Happy Birthday, Little Hatchback!

One week ago my little hatchback celebrated its 4th journey around the sun.
Not exactly correct, as it was the day it was registered on my name and is a couple of weeks older. But no matter! It says registered on the 5th of December so that is – at least in my mind – the day it was born. The day I got to hold it in my hands – not correct either – and the day it began to become a part of my rather humble life.

Of course people will be itching to know what I drive. Given that I am a regular viewer of what used to be Top Gear they would assume that I drive something wild, high revving, and always on full throttle. Like an Evo.
Well … no. I drive a SEAT. Ibiza. Erm … diesel. Despite this rather less impressive CV, I quite like it.
It's a bit like me, I also don't sound very impressive at first glance. But people learn to love me … or at least tolerate me. What more can I ask for?

At first I actually wanted to have a Golf; the new Golf series was just about to come out – also similar to me - and I was a bit more in love with them than the older range.
I could blend in – which four years ago, was still a goal – and then thrash past people who didn't realize that you could actually drive 100 on this road.
So quite enthusiastic the Birthgiver and I drove to the nearest VW dealership. Just that the person who talk to us was a complete moron.
Since my mother was paying for the car she had a few must haves; one of them was the diesel engine. Another was that it mustn't be automatic; which I didn't mind.

However, nobody had ever told the salesman that if someone is willing to hand over about 26,000€ for a new car that it might be a good idea to do as they please. Maybe to not act like I don't know what I am talking about.
This lead to a very tense conversation of: how much would the car cost with that equipment. Well, if you get it with the petrol engine it would be whatever€. But we stated clearly that we don't want petrol.
While I decided that my next car would be petrol, and I am not the biggest fan of diesel, I did not like being treated like that. Who would?
It's like saying that I want the car in black, so I ask the salesman who much it would be.
They reply: well if you get the car in pink with pride flags it would only be 6,000€.
But I don't want my car in pink! I want it in black! And black it is now, the same way it has a diesel engine as well.
Since the salesman didn't want to let go I very bluntly asked him What would be the advantage of a petrol engine?
Instead of listing for example that they have more umpf, a longer rev-range, sound nicer, and don't have something I dubbed “diesel-lag” when cold, he just looked dumbfound and replied very slowly Erm … they don't cost as much now?


Right-o, so moving on. My driving school is right next to a SEAT dealership, which came in quite handy when I was ten minutes early and the school was still closed. I remembered that my father used to drive a SEAT and was happy with the car before he died. (Not in the car, I might add) So I chose to spend the time I had browsing for cars.
The cars my driving school uses are also SEAT – coincidences in the this world – so I knew that they work quite well. After all if they can survive a nervous, sweating and pants-soaking newbie then they can also deal with my driving without falling apart.

I saw a little SEAT Ibiza in white, which appealed very much to me. I circled the car and thought, well, it's the right size. It looks nice. Then I remembered that it would have a Golf engine in it, so that settled it pretty much already.
A salesman – of whom I have very fond memories – appeared behind me, offered me a quick cup of coffee. He managed to talk me thought the whole car in five minutes. Admittedly it's a SEAT, so that's not too hard. He let me sit inside, to see if I am comfortable (I am), and if my feet could reach the pedals (they can).
I talked to him about what my mother demands of the car, and the little things I'd prefer to have in it. Since I was 17 at the time that was pretty much something similar to iPod connectivity, and maybe an air-bag. If I must.
He handed me a few fliers with all the options and extras I could pick, along with the prices. I was astonished. A few weeks later we bought the car. Just not in white – that's a horrid colour for a car – in black.
I did briefly waver between black and a beautiful version of blue (not midnight blue). But I chose to go for the black because in 5 years I might not fancy driving such a colour and more importantly, it has the same colour as my soul now.

I love my little SEAT. It doesn't have the most impressive CV to boast with, but it has a special place in my heart. You can tell that it keeps trying, that it is very cheery when you rev it in 3rd gear. You can actually feel the road, and that it happily bounces around in gravel roads because that's where it came from. It sits cheerily, and always looks excitingly when it sees that I get into it while not carrying some sort of bag. It yawns, shrugs off the pollen and then happily drives me about.

It made sure my shoulder stayed in one piece when a bus chose that it didn't have to give way and crashed into me. It saved it's own engine when I ran over a rabbit – sorry – on a B-Road, while breaking I forgot to also put my foot on the clutch. So I was doing 30 km/h while in 5th.

In four years it has never produced a fault, she wrote, quietly ignoring the time it had to be recalled because at 160km/h there was the risk of the bonnet opening. And this little thing with dieselgate. But other than that!

Actually dieselgate didn't make me love my car any less. It didn't even make me like VW any less. If anything I love my little car a bit more now. Because prior it was just some diesel car, and now it is one of those diesel cars. It has a sinister heart. It has character. It has a soul which you can actually feel. It has become like a small pet to me. Just that from the size it isn't a dog.

I'm already misty-eyed if I think about the day I have to give it away. Objectivity I am ready to admit that it's a diesel, and yes, one of the faulty diesels as well, that they didn't spare a lot of plastic when it comes to the inside, or why didn't I just get a Golf? But emotionally I just don't give a singe f-- care in the world.

It has driven its way into my heart. It's like seeing your child at a sports events. It huffs and puffs as it crosses the finishing line almost at the end, but you cheer and love it all the same.

Because I think all those things that other people may call faults are the reason I like it. It makes my car into so much more than just a machine. It makes it into my friend.

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