to house the gin-based refreshment I require after a day of close encounters with used car sales personnel.
But this nice looking beverage comes close. I’ll need two or three.
Since I arrived back in Australia in December I have been looking for a car. A ute, mate. Ute and mate go together – if you have a ute you know this, and if you don’t you start saying it soon in calls to dealerships, as in “Hi, name’s Fiona and I’m looking for a ute, mate. What you got?”
I find I don’t get bored talking about utes. I find Toyota Hilux owners never get bored either, and that’s because they know they’ve got the best. I want one but god, they’re expensive. And spending $30k on a seven-year old car with 150,000km on the clock (and those kilometres have been earned with hardcore tradie and/ or pig hunter finesse) is quite dispiriting. And every bit of money I spend on transport is a dollar not saved for building shelter, so I have to compromise.
Over the last two months I’ve had a wholesale dealer supposedly looking out for me, with the idea that it would save me the three or four grand retailers slap on top of a wholesale deal. Two days ago he sent over his first offering, a Holden Rodeo that my mechanic looked over and said “don’t buy, it’s faecal”. The wholesale dealer called me to ask why I wasn’t buying it, that he was doing me a favour, that he usually sold cars to retailers “in one phone call” and that he’d wasted his time trying to help me out and teach me something. Retailers are to grease as wholesalers are to s-bend sink gunge.
Two weeks ago, after too long being carless, I decided to get more involved in the process.
So I’ve been hiring bombs to get around and check out cars at far-flung dealerships, and to get to the farm from Melbourne. Rent a Bomb is the sort of car hire company you go to when you’re feeling really cheap. They hand you a key to a something that probably had some minor glory days at Hertz once, walk you around the car and tell you that adding to the dents is okay as long as you return it with the car doors intact and the steering wheel in place. They give you the number of roadside assistance and stipulate that you’re not allowed out of metropolitan Melbourne. So when I drive it 130km out of town to the land I granny it at 80km/ hr and hope for the best. No issues yet, but the thing puts out so many mysterious noises that I think the only thing holding it together must be my high vibration anxiety that only dogs (of the actual and vehicular kind) can detect.
Today I drove le bomb down to a used car lot to drive another Holden Rodeo to my mechanic, 30km away, for testing. I’m usually a fairly lucky person, so what transpired was such an affront I’ll have to pour another gin just to understand it all.
I got within a kilometre of my mechanic, stopped to buy some chocolate milk and the car wouldn’t start again.
I called the car dealer.
“erm, ute won’t start mate; it’s making a clicking noise and won’t turn over”
“sounds like the battery. Have you got someone who can come and get you going?”
“ah, that would be you?”
“well you’re a little far away.”
“look, I’m fresh out of ideas about how to sort this out. See what you can do and call me back.”
Mother Judy flew by on her way to work with some jumper leads, THAT’S how we sorted it out Steve.
An hour lost, I got the car to the garage who said that apart from the crappy battery and a potential alternator issue, the car was solid and sound and a nice drive. He gave me permission to put in an offer. Positively elated by this news, I started the drive back to the dealership, zipping along with increasingly gooey feelings toward Holden, enjoying the convivial nods from my fellow uters, turning the corners with ease…turning into a busy intersection and having the motor cut out. Pissing off the army of mothers picking up their children from school in the ensuing traffic jam. Getting the two car drivers behind me to push me off the road. Discovering the appalling turning circle does not make this easy. Waiting an hour for dealer Steve to deign to come and rescue me.
Is this why people buy new cars? I’ve always wondered, having never done it myself. I did learn some interesting things today, despite the inconvenience and accompanying stress. Used car sales technicians (yes) don’t give a shit if it’s a buyers’ market right now. Mint goes very nicely in a gin and tonic. Nissan Navaras have a worse turning circle than the Rodeo (tried one out this morning). There are so many clubs and cliques out there on the road that just test-driving a new class of vehicle makes you invisible to some (utes are invisible to sports cars, for example) and flagged to others. As a uter, I’ll be able to nod to country folk, truck drivers, pig hunters, tradies and the odd confused Toorak gent. There’ll be so much community building out there on the road I’ll probably get my house made and farm started with uters exclusively.
p.s. This photo was taken in my nearest milk & loaf-of-bread town, Newstead. A swarm of utes!