Thinking about it, I begin to realise that I've spent a great deal of unnecessary dollars on motor vehicles.
I've owned nearly thirty at last count.
At the moment, I'm looking after two vehicles belonging to offspring, one because she's overseas, and the other because he cycles to work and doesn't need it, but won't sell it because he might be transferred to a situation where he does.
Because my garaging and custodianship includes, as a condition, the right to drive the cars, I had the choice of four cars to use in my recent excursion to Canberra and back.
Now the MX5 is fun to drive, and would possibly have been first choice, but it's appreciating in value, and I'm trying to keep its distance covered low. Besides, it is not all that enjoyable on a long run down a highway. It's an interesting car, built for interesting roads.
My bride uses our "new" car, a Kia Rondo, and whilst she doesn't mind driving the 323, is happier with the Kia. This left my son's Mazda 323 Protege as the weapon of choice for my Canberra excursion. My daughter's Toyota Echo, whilst a pleasant little car, was never a consideration.
It was a journey for research purposes at the AWM, and no other family members were all that interested, so I was travelling solo. The 323 has a number of features that made it a good choice for a solo journey. First up, it has three music sources - the original cassette player, an aftermarket 6 stacker CD player, and my iPhone connected through a bluetooth plug-in device. There was never going to be any shortage of mobile entertainment.
Navigation was taken care of using the iPhone, on a magnetic mount which meant it was hands free and legal. I have mastered the art of using the GPS app and the music player simultaneously. A recent IOS upgrade has made this simple.
This meant that all the features expected these days on a modern vehicle (GPS, bluetooth phone connection, and music player) were all available in this twenty year old car, for the price of a magnetic phone mount and a bluetooth connector. All worked a treat, with the possible exception of the GPS, which when connected to Google maps had a bad habit of setting me up for a beeline journey down some dodgy roads if I took it literally.
The Mazda performed beautifully. It delivered 7.3 Lit/100kms at a cruise of 110km on the Newell. The aftermarket cruise control was a boon.
The air conditioning in Mazdas is renowned for its efficiency, and with the combination of well shaped velour lined seats, and a steering column adjustable for rake and distance, ensured a very comfortable driving position. Cars of this vintage generally enjoy better vision, as the styling fashion which creates blind spots for rear vision hadn't arrived in 1999.
Mountain straight, Mount Panorama
I got to drive it around the Mount Panorama circuit on the way home. At 60kph, that was an unexciting, but interesting experience.
These things are going for about $3500 used at the moment. If you can find a low kilometerage example (like my son's car), they're a bargain.