Were you ever your father’s tool boy? I was. At 6 or 7 years there was nothing I wanted more than undoing a bolt or two but my wrenching was limited to “bring a 6, bring a 17, bring a cloth”. I hated that, I felt so useless. However, I was always present and watched attentively.
My earliest memory of this was when he was changing brake kits on one my favourite cars of his. The 1975 Mazda B1600 short base, a very sun kissed beige with the shiniest chrome front bumper you have ever seen. The column shift that’s ever pointing upwards, the horizontal speedometer, metal dash with a bench vinyl seat that never ends. I loved this car. It was bought for R1000.00 in the 80s.
It had a personality this car. One day it would be perfect and the following day it would be bleeding all its brake fluid all over its tyres. Even when it wasn’t leaking you never really knew if brakes would be there until you actually use them. The look on passengers when my father starts pumping the brake pedal was always priceless. On day in the middle of the night just went off. As usual my father starts pumping the brakes to stop. The uneven road surface feedback from the butt was the only clue that we were no longer on the road. When it finally came to a stop the lights went back on, with absolutely no clue why they went off to begin with.
One day while transporting bricks it just started speeding up. My father had to apply brakes to keep it in check mind you it had all drum brakes. To avoid overheating the breaks, my father stopped and removed the accelerator cable from the throttle body. He put it in gear and it started speeding again. Another day it’s bonnet would not open, worked fine the day before just not the following day. This car was hilarious. You literally had no idea which new problems will it manifest or just for kicks, old ones you thought you fixed.
I was sad when it was sold for R3000.00. Not because of the amount but because I thought I would own it someday. I still miss it. If you are not that into cars and don’t know what it looks like, check out the image below, just imagine it beige and narrower tyres.
However, I digress. I wanted to discuss how I would have loved to work on this car but never got the chance. I would have loved to change tyres, unplug a battery anything. I don’t know if the lack of something makes you want it more because I love working on cars to this day. Every bolt I undo is a tiny hexagonal victory. It fills me with untold pleasure. I don’t know if I would have felt the same had I been allowed to work on cars back then or not. There is no telling.