Friday, 15 April 2005

My Not-Very-Fast and the Not-Too-Furious Ond Civic

I know next to nothing about cars. Nothing. Zilch. Yie-lek.

Ok, I DO know how to DRIVE one (very fast too), how the engine works (sort-of), when the car breaks down (quite often actually), and most importantly, how to side-park a Wira in a Kancil-sized parking lot.

I now drive a 10-year-old Proton Wira I inherited from my mom, and before that I drove a 25 year old first generation Honda Civic that cost RM5000 at a secondhand car-mart and more than RM10,000 in repairs throughout the next 8 years I had it. Thank god for scholarships.

I still remember eight years ago when my father and I went to the second hand car ‘market’ to look for a car. At the time, I was stuck in UPM’s Serdang campus with naught but a bicycle to get me around. This pretty much ruled out any excursions outside a 1km radius of Serdang.

As we strolled along among the Proton Wiras, Honda Civics and even the odd Mercedes Benz that were parked in the car market, I would point hopefully at a certain car, hoping my dad would get the hint. Nevertheless, his eye did rest on a Honda Civic - a first generation Honda Civic, to be exact.

It was a tiny, white Honda Civic that looked as if it might fall apart anytime. One quarter of the rearview mirror had fallen off, the ‘gostan’ gear was almost impossible to enter without trying at least a few times, and the cushion stuffing in the passenger seats were spilling out. And most memorably, the ‘H’ and ‘A’ from the ‘Honda’ logo at the back had fallen off, so instead of a Honda Civic, I owned an Ond Civic instead. A friend used to call it my Ond, and I’d referred to it as ‘the Ond’ ever since.

At the same time, the car had a 1.5 liter engine that enabled me to overtake Proton Wiras and even BMWs when going up a steep hill.

Perhaps the only problem I had with the car was its constant need for repairs. We have taken it to the mechanic so many times that I reckon the mechanic probably could have survived solely on the business my car gave them. In fact, the mechanic became so familiar with the Ond that whenever we met, he would ask about the car.

All those years of driving my little Ond also taught me how to drive smart instead of driving fast. Sometimes, while I was pottering my way happily on the ‘slow’ lane, faster cars would whiz past me impatiently, only to get stuck in a jam up ahead, and I’d end up either ahead of him, or just right behind him. This sort of situations taught me that it in KL, it doesn’t matter how fast you drive, you’d get stuck in jams anyway. Even now, when driving a faster car, I’d still prefer to take it easy.

Of course, I’ve never been the sort of conform to the masses. While others would be using Nokia phones, I’d refuse profusely to even touch them. And while others would buy Kancils and Protons, I refused to even think about giving up my little Ond.

I had to give up that little car last year though.

No, I didn’t crash it into a Berhenti sign. Neither was it seized by the police for having too many illegal modifications.

I merely gave it away to my cousin in TAR college, since it could no longer take me on the 30-minute journey from my home to the office without giving me a few stalls, and sounding like a full-blown percussion band on the HIGHWAY.

I drive a Proton Wira now, and even though it is a lot more consistent and stable than my Ond, and does not have the tendency to cough up a cloud of black smoke every time I start the engine, I still miss my Ond.

Anyway I DO know (slightly) about cars. At least enough about MY cars. What I DON'T know about are the OTHER cars on the road, what models they are, what series there are, what speed, what gear, and how many wheels they have.

Anyway, when you've just spent the last few days writing stories about a movie on cars, you tend to pick up some stuff here and there. Now much, mind you. But enough to write the stories without really knowing what I'm talking about (which I'm doing now...).

I look at a nice car, and I think, 'nice car'. I don't know how powerful the engine is, I don't know what year it was made, and I certainly don't know how much it cost. All I know is perhaps - 'Ooo, it's nice'; or 'Oooo, a new BMW'; or 'Oooo, that would make a cool Transformer."

Speaking of which, I only recently knew slightly more about cars because the Transformers manufacturers came up with a series of robots that transformed into REAL cars like the Mustang GT, the Dodge Viper, the Jeep Wrangler, the Chevy Corvette, the Subaru Impreza and my personal favorite - the Mazda RX8. How cool is THAT!?!?!

MY dream car? The new Volkswagen Beetle. Yes, I know it's very feminine, but it... just... so... CUTE! And besides, I have a history with little cute cars, so I like those better than big sedans. Not Kancils though. I don't like those. I think those are road pests. No offense to people who HAVE Kancils though. :P

And movies about cars? The Fast and the Furious was cool (made me wanna jump in my little Ond and take corners at er... 40km/hour); The Italian Job was SUPER cool (the old Michael Caine one, not the crappy Mark "most uncharismatic lead actor ever" Wahlberg version.), and BY GOD, the Batmobile in Tim Burton's Batman movies are cool. Oh, and what about that Delorean in Back to the Future eh, eh, eh?

This year, Initial D, about 'drifting' and street/hill racing in Japan will be coming out, starring Jay Chou and Edison Chen. Should be pretty cool actually, since I HAVE read some of the manga before, and the directors themselves said the movie will be as close to the comics as possible.

That movie will be out in July, and I just got the urge to watch The Italian Job again, so I think I shall go get the DVD and watch them blow the bloody door up again.

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