Opinion: Killing cars is tough work

Opinion: Killing cars is tough work

My dog has owned three teddy bears in the course of her years on the planet. And not one of them has died of natural causes.

Teddy One is, we think, at the bottom of a farm dam and Teddy Two bailed off the back of a ute somewhere between Albury and Wagga (I reckon he was pushed, but the dog denies it).

Teddy Three met an untimely end by being buried in the garden next to the lemon tree and rotting away long before I noticed his one remaining leg sticking up out of the ground. Ted’s dead, baby. “He was fine when I saw him last,” the dog shrugged when I questioned her.

But I can’t get too cranky, because when it comes to cars, my brother and I have a track record similar to la dawg’s inability to get a stuffed toy into middle age. We started young (of course we did) doing stupid things to elderly Volkswagen Beetles back in the days when you could get a pair of rat-bugs for a crisp fifty if you collected ’em from the horse paddock yourself.

After combining all the best bits from half a dozen Beetles, we eventually had ourselves one pretty good one which we plastered with P-plates and drove like berserk warriors. That ’66 Dak Dak finally met its end at my brother’s hammy fists when he cocked up his oppy-lock correction and sent us off the road, over a spoon-drain and into a rather stout tree. And that was just his first confirmed kill. He killed so many bugs that we ended up calling him Mortein.

Volkswagen beetleMy first murderous automotive act was against an early Toyota Celica my brother (who else?) and I had rebuilt. We stuck with two litres, but the head was shaved like a passed-out mate’s eyebrow and the camshaft lobes looked like metal avocados.

Performance was explosive. So was the engine (sadly) which – at about 4000rpm in top gear – decided it didn’t need all four conrods and hurled one into the mulga. A similar fate as that met by Teddy Two, I’d say.

The difference being that I know precisely where my conrod was jettisoned as the crankshaft, being torn out of its bearings, made a slightly bigger noise than a plush toy biting the Olympic Way. It’s equally doubtful that Ted Two dumped five litres of semi-synth all over the road, either.

I’ve also made a pretty big mess of the odd motorbike. My defence here is that with all that power-to-weight going on, big road bikes are asking for it, no? Still and all, when they hit the deck they do tend to come apart like a borrowed outboard.

I like to think I’ve matured a little in this department, but my brother is just as bad as ever. His latest murder rap came a few months ago when he somehow managed to get two tonnes of LS1-powered Statesman off the road and on to its roof.

Apparently, he got the big girl into a retrieval-proof tank-slapper and that was about that. By the time he’d worked out that he’d backed a loser, the world was upside-down and it was raining Kool Mints inside the Stato. Yep, another one sent to the knackers yard on a banana-back.

But I’m not sure our behaviour is all bad – surely it’s better for a car to go out swinging (quite literally in the case of the ex-Statesman) rather than to simply rust away in a driveway with moss growing all over it and four flat tyres. And just as Muttley knows all too well, once Teddy goes to the big toybox in the sky, you get to go shopping and choose a new one.

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