Back in early 1983, when I wasn’t a year of age, my father was looking for a new car to purchase for my mother. It was still the age of patriarchy. He had culled the herd, and decided on two candidates that he saw fitting for his wife, the mother of his child, to commute us, safe and reliably. The final decision he had left to her, and sent the Mazda and Opel rep to her with a 323 and an Ascona respectively, and the chips fell as only a mother’s intuition could guide. So started a lifelong love for a marque in our family.
So impressed was my dad with the car and the service, that three years later, he bought himself an Opel Ascona, and three years later still in 1989, traded it for his first (of many) Opel Rekord 2.0i. Other cars have come and gone, but that original Ascona and Rekord has remained. I grew up in the passenger seat of the Ascona, dubbed Einstein because of a marketing catchphrase given to the relative space for its class size, and ultimately learned to drive in the Rekord, emphatically named Ou Bloues, on newspaper delivery runs. Both these cars served the role as my student car, Einstein until I got T-boned, and thereafter, Ou Bloues, for years, until, approaching 400,000 km, it started getting hiccups while driving to and fro studies and holidays at home, a 800 km trip each way.
In January 2006, during my summer holidays back home, my dad secretly started looking for a “more reliable” transportation device for me and the long roads. He came across the same year model Opel Rekord 2.0i, in the same Lake Blue colour as Ou Bloues, with a mere 137 000 km on the clocks. Admittedly, I was devastated. I had a bond with Ou Bloues, and although it made practical sense, the obvious “replacement” with the “same” car, just didn’t seem right. It felt like getting a new Staffy after the previous one had passed, and calling him Jock, yet again. Salt was added to the wound when we eventually figured out that Ou Bloues’ troubles was easily rectified by simply replacing the aging petrol pump. But the deed had been done, and I was already back at studies with the imposter.
But care, I do, and so, I started attending to all the stone chip markings from the single previous owner’s Sunday drives to town from his farm, and subsequently made blue leopard spots all over the car by using the incorrect product. And as time went by, the imposter and I got to know each other, and while I initially wanted to remain impartial to it, unattached, we started building a relationship. It became he. And he needed a name. And with his leopard spots, the choice was obvious.
I realized, years later, that, while I grew up with Einstein and Ou Bloues, none of them were my cars. The first time Spotty had arrived home, however, I was behind the wheel. My dad may have found and paid him when I was still a student, but it was, and is, since that day, truly my first car. And yes, by now, I myself have a small fleet, but Spotty is still my daily, we have done roughly 250 000 kms together, we have conquered Southern Africa together, and we plan to do much more.