Thursday, September 04, 2008

Cars in the Family

For a couple of years now, we have been saying that we must trade in our car before it gets shaken to bits by our dirt road and the mileage gets too high. This is the car we bought when we arrived here in South Africa, a sturdy Opel estate, and it has done duty as our family car ever since, clocking up the kilometers on the school run, commuting to Cape Town, occasional holidays cramming it full to the roof with luggage and canoe perched on top. It has coped with the 3 km of bumpy dirt road day in day out, corrugated and dusty in summer, muddy, flooded and rutted in winter. Bits have shaken loose with all the bumping – the back bumper fell off a couple of years ago and was lost, the rear door lock has been shaken to oblivion and is extremely temperamental, but still the car has kept going.

Yesterday we finally bit the bullet and bought a new car – a two year old Opel Zafira, which has those clever extra two seats in the rear that fold away to nothing and make plenty of luggage space. It’s a sleek spring chicken compared to our battle hardened, mud encrusted (t)rusty steed.

As I drove home from the car dealership in the old car (now destined for a quick private sale, as the dealers would only offer a laughable peanut gallery trade-in price for a car with over 300km on the clock) I couldn’t help a pang of sadness. This stalwart car has seen us through our life here with hardly a faulter, carried toddlers and baby seats safely, and despite the occasional odd gurgle or tinkle from under the bonnet, it’s still going strong.

My husband picked up the kids from school in the new car and they arrived home gleefully amid great excitement, thrilled with the folding seats, folding trays and all. Youngest kept telling me how excited she was about the new car throughout the afternoon. It wasn’t till she went to change into pyjamas that the reality dawned on her:

“Mummy, when I talk like this, it means I’m sad” she said, chin down, in a choked voice.

Sobs escaped as she continued, “I’m sad about our old car.”

She cried for a few minutes on my lap as I tried to console her.

Distracted by TV time she was soon cheerful again, until it was time for bed. Dissolving once more she sobbed,

"But I’ll think about our old car in the night” and “But how will you put it in the garage?”

The forlorn thought of it parked outside, ousted from its warm garage by the shiny new car was too much for her and it took a while to turn her thoughts in a happier direction.

Today she was more philosophical about it:

“I’d feel more sad if it was one of our animals going to someone else” she said thoughtfully at lunchtime.

We’ve assured her it will go to a good home, which we hope will be as soon as possible, as it’s making me feel sad too now!


  1. We've just had to get rid of two cockerels - tears from no 2.....until we bought a little hen as 'replacement'...but on the car front...I've always regretted getting rid of the old one, especially when you 'ding' the new one within minutes!

  2. Happy driving in your new car. May you have many happy and safe miles.

  3. Just had to say goodbye to my beloved dog. I moved into the city and I couldn't take him with me. I'm devastated too.

    Love the site, by the way.

  4. Oh Kit, I feel your daughter's pain!! When I was little, my dad owned a red Ferrari, but he always had itchy feet and never hung onto a car for long, and before long he sold it. I cried buckets as it drove up the driveway and shouted "Bye! Bye! Bye!" till it was out of sight.

    And each time I sold one of my own cars, I did rember with a pang how excited I was to drive them for the first time, and how they were now just being shunted aside for a newer model. Luckily I sold both my Golfs to a friend, who I know had many more happy years of driving from them, but we sold our old car here in London to a dealer, and I felt exactly the same as your daughter when we drove away and left it in the lot :(

  5. oh that is so sweet...her emotional attachment to the old car. what a sweet girl.

    congrats on the new wheels :)


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