To all the cars I drove before

I recently bought a car. The first car I can really call my own.

I have been exceedingly fortunate to have pretty much always had access to a vehicle since I got my licence all those years ago. I drove my mum’s car a fair bit and then was gifted my grandparent’s old car after they got too old and ill to drive it. That reliable old Camry, about as old as me, saw me through Year 12, then later down to Brisbane and all around south-east Queensland while filming projects for uni. I drove it until it died, and then a little while after that, but eventually we parted ways.

Not long after this, my dad was able to loan me his car as he had a work vehicle. I drove Dad’s large (too large for me) Mazda for about three years and we saw some miles together filming football games from the Sunshine Coast all the way down to Beaudesert and many, many weeks up to Toowoomba, as well as to and from my office jobs. It even took us to Tenterfield last year on a wonderful Christmas getaway in the country.

As luck would have it, just when Dad required his car back, my brother was looking to offload his second car. Once again the stars seem to align for my personal transport needs, and I’ve found myself with a car I never thought I’d buy, but, goddamnit, one I am so grateful for. It’s a two-door hatchback Getz, a tiny little thing in a colour I’d never think to buy myself. But I love it.

The other cars were never really mine.

The absence of paying for the car, of being gifted it or keeping it only as a loan, meant the cars never felt like mine.

Yes, this new one is from my brother (well, sister-in-law originally), so it’s not a million miles away from the previous two familial vehicles. But this time it’s not going back. It’s mine on my own terms. Forever, if I want it. 

I like driving well enough, but don’t consider myself a wonderful driver. I’m not a rev head at all and if I lived somewhere where I could get by just fine with walking or public transport, I wouldn’t cling to a car for no reason. The environmental factor does weigh on my mind as does the added cost of insurance and rego and all the other car related nonsense. But I can get to work in twenty minutes now and go wherever I want on the way home. I can get anywhere I need to in an emergency, or anywhere I want to on a whim.

It’s not really a car that I bought or that I love, although this vehicle is quite adorable. What I bought was freedom. And now that the car is mine, that freedom’s unconditional. 

So, to honour the occasion and to continue my obsessive need to catalogue my life in lists, here’s every car that I’ve ever driven (that I can remember):

Grandpa’s white Camry

See above!

Dad’s Mazda

Also see above!

New Hyundai Getz

See. Above. Now.

Mum’s Toyota

Great car, still plugging along. I learnt to drive mainly in this one and even did my driver’s test in this car. I did the test twice actually because I liked it so much (just kidding I failed the first time). I think Mum will drive it forever and so she should – you don’t get rid of quality.

Dad’s old white Ford

Learnt to drive a little in this one, though probably not more than a dozen times. Pretty smooth to drive but the brakes were a little funny especially on the highway – something you never really want to laugh at.

Jeremy’s old ute

Some wonderful family friends took me on some driving lessons while I was learning. Jeremy and Dean and their mum Leanne – the best people you could ever met. This car was a battered old ute which Jeremy offered as “if you can drive it, you can drive anything.” Well I drove it and learnt the ‘stick’ as the Americans say, though not enough to get my manual licence. I wonder if this car is still going – perhaps it’s joined my granddad’s Camry in the great car yard in the sky.

Uncle Greg’s BMW for formal

I don’t understand hiring cars for formals or weddings. It seems to me a strange endeavour to simply travel to the place in a cool car, when normally most people can’t see you and absolutely everyone doesn’t give a shit. Quick name a cool car someone drove to an event! Something that you thought about for more two seconds. Something that left more of an impression than “oh, that’s a car all right…” I understand the social pressure to have a nice car when everyone else has one but really, come on everyone! Let’s stop making this a thing and it wouldn’t be a thing.

Of course, if you like cars maybe it means something to you and that’s completely fine. Good luck to you. I shan’t take away your joy.

But don’t even get me started on weddings, where in most cases the car doesn’t even get seen. Everyone’s waiting inside when you arrive! You just spent money on a limo when a taxi would have done the same thing! Does a fancy arrival contribute anything? If makes you feel good then by all means, go for it. I guess it sets the tone and maybe you wouldn’t want to arrive in Jeremy’s old ute.  It just seems a bit useless to me.

Anyhow – my uncle had a cool convertible BMW and I drove it to my formal. There was a whole drama about getting it to Toowoomba from Brisbane the night before, but it got there, and I drove it with red P plates. I only mucked up the indicator (windscreen wipers once) and Kelly and I arrived in style.

We could have equally arrived not in style and it wouldn’t have moved the needle on anyone’s enjoyment.

Auntie Sophie’s car and a Mazda 2 in Melbourne

Recently on holidays I found myself driving two more cars than I originally had in my list when first drafting this piece. Funny how life works – one car for three years and then three new ones in a month.

The first car was a wonderful easy to drive hatchback I drove a few times around Canberra. No complaints at all thank you Auntie Sophie!

Come find me in a bar sometime and I’ll tell you all about the one in Melbourne. It was certainly an experience.

Random small white car guy had at film festival

My favourite entry on this list. While still at uni I volunteered at a local film festival in Brisbane. I could only help out for the setup which was fine, putting out chairs and posters, the usual boring volunteer things. We also got free Grill’d as I remember which adds nothing to the story but is a nice little detail. Take it or leave it, up to you.

At some point in the afternoon, one of the festival higher ups asked me if I could drive. After replying in the affirmative, he asked me to go pick up a festival worker from across town. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my (what would have been Grandpa’s) car with me as Senaai was picking me up. No worries, he said, and took me a few blocks away and just gave me his car keys and car. As you do, to a volunteer you just met an hour ago. My trusting face is a blessing and a curse.

The car was fine to drive and it all went off without a hitch (although I did accidentally drive over the toll bridge – sorry dude!). This was before the age of Uber and I reckon today a cheap rideshare would have occurred rather than me, a stranger, driving this man’s car. But then again… my trusting face. 

A golf buggy at Caboolture equestrian centre

A technical entry, sure, but the story is kind of worth it.

I drove a well-known Australian celebrity in a safe and controlled manner from the dressing room to the stage while interning at a concert tour. When I was a passenger in this kart, my boss took a turn so sharply I almost fell out. I grabbed his leg in panic, then let go in panic, then grabbed it again, also in panic. No harm done and we all had a good laugh.

Looking back I wonder if we really needed a golf cart at all in this venue. But I guess if a gold cart is offered, who amongst us wouldn’t say yes?

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