August 01, 2003

Lost in Space

In our search for a new family car, we have had to hire a vehicle so we could go looking. Not wanting to spend our entire budget with a name-brand rental company, we went to an old client of mine.

Those on the other side of the Atlantic may not realise that cars with automatic transmissions are not particulary plentiful here. My old client, who rents most cars for 40 a week, as opposed to the going rate of nearly 40 a day, has one automatic.

Most car hire establishments rent new vehicles. If they aren't brand new, they are at least on the current year's registration plate. We hired a D-reg. That's a 1987, in American-speak.

We can't complain about the roominess. The only automatic in stock -- ever in stock -- is a Toyota Space Cruiser. It's a seven-seater. Yes, we rented a 16-year-old minivan. It is a site to behold.

I'm not sure when the Space Cruiser went out of production. Actually, I'm not sure why it even went into production. You can find just about any hideous thing on the internet. The Space Cruiser is so hideous that just about the only place you can find it is on The Ugliest Cars in Britain website. And even in this fuzzy photo, it is evident that it is they used an improvement on the 1987 model.

After 16 years, one of the problems that seems to develop with the Space Cruiser is the functionality of the locks. When my old client Phil tried to get into the vehicle, he couldn't get the key to work. He went back into his office to make sure there wasn't a different key for it. Eventually he found that the boot was open and he crawled over three sets of seats to get to the front and open the driver's door from the inside.

Eventually we got the key to work on the driver's side -- but only the driver's side -- with a move down and a wiggle to the left before turning. And since the boot doesn't have an interior latch, this means that the boot doesn't lock. In this neighbourhood, having a vehicle that doesn't lock is not an option. Unless, of course, it is a Toyota Space Cruiser.

Posted by david at August 1, 2003 10:24 PM | TrackBack