4x4 Mega World campfire story
The little red Isuzu that could
Many moons ago, the term ‘naughty’ meant pulling a funny prank on a friend, or nicking the neighbour’s apples from the tree in his yard, not doing drugs or bullying other kids. It was in such a time that a young man decided to take an old Isuzu for a drive.
Hendrik was a real farm lad. Tough he was, and not scared to get down and dirty and do some real hard labour.
He was in matric when he was visiting a game farm with his best friend. It was school holidays, and after a week of riding horses, shooting at some cans, swimming in the farm dam and doing some work, too, Hendrik needed to go to town to buy some smokes, since he had run out. Yes, Hendrik had a rebellious streak about him, too.
On that day, Hendrik was alone on the farm, his friend and his friend’s mom away for the day. Now, anyone who has been addicted to cigarettes knows that craving for nicotine can cloud (excuse the pun) one’s thought process. Instead of being logical, some rash, impulsive decisions are sometimes made.
Clearly, Hendrik needed to get to town, since that was where the cigarettes were. The town was not around the corner, though, more like 10km away. So Hendrik, in his perilous state of withdrawal, decided the dilapidated plaasbakkie would be just the thing to get him there.
This vintage Isuzu, though, was not normally used to drive anywhere near the town. That’s because it had no doors, no bonnet and, vitally, no brakes. The last time it had been in a roadworthy state was about 20 years earlier. Still, craving some Peter Stuyvesant, Hendrik decided the reward would exceed the risk.
Brakes? Bah. He’d just gear it down, using the engine to slow it down, as was done on the farm. He’d just need to plan his stopping trajectory well. He’d also aim for the shop on the outskirts of town, so as to not attract the attentions of the local constabulary.
Off went Hendrik in the old Isuzu which, with the exception of the brakes, worked remarkably well from a mechanical point of view. The dirt road leading to town was easily dispatched.
All that was now standing between Hendrik and a puff was a short stretch of tar. Oh, and a bridge. The shop was just on the other side of the bridge. Up the old Isuzu went, easily scaling the slight incline of the tarred bridge. But they say that what goes up, must come down and on the other side of the bridge, on a slight decline, a strange phenomenon called gravity intervened.
When the Isuzu began picking up speed, Hendrik executed plan ‘stop the lorry’ by selecting first gear. Or he tried to, at least.
You see, the old Isuzu had a column-shift. If you got your aim and timing slightly off, and your clutch action not spot on, it had a tendency to baulk, refusing to engage any gear.
This is what happened to Hendrik, as the gearless bakkie picked up more and more speed down the hill.
So the brake and doorless bakkie sped straight towards the cigarette oasis, which happened to have a glass shop front. And so, with one farm lad behind the wheel, feverishly stepping on the brake pedal that didn’t work, one Isuzu ended up driving straight through the glass shop front, stopped only by a heavy wooden counter, behind which the cigarettes were housed.
He was so shocked, said Hendrik, that he clean forgot to buy the smokes he had come all the way for.
In fact, Hendrik stopped smoking for at least three weeks after that. Not that he had much of a choice, mind... he had some expensive glass panels to pay for.
Above: Hendrik thought the old Isuzu plaasbakkie sans brakes would get him safely to his smokes, but the column-shift had other ideas.