My BMW has been in the shop for a while, so in the meantime I’ve been planning the next work on it. It’s an older BMW so I’m in the old German car project cycle. Money gets saved, plans get made and remain plans because money has to then be spent on something that’s failing, failed or needs failing prevented.
Meanwhile, I’ve been running my chores in my the wife’s new Honda CRV. She loves the thing and I like the reliability. It’s comfortable, has free oil changes but it needs to be waxed soon. The interior needs a good clean and I should really get the windows tinted because California. I’m also always on edge and careful where I park it because the paint is new and nice and oh my god I miss my old Land Rover.
I miss giving no f^cks about that Land Rover. It was a 1962 Series II model with a 3.5 litre V8 coupled to a straight through exhaust that I bought when I was nineteen years old. By the time it got to me it was painted with Hammerite, which is a truly functional and hard wearing paint. As a result I was never encumbered by worrying about scratches, bird crap or even runaway shopping carts. Hell, I didn’t even worry about runaway cars. Someone once backed into it and I just left their paint on the otherwise undamaged bumper because it didn’t make any difference. The only time it got washed was when I stopped being able to see out the window for the mud after off roading.
It actually had two dents elsewhere that would have popped straight out of the aluminium easily enough, but I just never got around to thinking about getting around to them. The beauty is it always looked well used but never actually reached the point of looking battered.
The only photo I have scanned of the Land Rover. If you look carefully there are clues that there's a story to be told about what happened next.
Inside was a plastic covered three piece bench seat. When it needed cleaning because the mud came in, just pull the pads out and run the hose over them. The carpet was even easier to keep clean because there was none, in fact the entire interior was paint or bare metal ready to be hosed out. It didn’t even have seat belts to dry out afterwards. The electronics consisted of headlights, wipers, indicators and a floor switch (sealed in rubber) for high beam. There was a flip switch for the fuel pump, another for the fan, a battery cut off and a tucked away button for the starter. It sounds like a lot but there was no ignition key to fiddle around with so once you got the order muscle memorised it was a net win.
The tires were so big and thick with tread that barring absolute disaster the only reason they could need changing is when the rubber eventually degraded. It was pre emissions with no catalytic convertor let alone sensors of any sort. The window didn’t even have a winder so you either slid back the front panel or undid two nuts and took the window with the surround off. There was no radio to be stolen or go wrong. It had door locks but I didn’t even carry the key.
There really was nothing to care about except basic maintenance. If something broke it was like a giant Meccano set, just nuts and bolts to replace it. If the engine gave out, it would have been a weekend of work at the most to swap with all that room and lack of complexity.
The beauty of it was freedom from worry. No one else could start the thing without the location and order of the switches, knowing and finding the start button then knowing how to double declutch into second. Reality though was that the V8 made first gear irrelevant in such a low ratio gear box so you only ever used second to pull away, then third and fourth for everything else. It was a demon that embarrassed road cars up to fifty miles per hour, but top speed was sixty so there was no danger of silly speeding tickets. It might have been bright red, but given what it was it was largely ignored as a piece of machinery
If you haven’t already lived it, could you imagine that life? A zero worries car to run. It would go anywhere, would run like crap but not break down, scratches were just hidden in the industrial paint, no one could steal it without a tow truck and insurance was laughably low even though I had only just turned twenty years old.
True no fucks given motoring is close to being gone because of safety/emissions legislation and all those electronics, but those vehicles are still out there to be found and driven. Of course the downside is likely death in a big accident when you consider all that metal and a complete lack of seat belts or air bags, so I’ll be here with my German money pit and brand new Japanese bird crap attracting device being old enough to realise my own mortality.
In the meantime I’ll look back on those heady days of care free motoring fondly, and to those lunatics still daily driving with no fucks being given…
I salute you. You are truly free.