International Writers Magazine - Our Sixteenth Year: What I Actually Dream
have this reoccurring dream. I am always happy to have it but distinctly
unhappy to wake up and discover it wasn't real.
Last night I dreamt I opened up my garage
and discovered I still owned my silver Honda S800 coupé.
I was so happy to see it, despite that fact that it never once worked
right and let me down so often I was forced to give it away.
How is it possible
to be nostalgic about a car that made you unhappy? But I really loved
that car. Sure it might be to do with the fact that was about twenty
with a sports car that only had an 800cc engine, but it went really fast.
I loved the black interior, even the seats that didnt quite have
enough padding and the fact that contrary to the useless MG Midget,
it was a coupé and I could get beautiful Ping, my then girlfriend
in it and Kandy, my Border Collie. Kandy adored that car and gripped
the rug with determination as I drove the mountain roads at a speed
Id think insane now. The windows would generally be open and Pings
hair would fly out the window as we drove and mine too. (God I had hair
problem with the car was the four SU carburettors would always and
I mean always, cut out on any left-hand bend. So I could be driving
at 100mph revving at 9000 rpm and the engine would completely die
on left-hand bend or even slight tilts, but immediately kick in again
when you straightened up, which could be disconcerting. Downright
dangerous actually and very frustrating. It handled beautifully and
I had the latest Goodyear 800 tires on it and when it worked it
was a pleasure.
Sadly Honda could
never fix the problem. Never. So-called experts looked at it. We wrote
to Honda Japan in Japanese and they didnt reply and spares in
Cape Town were sadly lacking. It was a very disappointing purchase.
No wonder the previous owner, a famous photographer, had let me have it at half the going price.
(I believe they only made 11,000 of these so if you have one hang on
I owned it for only eight months and at least three of those months it
was in the shop getting looked at.
I forgot to mention the handbrake. It was soft. I discovered why when crawling
under the car to find it was a bit of wire off a Honda bike and
it kind of stretched very easily, so the handbrake would be tight for
around ten goes and then be slack again. Not great engineering. Luckly
it was the 1969 model and had front disc brakes. The engine was in fact
an 800cc motorbike engine slotted into the engine bay. Light, revved high
and made a great noise. I loved the noise. Ping loved it too. Shed
occasionally borrow the car and Id wince as she drove off spinning
the tyres like a kamikaze driver. She had no fear.
Had a race around the Cape Peninsular one night (No cops at night) against
a Jag XKE and MGB and even with the engine cutting out beat them hollow.
Beat them so well I almost went home after reching Chapmans Peak they took
so long to get around. I very much doubt I could drive that fast now,
or have the reaction times necessary to get around those steep curves
to towards Hout Bay. For gods sake I drive a Fiat Bravo diesel.
How dull can you get? There isnt an ounce of thrill in it, but
I get 54 to the gallon and theres a five year warranty. When you
are twenty you dont care about mileage (actually at was around
30 mpg). Mostly it was more 'if I try this will it still stick to the
Eventually I gave it to a guy who put a Ford Lotus-Cortina engine it,
which is practical but sacrilegious in my book. Bought a VW Beetle 1302
which was fun, but y'know, not driving fun. (Discovered it floats one day when visiting a tidal basin). Of course both those cars are collector items now, but you can't think about that.
every now and then I have this dream and I open the garage and there is my silver S800, just as good
as new. In the latest dream I am lying down on the ground reading
off the engine number to a parts dealer on the phone. I was actually
dreaming I was waiting for him to go check if they had the parts
and thats like ages of silence. I am actually even conscious
of lying on the garage floor with dead air on the phone. It was
that vivid. And those are the sad memories I have of that car that
Although it was
my second Honda, (the first was a Honda N600) I have never bought
another. Just couldnt bring myself to and Honda long ago stopped
making anything interesting to drive. Perhaps Jensen Button could persuade them to make something interesting again now he's finally signed up for 2015.
I have owned Golfs, Citroens, Alfas, Fiats, and even a Buick, (another
sad tale) a Rover, a Hillman Imp even and a Mini I had to abandon when it wouldn't go up a hill in Lyme Regis, but I only dream of the Honda. The Alfa-Sud
1.3Ti was the best to drive, but the gearbox dropped out onto the road when I hit a pothole
and I was gutted.
Maybe it was just that I was happy being twenty. Still dreaming of being
a successful writer. Maybe its something to do with being in love
with Ping back then, who moved to the Wilderness (a stunning beautiful
place up the coast) or the dog who came everywhere with me, but to be
honest I think it was the car. I loved that stupid little sports car
and it just didnt care. I kinda hope I dont have another dream about it for a while.
if there are any for sale out there.
© Sam North December 2014
This is an update of a piece that appeared in 2009
Sam North's 'Another Place
to Die: The Endtime Chronicles ' all new 2nd Edition of the YA Pandemic thriller December 2014
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