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I have lost track of the number of cars I have leased and owned. Certainly around twenty, I would figure. Very few of them have been new. I just can’t justify driving off a new car lot and seeing the value drop in half by the time I reach the road. There are more important things I want to do with my money. So I prefer used.

In Malaysia we had a 1996 Proton. Kind of like a Datson, if you can remember back that far. It had a 1.5 litre Misubishi engine in it that was in good shape, but it was nothing to look at. But at least the aircon worked, which in Malaysia was a must. Coming to the Caymans, we weren’t looking at anything better. We bought a 1996 Mitsubishi Pajero Jr. and a bushel of problems. The tires were bald, the ball joint/tie-rods were loose, the rad leaked and the paint looked like it had spent most of the last 20 years parked under a colony of very loose bowelled birds.

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Tires were first, obviously. The mantra in F1 is that engine and chassis are just devices for keeping the tires connected to the road. Overstatement, perhaps, but it makes the point. Then I found a guy willing to rebuild the control arm assembly with butchered parts. The rad just needed a flush; the oil issue ditto, but the paint was an eyesore so matter which way you looked. And the cheapest quote I could find was $1500 Cayman which is like $2500 Canadian. I just couldn’t do it.

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So armed with little more than a couple of cans of spray paint and some steel wool I took on the job of repainting the hood and roof, the two worst offenders. Dodging tropical storms and mosquitoes on the one hand, and my own bone dead fatigue at the end of a work day on the other, I have persevered until the car looks at least half-decent. I thought to cut myself some slack by replacing the rusted out windshield wipers arms with new, but at $150 Canadian – each! – I decided to do them myself as well. I am done, and at the end we still have a beat-up island car that is twenty years old. But it does look a little less embarrassing.

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