My car is an old Chrysler Valiant that I bought on eBay for just over a thousand dollars. I bought it for three reasons and not one of them was sensible.
I bought it because it had a familiar look to it. My ex was a motor mechanic who regularly bought old cars like that to work on so it looked liked something I could drive. I can drive it but I have no mechanical abilities at all so I shouldn’t because it has cost me a small fortune to bring it up to scratch. The money I have paid in repairs far exceeds the value of the car itself.
Reason number two for buying it was its age. Its an old car from the 1970’s. In all the years I drove the old cars my ex used to pick up we never had one stolen. When I bought a brand new Toyota Echo, by contrast, I attracted the attention of car thieves. They tried to steal my car and I tried to stop them. The battle left me with post traumatic stress disorder and they took the car anyway.
I wanted my next car to be something nobody would want to steal and I thought the Valiant was too old for car thieves to want. I have been told I’m wrong about that. Old cars are, apparently, easier to steal and big old cars, like mine, appeal to young men who see them as “tanks” so they are a target for joyriding car thieves.
The third, and most embarrassing, reason for buying it was its number plate. I knew I would have no trouble remembering it. I don’t have any trouble remembering it and that has come in handy a few times, as I knew it would, but it’s hardly a good reason to buy a car and I know it.
I spent over two thousand dollars getting it roadworthy after I bought it but then I paid off all my debts and got rid of all my credit cards. That left me with no cash so the car has been slowly deteriorating because I didn’t have the money to get the major work done that it still needed.
Due to its age it is more expensive to get parts. It needed brakes and the radiator done as well as a whole bunch of other things.
In the end I took it to my mechanic and asked him to go over it and list everything that needed doing. It came to almost another two thousand dollars so I started paying every spare cent I had to him to pay it off before he did the work.
Yesterday I picked it up and made the final payment. The mechanic had spent two full days working on it and he told me what he had done. He did all the work on the list and a whole bunch of extras.
To fix the indicator he had to remove the bent bumper bar so he decided to straighten it while he had it off. He oiled everything, cleaned everything, tightened everything, changed all the oils and so on. He was very concerned over how low the air pressure in my tyres was when he got the car and I said I keep forgetting what the pressure is supposed to be. It makes me hesitate to put air in for fear I will blow the tyres up if I put too much in.
He said well just pop in here any time you are passing and I will check it for you.
He said the only things that still need doing are the tappets which had not been on the list because they seemed fine when the list was made. They only realised how noisy they are when they started the car for the first time the day after I left it with them.
It was such a lovely feeling listening to him talk about the car as his face was alight with enthusiasm. I said I get the feeling you like the car and he said he loves old cars and Valiants in particular. He said he did a lot of work on it that they didn’t charge me for because he just couldn’t ignore the jobs when he saw they needed doing.
“It just didn’t make sense to put the bumper bar back on without straightening it first” he said “or to put things back without cleaning, oiling or tightening them and so on.”
I got in the car and drove off and the difference was amazing. The gears, steering, handbrake – everything felt tight and new. It was like driving a different car!
The real test came this morning when I left work after doing an overnight shift. Usually she stalls or tries to stall when I drive to or from work in the cold and this morning it was bitterly cold but the car ran as sweetly as she usually does after she warms up.
My mechanic loves my car. I can tell by the way the car always feels after he has worked on her. No other mechanic gives her back to me in such good shape no matter how much I have paid them.
This mechanic loves my car so much he makes me love her too. After he has finished with her I can always see what he sees in her and I get such a kick out of that.
I’m growing pretty fond of the old girl and having him tell me she will be worth a bit in a few years time doesn’t hurt.
I got so carried away with his enthusiasm for her that, when he said she is starting to get some rust, I asked about getting it fixed.
He said that would mean painting her and that will set you back about seven thousand dollars.
My enthusiasm doesn’t stretch that far. Besides, if I get her painted, she might attract a car thief!