Home » Stuff » Ode to my car….

Ode to my car….

So… a long time school friend and I (hi!) have this habit of sending emails to eachother (after vast amounts of no contact), of amusing tales of what’s happened since the last time we e-mailed eachother… So… she was telling me that she’s just bought a car, and highly amusing stories of her first drive in it (after having not driven for…. many many… many many [ :Þ ] years)…. so then in sympathy, I regaled her with similar stories of my first car.  Though I’m sure I’d told her it all before, but hey, that’s also what friends do 😉

So I thought I’d share it here too… Since I’m sure someone else is bound to find my tales of woe amusing.

Back story – My first car was an LH Torana…. in “bronze” (it wasn’t “brown” ok, it was metallic, therefore it was “bronze”).  Which my friend always refers to as the ‘Rana (said with a bogan tone) … Pretty much like this (only mine was less shiny, and it had troll dolls, mini posters of hot movie stars, incense sticks and things blutacked to the dash :)):

Not by choice mind you…. it was cheap and my parents were lending me the money and that’s what dad chose.  I wanted a blue Gemini in the same caryard, because it wasn’t brown or “bogan” – but apparently the Torana was more mechanically sound (*snort*)….  But I did grow to like my beefy bronze beast.

So…  Fast forward to an incident (that is relevant later in the tale) not long after I got it….

I’d parked at the corner shop, being still perhaps an L plater, I had mum with me…. it was all good, until I reversed out of the car spot to leave. I did that – so now I’m in the middle of the carpark area (blocking the way for anyone else to get in), and I go to drive forward to get out… and the car doesn’t move…. so I do that “well, it must just need a bit more juice” and rev it…. and being the ‘rana, my revving efforts were LOUD and obvious…

So I’m panicking and revving, and about to cry, because people were looking at me, and my new car was clearly “broken” because it wouldn’t go forward…

Then mum leaned over and goes “umm, the handbrake is on”…

I was mortified!

because of course there were people all around… Young teenage guy people (among others) who I naturally was trying to impress, since I was a young available teenage girl, who owned a “cool” car… in that “look at me, I’m old enough to drive and I have a retro old beefy Torana – don’t you want me?” way…

There is an Adam Sandler song that’s quite appropriate when discussing how my old Torana ended up… (Be warned, it’s NSFW [swearing] and I couldn’t find a better video, sorry)

I can sympathise with that song! Being somewhat broke, I let the car get… just a little… run down…  By the end, my windscreen wiper knob thing would send sparks out when you turned it on (always what you want when it’s wet outside)….  The drivers door had been (unsuccessfully) broken into twice, and they had broken the lock so it had springs poking out of it – so I had to unlock the passenger side and lean through to unlock my door… At one point (though it did eventually get fixed) I had a massive hole in my radiator, such that I could drive for 10-15 mins only, then it would be empty, and I had to carry around 5 milk cartons of water with me at all times to refill it… and I had some issues with my brakes…

Not long after I started driving dad fixed the brakes, and the first time I stopped at the end of the street, I almost went through the windscreen. Which is horrible, because not only do you get whiplash and sore from the seatbelt, but you have to look around to see if anyone has witnessed your stupidly embarrassing lack of car driving skills.

But, I do think touchy brakes are infinitely better than *no* brakes.

Near the end of my Torana’s life there was a problem with the brakes (master cylinder or something?) whereby your first use of the brakes on that outing was fine. The next time you used them, they were a bit “spongy” (You’d put your foot on the peddle and there would be resistance, but then as your foot was there, you could feel it slowly sinking into the floor)… the third, you had to stamp your foot flat to the floor and keep it there to slow the car… the fourth you were doing that *white knucked* praying you’d allowed sufficient slowing down space to not get intimate with the car infront… and by the 5th, you were completely without brakes.. at all…

Which should have been the point where I decided to stop driving it (as I couldn’t afford to fix it), but that happened only after one night at about 2am, coming home from the restaurant I worked at – I’d been figuring that since I drove back late at night, and there was virtually no traffic and only one set of lights (if I took the back route), I should be fine without brakes…. I mean, I had a handbrake, it was all good….

but one night I got to the lights, which was of course inconveniently on a downhill slope… The lights were also very inconveniently red when I got there! So I used the usually superfluous “low” gear (it was an automatic) to slow myself to the point where using the handbrake wouldn’t like rip the innards of my car apart…. and then as I got closer and the lights were still red, I had no choice but to put the handbrake on. Only in the ‘rana it was an extra peddle on the floor…. which one tends to stomp on in terror whilst careening downhill towards a red light at a T intersection, with a petrol station dead ahead….

The handbrake stopped me, that was all good. Green light, I go to take the handbrake off, so I can go. But the other odd thing about my ‘rana was that the thing to get the handbrake off, was a T shaped knob on the dash. Which you hooked your fingers around, turned clockwise and pulled out, to release the brake. Only, since it was *my* broken old ‘rana… the plastic knob had of course fallen off… leaving just a hexagonal shaped metal bar poking about 2.5cm out of the dash…. which isn’t particularly easy to grasp, *turn* and pull… having no gripping thing… and we’d discovered (when we had to call out the RAC  – before the knob had fallen off) the harder you’d put the handbrake on, the harder you had to pull the knob to release it. Sometimes I’d had to grab dad’s pliers to hold the metal bar to release it. (A smart person would have kept those in the car [or actually, a smart person would have either fixed the knob or bought a new car, but I digress])

So, as I am sure you can tell by now… I’d rammed the handbrake peddle (which is a contradiction in terms I know, but blame Torana designers) hard… and I had the knobless metal bar to try and release it. Which I was unable to do…

So… I’m sitting there, struggling frantically with the metal bar… probably looking like I’m headbanging or wrestling with an invisible monster or something – I’m vaguely aware there are people (young men mostly) at the petrol station (just loitering about)….the light goes red again. Nevermind… I’ll get it next time… No – I still could not get it off. So I try revving (since, you know… maybe if I rev hard enough I could drive it with the handbrake on)… the car was bucking wildly, but would not budge. The people in the petrol station
are now watching me as I make (more of) a scene…

So panic sets in. What am I going to do?… I’m alone, at 2am, in not the best of suburbs.. with a car full of young men staring/laughing at me… stuck at a set of lights… a reasonably long walk from home.

Then I remembered the little incident with the reversing car at the milkbar! YES! my car will go in reverse with the handbrake on! and a little bit back up the hill was a vacant block of land, that I could park in, and I’d just have to walk home. So I’ve reversed back up the hill, into the block of land, and shut the car off. Then I heard a clunk. The clunk of the handbrake disengaging a bit. So I tried the knob – it released!

So, then I had to start the car up, drive out of the block of land (which is all within eyesight of the dudes loitering around the petrol station who were still watching this debacle!)… drove as slowly as I possibly could back down the hill to the set of lights – which of course, had gone red again by the time I got there – damnitalltohell! but I controlled myself, and only lightly put the handbrake on. This time when the light finally went green again, I was able to release the handbrake stick thing, and be on my way.

That was when I vowed NEVER to drive that car again!
… pieceofshitcar…

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