This tale has been retold many a time, and I am finally putting it to pen for your enjoyment. This story is the tale of my first car and the misadventures that followed. All facts are true, and have actually happened.
The summer of 1998 spawned a great idea. After a midsummer coffee conversation, my best friend Dom instilled the idea in me that I should invest in a car. My first car. This car that would start of my new life at the University; whisking me to the far off campus. This car would be a symbol of growing up. This car would be a fixer-upper!
Tapping the vast knowledge of Dom, I asked what I should ask potential sellers about their car.
He replied simply "As long as the engine turns, and the body has no rust, buy it."
Peering deep into the abyss of used car ads I found a used 1985 Jetta Volkswagen for no less than a sum of 280$. It ran, and had no rust. SOLD! After that we arranged to head across the entire city to pick up the car.
After a quick bit of negotiation I managed to talk the owner down and I bought the car for 180$. Good enough for me, now we had extra cash for dinner and gas!
Its family tradition to name all of our vehicles to endear them. Same as the filipino tradition to bless everything, including your vehicle. Blueie, Blueie II, Cherry these were but a few.
This is the story of Hope. Hope was a 1982 VW Jetta named after one of the three WWI surviving biplanes that fought in the desperate siege of Malta in WWII. Hope, Charity and Faith should technically remain there to this day.
It should be said at this point that my new used car, christened Hope, was not an entire loss. Literally no rust, a non-working speedometer, no radio, broken heater, a decent engine, passable interior, working lights, with frozen brakes. With a large black crouching panther sticker in the window, which was promptly removed. It was all okay, with a bit of work she'll be as good as new.
Now it should be mentioned that I committed to this operation without the sagely advice of my dear father. After a very brief discussion and being described as "out of mind", I forged ahead without insurance and without proper license plates.
My friend Dom's solution was to "provide" a set of "borrowed" plates for the drive home.
It can also be said that a socket wrench and a screwdriver are quite useful in many situations.
Four Blocks later, we were pulled over. Naturally, nothing is more attractive to an undercover police car than two Asian teens driving a noisy ricketty Jetta at 3:00 in the morning. Dom was hit with two tickets, I was hit with one. My charge: owning a car without insurance. Being merciful, the cop let us leave the car in a strip mall instead of being impounded. Hope sat there for two week with a printed sign on the dash. "Please don't Tow me! I'll be moved soon!"
Sure enough, my charisma managed to convince a friend to lend me his Chevy Chevette and a sturdy tow rope. We were going drag Hope home! After a solid boost for the dying battery we attached the rope and chose a well planned route. For I was a new driver any my friends had little faith in my ability to make left hand turns in traffic thus we made a large circuit of right hand turns all around the city.
Less than a week later my car was being ejected from a neighbourhood parking lot. Standing in front of the Tow Truck, negotiations were reached, and Hope was again saved from being impounded. I promptly chose to have her towed to my then girlfriend's house. Sadly have little money to my name, I had to borrow 80$ for the towing.
It had be found later that the car had a dead battery. Thus a new one was needed. The correct type of battery for a 1985 Jetta was a sum of 120$ plus tax. Well out of range of a poor idiotic first year university student. Again I turned to the sagely advice of my friend Dom: "12 volts is 12 volts, just choose a battery you like." Thus I chose a 60$ battery for Hope. The problem: It was too small and was loose. The solution: One crushed pop can, and two pennies wedged in there.
Soon the car was insured. Under her own power, she was driven to a nice street to park on. There she remained for rest and repair.
Through a bit of muddling I had managed to repair the speedometer. Now instead of always reading 0 kmph, my speed would always bounce up and down. Thus Hope would either be going 40-60, or 20-40kmph.
To date, the car was driven twice. On my first excursion the radiator exploded spectacularly at the Burger King Drive through. Looking at the temperature gauge, I asked my passenger:
"Dom is that gauge supposed to be this high?"
"May we take your order sir?"
"Yes, two large cups of water please."
It was later discovered that the radiator thermostat was broken. Rather than pay 175$ to have a new one, we promptly removed it. No sense in carrying around a broken part, was there?
The second trip involved me being a designated driver for my girlfriends party. Unfortunately the car was in trouble of overheating. My trusty drunken mechanic and friend Dom stepped up to the occasion. After a bit of time under the hood he called out:
"Rol, you got any wire?"
