Listening to: Riding With the King – John Hiatt
– Y’all Caught
OK, who wants to buy a 1986 Mercedes Benz 300SEL?
I got this car in 2002 for a real bargain by Singapore standards – $28K for 5 years left on the COE (for non-Singaporeans – Certificate of Entitlement – yes, you need a certificate to show you are entitled to own a car). It seemed a real bargain then. For $28K you can only put a deposit on another decent car. This baby (monster) was so well-kept by her previous owners that I felt guilty taking her off their hands. I’m renowned for trashing cars. My last car in Sydney was known as the Sports Car, because of all manner of sporting apparatus I kept in the trunk, the back seat, the front passenger seat and the roof rack.
I’ve grown accustomed to her face, her large, cumbersome frame and her reluctant purr in the mornings, when her transmission doesn’t want to wake up yet. She is low-maintenance with the TLC stuff, but her drinking habit’s leaving me skint.
In the past fortnight, I had been complaining to all who would care to listen (and because I had run out of conversation topics), that the fuel prices were killing me. $1.45 a litre or something. Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?
Now, buying, selling and owning a car in Singapore is like rocket science or nuclear physics. Most guys here seem to understand it, but I don’t. There’s the aforementioned COE, then there’s the OMV, PARF, the ARF and the BOWWOWWOW or something. And when you’re done with the barking, you might want to let out an ERP….
…So my friends were trying to explain the above acronym soup to me while my eyes were slowly glazing over. All I knew was that I was spending close to $400 a month on fuel, $4K a year on road tax, $800 a year on insurance and many sundry dollars passing under ERP gantries by mistake and parking for too long in car parks across the island.
Good thing she’s a hardy girl, and seldom has to visit the mechanic’s aside from her routine check ups and occasional replacement of the Mercedes star that vandals like to snap off for keepsakes. She’s temperamental and quirky too. Creaking in the mornings, but not in the afternoons. Overheating in jams and not changing gears in colder weather (here, that means anything under 30 degrees celcius). She drives like a boat, and parking is like berthing a tugboat, only harder. She usually needs one and a half parking lots. And she’s longer than most MPVs (Many People Vehicle).
Common sense (and my knowledgeable friends) dictate I should sell the car (because the shell is worth money, they say), and put a deposit down on a smaller car, and pay instalments for the rest of my natural life, so I can cut down my fuel bill and road tax. Plus I used to dislike Mercs with a passion. The image of the Chinese Bidnisman and his big Merc irked me no end. And it doesn’t help that some friends address me as Uncle still on account of the car.
But like I say, I’ve grown accustomed to her. How her dash lights randomly switch on and off depending on how you start her up. How she needs at least two cranks to start up. How only one of four auto windows work. How the fuel gauge reads 1/4 but is really very empty. And she’s a grand old dame. She’s a Merc.
I’ll only leave her if someone gets me one of these. (Bastard huh?)