First Car

21 November 2016 2 mins read

Moving onto bigger projects - the freedom of having four wheels.

With the help of my parents and my first paycheck, I bought my first car! - A 2000 Fiat Uno Diesel.

During my undergrad, one of my friends used to own an older model Fiat Uno. We used to take it out for anything and everything - to the point where it became a community car.

After graduation, I started working at IBS - a software solution firm. The head office was in my hometown: Trivandrum. But there was an initial period of training which was in Kochi, about 6 hours away. So, along with a couple of colleagues, I rented a house and moved up there.

Once I got the first paycheck, I came back home to get a car. The guy who used to have the fiat Uno helped me find a similar car for a good deal - his dad owned and operated a used car business. The running costs of this car were reasonable too - thanks to the diesel engine.

I bought the car on a Saturday. I remember waking up early the following day, walking near the car, and just standing there in admiration. There was nothing unusual like a powerful engine or fancy interior- it was just a plain commuter vehicle. Still, it was an exciting feeling. I drove the car back to Kochi, picking up friends along the way. We used the car to go everywhere from then on.

Occasional hiccups

On the way back home from a movie, we drove over some potholes with eight people inside the car. We ruptured the diesel return line - spilling diesel onto the road. We somehow managed to get it home and called a mechanic and got it fixed the next day.

A few months later, the battery started getting weak, and the car refused to start from time to time. We would create the long traffic blocks because we couldn't get it to start. Though it was embarrassing then, we would laugh about it later, which was fun. Eventually, this became the community car during the training period. We had some good trips and late-night outings during our time in Kochi.

After the training period, we moved back to the head office, which was in my hometown. I used my motorcycle for commuting, so the car was neglected for the most part. During weekends, I started to take things apart to check how they function - out of curiosity, and started tinkering around.

First Mods

Stereo

The factory stereo was modest at best. The first upgrade came in the form of speakers and a Bluetooth head unit. I found that eBay was selling cheap chinse head units with Bluetooth functionality and thought of giving it a try.

Brightening up the interior

Removed the interior trim, including the dash, to clean and paint them black. They used to be a sad grey before.

Passenger seat

The Passenger seat had the backrest support broken on one side, giving it a diagonal orientation. It was very uncomfortable to sit for a long time. The correct way to fix this would be to weld the support beam back on. Since I did not have access to a welding kit, I removed the cover/cushion and drilled a hole near the support bracket to put a screw to keep it straight.

Push-button start

Simple push button sourced from eBay. Spliced the power on and starter motor wires to the button - so that it acts more like turning the key when pushing the button. To turn it off, you would still need to use the key. Useless if you think about it. Novelty nonetheless. While tidying up the wires, I accidentally shorted them and blew the starter fuse. The car wouldn't start and be clueless; I called the mechanic, who connected the starter to the battery and drove the car to his workshop. I was humbled by how quickly he was able to get it started.

The look I was after

While at the workshop, it got some panels straightened along with a full respray. Once we got the car back from the workshop, we had a couple of trips to celebrate the legend's return.

Now, being on bed rest and relocating to another country coming up soonish, it doesn't look like I would get to spend much time with the car. I had taught my brother and mom to drive the car - hopefully, it would be of use to them.

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