One hot day in early 1970s, sitting in a crowded bus on my way to business college in Brisbane central, I vowed to myself like most young people at the time, that the first thing I was going to do when I found a job was to buy a car. And I wanted a new car.
Thanks to my parents’ foresight, I was already taking RACQ driving lessons around the torturous hills of Bardon and Paddington. I was issued with my driver’s license at Rosalie on the first attempt, secured a secretarial job and started to save for my first car.
Vehicle window-shopping became a regular pastime. By mid-1975, after reading volumes of the driver’s bible The Road Ahead, and comparing models with my father, I purchased a brand-new white Datsun 120Y four-door sedan from Ira Berk in Fortitude Valley.
My new Datsun sedan cost me $4,000 in cash. Although I could drive a manual, it was an automatic. It also sported a thin stripe along either side. It had a tight turning circle and was economy-plus when it came to petrol consumption, two of its bragging points. The interior and seats were brown vinyl and the dashboard was black; basic but functional. It contained a radio player, cigarette lighter and, surprise-surprise, an analogue clock which ticked away the hours for 18 glorious years.
Many happy memories are linked to my first-car ownership which include boyfriends, marriage, having my child’s first car seat fitted, then school runs. There was no downside to my Datsun. The only challenge I faced was to keep the metal hubcaps on because they would pop off driving over speed bumps.
It was serviced regularly and the service log book was an historical record in itself. When my Datsun was sold in 1993, it was in such good condition, amazingly, I was given $2,000 trade-in. The only reason I sold it was to enjoy the cooling breeze of air-conditioning in my second new car. Another white four-door sedan.
AUTHOR NOTE: This excerpt was written in 2004 and I would like to add the postscript that I am now a big advocate of public transport and catch a bus regularly, particularly into the city.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward