Twenty-Four years ago, the Eyebright van was no longer required as an ambulance in Japan. She travelled to New Zealand and was bought by me for $7000. And has been my faithful servant ever since.
By the time my 1992 Nissan Caravan arrived, Japanese vehicles were breaking new ground for kilometres travelled. They also decimated the vehicle servicing industry. Back in the bad old days, there was endless work for mechanics. Broken down cars, at the side of the road, hardly warranted a sideways glance. Cars being towed was a common sight.
As my van and I both grow older, my love has deepened. I am unworthy of her. Not since our first meeting has she seen the inside of a garage or carport, and seldom do I check her vital fluids. When I do, all is in order and the cover for the engine remains closed for another 10,000km.
The only concession I make to her advancing years is the gentleness with which I drive her.
Should you ever be behind me at a set of traffic lights, don’t expect to sprint through the intersection. My van and I accelerate modestly and she is given time to work through the gears.
Vans used to be ‘de rigour’. Most tradies drove vans, and ‘Vanning’ was cool. Now, the ute with a canopy, reigns supreme. I can’t see why, except for fashion.
My van and I always go to the supermarket together. She saves me the worry of remembering where I parked. I simply scan the parking lot and there she is, standing above the rest.
What astonishes me most, is that at 30 meters, she still looks presentable. Her white paint seems to last and last. Her Eyebright signage is showing some signs of weathering, and I periodically think about updating it, but then I have to ask myself if it’s worth it for a vehicle who surely must be in her twilight years.
Her 240,000km on the odometer, is not stratospheric. In Wanganui there’s a 1993 Toyota Corolla that has done 2,000,000 kilometres. It is driven 5000 km per month and gets serviced twice a month. Its cam belt has been changed twenty times. A far cry from my service regime.