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A Trip to Remember

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In October1968 I bought a beautiful 1965 Austin 1100 with 35000 miles on the clock, whilst attempting to write end of year exams at Natal University. Buying a new car and writing exams do not actually mix…but that’s another story!

I couldn’t wait to hop into my new baby and go home to Phalaborwa and show my parents how good I was at choosing a car for myself. The day after the exams ended, I loaded the Austin up, and along with a mate of mine, Mike Schwartz, headed north at a steady 65 mph.

All went well with the car running like a dream, until about one kilometre outside of Machadodorp when a vibration started transmitting itself so violently through the car, that the dashboard began shaking to the extent that the speedometer became a blur before my eyes.

I killed the motor instantly, and coasted to a stop, where an inspection revealed nothing. I hopped back in, put my foot on the clutch, and she started beautifully…I engaged first gear, engaged the clutch and BANG…all hell let loose. We decided that as Machadodorp was so close, and downhill, we might as well push the car to the nearest garage and get them to check things out.

An hour later, after a great deal of poking around in the nether regions of the car’s motor, the local mechanic proudly announced that I had snapped the crankshaft. The car was going nowhere.

A frantic reverse charge phone call to my father was the only option, and all that remained was to sit and wait for him to arrive and tow us home.

Finally my dad arrived in his Chevy, hauled out 10 feet of rope, attached it to the tow hitch, and gently pulled us out onto the main road.

The first half-hour went well, with my dad cruising at 40-mph. Night fell, the roads became twistier, and gradually my dad forgot that I was there.

The speed slowly rose, and the corners of Abel Erasmus Pass became a white-knuckle experience, as I hung on for dear life, whilst Mike started chewing his way through a packet of Mint Imperials. The climb soon changed to a drop towards the Lowveld, and my front discs must have been glowing in the dark as I tried to keep myself from smacking the back of the Chevy.

Finally, we hit the level roads of the Lowveld, and the speed crept up to a heady 80 mph…Mike steadily crunching through the sweets beside me.

At last, Phalaborwa appeared in the distance, and as we were beginning to relax, my dad saw a Mamba crossing the road. Of course, he HAD to swerve and hit it, oblivious to the fact that the manoeuvre would send us into a series of slalom type swerves behind him.

Pure luck and a beautifully handling little car saved the day, and we stayed on all four wheels. Just!

Surely a trip to remember!

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  1. Stokstert's Avatar
    Hehe, this reminds me of a day in 1972 when my brothers DKW F12 broke down in Swaziland on a muddy gravel road and I had to tow him back to Pretoria. After a while I got used to the towing and later I completely forgot him behind me as I concentrated on the wet gravel road in front of me. His windscreen was totally covered with mud and he couldn't see anything in front of him. All he could do was "vasbyt".
    He must have felt like you on that day.