Location: Manning Valley
Date: December 2012

December 24, 2012. Christmas Eve, and this morning Santa brought me a Ford Courier ute, just the thing I need to carry the camper! At last!

Here's what I wrote on Waffle yesterday: Just back from Taree. Where? Well, a mile or two from my place where Alex gave me a drink. Who's Alex? Well, Alex is a bloke who owns a Ford Courier ute which he has for sale. He expected a tradie to come looking but instead got me... an old codger who wants to travel Oz and who needs a flat tray ute to carry a camper. He was surprised to say the least. So I took it for a drive and was shell shocked. It handles like a truck, bouncing over rough patches of road because of the stiff springing. It's surprisingly low geared but, after a while, you get used to it. You can drop it into 4th (yes, it's a 5-speed manual) at quite low revs. No power steering, which was another shock. Damned heavy but not impossible. Maybe his tires needed a bit more air. No air conditioning either. On the poz side, it's in pretty good nick mechanically and has low mileage (165,000kms - a bit over 100,000mls). Also no rust. The interior is fair. There's a tear in the driver's side of the bench seat but it's covered by a sheepskin cover, and a small crack in the dash.

Sooooo, now that I'm slowly recovering from the shock of driving such a bone-shaker (compared to the Ford's smooth car-like ride and 6 cylinder power), I'm realizing what I'm getting myself into here. But it's better happening here in Taree rather than in Sydney or Brisbane or woop woop. Alex is looking for his rego papers and whatever while I'm back home thinking about it. The best thing about the ute is its location. I don't have to leave town! I'm 90% convinced I should buy it... after we haggle a bit, that is. $2500 is my budget... maybe a tad more if I'm pressed. Sure, there are others with air con and power steering but WHERE? Not just up the road, that's for sure. Besides, I'll be in the car for maybe 2 hours every other day. Camping is what the Odyssey is all about, not driving.

And later yesteray: Alex just phoned and we did the deal. He's tired of potential buyers bitching about the lack of power steering and air so he said, "Okay, you can have it for $2500. Mind you, he's not short of a quid... two other cars, nice house, pool, etc. And I think our little chat today talking about the Odyssey and how poor I am (being a pensioner) helped him "do me a favor". We'll exchange the money and complete the paperwork tomorrow morning at 11. So, there ya go. G's got himself a a new truck. 

And then this morning: Well, it's a done deal. Alex was here and we did the paperwork, then I paid him in cash. He repeated what he said yesterday, that he hadn't expected a buyer wanting to go around Oz. So he got a little worried before he left home this morning, and checked the thermostat (which he replaced about 3 months ago) to see if it was working properly. Hehe. He also gave me $5 to get an extra key cut, and two large containers of radiator coolant. "I bought those for you." His wife came to the fence and yelled, "Alex! You've got 7 minutes to get to work!" He's a barman at the sailing club just up the road, right on the river bank (where I had the heart attack back in 2002). As he left, he said to me, "And if you have any trouble, just let me know. You've got my number and you know where I am. I'll look after you, mate." So there ya go... he's worried about me hehe. But I appreciate it. He's a good bloke.

And after taking a drive up the highway: The ute runs pretty well. No strange noises (unless you count the squeak in one of the side walls of the tray). It's a hot day (30C) but I wasn't uncomfortable without air con and the windows open. It's also quite windy and the thing got blown around a bit on long exposed bridge spans with no weight in the tray. She whizzes along at 100kph no probs, but I kept looking for an extra gear. Gotta get used to that low gearing, even in 5th. Steering is heavy but tight - no play. As to the lack of power steering, Tough Titties didn't have it either but I solved that prob with extra air in the front tires. The ute feels solid and tough (I've read owner reports that say you can't kill the things even with the roughest treatment). The gearbox is a delight to use, and precise. The clutch is heavy duty. Brakes are great. Starts easy, idles smoothly, revs willingly. And the driving position is comfortable. So all in all, a pretty good little truck. I took a few pics in a riverside parking area and made an album.


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