A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.

Driving An Old Car

Before beginning this educational interlude, it is essential to define what I mean by ‘Old Car’. Contrary to your initial beliefs, this is not an article about cars so old that they have become well-polished, well maintained, specially registered ‘Classics’ more commonly known as the weekend vehicle of many a collector.

When I say ‘Old Car’, what I actually mean is; motor vehicle between 10 to 25 years old, that is well loved, well used and never, ever going to require specialist insurance from Shannons. Not quite your paddock bomb special, but not too far from this future either.

The 5 Minute Guide Driving an Old Car Barina

These Old Cars are often purchased as ‘first cars’ by the exuberant ‘P Plater’ market of today, are the domain of the grey helmet brigade or have become Old Cars under the ownership of twenty-somethings who bought them when they were new and hip about a decade ago. Regardless of how you came to own (and love) your Old Car, there are certain delights (read: idiosyncrasies) of this special breed of car, that require a very special set of skills to manage.

When Your Radio Dies 

Before you say ‘well I’ll just listen to my iPod’, remember that Old Cars were not built with the USB connectivity for iPods. They are still the domain of the iPod equipment that plays your music through a cacophony of wires connected to your cigarette lighter and your radio and your tape deck, so the death of said radio is actually a musical tragedy.

Once you’ve driven around in silence for a few days, and then tried wearing earphones to listen to your iPod before nearly crashing the car twice because you can’t hear other people honking you, it is time to consider installing what I like to call, Surround Sound.

Installing Surround Sound: this requires a set of old earphones, preferably good quality, which you will now hang over your rearview mirror (a la Rosary beads). Pin the earphones back to the cord with a small peg or paperclip and then plug them into your iPod or phone. Amazing magical music should fill your car instantaneously! To get the full Surround Sound effect, swing the earphones around in a circular clockwise motion (this will occur naturally when turning corners and going around roundabouts) – the effect is astonishing. To increase the volume of the sound, cup your hand around the ear pieces and listen to those beats escalate. Sony and Bose have nothing on these babies. To maintain the higher level of volume, hang a tissue over the earpieces (you’ve done it correctly if it now looks like you have Caspar the Ghost hanging from your rearview mirror) and you can now enjoy louder, clearer Surround Sound than ever before.

The 5 Minute Guide Driving an Old Car Surround Sound

When here is a hole in the container that holds your Windscreen Wiper Water

So you’ve been pressing your little indicator stick to get the windscreen wipers to spray some water to clean your windscreen for a few days now but nothing is coming out? Even though you got Dad to fill it up on the weekend? Ah, it seems that you must have a hole in your bucket dear Henry! Well, a hole in the windscreen wiper water container (but that doesn’t have quite the same musical ring to it, does it now?)

There are three solutions to this age old problem. The first is to religiously clean your windscreen when you go to the servo to fill up with petrol. They always have a handy dandy bucket with soapy water and a proper little squidgee that allows you to really scrub off the bird poo that has become caked on because you haven’t cleaned it in over ten days. And it’s free. Make sure you sing ‘Car Wash’ while you’re doing it, really adds to the overall ambience of BP I find.

Solution two is a little more hit and miss as it involves driving around in search of those illegal window washers who hang out at traffic lights waiting to jump out and clean your windscreen, whether you want it or not. You can’t really bank on these, but if you’re ever near the corner of Queens Parade and Alexandra Parade, there’s a dude with a stylish Adidas trackie and flannie that does a cracking job, and is happy with $2 payment.

The final solution is ingenious and all you need for this is a decent hill. You see, the hole in the container that holds your windscreen wiper water is usually on one side of the container, so the water is still in there, you just need to drive on a steep incline to get it over near the pump part of the container. Find a steep hill and drive up the hill pressing on your little indicator stick to see if the water comes out when you turn the wipers on, and if that doesn’t work drive back down the hill pressing on the little indicator stick to see if the water comes out now. Eventually, one way or another, water will come out and clean your windscreen. And the vertigo you get whilst doing this will subside. Eventually.

When Your Blinker is on the Blink

Firstly, it is illegal to have blinkers that do not work, so you should get this fixed immediately.

Now we’ve got that public safety announcement out of the way, we can focus on what you will actually do as you drive around for nine months without a functioning front right hand blinker.

First things first, practice your ‘Oh my goodness?!’ shocked face for when you get pulled over by the cops. The story is ‘It’s just started to make that rapid clicking noise, so I pulled over to check but it was still working when I checked. Oh dear, it must have actually blown. I will drive straight to the mechanics now to get it fixed’.

Once you’ve got the story down pat, you can now focus on starting to ignore the fact that the faster clicking when you turn right is actually really damn annoying. The annoyance starts to wear off after about four months, so just hang in there.

Then you’ll need to be super careful when going around roundabouts as oncoming traffic when you are turning right doesn’t actually think you are turning right. Sometimes you are lucky and the car in front of you is also turning right. If this is the case, stay right up their tail and zoom around the corner in their slip stream of giving wayness.

However usually, you will have to employ another tactic to make it around alive. In order to negate your lack of indication, zoom into the roundabout on a really sharp angle towards the actual roundabout (like you are about to drive in a ‘V’ shape around the roundabout) that indicates you are heading for the space in front of the oncoming traffic. This also means you will turn the car on a sharp angle to get back out of the roundabout and show that oncoming traffic your rear right hand blinker, which is actually working and indicating, so they definitely know you are turning. Make sure you maintain eye contact with the driver of the oncoming traffic so you can glare at them when they go to drive in front of you. How dare they! Don’t they know you are turning? Well no. But that’s beside the point really.

On days when the weather is sunny, you’ve got your window down and you’re feeling generous use the old school arm out the window to indicate. People really appreciate this and usually wave back. With one finger. I still don’t know why…

When Your Muffler Falls Off 

Turn up the music, wind down the windows, put the seat back and put your pedal to the floor. When else in your life are you going to be able to afford to drive a ‘V8 Barina’?


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October 2013

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