“Jerry”, I asked:” Why are you driving that dilapidated ancient 1400 Nissan bakkie?” - Jerry said:” To get around…”
This makes sense to most of us not wealthy enough to even start thinking of fuel guzzlers, stylish lines, luxury and comfort or more horses under the bonnet than was used in the American civil war. Still, we purchase what our budgets allow or try and keep the extra monthly burden as manageable as possible by saving for the deposit, extending the standard 5 year contract period to 6, and adding a healthy residual of 30%, just so we can get around.
When the contract is finally signed we exclaim a “phew!” as we try and comprehend the actual monthly installment after finance costs, insurance, extended service plan and optional extras we just had to have.
I often wonder, while waiting for the queue of morning traffic to get going, why anybody who can barely afford a two bedroom dwelling, has to zoom around in a 3 series BMW, C-class Merc or A4 Audi? Is it because of the comfort levels, the power on tap or is it to keep up with peers and neighbours? Could it be a status symbol to tell the world that you actually manage to pay the hugely inflated prices of these metal gods, albeit be it with money you haven’t got? By all means, if you are in the position to comfortably cut that lump sum off of your income towards wheels, do so – but then do so all the way. Go get that M3, C63 or S4, I mean, why only limit your choice to what the rest of the wannabies are driving?
So I have R350k to spend, what shall I buy? I need to have a car that will last me at least ten years and still give me a healthy trade-in value. I need a car that can handle the daily grind to work, plus comfortably take me on the odd holiday trip, plus has enough power to outrun the taxi’s and those yucky orange buses (Have you seen the speed those things manage? No wonder when they have a crash it is because of “driver lost control…”).
I need at least a five - seater that is a head above the rest to see clear into the future and it has to have all the bells and whistles of the modern automobile, I mean – what kind of car is it when you have to decide when to switch the headlights on, or how backwards is it for the driver to decide when the rain spots on the windscreen are getting to a stage where vision is impaired, before you decide to switch wipers to “on”?
ABS, Traction Control, Stability Control, Speed Control, Reverse Camera, Brake bias control, Suspension Setting Control and no less than 7 airbags is what I want (Safety is not an option). This is over and above the pearl white metallic optional paint, the panoramic view (sunroof for those old enough…), 18 inch wheels for road noise reduction, USB, Auxiliary capability, mp 3 compatibility, Bluetooth, key-less start and navigation system. Oh, nearly forgot – climate control, multi-function steering wheel, electric seat adjustment, heated seats, daytime running lights and 5 years’ warranty.
“Well, we have all that sir, but for a meagre R100k more you can even get the all new finely tuned variable valve, turbocharged, 156kW type R, which I can see is what you need”. The salesman works on a commission basis, I don’t care - it’s what I want, it’s what I need, he convinced me.
My son comes around on a Wednesday, says he has a surprise for me and pushes a key into my hand. “For you, dad – just for a little spin…”
I trail him into the driveway and I cast my eyes upon a Subaru Impreza WRX STI (for those not in the know, this is just an outrageous powerful Japanese masterpiece). I get in, cutting off all ambient noise and my son saying: “Nice seat eh?”.
The start of the engine brings a familiar growl to my senses and makes me squirm of anticipation. I pull away gently to feel where the clutch takes and feather the throttle to store the sensitivity in my memory. I don’t’ see any rain sensors, I don’t care if the lights are Xenon or ZION, I don’t ask any questions – I feel clutch, gear stick, throttle and steering wheel.
At the T-junction I test the response of the brakes and indicate the way I anticipate.
Out of the turn to join the main road I bury my right foot and the response of the flat four, overly boosted turbo is forever imprinted in my being. The nose lifts as if we are taking off for Cape Town, without as much as a squeal from the rubber.
I am not topping second gear and I already have to hit the brakes…
My stomach twisted twice before I jumped on the middle pedal; I know I have an idiotic grin on my face, my hands are trembling, I have a heart jumping in my throat and I am convinced that there is a heaven…
When I walk into the kitchen back home, all eyes are on me and I know they can see I have just passed through a life changing event in my existence. I feel as though I have just had an orgasm, but I need to try and hide that look.
Tomorrow I will be on my way to work in my eight year old Light Delivery Vehicle, but sometime soon I may just make my dream reality. I love my wife, but that Subaru is a monster I will dream of for a while. Outrageously idiotic, enough power to bring tears and the ability to paint a grin on my face which fades only when docking the Jap for a rest.
If you do go out to buy a car, make sure it is within you financial capability - and do it for the right reasons.