OWN THAT DREAM CAR
Nothing should stop us from attaining our car goals
Why do we buy cars? Or, why do we need to buy a car of our own? May I speak for myself, if you won’t mind? I bought my first car in fulfillment of a dream. You, too, I bet? Since childhood, I promised myself I’d buy me a car once I got a job.
Oh, wait—my first aspiration as a kid, really, was to buy myself a high-end stereo set once I was through with my schooling. I told myself if I studied hard enough, I’d finish college in no time. Thankfully, I did. Four years in school. I was saving money for my very first stereo set when, suddenly, the chance of owning my first car presented itself.
This was in the ’70s. I was a sportswriter at the Bulletin Today, the martial law name of today’s Manila Bulletin. The newspaper, then the number one daily and miles ahead, in both circulation and readership, of the Daily Express and the Times Journal (now both defunct, having ceased publication almost right after the 1986 People Power Revolution), had to dispose of vehicles that had seen better days. Most were delivery vehicles.
I took a fancy to the Mini (Cooper) van. It was used to deliver Bulletin Today copies to Metro Manila newsstands at the break of dawn. Seven days a week, 365 days a year. Not only was it the cheapest of the lot, it still looked cute as well. Despite its dilapidated state, its stylishness was very obvious.
On the day of the big auction, I began with P4,000 for the van. Lucky me that not a single soul bettered my offer, so I got the bidding was quick and hassle-free. Was it because the Mini appeared so old and wasted? I guess so. Its front wheelbase rattled like a church bell pealing when I maneuvered it at full lock, either going left or right. Its suspension felt rock-hard when tackling even a minor hump or a small pothole. The flooring was rust-infested—hole-laden even. There were a lot more defects, such as scratches and dents all over. Paint peeling off, too.
But did I care? Of course, not. When you put your mind to something, your focus is blurred, your logic is defaced. I bought the Mini van with eyes closed? You bet. The clincher was, I purchased it on terms—as in payable in two years via salary deduction. Hardly would I feel a pinch in my monthly budget, I surmised.
The publication’s motor pool was my Mini’s first destination. Reason? Major surgery awaited it. No problem: Rolly, the chief mechanic, was my drinking buddy. “Leave everything to me, sir,” he said. It pays to have a pal who loves drinking with you till the midnight sun. He’ll stand by you come hell or high water.
It took Rolly two weeks to rehabilitate my Mini. First thing was to patch up the holes on the floor, and then bang out the dents, followed by a fresh coat of paint. The steering and suspension problems were sorted out as well. I had it repainted white, with a huge red star on its forehead for some effect. The best part of it was, the expenses were again deducted from my monthly salary. With my car finally in tiptop shape, my next mission was to go fulfill my first dream: get my stereo set.
As if by design, I was dispatched not long after to cover the Pesta Sukan Basketball Games in Singapore. My one-week stint in the Lion City allowed me the luxury of a huge budget for coverage. I saved really hard to the point that I almost starved myself to death. But when I got home, I had with me my first stereo set. It was a high-end Kenwood system. I had it hand-carried on my flight to Manila to protect it from cargo mishandling. My wife—a music lover, too—was happily surprised. Kenwood was also her favorite.
And here was a bonus: Because I had saved a virtual fortune from my scrimping and starving spree in Singapore (almost unspent beer money was in abundance!) I was also able to buy a radio for my Mini. And it was no less than a Blaupunkt, the well-loved German brand that remains a favorite among music aficionados. Indeed, when it rains, it pours!
But you know what? The celebration was short-lived. Not long after, my Mini van was gone. Monica Feria (God bless her soul) took a liking to it. Grudgingly, I had to let go of my first car. There was so much rehabilitation work that was already done on it by chief mechanic Rolly, but did I have a choice? Monica was also a journalist like my wife. In their heyday as news hounds for separate newspapers, they were almost inseparable.
Several cars I’ve had after my Mini included a Volkswagen Beetle, a Toyota Corolla, and a Nissan Sentra. Like my Mini, they are now all gone, subbed by a Lancer bought in 1997 and an Altis acquired in 2001. Both the Lancer (67,497km) and the Altis (10,419km) were bought on loan when I was still the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s sports editor.
Due for replacement? I wish I could replace them. But since I retired from full employment in 2006, gone, for me, are the good old days of manageable car-loan benefits.
Besides, the rise in car prices seems certain now, with our lawmakers pounding hard on imposing seemingly huge excise taxes to practically the majority of vehicle models on the market. It’s all over the news if you haven’t already seen it. The coverage is comprehensive on the Top Gear Philippines website. Look, will the Innova cost P80,000 more than its old, affordable price of roughly P1 million for the lower variants?
These days, only the kindness of friends and strangers gives me the chance to drive newer models, and for that I am eternally grateful. It really pays to heed the counsel of the years: Be happy, contented. Acquiring your first dream car should be more than a bonus already.
‘The rise in car prices seems certain now, with lawmakers pounding hard’