I was surprised to find out that I had in fact owned my Daihatsu Sportrak for close to 13 years, unlucky for some.
Tonight I ripped out the MP3 CD player and slotted the old radio cassette into its place. There was no chance of connecting it up as the guy that installed it had to cut all the cables and use crimp connectors to get the new one to work. I used to have 8 90 minute blank cassette tapes in the car. The Clarion tape player thankfully used to switch sides at the end of the tape so I only need to change every 90 minutes. Recording my recently purchased CDs onto the tapes was always a bit of a chore to say the least. Especially trying to fit exactly 45 minutes of music on each side, so that a track didn’t end abruptly, or leave a long silence. Burning MP3 CDs is much easier with iTunes and at 10 hours per disc saves me changing CDs en-route.
Unless you change your car each year you always remember picking them up from the garage. The Sportrak was only my third car after owning a Ford Fiesta 1.3 Ghia and a Ford Fiesta XR2. Yes, the change from an XR2 (which for those of you who don’t know was a ‘boy racer’ type car) to a Sportrak was a huge difference. Not so much in size but in height, speed and handling.
When I bought the Sportrak the resale value of XR2s was dropping daily whilst the insurance premiums were rising, mostly due to their owners wrapping themselves and their cars around lampposts and tree trunks at the roadside. Also the fact that joy-riders were targeting them. You had to have them bolted to the floor to stop them being a target for thieves. Mine was parked behind my fathers car so it was quite safe on the driveway. I received a letter after I’d sold it asking about its condition, its new owner had had the car stolen in the Midlands I think. This was in the ‘80s. I’d looked at 3 Suzuki Vitaras but never really came close to buying one. I think it was always the case that I’d ask the sales guy, or gal, “How much for my XR2?” and they’d look in their little black book and give me some feebly low price. Really, you couldn’t give them away. I’d had a drive out to the Daihatsu dealer a few months before and can remember them having a really bright turquoise Sportrak in the showroom. I liked it but someone else who was looking around said, “You’ll not sell many of them 'round here!”.
This was the first car that I had a test drive in. It wasn’t the actual car, as this was in the showroom, but a Sportrak belonging to one of the sales men. Driving it home on the Friday afternoon felt like I was driving a truck. The bonnet seemed to go on forever and it had bull bars on the front. This was the ‘80s remember, when everyone seemed to have them. I think I even saw a Fiat will bull bars back then.
The Sportrak was back at the dealers after about a fortnight. There were a couple of scratches, on the sun-roof and the bonnet, that they said could be fixed as part of the deal. I remember the automatic Rover that they gave me for the 3 days that it was in. The guy who gave me the keys said to just have a drive around to get used to it. All the roads around the dealer were narrow streets with cars parked on either side of the road, so I headed home. When I dropped the Rover off the owner of the garage said that I had just driven a car that depreciates the fastest and that I owned a car that depreciates the slowest. I took it back to the same garage every 6 months for a service. Even though I was only covering 12 miles per day, to and from work. The dealer switched from selling Daihatsu to selling Jeep. A few years after I bought it the Sportrak was discontinued. The last time I drove around that area I found that the car showroom was now a kitchen design outlet.
Driving my Sportrak to work and back this week was a bit sad in a way. I mean my niece, Zoe Riley, is 13 years old and I remember trying to get her, still in her car seat, out of the back of the Sportrak without waking her. I remember driving it up to my grandma’s bungalow out in the country that first night after picking it up. I remember having an alarm fitted and the fun I had trying reset the damn thing in the middle of the night during a thunder storm. But, I just had to keep telling myself, “It cost more in repairs last year alone than you’re selling it for!”. Tomorrow I pick up the new one.