Monday, September 19, 2011


I'm shamelessly flogging Katy's car history blog, because her mention of the $700 Vauxhall Viva reminded me of my equally cheap Hillman Imp, which also broke down in the middle of nowhere when the radiator overheated somewhere near Bulls, and I hitchhiked home! I still remember the two nice guys who picked me up and drove me to Wanganui, then all the way across the city to the other side so I wouldn't have to walk to the main road. And I do NOT remember who picked me up after that!

Doogie (named Doogie Howser for its DH license plates) was a 1960's model, and originally belonged to my brother-in-law, who was living with my sister in Auckland at the time. He swapped it for the little yellow scooter which was my first set of wheels. He had a bit of a thing for classic cars, later buying an MG in British Racing Green.

Doogie was not quite a classic though, more of a tin can on wheels and THE hardest car to find parts for! Ah, those old cars, fully mechanical, that you could take apart and put back together again and thereby learn exactly how they work! Well, not me, but Dad that is, who did that sort of thing for fun and could therefore be relied on to fix stuff in a pinch.

One fine day found me scrambling over cars in a junk yard with the guy who worked there, determined to find a certain part that required the guy to crawl under the old Imp several cars down in the pile on the far side of the yard with his screwdriver and detach the part from the accelerator. Which I (under close instruction by phone by Dad) then attached to Doggie's underbelly - set to go for another week at least.

Doogie's boot was under the bonnet (meaning the engine was in the back), a quirk that never failed to amuse me as both mechanics and passengers headed to the wrong end of the car! Once you have a car of course, your popularity increases exponentially, which resulted in several dodgy road trips, a bender to Foxton and the usual trips 'home'. Lizzie, that time we barely made it up the hill outside of Wanganui - that wasn't Doogie, that was me being so dumb that I didn't realize that you have to change DOWN to get more power, not up. Dad later told me that the gear with the most power is actually reverse, so if I got really stuck, turn around!

And that's it for my experiences of driving in NZ. I'm always astonished when people ask me about how it is driving in Japan, assuming I'm 'used to' NZ driving conditions. In reality, I'm far more used to driving in Japan! The rest of my stories are from Japan, but I'm just going to post a photo of Doogie and be done with this for now...

No comments: