncharted regions. My memory’s a bit hazy but I’m pretty sure we owned two – a blue one first, then the brown beast.
One particular memory has stuck with me: A trip from Cairns to Cooktown over the coast road. Two-hundred and sixty kilometres of unsealed bush road, sometimes violently jostling around in the back of the Rover with a small electric fan circulating dry, dusty air as we took on some of Mother Nature’s more unforgiving territory. Good times.
The Moke – At one point we owned a little yellow moke which had a black soft-top. It was an awesome little car, I’m not sure whether there was a particular reason it was bought but again it was a fun little vehicle to be a passenger in.
I’m not sure that my sister would agree though – there was a time when we were on our way somewhere and we passed through a roundabout. As we rounded the about, my little sister toppled out the side and introduced herself to the street. Luckily we were travelling quite slowly and there was no real traffic, so there was no harm done. To this day though, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to talk to her about mini mokes.
The Mitsubishi Van – Oddly my favourite of all the cars I rode in throughout my formative years. I learned to drive in the van, which was my Dad’s work van. I remember him taking me to the local shopping centre car park when the shops were closed and we drove around the parking lot. That van was my first ticket to teenage freedom; the memory of that van will live with me forever. It was far from the coolest set of wheels around, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Alfa Romeo – This one was a pet project of my Dad’s. He’d bought it cheap and while it was roadworthy, the plan was to complete a restoration on it and make it the meanest Alfa on the streets. It was a zippy little car, with plenty of bite and I always enjoyed driving it. There was just one little thing…
When it rained, the windscreen fogged over. It was usually manageable but on one particular day as I was heading out to a place I can’t even remember, the heavens opened and it rained as though the ocean was being moved to the mainland. I was sitting at an intersection and suddenly I was trying to see through opaque glass. As I furiously wiped over the windshield, the light turned green for me and I tapped the accelerator to be on my way.
As I steered the car right, the water on the road stole the grip from my tires and I soon found myself perpendicular to where I had intended to be facing. The lights had again changed and I was about to be met by oncoming traffic. Luckily I was on an incline and with a bit of quick thinking I rolled backwards to the safety of the curb.
Nowadays I drive a Mazda. I like it, it’s a sporty little car that has taken me to many places and has given me many adventures. I expect that it won’t last me the rest of my life though; I’m kind of looking forward to what the future will bring.
Do you have any fond vehicular memories?