I bought my first car back in 1971.
It was an Austin Mini, and I loved that car. It was ancient when I bought it, but that didn’t matter. If it broke down, I simply pulled onto the side of the road and fixed it. It was very basic, and it worked [most of the time].
Since then, I have gone through quite a few cars. There was another Mini, followed by a Datsun Cherry, a Ford Escort, two Fiestas, a Mitsubishi Lancer and the car I now drive – a Ford Focus. I don’t have any particular preference for Ford; things just seemed to happen that way. In fact my favourite of the lot would probably be the Lancer, but that is neither here nor there.
One thing I did notice was that every time I bought a new car, something new would appear on the dashboard. I would have some new toy to play with. When I compare my present car with that first Mini, there are one or two small differences – five gears, heated rear window, electric windows and sunroof, radio and CD player, five gears, reversing lights and a clatter of other things that now apparently come as standard.
When I bought my first Mini, I also bought a Haynes Manual which became one of my most used books. It ended up virtually unreadable from the oil stains. That manual, along with my toolkit went on every journey and it saved my bacon many times. As I changed cars, I used to change the manual as well.
I don’t bother with manuals now. Cars are too fucking complicated. To change a spark plug, you now need a degree in engineering and a masters in computing. What’[s worse, when something breaks,it always seems to be part of “a larger integrated unit”
I was out in the car yesterday, driving along minding my own business. Suddenly the engine started making a whining noise that sounded distinctly unhealthy. Last night I brought it over to Spanner who took one look at the engine [which looks more like an oil refinery] and gave one of his little intakes of breath. “Steering pump” he muttered. “That’ll cost a fair belt”. Now spanner has three prices – a belt, a fair belt and a fair good belt, so I know it isn’t going to be cheap to fix. There is no chance of replacing the part with a bit of an old washing machine, or a bit of string for that matter.
There are times when I miss my Mini.