Now we’re (almost) motoring

It seems like it’s only been about a month since I got my driver’s licence. Oh, wait, it has been about a month since I got my driver’s licence. Well, I’m about to take the next step. I’m about to buy a car.

Yes, I know that most people have got their licence and some old bomb that has barely got a Road Worthy Certificate by the time they’re a week past their eighteenth birthday. But I’m an individual. I never even considered getting a licence and a car before I was twenty-seven. But now that I’ve set my mind to it, things have gone pretty smoothly.

I started seriously car hunting last week, after having spent much time pondering the various types and models of cars around the place. I had my inaugural encounter with Mr Slime in a car yard last week, and looked at another last Thursday which was quite promising, until somebody else bought it on Friday.

But on Friday, I found a car in the Trading Post that looked like it could be just the thing: A ’93 Mitsubishi Magna, in my price range (or at least, my bank manager’s price range) and just about fitting the bill for what I wanted, which was a nice, safe, not too daggy, family car.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that I know virtually nothing about cars. Okay, so I can drive them, more or less – it still takes me a couple of minutes to get used to the whole clutch thing, because I’ve only driven autos since passing my test. But as far as the technical side goes, I don’t know one end of a dip stick from the other. Well, no, maybe I do, perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit, but it is definitely the case that I am in no way qualified to tell if a car seems to be in good condition.

That’s where John came in. John is my sister Susannah‘s boyfriend, and it just so happens that he knows a helluva lot about cars – or at least enough so that when he fishes around under the bonnet and then climbs under the backside of the car that he does so with some credibility. So John and Susannah and I traipsed out to Upper Ferntree Gully, no less, to check out this car.

We test drove it, clambered around inside it, admired the coat of mud that had fallen on it during some very odd weather the previous night, and most important of all, John thoroughly knocked around with the mechanical bits to ensure that all seemed to be in working order. Which it was.

Meanwhile, such was my mechanical prowess that although I managed to figure out how the rear door child locks work (after R’ing TFM), I couldn’t get the car key out of the ignition. But no matter. With John’s preliminary all clear, I was ready to call in the RACV for a full pre-purchase inspection and to start haggling.

I beat the guy (whose name was Bart – it’s of no importance to the story, but just slightly amusing since I think when he introduced himself we all suddenly thought of The Simpsons) down a reasonable amount without him being mortally offended, and we ended up agreeing that a deposit would be placed, and as long as the RACV inspection on Monday didn’t indicate that the car was about to fall apart, I’d cough up the rest of the money and pick up the car on Tuesday.

Which is good, because that’s the day my weekly ticket runs out.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.