Apart from being a husband and the father of 2 amazing kids, not at all biased, and running Every Road after hours, I am also a qualified mechanic who works for a small local garage in my home town of Benalla.
It is whilst carrying out my duties as a mechanic that I am able to meet and talk to a vast array of people and characters. It is during those conversations that stories will often get shared and more often than not the stories and memories are triggered by the customer looking at his, or her, car. These stories have ranged from what activities they got up to in and around their cars, to stories from an epic adventure they took in that particular car 20 or even 30 years ago, to how tinkering around helped their confidence in other areas of their life. The stories behind the stories are often amazing to hear.
It wasn’t until recently, however, that I joined the dots and realised exactly how much emotion our cars help us to create, hold and express. I have been a mechanic since I finished school as an 18 year old, yet it is only some 16 years later that I realised how important, and central, our cars become to our life stories, and then later on, the memories that they help invoke.
The story that follows easily falls into both the life stories and the memory invoking categories.
As I said earlier, working at my day job allows me to meet so many different characters. In this instance I got the opportunity to carry out some minor repairs on an elderly gentlemans pride and joy, a Green ZH Ford Fairlane 500. To look at his car you wouldn’t think it was anything special, except for now being a classic. It was in reasonable condition, just starting to show its age, with a plastic pole bullbar. It was this car, and the stories it held, that opened my eyes to the real value of our cars.
This elderly grandfather was preparing his pride and joy to be passed down to his granddaughter and had entrusted our workshop to carry out the necessary repairs. Now this vehicle was not a complete stranger to my boss and his business, it had just been a long time since it was last in his workshop. Seeing this old Fairlane, jogged the memory of my boss where he reminisced about how he used to do all the service work on this car and had even rebuilt the engine in the old girl some 20 years ago. Fast forward 20 odd years and this grand old girl is back in his workshop, albeit a new premisis.
With repairs and maintenance completed the big old Fairlane was returned to its home address, ready for the next chapter of its life.
A few weeks after waving goodbye to the Fairlane, a young woman made a visit to our workshop, with some news and a plea for help. The young woman turned out to be the granddaughter who was destined to receive this peice of Australian motoring history. The news she was bearing was the sombring news that her grandfather had just passed away, condolences to the family. After many attempts by various family members to get the old Fairlane started, they had decided it was time to ask for help in getting her fired up and back running, naturally we agreed to helping out as soon as it was possible to call round to investigate the problem.
Upon visiting the family home, where the Fairlane sit quietly, waiting to be fired into action, I was greeted by the same young woman as earlier and her grandmother. Both were grateful for calling around and helping them out.
Believing it to be a dead battery at fault, I was able to quickly determine that my instincts were correct and set about replacing the battery. It was during this process that a gentleman walked up the driveway and introduced himself to me. Making small talk he told me that “Dad bought this car with about 40,000km on the clock”, followed by a brief history of the car and some of the places it had travelled, even stating that “Dad loved the sound of an old V8.” A short time later and the old Fairlane was sitting there purring away like a kitten on your lap, just like it had done many times before.
Another family member then arrived and I walked over and introduced myself, all whilst the big green heirloom sat idling away, as if to cast a spell on those in its force field. It was at this exact moment that I realised the role our cars play in both making memories and recalling them. I could see the emotion in the eyes of the gentleman standing next to me as we stood there talking, and then I looked over to the lady standing there with us and the smile on her face kept growing bigger by the second. “Dad loved this car,” “he could never bring himself to sell it, even though we tried.” she shared with me. “Dad always said there is nothing like the sound of an old V8.” I quickly got the feeling that their father really liked his “old V8s”.
In the short amount of time I was talking with the family I was told many stories about “Dad and his car” and how he had driven that car around Australia numerous times and it was still going strong. I feel really honoured to have been able to have helped this family out during this difficult time and that the big green Fairlane could even have its final goodbye.
It was this moment that opened my eyes about the role our cars can play in making memories and how simply looking at or just thinking about a certain car can recall those memories.
If thinking about a car you once owned, or still own, brings back some kind of memory, then let me know, I would love to hear from you and your story.
Until next time, keep making tracks on every road.