ROARING, YES IT DID!

The date: 1978 (Looks like lots of things happened in 1978 😉 )

The location: The 2 rows of three-storey shops along Jalan Telok Gadong with the car mechanic shop next to the old bicycle shop.

The old bicycle shop was the third shop from the corner coffee shop (today they are called “restaurants”). On the other side of the bicycle shop was a car mechanic shop (In some places, it is called a garage).

The “Black Steed” (my Raleigh Hercules bicycle) had a tyre puncture and was having it repaired at the bicycle shop. It was done in 10 minutes. Price $2.00.

My bike was like this but a souped up version. I added a 3-speed gear, a speedometer, a battery operated siren horn and a horn, too. It was a multi-role bike : road bike, nountain bike, tourer.
This is the famous Raleigh steel bikes, not the aluminium, carbon or titanium bikes of today. Picture courtesy of ebay

While waiting for the tyre to be repaired, I peeked in the car repair “garage” next door. Whoa! There she was just a-waitin’ in the shop, singin’
‘Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do’
Winkin’ her headlights and shufflin’ her wheels, singin’
‘Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do’
She looked good (Looked good)
She looked fine (Looked fine)
She looked good, she looked fine

And I nearly lost my mind…. in all her glory, My Fair Lady, the British answer to the Ferrari and Lamborghini: the MG Midget 1100 Twin-carb bearing the registration number BJ5324. I went in to have a look at it, It was a beautiful cabriolet sports car. It had its canvas roof down.

Wikipedia

“Do you want to buy it?”, asked a voice that came from behind me. I turned around to find a mustachioed, tanned, dark man who was in a striped, collared T-shirt and light color slacks, standing there and smiling. He looked like one of those golfers.

Wow! Really? For sale? This 20 (me 😉 ) year old was “sold” before I even knew the price.

“Seat in the driver’s seat and get a feel of the car”, he beckoned me. I got in my car. Did I say “my car”? The engine was singing, roaring; felt the steering wheel was holding my hand as natural as can be... Before I knew it she was talkin’ to me, singin’
‘Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do’
Holdin’ my hand just as natural as can be, singin’
‘Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do’
We walked on (Walked on)

The gentleman said, “you will have to take the car today if you want it, as there is another interested party”. Was this the usual sales pitch, “either you take it now or it goes to someone else”? He said, “seeing that you really like this beautiful sports car, I very hesitatingly will let you have it for only $2,200” (It was $ those days).

The original dashboard like the one that was in my car, Smiths Instruments
Another picture, this is a modified version with a black dash to match the seats. Notice the space behind the seats. There are no actual rear seats but on several occasions, my friends Anthony Koleraj, Guy Rozario and Larry Sebastian; managed to squeeze in this space. My late brother Nigel; sat in the front passenger seat. Picture courtesy of Goonet exchange, Aichi Japan, November 15th, 2020

The nervousness: I gave him my house address and asked him to meet me there where I would borrow money from my mother to pay him. He was at my house within an hour (my house was less than 10 minutes away from where we were at the shop).

My mother kept telling me that she did not trust this man. “I think he’s a crook”, she kept saying under her breath. “I don’t trust him. His eye is twitching. I think he is nervous because he is trying to cheat us”, she continued. He kept assuring us this was the best price for this beautiful sports car. I was just 20 years old and was sold at the shop itself. I was insistent that we buy this car. There was no turning back.

My mum very reluctantly gave him the money. He gave me the car keys, the registration card and was out of our house within minutes. I think he disappeared, never to be seen again.

I must have been the only 20 year old kid with a sports car at that time. “Sports” because it roared and sounded fast. I repeat, “sounded fast”.

I very quickly learnt that I had to have money for petrol. Why didn’t I think of it at that time? My friends were soon over at our place to see the car.

I was driving out on any excuse, just to drive this car. My friends and I would drive past the homes of girls from Covent and MGS schools. After all, this was supposed to be a “girl magnet”.

Now we’re together nearly every single day, (roaring) singin’
‘Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do’
A-we’re so happy, and that’s how we’re gonna stay, singin’
‘Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do’
Well, I’m hers (I’m hers)
She’s mine (She’s mine)
I’m hers, she’s mine

Ha! Wee-e-e-lll, it was, but their parents’ did not share the same view, so it was not easy to get the girls out for a drive. Their parents view: “This young upstart”. Remember… this was conservative Klang town.

