Push it right in ‘an crank it up…hard!

“Push it right in to the little hole. All the way in. Turn it around hard and see if you know how to get her started. Think you can you manage?” asked the sage.

Way back then most cars came with a battery that could barely power today’s Nintendo games and would go dead overnight without warning. And so we’d go retro, pull out the crank handle, insert via a hole in the bonnet, connect to the crankshaft, apply much elbow grease in clockwise motion and if you got it right engine would fire up! Check the link/video below to see how the Brits did it. Of course the Jamaican alternative was to simply park on “battery hill.”

Ahhhh…the good old days when cars were simple. But now Volvo has a car that parks itself. Luxury Mercedes Benz models have available pop-up tray table between the rear seats. And Jensen Button’s F1 steering wheel has more buttons than a fighter jet. (I guess for US$50K+ it should.)

And speaking of motor cars; what’s happening to car sales in Jamaica? If you exclude figures for non Automobile Dealers Association members Hyundai and Mazda, October’s new cars sales of 388 were the lowest for the year. Interestingly, BMW quietly sold 2X Audi with all its hype, publicity and state of the art showroom. Hmmmmhhhh! Is there a message? Meanwhile Toyota maintains its 40% market share. But it’s the Deportee that rules with one dealer selling upwards of 50 little Mazdas each month!

But back to cars of yesteryear. They had character, and their own style. From a distance you could easily distinguish an Austin Cambridge, a Morris Minor, a Hillman Imp, a Renault Dauphine, an Alfa Romeo, a DKW, a Mercedes Benz, a Vauxhall, an Opel, a Ford Escort, Cortina or Capri, a Rover 100, a quirky Saab, a boxy Volvo or a Fish Tail Chevy. As different in driving character as they were in styling. And then came the Japanese. Bland, boring, reliable. And did I say boring?

The sage had an Austin Cambridge that he gave more trouble than it gave him. Hand painted, it had manual shift, unassisted steering (read tough steering), skinny tyres, 4-windows-down air-conditioning and the famous crank handle. Given his love of the unusual, I wonder what he would drive today?


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