I bought a car...and had some misadventure...
Meet my new car: Carol Blu.
A few months ago, I asked the drivetribe Community some suggestions about what could have been a good car for long trips. I asked for something cheap to buy and in fuel consumption, reliable, spacious, and suitable to eventually be a sleepover car. I received a lot of advice, some spot on, others completely out of target, nevertheless, despite all the good comments under that post, I ended up buying a twenty one years old Volkswagen Golf 1.4.
Looking for some ideas and suggestions to find a decent car for travelling...
In my defense, the price was a good deal, especially since my budget was very low. The car overall was in good conditions, even if it needed some fixing here and there. Looking at what the market here in Italy was offering, and being short of time, as I planned to use the car for my upcoming holidays, I bought it.
The purchase was relatively easy, also thanks to the help of my fellow Italian drivetriber Andrea Ventura, who found the car, contacted the owner, and most importantly met the owner with me and his trustworthy mechanic Paolo, who made a overall inspection of the Golf and checked with clinical eye every bit of the car. Meanwhile Andrea took care of the financial part, bargaining with the owner to make me have an even better price than the one on the ad.
I have to admit that I liked the Golf at first sight, it was a little worn out but still strong, and with my nice surprise she had a business setting, with pop up cup holders, or as Clarkson would say, a place where to keep grenades. However, the Golf needed new tires, a check to the abs sensor, and some work on the distribution, all doable stuff.
Finding a good and affordable insurance has been a hard quest, the first company I contacted made me wait more than two weeks, then since I was not going anywhere I used another company, and on a beautiful Friday evening I finally got to drive my car. Bringing it at home, despite the almost lack of traffic jams, that for Rome is an unusual thing, wasn't easy at all.
Me and "Carol Blu old pan whiney" as my friends christened it, did not start our relationship in the best way. My first drive, the first with any car since a year, was like a first date with the guy you're in love with. I was tense like a violin string, excited and scared at the same time. I was overjoyed, Carol actually is my very first car, mine, and of no one else, and that made me incredibly proud of myself. The tension played some bad tricks on me, the car turned off a couple of times, and the gearbox, so different from the one I had in the previous car I sort of owned, was all new to me. Less sensitive, more rough, requiring a more firm and strong hand than I was used to. Carol behaved amazingly anyways, bearing with my insecurity and incompetence, and managing to bravely start in third gear. When I parked, after having some troubles with the reverse gear, I was the happiest girl in town.
The next Sunday, the one every Italian will remember for winning the European Cup, to me will forever be the day I really drove my first car, sort of crashed it, and had a Top Gear-like misadventure. I needed to bring the car to my mate Andrea to give it to the workshop for the repairs. I had to reach his town a hundred kilometers or so far from home, an hour on the motorway and then some secondary road, nothing to be worried about... Except that I'm a moron.
The journey started well, I even managed to get the motorway ticket without doing contortionist numbers, shame I noticed too late that I had to fill up the tank. Fuel pumps as usual are everywhere when you don't need one and magically disappear when you really need fuel, of course I didn't find a service station until the fuel dial was on red and on top of that, meanwhile I arrived at my exit. Of course the fuel pump was just right after the exit I had to take. Don't knowing how much autonomy I had left, I jumped the exit and filled the car. Relieved by the missed danger of running out of petrol, I had to get out at the next exit, do an inversion on the first suitable place, and get in the motorway again. All good, the car was running smoothly, the stereo was playing good songs, and I was driving with eyes full of tears, overjoyed by being on my car, feeling free like only driving can make you feel.
Happiness lasted even when I get out of the motorway again, with Google maps sending me on some twisted secondary roads where I had a lot of fun. Then Google played harder, suggesting me to take what resembled like a country road, not in good condition, there troubles started. After turning on the suggested road, I had a rethink, after all didn't seem like a good idea to take that road, but the reverse gear decided to not cooperate, it was gone. I had no other chance other than going ahead, and soon I found myself almost off-road, with the path going up into a wood. Carol climbed up relentlessly, showing her hard temper, resisting until the fatal gear change that made her stall, uphill. First gear was gone, I started to panic, but keeping the position, nevertheless every attempt to make her go forward only made me slide down a little, until when in a last desperate attempt to slide down and reach the only house around there, made me get stuck sideways on the curb. Poor Carol got stopped at a 45 degrees inclination, I pulled the handbrake and got out of the car like a lightning bolt.
Lost in the countryside, almost in a wood, I asked help at the only nearby house, a bunch of old men were having lunch, and they offered to help me after finishing eating. I got invited to join them at the table, got food and drinks, a nice chat and some laughs. A misadventure quickly turned into a funny afternoon. After some gelato and a coffee and some liquor, the men pushed my car until they get it in a normal position. One of them was skilled in mechanical stuff, and in the end the car was momentarily fixed, the clutch pivot ball was worn out, making it impossible to engage and disengage gears. Meanwhile the repairs were done, my mate arrived, and I've never been so happy to see him. I'd like to say that it felt like being in a Top Gear episode, but sadly for some reason I don't want to tell, at some point it turned out like being in a horror movie, and made me think about buying a baseball bat to keep in the car, just in case...
A week after my misadventure, I got the car back, fully fixed and checked. The bill raised a little from what I expected, my poor replica of the Paris-Dakar caused damages to the fuel pipe, and to the braking system pomp. When I've been told about those damages I genuinely had a shiver of terror thinking I had driven in those conditions for at least 30 kilometers. Anyway I finally got Carol back, and except for a fifteen minutes queue to get out of the motorway I had a nice time driving her, even if we've still to get to know each other properly.
Soon she will take me around up and down to Italy, maybe even abroad and hopefully she will become my trustworthy companion. She's old and far away from perfect, but she drives well. She's nifty despite everything, and comfortable, and most of all she's mine, I can't wait to start my journey behind her steering wheel!