BE­HIND THE WHEEL

Our se­nior writer pays trib­ute to his bean­shaped Mit­subishi i, the first car he owned.

Torque (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - JEREMY CHUA

FOR the past two years, I have had the plea­sure of be­ing able to say that my car is tur­bocharged, mid-en­gine and rear-wheel-drive.

Upon hear­ing this de­scrip­tion, other journos as­sumed that I was jok­ing about be­ing the owner of a Porsche 718 Cay­man or 718 Boxster.

After I con­fessed that I own a Mit­subishi i, it would take them a mo­ment to re­mem­ber the model. There are very few of these left in Sin­ga­pore, so the rar­ity added to the joy of own­ing one. How did I end up with an i? When the mis­sus and I started think­ing about get­ting a car, we had very dif­fer­ent pri­or­i­ties. She was con­cerned about prices and run­ning costs, whereas I had more “im­por­tant” con­sid­er­a­tions, such as per­for­mance and han­dling.

Nat­u­rally, my bet­ter half said that we should be able to buy a car out­right and not have to deal with monthly pay­ments. Our op­tions be­came even more limited than our bud­get.

One night, while brows­ing Sg­car­mart, I chanced upon what would be­come my first car – a 2009 Mit­subishi i that had only one owner and 56,000km on her odome­ter.

See­ing her for the first time, I was im­me­di­ately be­witched by her kawaii (Ja­panese for “cute”) looks. I loved the spa­cious cabin and the round shapes that dom­i­nated the dash­board. My edi­tor, who ac­com­pa­nied me to view the car, ex­cit­edly asked Cy­cle & Car­riage to do a back­ground check. The mileage was gen­uine, and the car had a full ser­vice his­tory, too.

After ac­quir­ing the car, my wife named her Jelly­bean. As a kei car, Jelly­bean’s diminu­tive di­men­sions made her supremely easy to ma­noeu­vre and park. And thanks to the ex­cel­lent pack­ag­ing, she was also more spa­cious than she looked. I spent many hours groom­ing her, with weekly washes and monthly waxes. If her paint­work felt rough, out came the clay bar, which would be fol­lowed by a pol­ish­ing and wax­ing ses­sion. I beamed with pride each time a fel­low journo com­mented on the shiny paint­work.

I also took a shine to my car’s per­for­mance, even if she was never built for speed. With a tur­bocharged 659cc 3-cylin­der en­gine pump­ing out a mea­gre 63hp, Jelly­bean was more suited to pot­ter­ing around town than cruis­ing on an ex­press­way. But she was al­ways perky, and never felt like she was go­ing to tip over, even if I car­ried too much speed into a cor­ner.

Although Jelly­bean looked young, her age nev­er­the­less be­gan to show. Within my first year of own­er­ship, I had to re­place a pres­surised hose in the air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tem, the fan mo­tor, and the bat­tery. I also needed a new in­su­la­tion pad, but with that part out of pro­duc­tion, I learnt to en­joy my en­gine’s rortier sound­track.

In Jan­uary this year, I picked up a punc­ture. After the “sur­geons” at the Cy­cle & Car­riage “hospi­tal” along Alexan­dra Road patched my tyre, they in­formed me of a new prob­lem: My al­ter­na­tor was nearly ka­put.

Two months later, I ex­pe­ri­enced a sud­den loss of power and saw a mas­sive amount of white smoke em­a­nat­ing from Jelly­bean’s rear. Fear­ing I may end up with a baked bean, I called an “am­bu­lance”.

My bet­ter half al­most burst into tears when I told her what hap­pened. For­tu­nately, in­stead of a cracked tur­bocharger, it was the PCV (pos­i­tive crank­case ven­ti­la­tion) valve that needed to be re­placed. Per­haps not want­ing to feel this sort of pain again, my wife’s prac­ti­cal na­ture kicked in. “I know this is go­ing to make us very sad”, she be­gan, “but we have to part with Jelly­bean, be­fore any­thing else goes wrong. Please start look­ing for a brand-new car.” I du­ti­fully com­plied.

Farewell, Jelly­bean. Wher­ever you are, I want you to know that you have brought us much hap­pi­ness. And although our time to­gether was brief, you left an in­deli­ble mark on our hearts. You will never be for­got­ten.

FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS, I’VE BEEN ABLE TO SAY THAT MY CAR IS TUR­BOCHARGED, MID-EN­GINE AND REAR-WHEEL-DRIVE.

Jeremy wishes that Mit­subishi will cre­ate an­other i, even if it’ll never be as spe­cial as his.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.