One necessity to acquire quick smart upon return was a set of wheels for myself. 

Although Deb sharing the Rav with me was much appreciated and the answer to many conundrums, it wasn’t the most ideal of situations with us having to fit around each other’s plans and schedules (i.e, Mum working around what I was up to). So the look out for a car was set, with Trade Me explored multiple times throughout the day, car sale park up spots cruised by and cast over with a critical eye (Hank’s, not mine. I wouldn’t know a dud if it was gushing out oil and had the dash all lit up with warnings) and FB given the wary eye of vehicles for sale in my news feed. 

I’ve only ever had one car before; Ruby, my ’93 red BMW which I loved with all my heart. Bought off our Auckland neighbour when I was almost 17, she (the car, not the neighbour) served me sensationally for more than five years, overcoming many altercations (a couple of crashes; luckily plastic surgery rendered her almost back to new), thousands of trips to Auckland and back, and on a handful of occasions, a wonderful sleeping quarters for my friend Christina and I after a rowdy night in QF Tavern. 

When I moved to Brisbane at the conclusion of Uni, it was decided old Ruby’s time as my beloved was up. She was listed on TradeMe for a paltry sum, and was snatched up in a mere few hours. 

When her new owner came to claim her, I went into a tizz. Rubes was my baby, why on earth was I giving up on her? I had held high hopes of her being my coffin one day; being laid to rest in my inamorata automobile was the way I wanted to go. I had the vacate the premises of exchange as I was on the verge of backing out of the sell (the funds did cover a bloody noteworthy New Years at the Sunny Coast though). 

So scrolling through Trade Me, I decided I couldn’t have anything that even slightly resembled Ruby. It’d have to be a car completely different in model, make, colour, everything (except transmission; the very few attempts to learn to drive a manual were dismal failures with fucked clutches). Which is why when I caught sight of a red Beemer with a massive “FOR SALE” sign down by the river, I scribbled down the digits of the seller in haste and hustled them them to Hank. 
A checkout and test drive was arranged for Saturday morn at 8am. 
Before I’d even say in the stallion, I’d christened her. Scarlett, the younger sister to the late Ruby (alas, I believe the clapper’s days on the road are at an end. RIP, SA1184). This new broad held all the trimmings; a 7-CD stacker in the boot (not that anyone listens to CDs in the car anymore, but hey, she had one), lovely upholstered seating, channel changing capabilities on the steering wheel. In my mind she was mine before Hank had even switched on the ignition. 

As I was scenarioing Scarlett and I roaring down the road, Hank pulled me out of my revere with a profuse shake of the head. “Nope,” he asserted. “Oil leak. Sorry Pop.”
I felt like my heart had been wrenched out of the chest by sharply clawed talons. What? But Scarlett was a sure thing, surely? I watched in disbelief as Hank handed back her keys to the dude trying to traffic her (yes) with a resolute, “Not for us mate.” But but but…. What?

The despair set in for 500m or so, then I was overtaken by my om-zen-namaste state of mind. Hey, whatever will be will be, Scarlett obviously was not meant for me. So I started trawling TradeMe on my cellular and by the time we returned home, had Sapphire the Beemer, Emerald the Audi and a yet-to-name Jeep Wrangler residing in my watchlist (love how the initial $1k-$2.5k filter was now extended to the $10k mark?). 

That afternoon Hank came hounding home with the news he’d spotted a “tidy” possibility down the road. Make, colour, price? I queried. Honda Civic, silver, $1800 ONO, he enthused. I wasn’t sold. “Come see!” He said. 


It wasn’t love at first sight. When I saw the potential purchase parked in pride of place on the seller’s front lawn, I didn’t feel the bond that I had during my fleeting friendship with Scarlett. I peered in the windows and did a desolate lap but my heart wasn’t in it. 

The next day I was chatting to my uncle when said car drove into our driveway, Hank at the helm. “Time for a test drive,” he said, levering out so I could sandwich myself behind the steering (I drive with my seat rather far forward). I turned the key and in unison with igniting the engine, so was a tad of endearment for the old lass. 

Sounds silly, but one way I’ve always worked out if something is for me or not is to give it a fitting name. One will almost instantly pop into my psyche that is perfectly apt, and it turns on the tap of fusing us in amour. I brainstormed as I drove. Pebbles? Paykel? Doris? Dunty? But as we hurtled down 100km roads (Cripes she could motor), no comme il faut appellative appeared. 

We took her home where I proceeded to drill the selling lady about her history (once again the car’s past, not the woman’s). You may be thinking oh smart Pop, getting a gage to figure out if she’s a worthy buy etc, but this wasn’t the case; I was searching for any piece of info that would aid in cognomening the car. 

“She was owned by my husband’s mother, who bought her brand new back in 1997,” the lady said. “She’s gone into a home so we think it’s best to pass it along.”

My heart soared. “What’s your mother-in-law’s name?” I asked. 

“Betsy. Betsy Hay,” she replied. 

And so Betsy Hay was born.




She may have more than just a few nana dings adorning her bod. Her shoddy sides may have some patchy paintwork. Yes, her bumper is firmly in place with masking tape, she has no high beam capabilities and her air conditioning options are a mere two – sub zero or sweltering sauna – but a seed of love has been sown and Betsy Hay is encased in my heart. 
Winding down windows instead of just electronically doing so is good for toning the biceps. Static on songs when raising the volume above level 10 adds something extra. And $68 to fill ‘er up, with $17 monthly coverage for third party, fire and theft? (Though I don’t think she’s at risk of being raxed). Added pluses. 

Oh hey Betsy Hay. Who needs a $9k Jeep Wrangler anyway? 


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