They were always at least twenty years old, picked up cheap from a barely legal auction house out the back of nowhere. For some reason, and I cringe about this now, I yearned to blend in – to be average. But dad would insist that new cars were a waste of money, and he would speak at length about the amazing deals he had snagged over the years. Now, I think he had a point.
I kick myself for worrying so much about what other people thought, to the point where it angers me when I see people acting in a similar fashion today. There you go; cars have taught me a life lesson. But back to the point of my story. I am now able to see what dad saw in those old cars.
It’s a common take on new cars these days isn’t it? You can’t work on them anymore because the engines are too hard to get to, or you might bugger something in the electrics and short the computer. Who knows what’s going on in there? It’s all a bit of a mystery to me. Dad had the right idea though. He knew that if he bought an old car, he’d know exactly where everything was if something went wrong – and that wasn’t often.
Our cars were always well made; the doors clunked, they weren’t necessarily flash but they had character. In no particular order, we had an ex-cab - a 1978 XC Falcon we named ‘207’ with three quarters of a million kilometres on the clock. We had a golden Holden Premier station wagon with an electric tail gate window, thanks very much. For a family of four, our Moke Californian with the dud distributor wasn’t especially practical, but it was fun for the five or six months we could handle it. And then there was the VH Valiant Ute; a tough nut and a cool looking car but again, not hugely practical.
When I look back and remember the anxious moments when friends would come round and we’d head off somewhere in one of the beasts, first I give myself a clip round the ears, then with a pang of regret I wish I had just enjoyed the fact that I was riding in vehicles that will be thought of fondly long after average, normal, boring cars have come and gone.