A car story

I am sitting at my desk working on a variety of different tasks simultaneously while listening to 5FM and DJ Fresh.  The topic being discussed is a wreck you may have had as a car.  That set me thinking or should I say send cold shifters running down my spine of my green Audi 100 GLS 5.  Yes 5 :-).  I was a very poor student living in a 2 bedroom flat with a room mate in downtown Cape Town with our dining room door as my desk and only a few plants and a bed to my name.

My path with the “Green One” crossed when I was a student and my then car, a Datsun 160 Y Coupe bought at an auction,  need to be replaced.  It could be that it was due to a lack of regular services that led to its demise.  However, I saw the Audi at a car dealer across the road and new I had to have “It”.  I can’t say “Her” it would be too flattering.  Initially all was well and the car behaved well and all my friends were very jealous of my car.  It was big enough inside for me to move all my worldly possessions and plants in one trip.

But as time went by and the rust doctor set about his relentless work the once beautiful car with the silver beading around the windows turned into the ugly step sister.  As the beading fell off I would just toss them into the boot in the hope that I would one day have money to fix it.  At the same time I became aware that when it rained the footwells filed up with water.  This required a small square bucket to be used every time it rained to scoop out the water and on a sunshine day the car doors would be left open for the carpet to dry out and to brush away the mushroom growth.  Of course when the sun shone, the inside of my windows were just dripping with water which required a towel to dry the windows before I could leave.

The most regular repairs I had to do was to the exhaust system which seemed to get holes in faster than the Gun Gum would set.  When a hole appeared in the silencer I would need to wait till I had enough money to buy a can of Gun Gum and would then patch the hole with the black paste.  Wow! how great it sounded for the first few weeks, but then the hole would just become bigger and eventually I would need to get the silencer repaired.  My then girlfriend knew when I was coming to visit as she heard the car thundering up the road from miles away.  The worst was when the battery died unexpectedly, after being fully charged, and I had to do a running start with the Audi on my own.  Pushing this heavy green car in the underground parking area of our block of flats with the front door open is not for the faint hearted.  When I had enough speed I would jump in jump start the car.  The problem was when I got it wrong and ran out of space to start the car, then I would need to push it all the way back and try again.  I hated this car.

The battery had also started to play up at this stage and required the car to be parked on a steep slope at all times to ensure a running start.  If I had a date, they could never understand why they had to walk uphill to get to my car when there was better parking much closer.  At my then flat the incline wasn’t enough and I had the local “bergies” (rough sleepers) wait for me in the morning to give me a running start.  I would reward them with a cigarette or two.  I also had to put a rolled up towel, previously used to dry the windows,  below the cubby hole as the panels had rusted through and now allowed cold air to blow on the passengers legs.

Inevitably the car was on its last legs.  I remember driving between Cape Town and Paarl one day when something caught my eye in the rearview mirror.  I thought to myself “I can’t remember driving through a veld fire”  strange?  Then I realised that when I took my foot off the accelerator a cloud of smoke would erupt from my exhaust pipe and was really struggling to get up to speed.  So obviously something was terminal in the engine.

A few weeks later when my handbrake cable snapped and I was struggling to reach 100km per hour my friend, whose girlfriend was working at in the vehicle financing department of a bank, convinced me to by a another car.  So off we went to the Paarl second hand car dealers.  Because the handbrake wasn’t working I had to park the car on a flat surface and leave it in gear.  At the one dealer, the second hand car salesman did an exceptional job in selling me a blue Peugeot 505 with low mileage.  He asked what I was trading in and I told him a Audio 100 GLS 5 and said that he could inspect the car as it was just around the corner.  No need he said as he looked up the value in his little book.  I said to him that I would suggest he come and look at the car before we go further.  No need he said.  We promptly set about filling in forms, confirming trade in values etc.  Eventually when all was done the guy followed me to where my car was parked and nearly collapsed when he saw the state of his newly acquired stock vehicle.

At first he couldn’t really say anything and then just said, that their dealership doesn’t deal with vehicles in such a state but that he would  call the guys in Cape Town to see how much he could get for it.  He did get about R400 for the car which was mainly due to the radio which still worked 🙂  Initially he wanted me to pay more, but me being a poor student then agreed that somewhere in my future I would need to buy a new car again and that I would buy it from them.  Unfortunately I moved out of town before I needed to buy a new car.


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