"Er wire? Yeah sure."
After a brief look around, I reached into the large gaping hole in the dashboard where the radio would have been and pulled about a meters worth (1 yard, plus abit) out of the dashboard and gave it to him.
"Ya got any tape?"
One our passengers, Daniel suggested the "for sale" sign which still had sticky tape on it. Thus a ghetto repair was job was completed. The radiator fan would now turn on as it was hard wired with a electrical tape and wire directly to the battery. You just had to reach into the engine and unplug it when you were done.
During one of the coldest winters in Toronto history, I and my compatriot went to work in a cramp and unheated garage to totally redo the break lines. It was during this time that while working on the frozen breaks that I missed with the sledgehammer and smashed the side of the car. Ah the benefits of owning my own car! I could care less, it was mine! While Dom went to work on the breaks, I worked on the sticky accelerator. The breaks were never finished, and the car developed a slow leak in one of its tires.
Finally my dad agreed to have it towed to my sisters house. Hope was in sorry shape and as I started the car, she revved up and launched herself out of the garage at 40 kmph. My repair on the sticky throttle was too good. Pulling the hand brake and fish tailing the car was the only way to ensure I didn't crash into the neighbours garage.
I asked my brother to inflate the deflated tire and he promptly did so and left it on. I ran and turned it off before the tire exploded. The tire later did explode enroute to my sister's house. My brother had over inflated it and the tire promptly exploded shredding bits of rudder everywhere. Luck was half with us. Thankfully the police let us go when they pulled us over. Provided we tow the car from the other end.
Hope was towed to my sister's driveway in front of her house to weather the remainder of the winter at the very corner of a T-junction.
Later that winter I made my court appearance. Our first attempt failed miserably because for some inane reason the street our court was on, stopped and continued several blocks over. Instead of being in contempt of court my lucky friend had both of his tickets thrown out of court. Only mine remained. Dressed in my prettiest innocent teen outfit I nearly had my fines dropped. Thanks to the mercy of the judge I had been spared the minimum fine of 5000$ and instead only had to pay 1100$. With the court fee, it came to 1200$
I now was 1200$ in the hole. There was no solution in sight.
One cold March morning, the phone rang 3:00 in the morning. I answered it. It was my sister.
"Wake up dad, some drunk driver just crashed into our house."
I groggily did so. Then it hit me. Hope was in the drive way!
I ran back to the phone.
"Sis, what happened to Hope!?" I asked frantically.
"Sorry. Hope's toast."
I put the phone down stunned then climbed back into bed. My sleepy girlfriend asked the inevitable question. "What happened."
"Well that's good isn't it." She then fell asleep.
The investigation resulted in the following:
Some drunk Croatian guy in his shiny champagne coloured Mercury and his three friends was out cruising down the street at a speed of 120 kmph (100mph) down the residential street when he realized that the street suddenly ended at my sisters house. After a twenty-foot skid mark, the Mercury met Hope, launching her into my sister's house. He nearly drove away with his Mercury streaming engine parts but several witnesses where present to stop him. He unsuccessfully attempted to disuade my brother-in-law from calling the cops.
My brother-in-laws reply: "No need to call the cops? There's a car stuck in my house!"
The gas company had to be called in to shut the gas main off. Before a possible explosion happened.
Hope had died with honour. She stopped the charging Mercury cold, resulting in only cracking the gas main. My sisters family, the house, and even the block were saved by a beaten up 180$ roadblock.
The following morning I went to pay respects to the fallen car. I pried the Mercury emblem from the trunk of my sacrificed car, and sat in the driver's seat for the last time and said my goodbye's as Dom looked on. The porch later collapsed when the insurance company tow truck wrenched the smashed car from the house to be turned into frying pans, and fridges of the future.
A short while later, (still about 1,200$ in debt) I received the strangest news. The insurance company had awarded me 1,200$ in damages for a car that had cost me 180$. I had broken EVEN! I finally had my fine paid off. The entire fiasco of Hope left me with the exactly nothing and had lasted a total of six months of craziness.
The moral of the story: Never underestimate a 180$ car. OR Sometimes your life is meant to warn others of mistakes.
Thus is the story of Hope.