Sunday, October 22, 2006

CARS (part 2)

Ok, so where was I? Oh yeah, cars I never really get a chance to drive :) ...

Well, after we left Algeria and came to Canada, my parents really didn't have any money for cars. But we needed some kind of transportation, so they bought an old and decrepid Plymouth Horizon, that had recently been in an accident. Poor little car, I think it was held together by duct tape and sheer power of will. The driver's side mirror was held in place with chewing gum... This is the car in which I eventually learned how to drive, and I vividly remember my friend always bringing an umbrella into the car, so that she could whack the dash with it whenever the radio started cutting out :) The wiring in the dash must have been a little used up as well... For one of the
turn signals, you had to keep depressing the lever, because it always wanted to get back into the "off" position. In other words, the car would always keep you on the edge of your seat when driving. On the positive side, I don't ever remember getting stuck anywhere, the little beater always took good care of me. I will always remember this car fondly, and to this day, whenever I see one drive by (which is becoming an increasingly rare occurance), I have to smile :)

Once my parents found work, and there was some money coming in, they bought a second vehicle. This time, we were riding in style: a 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon. This car may be the single reason why I have a soft spot for wagons. I borrowed this car many a times, and I was pretty much always the designated driver of our group (a pretty easy choice given I don't drink). I also fondly remember driving my baby sister to her skiing classes out in Rigaud. This car almost let me down a few times, stalling in the middle of traffic for example, but certainly the good outweighed the bad. I really discovered the wonderful sense of freedom that you get when getting into a car with the wide open road ahead of you. Even though my stepfather kept a close watch on the kms I put on it every time I went out, I still had the feeling I could go anywhere and do anything... Great memories :)

The third car my parents bought (once we said goodbye to the trusty old Horizon), was a 1993 Oldsmobile Achieva. I didn't get to drive this car nearly as much as the other two, since it was the new car right until the time I moved out. I don't have too many memories of it, except that it was the car in which i had my first accident. Totally not my fault, although if I had a bit more experience I might have been able to either avoid it, or lessen the impact. It was one of those things, huge snow storm, blowing gale, reduced visibility, and I had driven all the way across town, with my Mom in the passenger seat. We were just 3 streets away from home, when a city truck decided to ignore a stop sign and drive right into my path. I wasn't going to fast, but with the snowfall, and the ABS engaging, I wasn't able to stop in time, and ended up hitting him. Believe me, it wasn't a nice night to be sitting inside the city truck filling out the paperwork and freezing to death. The only casualty ended up being our bumper cover, but to this day I am leary of that intersection (one-way stop with poor visibility). Maybe that's the reason why I was never as attached to this car as the others...

So after that I moved out, and my parents' cars stopped being my rides. I commuted by bus, metro and bike, until I came to Ottawa for my internship at Nortel. That's where I met my DH, and around halfway through my stay here, I got introduced to his car, a 1994 Cherry red Ford Probe. I have to say I was very impressed. I think I instantly became a fan of sports cars :) This became the car on which I learned how to drive a standard (thanks to the immense patience of DH), and it's the the only car we had for a few years after I moved up here for good. In fact, we're still driving it today, though it's a little faded, and the sunroof won't open anymore... But it's still as fun to drive as ever! If the Horizon hadn't convinced me that hatchbacks are where it's at, this car certainly would have :)

Which is why our next car had to be a hatchback. A 1999 ferngruen (a.k.a. green) BMW 318ti was our little princess. We ordered it in Canada, and went all the way to Germany to pick it up, drive to the port of Bremerhaven, and ship it back to Halifax. Then we went to Halifax, we picked it up at the shipyards, and drove it all the way home. It was a great big adventure, and so was owning the car. When I say the car was a princess, I mean it both in a good and a not-so-good way. The car had great handling, was a pleasure to drive, looked amazing and made us feel at home. But it also required a lot of pampering, and really didn't enjoy it when we bought our house on a dirt road. It was made to drive on the smooth pavement of the autobahn, and all the gravel and potholes made it cranky...

So when we decided to go on a cross-country trip, we decided we would trade the 'ti in for something a little bigger (so we could fit all our trip gear), and maybe a little less refined. We ended up getting a second hand 2002 Volkswagen Passat Wagon. Aside from a flat tire, the car behaved flawlessly throughout the trip, and back home as well. It convinced us that wagons are great, and that we do like german engineering a lot! Our only complaint about the car was a certain gutlessness, a lack of pep when driving it.

So.... when DH noticed that the value of the car was starting to drop quite quickly (he's an appraiser, and knows this kind of stuff), we had to make a decision: either we're driving this car to the ground (sort of what we're doing with the Probe), or we trade it in on something a little newer, and a little peppier. We decided to trade it in on a very similar, yet peppier vehicle, a 2003 Audi A4 Avant. Again a wagon, in a similar colour, but a little smaller, with a bit better handling, and all wheel drive. This car we will probably drive to the ground, it seems like the perfect compromise: it has the driveability of the BMW, combined with the utility and versatility of the Passat.

So that's it. My life as a passenger and car owner :)


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