I chauffeured my mum around to many of her friends’ homes and her outings. Come to think of it, my dad never once got in the car with me. Either he did not trust the car or he did not trust my driving. He didn’t like the idea of being in a vehicle that was less than half the height of a tyre of a truck or bus.

At this time, I was already working as a clerk in a logistics company. My supervisor, who stayed nearby; usually gave me a lift to work everyday. I used to accompany him to our clients’ offices in Kuala Lumpur. I accompanied him just to jaga (1) his car while he rushed to the clients’ offices to deal with business matters.

One day (I remember this vividly), his car was in the workshop and he wanted to borrow my open-top roadster. He, being my supervisor, I could not refuse. He thought he was going to have a gala time with my sports car. He got in the car, started it and found that his feet could not reach the accelerator, brake and clutch pedals even though the seat was moved forward to its limit. This 5ft 1in tall man found the car was not suited for short people. The seats were barely a few inches above the floorboard, too. We sit on the seats and our legs are stretched out straight right under the dashboard. In the end, I had to drive him to his destination.

It was glamourous for the first few days, driving around with the canvas roof down… Until the birds, especially the crows; flying overhead, poop-bombed with such accuracy, that it always landed in the car, on the seat, and on me and my passengers. The red sports car was easy prey (target).

Putting the canvas roof down or putting it up was done manually. When putting it up, the top front of the roof had to be locked onto the front windshield top with it’s two clips. The rear had to be buttoned down just behind the back seats. Back seats? What back seats? This was a 2+2 roadster.

One day, the usual gang: Nigel, Larry, Guy, Anthony and myself were cruising down Jalan Telok Gadong towards the Simpang Lima roundabout. Yes, yes, 5 of us decent sized guys in this tiny car. In Klang, we used to do the unthinkable.

It started raining heavily and turned into a storm. Just then, the rear canvas window flap button just behind me came undone. As Larry and Guy tried frantically to button down the flap; a huge lorry passed by and splashed what seemed like a tidal wave into the car, through the flap opening. We were drenched to the core. The splash left a large puddle of water in the car. I think there were some fish swimming in it…hmmm. We all just burst out laughing.

After a short period of time using the car; it began to sound more and more like a Ferrari or Lamborghini. This was because rust began to form on the exhaust pipe and corrode it. This “sweet little darlin'” also began to have endless breakdowns.

One afternoon, I was driving along Jalan Melawis with the hood down (the car did not have air-conditioning, not even a fan. Air-conditioners in cars those days were rare). While driving along this famous street (famous because of the girls’ school), just passing MGS (Methodist Girls’ School. See I told you) at a fairly decent speed (could not go fast just in case the engine fell out); the unthinkable happened: the whole exhaust pipe broke and fell off the car. I pulled over to the side of the road, got out of the car, picked up the exhaust pipe and put it in the front passenger side, with more than half the exhaust pipe sticking out of the car. Now, instead of wanting to be noticed, I was embarrassed because the car sounded like a loud diesel-engine motor boat.

mini cooper large image
The full length of the exhaust pipe.

I decided to not drive the car because the repairs were endless. Every couple of days or so, I would start it up just so the battery would not run flat. But it still did! It was on a weekend that I got Nigel, Anthony, Guy and Larry to help me start up the car. With me in the driver’s seat, I put the gear in reverse and got them to push-start the car backwards along the driveway of our house. Moments later the car jerked into life and I lost control of it. Instead of me hitting the brakes; I slammed the accelerator. The car crashed into the house’s closed gate, flinging it open. Miraculously, the car did not even have a scratch! All of us burst out laughing and it is a story well remembered, even until this day.

It was not long after that, I decided I had to sell this MG 1100 Twin-carb because I could not much afford to keep up with its repair bills any longer. I sold it at $800 after having it for less than a year. A good thing is I still had my trusted “Black Steed”.

Note :

  1. “Jaga” is a Malay word meaning “to look after” or “take care”

Do Wah Diddy Diddy” by Manfred Mann

6 thoughts on “ROARING, YES IT DID!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s